by Bill Stermer
Whirlaway / Whitehorse Press, 1999
160 pages; $19.95
by Troy Johnson
The second edition of Motorcycle Touring & Travel is the third book on the subject by author Bill Stermer. The current publication has grown out of his initial effort of 1982, Motorcycle Touring and the first edition of Motorcycle Touring & Travel, from 1991. Mr. Stermer states that 90 percent of the 2nd edition is brand new and 10 percent is rewritten. The book is written as a basic comprehensive “how to” guide to touring and traveling by motorcycle, and the author’s frequent updates to the text and photos keep this well regarded classic fresh and up to date for each new generation of motorcyclists.
While the primary focus of the book is touring and traveling, the text makes no assumptions about the reader’s motorcycling experience. After an introduction that defines what touring and traveling are we begin at ground zero with a chapter titled Choosing Your Motorcycle.
This chapter is the most comprehensive and well written treatise on the basics of the motorcycle that I have ever come across. Mr. Stermer explains the advantages and disadvantages inherent in motorcycles of different engine displacement and engine configuration. He then covers how these power plant considerations are mated to each style of touring and traveling motorcycle–and this book considers every style of bike from full dresser to one cylinder dual-sport to be suitable for touring and traveling. The chapter also covers types of power transfer and braking systems, Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings, brands of motorcycles and a thorough primer on tuning motorcycle suspensions.
From here on out the book leans away from being a universal guide to the motorcycle and becomes a complete reference for the motorcycle traveler covering accessories, apparel, planning and packing for a tour, foreign travel, maintenance etc.
The amount and quality of information packed into this slim volume is truly impressive. I heartily recommend Motorcycle Touring & Travel to beginning riders. Seasoned riders will also find it to be worthwhile and salty veterans will enjoy thumbing through a copy before passing it along to the younger motorcyclists in the family.