Letter of the Month
To begin, in an effort to appease the worldwide community of GPS technophiles, I will, grudgingly, admit that there is a place in our world for GPS, WAZE, etc. There, I said it! As far as Clement Salvadori’s “Mapping It” in the September 2020 issue, I will confess to feelings of a kindred spirit. Since I was young I find feelings of comfort and peace in the holding of a map. I will plan a route and review those plans numerous times before heading out. While traveling I will refer to the map. Upon arrival at my destination I plan my route home. I keep an atlas next to my recliner for quick reference if a geographical question should arise. I will admit that I have never taken a map to bed with me, but who knows what the future may hold.
Thanks for the column. It hit very close to home and was greatly appreciated.
— Tim Clark, Troy, New Hampshire
Tim, analog and digital variants of maps both have their place, even in today’s technology driven society. As much as we rely on navigation equipment at Rider, we still often refer to paper maps when planning routes. As our Letter of the Month winner, you’ll be receiving a new Motonation Bandido Textile jacket, for when you’re putting those well-planned routes into action!
I have begun to notice that test reports of sportbikes in this and other magazines tend to very loosely define the term “sport-tourer.” To my way of thinking a Honda ST1300, or an FJR Yamaha, a Kawasaki Concours, or a BMW RT — all machines designed for that specific purpose — represent the true sport-touring motorcycle. A Ninja, as tested in the August issue, is a crotch rocket, pure and simple. Abbreviated hard bags, no centerstand, limited wind protection, lousy gas mileage, acute knee bend and marginal seat comfort do not a sport-tourer make. True touring and sport-touring machines are limited in number these days, so you need to extend the premise to offer wider appeal, I get that. But I would no sooner ride a Ninja, CBR1000R, Katana or Yamaha YZ across the state, let alone the country. These are for track days and your regional curvy roads. In the end, such evaluations of said sportbikes are promotions of a false premise.
— Alan Paulsen, Ballston Lake, New York
Language evolves over time and so, too, do motorcycle classifications. The sport-touring segment has adapted to the needs of the market and now, brands offer motorcycles across the entire spectrum of what could be considered sport-touring. Purists may view the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX as being too sporty, while others will see it as being infused with just the right amounts of sport and touring DNA; I happen to fall in that camp. Judging the 1000SX by its chassis, suspension and casual riding position, I can confidently state that it isn’t for the racetrack – it’s a street bike, through and through. I, for one, am glad that the motorcycle market has become so nuanced, offering more types of bikes for more types of riders. Bikes such as the 1000SX, BMW S 1000 XR, Ducati Multistrada 1260, KTM Super Duke GT and Kawasaki H2 SX SE+ all push the boundaries of sport-touring in different ways, which has diversified the field quite a bit. When it’s all said and done, I toured on the 1000SX comfortably and did it sportingly – there’s nothing false about that. – RTE
We’re In This Together
After reading Mark Tuttle’s, “Hope Has a Handlebar” (One-Track Mind, August 2020), I’m realizing that life today is more tentative because of COVID-19 and some people have ignored this pandemic. As of August 24th, over 179,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus and some people do not believe this terrible pandemic is serious enough to act. Many of us are acting responsibly, wearing masks indoors and outdoors, social distancing and washing our hands to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Motorcycling creates a sense of freedom and our freedom is hindered if this virus infects us. We ALL must do our part to help from spreading this terrible virus. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year drew more than 460,000 people and only a few responsible people wore masks and some avoided crowds while many others packed close together at bars and rock shows. This mass gathering has raised concerns it could become an epicenter of infections. We all must do our part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We must do our part to let freedom ring by protecting others and ourselves from COVID.
— Ray Salinas via email
I owned one (Retrospective, April 2020, Harley-Davidson/Aermacchi SXT-125). I was 20 years old; saw it in a full-page layout in Playboy magazine along with the Honda Hawk, a 400cc automatic midweight they called it. The article was titled “Cycles Fo’ City Guys.” I went out to sea 10 years later and my brother-in-law helped my wife move into our new home and it was lost, somehow. I have no pictures, so thanks for reminding me officially, on the look. I now have a 2006 Harley-Davidson Ultra.
— Dan via email
Dan, we’re glad to see there are others who get Playboy for the articles. – RTE
Where Have All The Scooters Gone!?
What happened to the big scoots of yesteryear? They truly have become an endangered species. I still own and ride a 2004 Honda Silver Wing, much to my satisfaction, still, after all those years and crossing Europe during the holidays for tens of thousands of kilometers. Many passerby still envy me with the Honda Silver Wing. At the moment, I’m thinking about upgrading my dashboard with a digital multifunctional display. That’ll propel my scooter right into the future. Is there any competition from present-day motorbikes? Anyone still think it’ll be old-fashioned, riding a big scoot?
— Carl Beringhs via email
Scooters and large displacement scooters are popular in many global markets. By comparison, they’re not as popular in North America, which is surprising because of how practical they are. What I’d give to have the Honda X-ADV here in the states…. – RTE
Back In The Saddle Again
I’ve been off the road for about five years. I don’t know how I made it that long, now that I am back. It started because the kids moved their entire worlds home after college, into my garage, blocking in my bike and everything else. Anyway, I was lucky enough to pick up a “new to me” 2017 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra that a decades-long friend had to part with due to illness. He’d only been able to put 200 miles on it. Since picking it up from him in June, I’ve put 3,500 miles on it. It’s amazing how much I missed riding and I’m already planning a trip back to the Rockies.
— Tom Boland, Northborough, Massachusetts
I’ve never been a GPS man since they came out. I always liked seeing the whole picture on a large map or atlas book like Clem. Served me well years ago riding out to Sturgis and then Yellowstone from Boston. However the new Harley has GPS built in. I didn’t bother with it until I was fooling around and found that it of course had the setting to avoid highways, but then I found it had a setting for the preference of winding roads. I had to try it. That setting served me well going up through Southern Maine, and then New Hampshire after traversing the Kancamagus Highway. But, it only went well for a little while in Vermont before I ended up taking a couple of buddies down more gravel roads than any of us cared to see. Usually, unpaved roads are shown in brown on the GPS’s I’ve used in the past, but not here. We got stuck on one where the speed limit was posted at 35, and when we finally made it back to a paved road, the speed limit had dropped to 30. Almost as bad as finding one going back from Sturgis to Rapid City that was dusty gravel that was posted at 55 and had corner banking like Talladega! So, folks need to be cautious in the great State of Vermont using those settings. All I could do was laugh and smile thinking that Clem and others might get a kick out of it. I now have a new large U.S. atlas book in the saddlebag, too.
— Tom Boland, Northborough, Massachusetts
New Fangled Gadgetry Strikes Again!
I have a 2018 Honda Tour DCT Gold Wing. My wife has fibromyalgia and I have a bad left elbow. My doctor told me the clutch motion would always cause me problems, so the DCT Gold Wing has been great for both of us. I use the paddle shifter and I can still maintain some control as to what gear I am in. I enjoyed your review and offer a couple more observations.
I know the luggage capacity is greatly slimmed down, but I am able to get an XXL full-face helmet and a medium modular helmet in the top box. It took 20 minutes of fiddling the first time and I now have a picture in the box to help me, but they fit – with communications modules. Honda has issued updates to the navigation system, but it still has its limitations. There is no “dirt road” avoidance. This is a Gold Wing! My wife whacks my helmet any time the Wing tries to go onto a dirt road. You can calculate a dirt road-free trip, then the navigation system calculates its own route and can put you onto a dirt road. This has happened a number of times. My wife has a strong left arm. My head still rings intermittently. Additionally, if the waypoint is not exactly on the road, sometimes the Gold Wing will not record you as completing it and will continually have you do U-turns to try and hit it. You have to stop and delete that waypoint. Also, Honda’s online trip planner is extremely frustrating to use. There is no lock-on-road option, so if you don’t have the waypoint close enough to the road, you have the problem I just mentioned, plus the Gold Wing will recalculate the route using a different algorithm and sometimes put you onto a dirt road.
Overall, you should just use a different trip planner and get a motorcycle GPS unit. It’s frustrating, but an excellent motorcycle otherwise. You meet the nicest people on a Honda.
— Jeff Snook, Charlottesville, Virginia