A reader perspective makes our publisher’s notebook at the Calgary Motorcycle Show.
“I love your magazine,” said the man as he walked over to our booth at the Calgary Motorcycle Show in January. “But I have a problem.” His first comment is always good to hear, but the second invariably results in a pause as we wait for the other shoe to drop. There have been a few problem over the years, though none of them have been insurmountable. Sometimes it’s an easy issue to fix like a forgotten change of address. Other times it’s something more personal. In this case it was the latter.
No one likes to read anything about their favourite machine that doesn’t put the product to which they are committed in a less than favourable light. In this case a comment was made by one of our columnists about trikes that caused the reader concern. The writer questioned the inherent safety of trikes, and anecdotally illustrated how easy it is to put one into a tankslapper. Essentially just by taking one hand off the bars. Our subscriber didn’t care for that conclusion, saying both he and his friend were trike riders. Of course the handling of the trike would be compromised if you take both hands off the bars, he said.
To this reader it would have been akin to complaining that the rear tire of your motorcycle wears prematurely after doing consistent burn-outs. Why are you going to take both hands off the bars? He wanted to know.
In his view, anyone who rides a trike would know that you don’t do that, least of all at speed, and especially if you’re even further distracted by, say, fiddling with a jacket zipper. I told him to send us a letter and we’ll make his point known if telling me wasn’t going to suffice.
I have seen a trike go into a tankslapper when both hands were taken off the bars. But how often do I take both hands off the handlebars when I’m riding a motorcycle? The answer is, never. How often do both hands come off the steering wheel when I’m driving a car? Again, never. Most drivers (I hope) do not regard being in control of a vehicle as just so much down time. For most, tasks such as talking on the phone, eating, shaving or texting do not take precedence over driving. Keeping both hands on the wheel is a basic rule of driving and that rule also applies to motorcycles and trikes. One hand off to adjust your visor or relieve a cramp, sure, but engaging both hands in an activity totally unrelated to the control of the machine is asking for trouble. Which brings us back to the original concern of our reader.
I have ridden conventional trikes and the contemporary BRP Spyder and found they both have very specific riding characteristics that don’t translate from the motorcycle experience. Which was his point.
He walked away still loving the magazine, still not happy about what was written about trikes, but hopefully happy that someone had listened to his side of the story. He may write a letter to the editor, he may not. But he got his point across.
It’s an eye-opening experience to visit the bike shows and talk with our readers—some of their comments are quite unexpected. One reader asked me about a set of photos we had run in a particular issue, and if one was a crop of the other. It’s good to know there are readers out there who are paying that much attention to what we produce. It will keep us on our toes. Another fellow came to the booth and explained that he had just got his licence and was thinking of a fully dressed touring bike for himself and his wife to tour North America. A gentle nudge toward something smaller and more manageable until he was a little more experienced was taken with appreciation. Hopefully, this first-time interlocutor will become another long-time CB reader.