Letter of the Month
I enjoyed Tuttle’s July column, One Track Mind, “Tool Addiction.” I had a rather heavy bunch of tools in a bag strapped to my Kawasaki KLR650 when I was doing that kind of riding, and I never got stranded because of it. Being a student of English, I’m sure Mark would like to know that the word “bailing” refers to keeping a leaky boat afloat, leaving a party early, or spending your hard earned money to get an unsavory relative out of jail prior to trial. A bail is also a half loop of metal used to support a Conestoga canvas top, or used as a bucket handle on smaller form. Baling wire is used to keep hay bales and motorcycles together. Although…it could be misspelled in store packaging. I’ve seen duct tape in packaging that says “Duck Tape,” but that could be an attempt at clever or funny marketing.
Ken Hanawalt, via email
Thanks for bailing us out on that typo, Ken, the EIC is duly chastened. As our Letter of the Month winner and in return for your astute eye and pro bono proofreading contribution, Motonation is going to send you a pair of Trilobite Teff riding jeans. Congratulations!
The Tracer Lives
Good review (“Capable and Quick,” June 2020), but I would point out the fact that the base Yamaha Tracer 900 is also still an option that probably compares more closely to the BMW F 900 XR. I was recently in the market for a bike in this class and rode both the XR and the Tracer 900. I ended up buying a holdover 2019 Tracer 900 for just $7,600. The Tracer 900 engine has so much more character than the XR so it was an easy decision for me for that fact and of course cost. There are still quite a few 2019 Tracers out there at a very good price point.
Jim Kircher on ridermagazine.com
Thanks for pointing that out, Jim. As we wrote in the comparison, “BMW considers the Tracer 900 base model a core competitor for its F 900 XR; we’re pitting it against the fully equipped 2020 Tracer 900 GT because the Tracer 900 hasn’t yet returned as a 2020 model.” Ergo, we couldn’t get one to test. –EIC
Western New England
That’s a great route (“Ride Along the Riverside,” Scott A. Williams, June 2020). I live along it and never tire of it. Next time you’re in Townshend, be sure and stop in at the Dam Diner (it’s by the Townshend Dam). They’ve just finished a remodel and I haven’t been in since, but it’s always been a friendly, reasonable lunch stop. Their pies are homemade too!
Stephen Bushway on ridermagazine.com
I want to express my appreciation for the quality of the digital Rider magazines you’ve been providing for the last four months. Although the format is different, the quality is just as high as with the print versions. You threw me a scare though when Eric’s column didn’t appear in May. I feared he was the victim of cost cutting or something like that. I was glad to see his return in June and July. I’ve noticed one thing though and thought you might find it interesting. Even with reminders on my to-do list and calendar, I found I wasn’t keeping up with the digital versions. Even with a laptop and an iPad, I really don’t enjoy reading reports, magazines, etc. on a screen. I tend to print almost everything that is important to me—including the magazine. So I’ve been saving the pdf version, paging through to identify the pages I want to read in print, and printing them as a package. It took almost no time to catch up to the current issue once I could grab them and sit in my usual reading spot. Plus, I have something to save in my magazine boxes where I store my Rider issues after I’ve read them. I look forward to print versions when/if they return, but I find that I’m enjoying my printed digital editions as much as I enjoy the normal print versions. Please keep up the great work. And continue to stay safe.
Larry Goldstein, Crimora, Virginia
More SXT-125 Love
Regarding the Harley-Davidson Aermacchi SXT-125 (Retrospective, April 2020), my brother had one new, 1974. It had serious electrical problems that never ended. It would run for 30-40 minutes and die from a dead battery. It was underpowered when compared to Japanese bikes of the day. I think he just got a lemon. I had the 1974 Harley-Davidson X-90. It had a magneto and ran like a top. Slow, but fun. I’ve had many street bikes since then and looking back, the most fun I had on two wheels were on the trails as a boy. My next bike will be a dual-purpose that might see pavement once in a while. ROB, via email SMALL BIKES RULE I was looking forward to reading the article on the Yamaha WR250 comparison (“Dual-Sport vs. Dirt Bike,” June 2020). The reason is that I just bought a 2019 Yamaha XT250 back in January of this year, and living in Canada, have only recently been able to get out on it. When I first learned to ride (legally anyway) back in the 1970s, my wife and I rode off-road for three years with an older, more experienced Scottish gentleman who was a trials rider (Yamaha TY175). While John was a good road rider, his attitude was that anyone can ride a bike at 60 mph, but can you ride one at six? He felt that it was off-road where you learned those instinctive skills that can save you on the road. I rode a little Honda XL125 during those excursions, and had a hoot learning a lot about bike control and how to handle different terrain, approach angles and obstacles. As a result, when I later bought a road bike (a used 1973 BMW R75/5) I was much more confident while handling it, so could put full focus on traffic. Now I am 71, still have the Beemer, and wanted something that I could ride on back roads/dirt roads/cart tracks etc. So many dirt/adventure/ dual-purpose bikes these days have very high seats and I wanted something that I could easily put my feet down on both sides. I found that very important for dabbing, etc., during my earlier off-road days and, quite frankly, my knees at 71 are not what they were at 31. In addition, one of the bikes that was available during the Canada Safety Council course that I took in 1977 was a Yamaha DT175 (most were Honda XL125s) and I was kind of drawn to the DT. Thus, there was a bit of an affinity to the XT250 to start with. I had also read about the travels of the Russels (russellsenroute.com) who crossed Asia, Europe and the U.S. (48,000 kilometers) on a pair of XT250s, which showed how reliable the bikes were. That just suited my style and aims. Looked at the WR, sat on the XT, and deal done.
Alan Chinn, via email
Giving A MIPS
I wish all of your helmet reviews had a “Yes/No” box for rotational force technology, MIPS or otherwise. It is unacceptable that motorcycle helmet manufacturers have been slow to adopt this technology, since it may be the single biggest thing that can be done right now to increase rider safety. Rider magazine is in a unique position to make people aware of this technology and I believe it is important enough for you to address at the beginning of any helmet review. It is the very first thing I look for when considering any new helmet, but unfortunately the information can sometimes be hard to find. My kids and I all have MIPS in our bicycle and skiing helmets and I was able to find my son a Bell motorcycle helmet with a similar technology, but I haven’t been able to find something with the features my wife and I want that includes this important technology. Please tell these guys to catch up! I look forward to seeing your print version again.
John Kaltenbach, via email
Thanks John, we’re all in favor of MIPS when it will increase a helmet’s ability to dissipate rotational forces over the same helmet without MIPS. Several manufacturers currently offer MIPS in some of their helmet models, and it is definitely worth considering when shopping for your next lid. Do keep in mind that a helmet’s entire design contributes to how much or how little it dissipates rotational forces. Features such as the shell shape and EPS liner’s ability to move within the shell can play a role, and in fact some motorcycle helmets without MIPS may actually resist or dissipate rotational forces better than others with MIPS. Premium helmet makers devote an incredible amount of money, research and time toward making their helmets more effective. Since MIPS is still an emerging technology in the motorcycle market and few proprietary helmet manufacturers have adopted it yet, until there is more consistent data we still think that the important thing is to buy a certified helmet that you like and that fits well, whether or not it has MIPS, and wear it all of the time. –EIC
I’ve been a reader of Rider for many years, and still love and ride motorcycles at the ripe old age of 65. About a year ago, I decided to start a Facebook group page called, “Thumper Lovers.” I’ve always had a love for the singlecylinder bike, and wanted to give other devotees of the thumper a page to go to look at pics of others’ bikes, or post pics of their own thumper, or post discussion questions. I’m the chief cook and bottle washer, and take it upon myself to post thumper art or vintage thumper ads. It’s a labor of love, and gives me something to do. We just passed 100 members. I have reached out to other bike riders in the print industry who were kind enough to join. If you are curious about the group’s members, drop by and check it out! Just type Thumper Lovers in your Facebook search area, and you will land on our discussion page. If you would like to add your name, just click on the “Join” section and let me know. If you are too busy with work (or riding) to visit, that’s OK. Ride on! (and ride safe!)
John Janssen, Easley, South Carolina Thumper Lovers Administrator