To Leave the Big Bike at Home
I would be lying if I told you that I don't want something else, more than my actual 13 year-old bike. I would try a new, modern, bigger and more powerful and comfortable bike and maybe deep inside I also crave for one. However, there's more than power and shiny paint to motorcycles...
Petrol prices have been constantly going up, making that trip of a lifetime more of a distant dream, and yearly 3,000-km or more vacations harder to put up. Indeed, new bikes tend to break down a lot less often than older ones, but when luck runs out, you're done.
Parts and servicing are expensive, and you can’t just repair them in the next village or small town, let alone do that by yourself on the side of the road, with a mechanic friend over the phone. So we do see more and more scooters on the streets, and you'd be surprised to know how many of these guys actually have a nice powerful bike in their garage at home and even a nice car in the driveway...
Bikes have never been the most comfortable transportation method around, and that's a fact. You get the wind, dust, rain and sun and mud, insects and whatnot... and they only have two wheels, which makes them dangerous. There's no air conditioning, and we could say the comfort standard is pretty low. Well, all of the above sums up to what bikers call “freedom” and, the longer the trip, the better the feeling.
When it comes to long journeys, it's quite obvious that motorcycling is not for everybody. But how about cross-town traffic? How about the drivers getting frustrated when they see scooters and small motorbikes elegantly passing them by in their big cars stuck in traffic? How about being able to squeeze between the crowded lanes and get to your destination faster than you'd ever make it driving your car?
I have asked a lot of guys about all these, and most of the answers mentioned danger, lack of comfortable conditions, shopping and that “I won't be seen riding a scooter!” thing which never ceases to amuse me.
I was quite happy to see a few of them having changed their minds over the last couple of years, starting to ponder on how much money they'd save by riding a scooter to work, how much time they'll no longer spend stuck in traffic jams. And one of them even told me that he still had a hard time understanding why he was so afraid to ride a bike. Well, I keep on hearing the same kind of stories from various sources more and more as of late and this makes me wonder whether people really are starting to get the point.
Hopefully you don't get my idea the wrong way: there is no bashing on the car industry and drivers, it's just the fact that mid-size and big cities are becoming so crowded that cars have become simply impractical at certain hours and in certain areas.
We keep on talking about carbon emissions and then hop in cars with ridiculously low mpg, just to look angrily at the small 2-wheelers flying by, call them names, and trying to convince ourselves that scooters are dangerous and look silly. Some of these claims may be true at times, but soon it will be literally impossible to drive through our cities and we will be forced to find or use alternative solutions. Because they'll be the only ones to work.
And for the ending, one brilliant remark from a really old guy, no longer driving. After I've explained to the old man all about electric cars, pollution and all, he told me: well son, less smoke is of course, good, but these cars are just as big... so you'll now be stuck in electric vehicles. I see no point in that, no point at all.