Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About On The Mark

Having piloted a motorcycle for many years, Mark has many thoughts floating in his helmet and he's ready to share them with us.

Name: Mark Byers

Current Rides: 'Honestly, his stable is in such a constant flux that we can't keep track of it. If you need to know, just ask him.

Favorite quote:

If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.

- Winston Churchill

I Wish

When was the last time you got a bike and left it totally stock? Just put a tag on it and rode it in the same configuration as the day it was born? Probably never. I’m with you: there isn’t a bike in my stable that doesn’t have some kind of mod. Manufacturers have been around enough to know what everyone is doing with a bike, but they act like it’s a mystery. Or, in the cost-conscious world of sales, they think they can’t afford to include any “extras.” My contention is that if they did it right from the get-go, it shouldn’t cost much, so here’s my wish list.

The first mod I make is a new seat. Someone told me manufacturers make the seat comfortable for five minutes in the showroom, which usually means soft. Unfortunately, soft is the opposite of what you want on a multi-hour ride: you want a firm seat. There’s a cottage industry that makes seats or foam-and-cover kits you can install yourself and one invariably makes it onto my bikes. Consequently, that’s my first wish: make new bikes with proper seats. If it’s a touring bike, make sure the passenger gets some love too.

Amish buggies have LED lights. They’re light, bright, and consume very little power. Even the manufacturers who moved to LED lights for motorcycles invariably don’t put ENOUGH on the bike, especially for daytime. Bike headlights are now lost in a sea of cars with daytime running lights, so for daytime conspicuity, motos need MORE. For those of us who ride at night, they need a LOT more and it needs to be focused where we need it when leaned over, not just when we’re cooking chicken strips. That’s my second wish: ample, sufficient, effective lighting for both day and night.

Use all the power you saved by going to LED lighting and give us a good stator that produces ample power for the OTHER stuff we typically put on our machines: GPSs, phones, radios, heated seats and grips, and electric clothing. I have a nice Vstrom sitting in the garage waiting for a Centech fuse panel to provide power for driving lights, electric clothes, heated grips, and a GPS. I had to choose my driving lights carefully so as not to overtax the stator. There is no reason why I shouldn’t have some USB taps and high-amperage sockets for my heated gear, grips, and lights. None. You can get USB taps at the CVS checkout for gawdsakes. Put some around the tank-bag area.

Speaking of tank bags, one should be standard. If you aren’t addicted to this piece of motorcycle crack, you should be. There’s no substitute for a place for the EZ-PASS, sunglasses, Advil, multi-tools, to things ad infinitum that you need to access quickly without having to dive into your topcase or saddlebags. With a tank bag, you might not even need those other bags for a day ride if you pack it right. Don’t forget the integrated, easy-off mount for fueling, either.


This is an impossible dream, but give me a user-adjustable fuelling system. It’s the impossible dream because everyone from the safetycrats to the energycrats to the noisecrats thinks they know how our bikes should perform and they’ve choked our fuel and air systems to the point where we are getting flat spots in our torque and power curves, all because some emissions and noise nerds need to pass a test at 4,000 RPM. Damn if I don’t wish that we could fly our power flags to the fullest without the garrote of government strangling our fun. I’m not advocating for excessive noise, just enough flow to take advantage of what that beautiful combustion container can give me.

Finally, give me adjustability. I am lucky in that I’m a five-foot-nine, fleet-average ergonomic specimen, so most bikes come close to fitting me, but there’s still room for improvement. My BMW RT has a two-position seat. Add a set of repositionable bars like my old R1150RS had, along with sufficient cable and brake line lengths to allow for adjustment, and you’ll be talking my language. I will even spring for the new bars if I don’t have to add cables and brake lines. If I’m asking on behalf of others, include enough adjustability for my buddy Byrd, who is a tall drink of water, for Beth, who is a new female rider, and for Steve, a squatty old guy who wants to ride into his golden years.

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.