Issue 15 Mar-Apr 2008
Back Issues


Your thoughts, opinions & adventures

Cruisers what cruisers?

With regard to the soap box by Paul Facey in issue 14 who feels 'MAG has the balance wrong'.

I read the above mentioned piece with interest and an open mind, and Mr Facey did make some cogent and relevant points. However, after reading it, I then had another flick through that issue to review the contents:

Roland brown reviews the FJR 1300 - a sports tourer not a cruiser.
Words from the chair with a background picture of a FZ1000 - not a cruiser.
In the news on page 17 a piece on the new limited edition fireblade - not a cruiser.
On the letters page, an item about a vintage Sunbeam.
Page 26, an article about long distance travel in Africa aboard a BMW R1250GS - not a cruiser.
My bike on page 26 was about suzie's Ducati Monster a fast roadster and her classic Moto Morini. Still no cruisers!
My bike on page 39 was about a classic matchless G80 - not a cruiser.
Page 40 had an article on touring by Goldwing - not cruisers.
Page 50 was the article about touring India on an enfield - not a cruiser.
The MAGsport piece on pages 64-65 definitely didn't show any cruisers!
The youth page on mini moto racing on page 67 didn't appear to have any cruisers either!

Yes the magazine shows pictures of custom bikes and rallies, that is part of MAG life - going to parties and having fun whilst supporting the fight for ALL riders rights, but what is wrong with that?

I attend rallies when I can and have been a regular at the Farmyard party since I started riding (and joined MAG) 12 years ago. I have seen plenty of sports bike riders at rallies and as far as I know they are always made welcome.

I currently ride a TDM900 - a bike that is uncommon and doesn't fit into anyone's niche, and a Majesty 400 which is even rarer. I don't wear camo or leather or denim cutoffs, but I am certainly no weekend rider (I use my bikes all year 'round), and I have never felt left out, marginalised or alienated by MAG as a body or by its members when I go to rallies. I have met some wonderful people and made many new friends, talked bikes and b****cks for hours with new mates and old, and never cared what they rode whether it was old or new, shiny or tatty, clean or dirty, cruiser or sports bike.

MAG is not bike inclusive or bike exclusive - it is just MAG and thank God it is there to campaign on our behalf.
Mitch Nix

ps. I love the rally reports and photos of rally goers, having fun and enjoying life to the full.

Soapbox man is right

I have only just joined MAG and read issue 14 of 'ROAD', the Soapbox article by Paul Facey really struck a chord. I am a sportsbike rider who does regular trackdays, I am also an IAM member. I have a 900 road legal Blade that I use as a track bike and a CB1300 Honda for the road. I love the track day atmosphere, also the people you meet there. On the road I like to make 'progress' when in the national speed limit and the number of Harley/cruiser style riders who sneer at me as I go past them is ridiculous. I recently passed a whole group while 'offsiding', I had the view, so kept it. The lead bikes flashed. In another incident on a dual carriageway, a group of Harley style bikes blocked the outside lane at 70mph - who sticks to 70mph? I was in a group of riders, all IAM members - two were observers, all out for a 'play.' We got through eventually followed by the usual reaction.

I'm afraid Mr Facey is dead right, you need ALL of us. I've never seen a MAG rep at a trackday. There are loads of them throughout the year. These guys spend hundreds on the day, plus travelling costs and buy a new set of tyres every few trackdays. The regulars are also a bit swift. I feel sure if MAG ran a promotion at a trackday you would have considerable success. These guys spend £30 a head just on photos of the day. Mention the recently defeated 'off road motorcycle' bill.

I read an article in one of the monthly bike mags when your David Short took up his post as campaigns Manager. I felt then, as I do now that if anyone can make a difference - he can. So I've now joined MAG, an organisation I would not normally have considered. I am a member of (East Kent Advanced Motorcyclists) EKAM
Alan Douglas

Ed. MAG is for everyone and we have made huge efforts to attract riders from across the entire motorcycling spectrum. A few years back we spent thousands for a stand, and moving graphics on the big screens at a World Superbike round. Attendance was in the region of 30,000 and not one member was recruited on the weekend. More recently MAG ran a track day that was badly undersubscribed and cost us money.

MAG is forever being told what will definitely work often based on impressive sounding attendance numbers or the spending power of those attending. Don't get me wrong, all ideas are welcome but don't be astonished if we are cautious about how we spend members' money. In terms of return on investment, small club events where stand costs are modest or nil tend to win hands down. We got a good deal at the NEC this year, trimmed our staffing and ended up in profit.

Interestingly, despite traditional conceptions, the most popular category of bike ridden by MAG members (60% at the last survey) is the sport tourer.

Rant man out of order

I feel that I must respond to the article by Paul Facey (Soap Box ROAD14 too many cruisers). A number of points come to mind. The attack on the way a lot of MAG members dress is I think a smoke screen. Every social group has it's uniform. It is a way of declaring that you are a member of that group. If Paul is stating that the sports bike rider is better because he wears full length leathers to aid protection then he needs to ask more sports bike riders why they wear them as I have done in the course of research. They will tell you that it is to fit in. That It's the thing to do, It's fashion and that's why they match the bike.'

As for MAG not appealing to the sports bike rider I would ask anyone who has tried to talk to a lot of 'race replica enthusiasts' about why they should join MAG what the stock answer is. It is nothing to do with the magazine, it is nothing to do with the image of MAG members. It is a fact that most do not believe that their hobby is at threat and it's very hard to convince riders that MAG has prevented bad laws.

MAG has spent a long time wooing the sports bike rider and has even sponsored a race team to try to reach out to them.

In short the article was very negative towards the bikers who really support MAG by turning up at rallies and spending money, by turning up at demos, by writing to their elected representatives. They are the present back bone of this organisation. Do not criticise them until you can be constructive with positive ideas as to what would really embrace the race bike rider and help us get the same commitment that the cruiser and custom rider has given MAG over the years.

Allow the 100bhp ban in and watch the screams come.
Tony Nightingale
Life Member

PS I used to ride sports bikes.

Soapbox man got it wrong

Ref Paul Facey's soap box. 'The ROAD is another magazine along the lines of BSH.' You must be reading issues that no-one else has seen. As for 'a page or two about racing somewhere in the back.' Do you read newspapers? Where is the sport found?

I'll tell you why we take the piss out of full leathers - because you aren't Valentino Rossi, you can't ride like him and the scuffs on your knee sliders are made with an angle grinder...
Ride free and forever, bikers.
G Woodrow

Ed: Savagely abbreviated in the interest of preventing WW3

The ROAD alienates?

Paul who ever upset you in the past has certainly left an everlasting impression on you which unfortunately has resulted in you probably alienating the majority of The Road's readers rather than trying to bring all of us bikers together under one banner.

You go on about cruisers and sports bikes then after all that ranting and raving you finally hit the proverbial nail on the head with your last sentence 'After all, we're all bikers aren't we?'

Well that's right and the most important thing to remember is that we ARE all bikers no matter what we ride. Although The Road may not appeal to the majority of bikers - who ever they are, it does reflect the membership or more rightly those who actively contribute.

If you don't like what's in 'The Road' then do something about it. Put yourself forward as editor - sorry Mutch you know what they say about variety and the spice of life. (eeek - Ed)

Get involved at any level. Submit articles about sports bikes, organise sport bike events etc, etc

You mention that a lot of the MAG members have to change their attitude to sports bikers - well let us name names because I personally have not come across this prejudice. I have come across a few cliques but that doesn't bother me that much. It would be interesting to see if other members have experienced the same as you.

Finally I agree that to survive MAG needs to look to the future and to the new and upcoming bikers but once again you refer to sports bikers as the only group that can save MAG - really?

Sorry Paul the only people that will save MAG are bikers, no matter what they ride and as long as MAG can keep them interested we have a chance of stopping the politicians who want to stop our enjoyment of biking.
Steve Rowe - a Japanese/ Chopper/ British/ Classic/ Moped/Cruiser/ old git who should know better

Soapbox man got it right

I must write to confirm my total agreement with the Soapbox article by Paul Facey in the last publication. He has hit the nail right on the head. It has been on my mind to attempt a similar letter, but he has done it for me!

On the other hand, top marks go to you for publishing what is after all, a criticism of MAG. In my 47 years of riding I have been to a lot of countries and clocked up a fair few miles,and ridden and owned all sorts of different bikes, during which time I have met a lot of those who can only be described as 'characters' the type of which only biking can produce. I am pleased to say that some of them have become life-long friends.

In turn, I would like youngsters and new motorcyclists to experience just some of the many pleasures I have had, and this is the main reason for me being a MAG member. I know you are dedicated people, but please listen to what Mr.Facey has to say, and in the process, keep up the good work.

Ed The ROAD will always publish intelligent criticism, so long as it comes from a paid up member. Free speech is the foundation of democracy and MAG is a democratic organisation.

Rant man right

Firstly, thanks for all the time and effort you put in producing The Road for MAG's members.

However, I do agree with much of what Paul Facey says (The Road, issue 14, Soapbox), about the seeming over-representation of a certain group or style of rider in the magazine - and I quote: '...custom bikes, cruisers, dodgy haircuts, even dodgier hats, rallies and looking like a 70's reject...'

I'm just an ordinary biker who just happens to prefer traditional, naked bikes so I don't particularly identify with either sports bikes, cruisers, customs, etc. That doesn't mean to say I don't like them though, not at all - I've ridden them but they're just not for me.

I mention this to try and illustrate no particular bias. But as someone who works in the publishing industry, I can say that whilst there is a lot to commend in The Road, it's use of pictures in particular does seem to represent certain types of bikers more than others.

The readership of one of the magazines I work on has a large majority of its readership in one particular, narrowly defined demographic. However, we feel that we can't have virtually every pic in the magazine featuring that demographic because we don't want people who aren't in that group, or new readers, to feel excluded or that the magazine's not for them. It's true that 80 per cent of the pics we get sent are from, and of, that main group. It just means we have to try harder to source pics and stories which represent the whole readership. Only in that way can we serve all the readers (current and potential) and increase our readership by targeting those under-represented groups and make them feel they are welcome too.

I joined MAG in preference to the BMF because I believed, and still do, that we are more active, more . . . not militant, exactly, but more willing to make a fuss and stand up for bikers' rights. But after reading The Road for the last couple of years and seeing the way the membership was depicted in it, I did seriously start to wonder whether MAG was right for me - I just didn't feel represented or like I belonged.

I did renew in the end, in spite of the image problem. Mainly because I wanted to support a very worthwhile and important organisation, not because I felt like it was my spiritual home - which saddens me a little.

It could well be that the pics published in The Road are truly representative of the vast majority of the membership. If you and the majority are happy with that, then fine - maybe it's just me and Paul Facey who are out of step. But if you want to make MAG look like it represents all riders then The Road has to lead the way by appealing to a broader cross-section of the biking community.
Chris Hogg

Ed I think the impression of MAG that you identify comes from the fact that rallies and parties tend to inspire the taking of photographs. The rallying, party'n members therefore get more coverage than other members. I understand the point that several people are making but there is no way that I am going to exclude members who have taken the trouble to send in pics of their events in the interests of image. Perhaps the answer is for other sorts of members to send in pictures of themselves. We're a broad church.

Sports bike riders in MAG

I have been featured in 'My Bike' in Road . My first bike when joining MAG in 1988 was a GPZ 900, then regarded as the most extreme sports bike, certainly undisputed fastest. I currently ride a Suzuki TL1000 S. I wear a full leather suit, complete with knee sliders etc. I have attended numerous meetings where persons have said sports bike riders don't join MAG. At one SW AGM, I asked the other two leather clads to stand up so that the speaker could see them better. No one present rode a Harley or BMW. What chance drivers seeing us if MAG members can't?

Having ridden continuously since 1987, covering 94,00 miles, when do I stop being a born again biker, not capable of handling a modern machine? (I have ridden R1, BMW K1200S , ZX9R and various others)
Mike Baker

Gross editorial incompetence

The scene ... Bathroom, Steam, Tumbler of whisky ... glasses on (getting old) .. lay back open mag ... begin to read ... FJR1300 A/AS ... mmm nice clutchless eh? ... read on ... two pages later .... intrigued looks like a great system ...and the Pictures ? NOOOOOO cut off ... the one bit I want to see in the whole article, and you can't be arsed to show it !!!

Where was the 'Round Button' and the 'Finger Lever' ...not bloody there that's where .... Come on think about it.

Still Soaking

Ed The Editor has left the building .... to hang himself

Cars at rallies

Re The Soap Box issue 13 (why do people want to bring cars to bike rallies?) Don't let Jakki Francis go to a BMF 'Memba Rally or Tail End event.
D Clerk ex BMF member
Alan Douglas

Mayoral election

I admire your campaign 'Bikers are Voters'. It is both worthwhile and effective and I would usually fully endorse it. However, your invitation to readers of the latest edition of The Road, to contact both candidates in the London Mayoral election is partisan and misleading. There are more than two candidates.

Brian Paddick is the Liberal Democrat candidate and I am sure research will identify the other candidates.

I have visited the area of the MAG website related to this campaign and feel that you would be much more effective if you had links directly to the candidates or their email addresses so that the process of sending questions to them would be much more straightforward. If you want to get the message to politicians you need to make it as easy and straightforward as possible.
David P Morgan
Epsom and Ewell Borough Councillor
Riding Gold Wing and Pan European

Ed: My Apologies, I guess I am a victim of narrow media focus.


As a fellow fan of the word 'pusillanimous' (favoured by Ferg) I wonder if you are familiar with the works of the fine band The Ruttles? That fine Beatles tribute band and film/album from 1978 featuring Neil Innes and Eric Idle amongst many others. Anyway, one of their finest tracks (Another Day) contains our beloved word (several times!). Check out the film or album All You Need Is Cash if you don't believe me!

'... I'm on my way, I cannot stay another day.
You're so pusillanimous, oh yea. Nature's calling and I must go there.
A glass of wine with Gertrude Stein I know I never share.

Ride Free and Beware of the Flowers

Health and insanity

In regard to, what can be done with the health & safety loonies, (The Road issue 14). I've have worked on the inside of H&S, i.e. making and implementing policy. By far the biggest problems lay with the college boys and the people who have no direct contact with the areas they are legislating about, both of which groups lack practical experience. Practical experience is the basis of commonsense, something else they lack in abundance. I offer two viable solutions:

The government adopt a shoot to kill policy against all these loonies. (The least extreme of the offers). We line them up and shoot them with a siege catapult loaded with the carcasses of the PC brigade. I personally prefer this solution because it deals with 2 fringes of lunacy in one hit. Excuse the pun.

As for mad company policies, I had to argue the case on the mileage. Some people in their 1.6, 2 litre and 2.4 litre cars objected to me, on my 1100 cc bike, getting the same mileage payout as they did, but I won that one.

Francis Wood (AKA Titus A Newt)

Come to the Farmyard

Reading the letter from Mark Morris in ROAD 14 I can only say that as his first rally Mark chose one of the best rallies ever. MAG start organising next year's rally as soon as the last one is over. The last couple of years saw bad weather but it did not dampen the spirits. I have been a MAG member for years and every biker should become a member. You will receive many discounts and benefits.
Barry Maltas
Sunderland Tyne & Wear

More health

I found your piece about the Heath and Safety policies of Jacobs Infrastructure (JI) very interesting.

I think this shows that JI are very keen to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASW 1974). This act places various duties on employers in respect of their employees, starting with 'It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.' Much hangs on the interpretation of 'so far as is reasonably practicable' here. It follows that, if an employer thinks that business travel by motorcycle is less safe than other available options, then they do indeed have a legal duty to discourage or even prohibit such travel.

It is also the duty of every employee while at work to 'take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons.' I note that the editor is indeed taking such care of himself when taking the train an an alternative means of travel as, when motorcycling, he 'doesn't do dark, cold or fast.'

I doubt that JI are alone in having banned motorcycles from business travel. My own employer does permit the use of motorcycles but not the carriage of passengers on business trips. I do actually make a few business trips by motorcycle myself, but, as a safety consultant, obviously do have to consider both the potential risks and whether an alternative option could be significantly safer. Incidentley, I do not like to use hire cars on grounds of comfort and safety as I prefer the familiarity of my own car.

On the other side of the coin there will always be employers who encourage motorcycle use. I learned recently of Worcestershire's 'Yellow Knights" who are a team of roving highway inspectors. Their use of motorcycles gives them increased mobility over van based staff. Health and Safety issues are taken care of by means of a formal written risk assessment and by the fact that all of the riders are ex-police motorcyclists and are thus very highly trained in safe riding skills.
Derek Putley

Lights out

I've just seen the government advertisement on saving the planet. I thought we could end this debate on daylight riding as to whether we should ride with or without lights on during the day. Well the government wants you to save fuel and we all know that riding with your lights on uses more fuel, so logically, to help save the planet, switch your lights off. Knowing bikers, we are all going to do what the government tells us to do aren't we?

Also if there are any bikers out there who are into aero dynamics maybe they can prove that riding without a helmet is less energy consuming than riding with one - that would throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons.
Steve Rowe
Live to Ride - Ride Free

Soapbox man

I agree with everything Paul Facey said. I'm a new member and ride a 250cc Aprillia 2stroke and a GSXR600, a Triumph Tiger1050 and I do the odd track day, plus riding off road and enjoying European travel.

I only find a small part of The ROAD relevant to me. Biking does seem to be split down the middle with sports on one side and custom cruisers etc on the other. Look at the letters in MCN and see the sniping between bikers. The nodding- not nodding issue personifies this inter-biker snobbery.

What I fail to understand about MAG is the argy bargy about helmets. The right to chose is a noble aim but a change in the law ain't going to happen, just drop it. Then you have all the 'I don't need protective clothing, I ride within my limits, the more vulnerable you feel the safer you ride' school of thought. That's fine if you want to pootle along at 45mph but to me that just isn't biking. Within reason I consider as many safety innovations as I can, and don't mention the deliberate non use of headlights issue. If you want to make it harder for myopic 74 year old grandpas to see you then that's your choice.

MAG has to be the future and the work of people like Mr Short is absolutely vital, well worth £20 a year.

MAG has to decide what it wants to be; a comfy and familiar old club for beer drinking custom riding party animals, not a bad thing in itself, or a fully inclusive ass kicking highly respected body that no self respecting biker would dream of being outside.

If you could bridge the gap and genuinely bring both sides together you might just have cracked it.
Andy Bellhouse, Norfolk

Ed: It is a balancing act trying to be all things to all people as this letters page reflects. What we will not do though is sacrifice principles in quest of popularity. The truth is, MAG has put about a hundredth of one percent of resource into the helmet issue over the last ten years. If we abandon commitment to that principle however then we abandon the defence of motorcycling.

Every way you cut the figures motorcycling is far more dangerous than motoring. You are at greater risk riding a motorcycle than driving a car. So do we abandon our defence of motorcycling? It's a near certainty that many lives would be saved if no one rode motorcycles. The helmet law on the other hand produced no benefits for road safety that anyone could measure. That's the helmet law, I stress, not helmets. Ditto daytime headlight use. MAG will also, I hope, always oppose any suggestion of mandatory clothing standards.

We could endorse any number of 'safety' lobby gimmicks but I wonder if we did, what exactly would we end up kicking ass about?

When four is five

Your competition: Win this loud shirt! in last issue of The Road. I assume your comment 'the clue is in the name,' means you think its four! Well, let's examine your question:
'How many cylinders did the original Honda CB 750-four have?'
It had five (photo attached). Four engine cylinders and one front brake cylinder. So, to conclude, the answer is five. No, I don't want any more loud shirts.... Oh, alright then, I could wear it to annoy the wife.
Dave Walker - just a little bit West of Slaithwaite.


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