Letter of the Month
I’m seriously considering the new Yamaha MT-03 for my first bike (“Little Big Fun,” May 2020). I don’t like fairings, so the naked style is more in line with what I like aesthetically. All of the standard features on this bike (ABS, LED lights, etc.) cost extra on all of the other bikes I’ve researched. I’m about 5-feet, 10-inches tall and when I sat on this bike and an R3 the MT-03 definitely felt bigger to me; the seat was more comfortable as well. All the thought and engineering (like making the brakes not as touchy) that went into this bike for first-time riders is appealing to me. I know I’m just starting out and want to enjoy it while I’m learning and not be stressed about having a bike that’s too much for me. I want to ride around town and get better on a bike built for newbies, so I can love riding as much as the experienced riders down the road. All the reviews and research I’ve done make it sound like this will be a great fit.
Brook, via ridermagazine.com
Brook, if only I had your wisdom and foresight when I first became a licensed rider, I suspect my learning curve wouldn’t have been so steep. Choosing a bike like the Yamaha MT-03 is incredibly wise for a multitude of reasons. Between the approachable weight, manageable physical size, and welcoming performance, the MT-03 and bikes in the lightweight class are all perfect platforms to begin building the skills needed to become an experienced rider, down the proverbial road. When you do pick up your new bike, be sure to let us know! As our Letter of the Month winner, our friends at Michelin would like to send you a Michelin branded beverage bottle and Nelson-Rigg tank bag! –NdS
The Z Finally Comes Home
I guess you could say that I’m suffering from the “isolation blues.” I’ve been spending a lot of time reading my Rider magazines and watching videos of motorcycles online. Anyway, all that did was to make me want a new Kawasaki Z900RS, which I ended up buying a couple weeks ago. There was a 2020 available but I chose to get a 2019 since it was offered in the candy-tone orange and brown like the original Z1 back in 1973. I liked your review on the 2018 model when it first came out and also liked the Rider Comparo with the 2020 Z900RS, Suzuki Katana and Honda CB1000R (“Return of the UJMs,” March 2020). However, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the 2018 and the 2020 Z900RS on your dyno charts. I noticed that the 2020 model made about five horsepower and five lb-ft of torque more, at 200 rpm lower. Did Kawasaki make any changes to the engine since 2018? Was a different dyno used? Or is this just a case of one bike being a little better or different than the other?
I started riding in 1974 (a very good year) and admired the Z1 but didn’t have enough experience or money and had to settle for a 1975 Kawasaki S1 (250 triple 2-stroke) for my first new bike, which I don’t regret. I’m very glad that there are more retro models because, at 68 years old, I can’t get used to some of these strange-looking models coming out nowadays. I hope I can keep riding for many more years and of course I hope I can always have a new copy of Rider on my nightstand. Thanks for all the great magazines over the years!
Glenn Dupre, Houma, Louisiana
Glenn, although that difference in power output could be the result of some minor undocumented changes Kawasaki made for emissions or other reasons, it’s more than likely just slight manufacturing and break-in differences between the two bikes combined with environmental differences on the dyno days not accounted for by correction factors. Other variables such as chain tension, rear tire type and tire pressure can also play a role. –EIC
Rider Mag Hits the Airwaves
Just wanted to say a big “thank you!” for the new podcast. It’s great to hear the personalities behind the written words. Keep up the good work!
Alan McCain, via email
Rider’s podcasts are available on SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes. Check ‘em out! –EIC
In the Eye of the Beholder
Some bikes’ functionality looks great on paper but in person they just don’t work. Other bikes have an aesthetic beauty only appreciated in person. My BMW R 1200 CLC was a good example and even then it got down to personal taste. I will have to eyeball the new 2021 BMW R 18 before casting judgment (Kickstarts, June 2020). I do like the lines and have to agree with others that the muffler could be considered either Art Deco or Art Millennial. Tubeless tires are a must, spokes or not, although the spokes speak to the rendering BMW is attempting to express. Pin stripes left off the base model though, come on BMW, that is just too cheeky! You can do better than that for the base price. Overall, I would give it a thumbs-up but I’d need to look at the beast in person for a final opinion.
The Harley-Davidson/Aermacchi SXT-125 (Retrospective, April 2020) was the first motorcycle I owned as a new rider, and I was completely unprepared for the problems this bike would give me. At first glance it was a very handsome bike in great condition, hardly used. I felt lucky to find this gem, and in fact it seemed too good to be true. As I was riding it home I couldn’t have known that would be the first and last time I ever rode it. The oil injector never worked right and the bike smoked horribly. Eventually the electrics burned themselves out and I spent more money trying to fix it and get it working than it was worth. I eventually sold the bike for next to nothing to someone much more resourceful, both mechanically and financially, who had an interest in the bike for its unique place in motorcycling history.
Alicean, via ridermagazine.com
My senior year of high school I purchased the Harley/Aermacchi in a 175cc configuration as an upgrade from my first bike, a Honda CT50. This was in Germany, as my Dad was stationed there in the Army. I don’t know if there was a U.S. 175cc version. It was quite fun and, as someone else mentioned, the Germans didn’t know what to make of this “motocross” looking bike on the street. Interestingly, the tank and fenders were steel. It was so much fun zipping around Europe and I still love the “ring-a-ding-ding” of a 2-stroke.
Reigniting the Flame
I recently bought a yellow V-Strom 1050XT (“Evolution of Adventure,” April 2020 and “Chasing Giants,” page 44 this issue). I’m a massive fan of the old TL1000R sportbike and the moment I test rode the Strom, the love for the TL came flooding back. I’ve had BMW GSAs in the past but would never go back to one now. This thing is just so much fun and, since I spend 99% of my time on roads (as Suzuki knew most ADV riders do—gravel roads are not “off-road”), this beauty fits the bill. Handling is so sweet and the way it develops power generates a face-cracking smile. The old V-Strom was good but a bit bland to look at, while this one just fires me up (beauty in the eye of the beholder)!
Greg, via ridermagazine.com
Dreaming of Comparisons
Great review on the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure (“Adventurous Aspirations,” June 2020). Looks like a suitably quirky and capable dual-purpose bike ideal for exploring the back lanes. Question is, how will it stack up against the mighty Royal Enfield Himalayan? The Himalayan is way down on power and way up on weight, but I think its character and torque might swing it for me.
The Times They Are a-Changin’
Eric Buell is an American hero, alongside the likes of Glen Curtiss and Jimmy Doolittle (Retrospective, March 2020). Harley-Davidson also deserves our praise for its courage, stepping out of its comfort zone and venturing into new markets like electric and ADV bikes. Will they succeed? Who knows? But I think that had the Buell line met H-D’s hopes and expectations, the LiveWire would have the Buell name slapped across the tank!
Phil “General T” Nelson