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Hi Dave,

Just a message to say well done with the online version of the Digest, I try to read what I can each month, however, its such a shame that a ‘proper’ magazine cannot be produced, and yes, I realise and appreciate the fact that it’s doubtless too expensive, with considerably more work and risk involved, but it’s so much nicer to sit down with a cuppa in my favourite chair and have a read of a magazine.

I just cannot get used to sitting in front of my laptop and reading, I suppose the younger generation are fine with it, but being a ‘mere’ 54 years young, call me old fashioned, I don’t mind. Well, maybe one day it will return as a ‘Real’ magazine,

I notice the ‘Letters’ section seems to have disappeared over the last two issues or so? Is this a permanent change I wonder? A shame if it as, as I always enjoy reading the letters, and I am sure I am not alone in that view.

Keep up the good work, Touring/Travel articles are always welcome, however, I like the ones based both in the UK and Europe, as opposed to what other magazines tend to focus on, i.e. Mongolia, Vietnam, Chile, etc., let’s face it most of us are never going to go there, and probably don’t want too in any case! Never mind the cost, many these days are on the miserly pittance of £6.19 per hour (me too!!), for which you cannot buy a gallon of petrol these days. There are so many lovely places/roads/scenery both here and on the near continent, without having to go half way around the world. Although that’s become a huge industry now, to the point of overkill, where it seems everyone and his/her dog have a BMW 1200GS (A – got to have the A of course) and are planning to cross continents, good luck to them, but you can tour on anything, no need for a £15K ‘Adventure Bike’, get yourself a nice sub £3k one instead, save a packet, and enjoy, My £1300 1999 BMW F650, does it all, commutes, tours, easy to work on, 65 MPG, no complex (unnecessary) electronics, 51,000 miles, no major problems, Easy!

Safe riding Dave, Best wishes for the future.

Chris Rees

Sunny Carmarthen

South West Wales

(Well sunny sometimes!!)

Hi Chris, thanks for you comments especially about biking in the real world – it had never occurred to me to draw the comparison between minimum wage slavery and the cost of petrol! It’s fortunate as you say that there are so many wonderful routes so closer to home, especially your home – Ed 

Dear Digest,

My wife and I have ridden to the south of France: 2011 and 2012 on a 1995 BMW F650. She has been my pillion for 52 years now. We also have two vintage bikes (duty and standby) and ride approx 1000 miles on each a year at pre1961 and other events. We lend one bike, a 500cc 1927 New Imperial model 7, to anyone who has never ridden a real old bike before and they then end up buying one! This type of biking is so different. Speed 30 to 40mph plenty of time to view the countryside. But the brakes are v. Poor, so engine braking is important. No suspension, no twist grip. Manual advance/retard, lever throttle and of course a valve lifter to make starting easier!  And of course they are expensive to buy! But they keep going up in price! How about some articles on these oldies. Jacqui Furneaux has visited us so she should be able to tell a good story! I look forward to your comments. I do enjoy the Rider’s Digest and have had to buy an iPad when publication ceased!! We have just purchased a Matchless g9 1960 500cc twin with swinging arm suspension! Last year at the Irish National we did 170miles in one day on our Royal Enfield model 190 976cc 1925 and we were shattered! Hot bath and a large strong drink needed. Hence the Matchless!

Keep up the excellent articles.

David Erskine

Co. Down

Northern Island

It is great to hear from you David and I can’t tell you how chuffed I am that one of our more mature readers bought an iPad so he could make the most of the magazine in its current format! It certainly sounds like you have a fantastic vintage scene over there and you’re right we really should report on it (it’s reassuring to think that we are never likely to run out of fascinating features while we share a dialogue with such an interesting and thoroughly diverse readership) I shall get on to the lovely Jacqui – Ed

Hi Dave,

The Silver Jubilee is at last in my shed. Here, it is posed up with its latter day counterpart, my 2003 Bonneville America with its 904 cc big bore kit, K&N high performance intake system, Scepter pipes, windshield and National Cycle hard bags – and more than 100lb. more weight without the add-ons.

Issue 181 is another excellent read and I really enjoyed your editorial on riding gear. To be honest, I’m an ATGATT rider, even in the sweltering heat we are getting even as I write this (97 degrees and 95% humidity today!).

I guess my ten years working on the ambulance and having taken my share of tumbles over the years has made me resolve to protect myself to extent possible with the best gear for the conditions at hand.

And, in this day and age, the options are very numerous and work pretty well, even in this heat.

For example, my gear of choice when I’m heading out of town on a day long jaunt that could find me returning home in low light is as follows (pic):

  • Icon Contra Mil-Spec high visibility green/yellow retro-reflective armored mesh riding jacket. This works remarkably well in allowing a rush of air around my body, while putting some very tough material between me and the pavement, should the need arise.
  • Akuma Frost helmet with rear-facing LED lights. This helmet is also very well ventilated, though it is a bit on the heavy side.
  • Secondary eye protection – I usually wear light tinted riding glasses with ANSI standard shatterproof lenses. This allows me to raise the helmet face shield when necessary and still have eye protection in place.
  • Denim blue jeans – no armor or padding, but they breathe fairly well in hot weather and do have some toughness against abrasion.
  • Gloves – good quality baseball batting gloves are excellent for hot weather riding. The leather is fine and the better gloves have seams you can’t even feel compared to regular heavy leather riding gloves. I can pick up a dime with the better ones on. The backs are usually well ventilated but incorporate stretch material so they fit like a second skin.  They won’t handle the worst kind of abrasion, but at least there’s a layer of leather between my hands and the road, and hand injuries are pretty common in bike crashes.
  • Boots – I rarely ride in anything less than a good cowboy boot with top grain cowhide vamps and uppers. I’ve seen how painful and disabling foot and ankle injuries can be and boots are the best protection.

I am surprisingly comfortable on most hot days even with this kit – but to be honest, I can soak a T-shirt with sweat sitting at my picnic table in the back yard on days like this.

Your point about dehydration is an interesting one, but a bit off base. The fact is, with leathers on, a person’s body will perspire about the same as with them off – only the leathers won’t allow the perspiration to evaporate, making it look more profuse. Without the leathers or in a mesh riding jacket like I prefer, your actual fluid loss may seem less but only because it is able to evaporate very rapidly. Dehydration when traveling through the air at speed is a real threat – with or without leathers. That’s why my saddle bags are always equipped with two bottles of water. My final bit of kit on all rides is a compact trauma kit. As a commuter over the years, I’ve been first on-scene at three serious motor vehicle accidents (not involving motorcycle, thank God), so I feel it’s a good idea to always be equipped to help should that not all that uncommon need arise.

All the best,

Gary Ilminen

Lone Rock, WI

 1984 Honda VF1100S above the Mississippi River  Triumph Bonneville America and Silver Jubilee

In case you haven’t already seen it Gary, I’ve responded to both you and Mike (below) in my editorial – Ed

Hi Dave,

Sitting here recovering from a recent SMIDSY in which both my shoulders were fractured, I’ve been giving some thought to your editorials in TRD 181 and 182.

181 first. Yes, I’ve sweltered in heavy riding gear on hot days when I’ve been stopped in traffic for five minutes or more, so I have a little sympathy for the shorts and t-shirt riders. Are they daft? When I started riding a bike in the late 50s I didn’t always pull on my Belstaff Black Prince suit. Batting round Oxford from lecture to lecture on my ancient 350 Bullet I’d usually wear a tweed jacket, flannels and the obligatory undergraduate gown in warm weather. That was before Oxford City Council declared war on private motor vehicles. You had to wear the gown to attend academic functions but its protective qualities were zilch. Was I any more sensible than the t-shirt and shorts wearers? No, I don’t think so. Risk? What risk? I was young and invincible then. (Yes, I did at least wear a lid.)

Times, speeds and the performance of bikes have changed a lot since then but it’s not for me to prescribe what you and your wife should have been wearing on your outing. You’re a much more experienced biker than I am. You assessed the risks. You weren’t unlucky. Your decision and may you never be caught out.

When I bought my Bonnie SE in 2009 after bike deprivation for some years, I was amazed at the weight and complexity of my new Tuzo Adventure riding kit but the salesman wisely said, ‘If you ride out in jeans and a t-shirt and come off, it’s too late then to say “Oh shit!” and wish you’d put your gear on.’ Wasn’t he right! Yes, it was a pain to have to put all the gear on for a few minutes’ ride from the weekly meeting of my writing group to Tescos, take the helmet and gloves off and undo the jacket to do a bit of shopping, then make everything fast again before riding home. But while I was sliding feet first and face down along the tarmac after the prang, all that heavy gear did its job. So did the full-face helmet. Without it I would have left half my face on the road. Full marks to Tuzo and Caberg and let’s let the readers draw their own conclusions. Even my glasses and the pipes in my pocket survived.

Which brings me to your praise of the NHS in TRD 182. No, it isn’t free. We pay taxes to support it and other essential services too, and rightly so, but it pulled out all the stops for me when I needed its help. So did the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which isn’t supported by taxpayers. It’s a charity that depends entirely on donations. If you publish this letter, please endorse my plea to all bikers to support your local Air Ambulance. If you never need it, some poor cardiac arrest victim or unfortunate climber on the Lake District fells will. I’m a First Responder too and I’ve met the GNAAS crews twice before when I’ve been out on a shout in our West Cumbrian outback. I was airlifted to the RVI in Newcastle, where I received the best attention I could have wished for. Not only that but medication and physio treatment after I was discharged and even a volunteer driver from the NHS Patient Transport system to take me from where I live in West Cumbria to the RVI yesterday and back home after X-rays and an encouraging meeting with my orthopaedic consultant. I have experienced the NHS at its best and I’m very grateful to it. We all should be and we should cherish it.

My future as a biker is now in doubt. Having survived two severe SMIDSYs I’m reluctant to risk a third. At 72 I don’t bounce as well as I used to and I put my family and friends through a lot of anxiety both times. Time to call it a day? I’ll think about it, but I’ll still carry on enjoying the brilliant writing and photos in TRD. You did us a wonderful service in reviving it.


Mike Harrington


Hi Graham,

Some interesting articles you’ve written, keep up the good work.

A quick question for you. ‘D’ ring helmet buckles. Does the little popper holding the very end of the strap have to be popped to be legally ‘fastened’.

I would take the view that it doesn’t since there’s still loads of slack between the popper and the rings, and it forms no part in keeping the strap tight. It’s just popped to stop it flapping and hitting the side of the helmet as you ride along.

That’s what I think and what I suggest to folk I’m training, but I’ve not had an authoritative view of this. So, could you clarify if the popper HAS to be popped to be legal.



I knew the answer but PC Graham has responded in full – Ed


Glad you like the articles.

As long as the helmet is secure, all is fine, the only thing about not using the popper is getting a sore neck if it flaps about a bit, and some keen young officer may not see that it is properly fastened and waste a bit of your time while it is checked.

Here is a section of the legislation that relates to helmets, which may clear or muddy the waters depending on how you like legalese.

Section 16 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows the Secretary of State for Transport to make regulations requiring persons driving or riding (otherwise than in sidecars) on motor cycles to wear protective headgear.

16(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations requiring, subject to such exceptions as may be specified in regulations, persons driving or riding (otherwise than in sidecars) on motor cycles of any class specified in the regulations to wear protective headgear of such description as may be so specified.

16(2) A requirement imposed by regulations under this section shall not apply to any follower of the Sikh religion while he is wearing a turban.

16(3) Regulations under this section may make different provision in relation to different circumstances.

16(4) A person who drives or rides on a motor cycle in contravention of regulations under this section is guilty of an offence; but notwithstanding any enactment or rule of law no person other than the person actually committing the contravention is guilty of an offence by reason of the contravention unless the person actually committing the contravention is a child under the age of sixteen years.

(i) Every person driving or riding on a motor bicycle (other than in a sidecar) on a road –

(a) must wear protective headgear, which
(b) must be securely fastened to the head of the wearer by means of straps or other fastening provided for that purpose (if it has a chin cup it must have an additional strap to go under the jaw), and
(c) must bear a mark indication in compliance with the British Standard/equivalent EU standard, or
(d) be of a type which, by virtue of its shape, material and construction could reasonably be expected to afford protection similar to, or greater than a helmet which conforms to the latest British Standard 6658:1985 (or equivalent EU standard).

Graham Pierce Pc1009


I have been reading your mag since it started. I loved the section where you listed tyres, breakdowns, etc. cause I kept the mag in case of emergencies. That was use number one. Number two was, I used the outside cover as a funnel to top up my oil. Number three was, I used the inside centre page, folded, to prop up the table in my local. Number four was, I used it to write down jobs on before the XDA came around. Number five, it used to sit in my top box and slowly degrade into finite particles of paper, which at much cost to my time and effort, I had to dispel. Number six, middle pages for paper aeroplanes. I digress.

I was coming in from Reading on the four, I was tonning it on the white lines, had been for about 10 mins, when I hit the elevated section. It was chockablock, traffic moving at about 60 mph, all three lanes full. I was overtaking a limo and undertaking a coach as we approached the bend as the bus lane splits and the chevrons start.

Now I don’t pretend I am perfect.

Far from it.

Not too far.

The tyre was on the way out I had a busted fork seal and I was using my finger tips to hold the bars in a crouch position as I hit the cat’s eye, chevron and the wind blast as you approach a coach at a ton, it got messy.

My hands came off the bars as they went into a tank slapper, and I came off.

I remember passing the wheels of the coach thinking, they’re big.

As I slid on my back between the coach and the limo, my bike slid before me so fast it caught up with the car in front and smashed into his boot.

I followed, now on my face, looking at the oncoming traffic. I rested in the middle lane facing three lanes of motorway traffic.

I stood up and walked to the window of the coach and said, “can you give me a lift into town, my bikes fu*ked”. The driver said, “fu*k off you nutter”.

As I pulled the documents from my pockets to give to the driver whose car my bike hit, with blooded hand cause I had no gloves on, a courier came through the lines of stationary traffic and stopped. “Can I get a ride into Hammersmith” I said. “Get on” he said.

I would like to thank that man for helping me.





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One thought on “In the Saddle ~ 183

  1. I hope Chris Rees from ‘Sunny Carmarthen’ (first letter) will enjoy reading my little article in the November 2013 issue about the adventures of Austin Vince and his mates in Mondo Enduro, Terra Circa and most recently, Mondo Sahara. Austin & Co. were pioneers of ‘adventure biking on a budget’ and have always used cheap, second hand trailbikes. It’s a supreme irony that Ewan & Charley copied their RTW route, with a no-expense spared budget for bikes, kit and back-up and ‘forgot’ to give Austin any credit for his help and inspiration while giving a lot of people the impression that theirs was the only way to do it. Have a look at http://www.austinvince.com and http://www.loisontheloose.com for a different approach to life and travel! PNB

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