23 June 2017

The case for/against motorcycles

First off is the obvious, motorcycles are dangerous.  Or at least that is what everyone that doesn't ride tells me.  Everyone, it seems, has a story or knows of someone with a story of someone that has had a motorcycle accident.  There are also many sayings that go along with the motorcycle experience such as what do you call a biker that doesn't wear a helmet? a donor.

It is true that motorcycles are less forgiving of inattention and carelessness, not only from the rider but from the fellow drivers that they must interact with on the street.  Defensive driving and situational awareness at all times is the bare minimum standard by which each cyclist must dedicate themselves in order to continue to enjoy their sport each and every day.  It isn't always the rider that is the danger but those they share the road with that are more interested with who they are chatting on the phone or texting their bffs without regards to the world around them.  You have to deal with that whether on a bike or in a car, truck or bus but the consequences are greater for those on a bike.

So why would anyone ride a motorcycle?  The fun factor.  Motorcycles are a great source of fun.  It is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors while being exposed to the elements of sights, sounds and smells.  It is the sensations that come with operating a machine by developing skills that satisfy the senses and reward patience and practice with increasing confidence and accomplishments.  When riders talk about freedom, it is a feeling that comes with the reliance on self and the control of machine combined with the biker community that contains an immediate shared connection for fellow riders that always seem ready to provide a friendly wave to the rider passing in the opposite direction.

Being exposed to the elements also brings challenges.  Weather extremes from cooking temperature heat, to shivering steering cold.  Rain, snow, wind, ice, animals and all the various obstacles that happen to find their way along your path are daily occurrences rather than the minor inconvenience it would be for one ensconced in a metal cage.

Another consideration is the fact that most of the bikes like so many cars are capable of much greater performance than is legally allowed even if it is prudently applied.

And the argument that you will save money is pretty weak.  Gas mileage on most bikes is much less that it should be given the improvements in technology but most riders where more interested in bigger, and more power and that is what was selling and that is what was provided.  Fuel economy is very much an afterthought in most motorcycle design.  It can be had but with compromises attached that make the average rider think twice.  (I have been thinking twice.)

Even though there are only two tires and they are smaller than a cars they cost every bit as much as a car if not more and often times only last a quarter as long.  Maintenance in general is more frequent and more expensive and unless you have some mechanical savvy you are going to have to rely on a dealer with dealer prices.  Also, because riding is so seasonal in nature you may find that getting any work done can take many days and sometime weeks due to the fact that everyone else wants to get their bike tuned up at the first sign of spring, just like you.

So why with all the hassles would anyone ride a motorcycle in this day and age?  After all I did mention that I quite riding some time ago because I find a car that got better gas mileage, had air conditioning, heat, stereo, carrying capacity and kept me dry when it rained.  I could go farther and see more with my time off and not be quite so worn out at the end of the day and that is exactly what I was doing with that car when I got it.

So what am I thinking?  If I were to go on a long ride I would still opt for the car.  If I were to take someone with me I would opt for the car.  If there was the remote chance of facing weather I would opt for the car.  So what am I thinking?

I am thinking that I am missing the fun factor that a motorcycle can provide.  I don't need a cross country machine, I don't need a big Harley cruiser, I don't need a motocross racer, and I don't need a cafe pocket rocket.  I would be happy with a commuter, city explorer, visit the next town, occasional buddy hopping, extreme gas mileage runabout.  Something that isn't a production to pull out every time or any time.  Something simple, dependable, reliable and most of all affordable.

The market is not great for this kind of motorcycle action.  Once again I fall outside of the one size fits all.  There are a few interesting machines but they continue to include compromises as so much of life does.  Maybe I would be better off just renting a machine for a day every now and again to get my taste refreshed.  That almost seems to make sense but motorcycles are something that has always put logic in the back seat.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

12 June 2017

I woke up early this morning...

...and took a look out the mirror.

It was one of the scariest sights I've seen.

I think I need a new mirror.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

02 June 2017

Thinking bout cars and bikes again

I have been looking at cars and motorcycles and bicycles a lot lately.  It must be my time of the ...

I have not had nor ridden with any regularity motorcycles but they have been frequent on my mind.  I knew this time would come when I sold my old bike.  It was a nice bike but it had been sitting for a long time and would need some serious attention to get it road worthy as well as trust worthy.  It was a tripping bike but just couldn't compete with the tripping car that came into my life.

The car was enclosed meaning no bugs, or weather issues.  It carried more stuff, which means I could take more with me or pick up more along the way.  It had a stereo which means that I had some accompaniment me when I was singing out my rock anthems.  It had air conditioning and a heater to give me better control over the elements.  It had a bigger tank and got better mileage meaning I could go farther without worries.  It was also more comfortable when it came to going farther so I did.

All of those things made it easy for me to find myself spending more time with the car than on the motorcycle.

But that does not mean I didn't still like the motorcycle.  It just means that for long trips the motorcycle played second string.  At this point, long trips would involve multiple 500+ mile days across many state lines.  I could do one 500+ day on the motorcycle but would be walking funny the next.

The motorcycle I had was a full dresser meaning side bags and fairing.  It was a few years ago and not near as fancy as the bikes you see today but it was a dream bike come true for me when I got it.

Sadly a big bike takes a little more effort to take out and ride around with though some might argue that fact.  Before the big bike, I had an entry level bike that was wonderful and I would ride it every bit as far as I would the big bike yet it was light and relatively easy to take out at a moments notice.  It had a windshield, highway pegs, and a back rest with luggage rack.  All the needs were met.

And that is what I have been thinking about.  I don't need a big bike.  I don't think I would get the use out of it that I would like to.  When it comes to big trips, I have a big trip car that fills that role nicely and then some.  What I want is a fun, simple, run around bike that doesn't take a lot of thought, cares or worries.  Doesn't cost a lot to own or operate.  Gets great gas mileage, (not many bikes do sad to say).  And still has the fun factor.

All bikes have a fun factor. Period.  Some are designed to deliver that fun in a more focused way.  The motorcycle business in America has become overly focused on about three different types, dirt, cafe racer, and over-sized V-twin cruiser.  That leaves a lot of us with too little choice.

I am going to visit this topic some more in the days to come so you are forewarned.  I told you that it has been on my mind a lot lately and it is time for me to get it out.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.