Letter of the Month
Mark Tuttle’s column “Two-Wheeled Empowerment” (September 2020) has gotten me thinking more than I would like to admit. I keep coming back to some past moments over the last 46 years on the road. If you’re willing to try, in some instances you can go back and find those moments in time, relive those snapshots, the feelings, and remember. Motorcycles, vintage ones, are not only modes of transportation but can transport you to the past.
Walking into the local auto parts store last fall, I passed by a tired, mistreated, fork-seal-leaking, oil-soaked Suzuki GS750E. It took me back to my first one. The guys at work called it the “Purple Rain” motorcycle. Rescued from a cow pasture, my young son and I took that original bike up logging roads and on Labor Day commando camping trips, and its 1970s era top box delivered many $9 pizzas to the house on the way home. My erstwhile co-pilot and I shared precious time together adventuring both on and off the bike. Now, he’s a full-grown man and riding his machines. I had forgotten how he was an enthusiastic 12-year-old, still wanting to explore with the old man.
Dropping a business card with the then owner at the counter and just before Christmas time, I got a call to come get it! Working through the winter, I was able to clean up the “patina” on my new-to-me GS750E, righting some mechanical ills, and it’s a passable survivor. Wrenching on the old nail is like muscle memory from so many years before—not just riding, but fiddling on the 41-year-old machine has brought back a long-forgotten past. Combining our years of experience it seems like it goes better than the first one ever did.
Sure, this bike isn’t the latest or greatest. Bit by cerebral bit it has rewarded my synapses more than I thought it would. Shocking have been the comments and admiring looks it gets from passersby. It’s not even a 20-footer to look at, but more people appreciate an honest motorcycle than I thought would. Starting it on the “kicker” gets nods of approval every time, which is kinda silly considering how easy these things are to start if even tuned close.
I found another one, entirely in parts, as a stalled project. I am ready to do it again! Why? Because I’m EMPOWERED.
— Steve Barton
Camano Island, Washington
Steve, we motorcyclists sure are a sentimental bunch and I include myself in that statement. Coming across a long-forgotten picture or piece of gear will often transport me back to that place — I was just reminded of a particularly rain-soaked ride that despite the weather was incredibly fun. But, there is one motorcycle that will get my attention faster than anything else, and that’s an early 2000s Suzuki RM125. The ring-a-ding-ding of that two-stroke engine was the soundtrack of my early riding career, not to mention the near perpetual dirt-mustache acquired on the trail. I miss that bike, although I don’t miss premix and tuning carburetors. As our Letter of the Month winner, our friends at Wild Ass are rewarding you with a Smart — Air Gel Motorcycle Cushion to make sure that you stay empowered and out on the road. Congrats! — NdS
This is the first letter I’ve written to a magazine. Having been a reader for more years than I can remember, I have seen many industry magazines go by the wayside or reduced to digital only. I realize that many of the new generations of riders are in this digital age and notice today’s retro trends in motorcycles. I fear that these young riders will not know the pleasures of picking up a magazine sitting on the coffee table. It makes you somehow connected to Clement Salvadori as you read his work. I’ve spent so many hours with him that I can feel the pleasant ache of aging bones after a day’s ride. It probably helps that my aging bones ache too. Riding a motorcycle is romantic. They are more than transportation units. Technology has removed much of their character, but I, for one, appreciate Rider magazine’s efforts to pass on the magic romance that is the essence of motorcycling.
— Dave Scrivener
Continuing the Ride
After riding Honda Gold Wings since 1977, I finally decided to sell my current one. It took a lot of soul searching. I wasn’t afraid of dropping it but was worried that picking it up would be impossible. I’ve been reading many stories about older riders, some quitting altogether, some getting scooters. I was able to find a Honda NT700V in excellent condition. My first test was to sit on it and walk it around the seller’s garage. That worked — next I’d go for a test ride. Everything was OK there. I bought it and brought it home today. Now, selling the Wing doesn’t hurt too badly. I just say a prayer before each ride so that I won’t make a mistake. Who knows, maybe a scooter in a couple of years….
— Bob Rau
I have been catching up on my reading. It has been a little confusing with digital and print issues back and forth. I am confident that I speak for many in thanking you and Rider for soldiering on.
Mr. de Sena seems like a good hire. I read a couple of his Road Test Reviews in the latest issue, and he does a good job of letting the reader know how it feels to ride the bike. I like the slightly more technical bent to his reviews, while retaining the real-world detail points that I have always liked about Rider versus some of the other magazines. You have always done a better job of uncovering flaws that come up in the day-to-day living with a bike, such as fuel range, a persnickety fueling procedure, poorly designed seat, or some other minor issue that a long-term owner may need to rectify to do some actual riding in comfort.
Adding what seems to be a little more technical focus is really going to make Rider an even better magazine and hopefully will net a much larger subscriber base.
Sorry to see Greg D. and Ms. Smith move on, but judging by the August issue, you have added a very good Road Test Editor to your team.
I read a lot on my tablet now, as we all do, but I still prefer a paper magazine that can lie flat, be rolled up, fit in a saddlebag, etc., and doesn’t have content covered with pop-up ads and commercial videos. Thanks for doing what you do to produce great moto-content.
— Ron Santos
West Warwick, Rhode Island
You lost me at the beginning of the pandemic, and my summer passed without you. Then, one day last week, I woke up early and wondered why the latest Rider wasn’t on my coffee table. I found you in my inbox (which I try to ignore — thus, the reason I lost you), clicked open the October issue, and fell back in love with your magazine. Eric’s October column was just the right read for this fall. Well done, friend.
I decided that I like the digital version. I enjoyed every page just as much as I enjoyed the paper editions of the past, and I think more importantly, we want you, Rider, to be competitive and financially successful (I assume it is cheaper to produce the digital version, and therefore, your salary can stay competitive — which, as I said, is no disrespect and it is what we want), so that we can enjoy Rider for years to come.
I’ve been a Rider reader for two decades. I encourage everyone to give up the paper copy. And thanks, guys, for another great read.
— Stephen Warner
Buckhannon, West Virginia
I’ve been a Rider subscriber for as long as I can remember, sometime in the early 1990s I think. So, it is hard to imagine that I would forget to renew my subscription. But, in the midst of selling our Texas Hill Country home and moving to the mountains of south-central New Mexico, I did forget. It wasn’t until I was settled in our new home and picked up Rider’s most recent issue and saw the May 2020 date that I realized my mistake! So I quickly went online and renewed. Fast-forward to October 1, 2020, and the arrival of the September 2020 issue. The first thing I did was turn to Mark’s One Track Mind column and read about camping on an ADV bike.
In June, I traded my Yamaha FJR1300 in on a CanAm F3 Limited, and with my last real ADV bike long gone, I thought I was through with bike packing and camping. Not so, I guess — a friend and I will leave for Alaska (my fourth time there) in June 2021. So having read most of Mark’s mind, I moved on to Clement’s Road Tales and was surprised to see in bold, “…roads of 1950 Colorado….” I happen to have a framed highway map of Colorado from the 1950s on the wall in my office! The main highway from Denver to Colorado Springs was U.S. 87 — Interstate 25 wasn’t even a dream yet! Well, enough of this deserved flattery of Mark and Clement; I need to get back to the September issue, especially the Favorite Ride article on the great roads of Wyoming, many of which we’ll be riding next June!
— Russ Locke, via email
I’m an avid reader of Rider magazine. I especially look forward to Mr. Clement Salvadori’s Retrospective column each month. He is always thorough in his narrative of the featured bike, however, I must take exception in his description of an upside-down fork on the Bimota SB6-R. The picture of the bike shows a conventional fork.
Did I misinterpret or like the savvy reader who called him out on the Bultaco Alpina a few issues back, catch him with a misstep!?
At any rate, kudos to him and the entire staff for keeping us both informed and entertained in these trying times of pandemic induced isolation. Rider is a lifeline!
M.A. Domingos, via email
My bad. Thanks for noticing. Apparently, I was paying more attention to a description of a stock SB6-R than looking at the photos, as the fork has indeed been changed from stock. — CS