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Articles > Thinking of getting into motorcycling - caveat emptor

Whether you've just been bitten by the motorcycling bug or have been contemplating for a long time, you've come to the right place. Read on...

Firstly, you need to know why you want to ride a motorcycle. If you attend one of the compulsory motorcycle training centres to get your Ls, they will almost certainly ask you. There are valid and invalid reasons, of which I will explain. If you find that you only have one or two reasons, it may be time to reconsider.

It looks so cool, it want to do it too
Yes, this is the scenario where you've seen someone on a motorcycle zip past you, bypassing the traffic jam. Or someone speeding down an open stretch. Or the nice sound of the engine and exhaust...

If this is your only reason, you are mistaken. What you see is a side-effect of motorcycling. Of course it will look exciting and irresistable. But if you've never been behind the handlebars yourself, looks can be decieving.

I want to show off to friends
Anyone who wants to show off the minute they get their first bike belongs in a mental institution. Not only will they be inexperienced, but imagine the hurt and embarassment if an accident were to occur. Notable example.

Showing off comes with years of experience and maturity. You're fine as long as you know what you're doing. It takes years to be a good circus performer. By the same token, it does take time to become a good motorcyclist. To come with the mindset of being able to show off straight away is simply like headbutting a brick wall. You'll fall off the ropes in front of the audience. Not a good look.

Beating congestion
We all know how hard it is to keep your hand off the horn when sitting in gridlock traffic. Getting a motorbike is not a quick fix to this solution. For starters, a newly permitted L-plater even attempting lane filtering/splitting is bound to come across trouble. If this is you, expect to pay some excess to your insurance company for that big scratch across someone's perfect two-pack paint job. Motorcyclists have been fined for zipping through bicycle lanes, bypassing the car crawl.

Wait until you have the fine balance and control skills before attempting. Otherwise you're better off postponing travel to off-peak hours.

Uses less petrol
With rising world oil prices, more and more people are being compelled to jump onto two-wheeled transport. If this is you, and it is your only reason, you had better understand what you're getting into.

Apart from the much lower fuel consumption and the cost of the bike itself, not much else is cheaper than a small car.

You will need to spend up big (between $1000 and $2000) for quality protective gear. You need summer and winter riding apparel.

Motorcycle engines wear out much quicker and need more maintenance than car engines due to their small size. For example, the engine oil on a (four stroke) bike must be changed every 3000 KMs or three to six months. On a car, you could almost get away with not doing anything for six to 12 months. On a two-stroke motorcycle, things are even worse. The engine lasts only half as long as a 4-stroke before requiring an overhaul. And you need to top up the two stroke oil every two or three times you fill up on petrol, otherwise the engine will seize.

Insurance for motorcycles tends to be more expensive than cars - but that's because they carry more risk, and the insurance company will only agree to insure you by charging higher premiums to offset the risk.

And you will probably not want to ditch your car anyway. You can't carry an entire weeks' worth of shopping on your bike. And for those stinking hot summer days and blustery days where it seems the rain would never end, you'd be glad you had air conditioning and a roof over your head.

Paying two lots of registration and insurance, extra gear, maintanance and servicing - your savings on petrol now barely seems to be worth the effort.

Easier parking
In the present day, with ten times more vehicles than parking spaces, a small vehicle does seem appealing. In some states, notably Victoria, it's actually legal to park a motorbike on a footpath, provided that it does not obstruct pedestrians and access to parked cars.

But remember - the small size and weight of a motorcycle does lend it to be easier to be picked up and moved by thieves. It would take less than twenty seconds for a van and two thieves to haul a parked bike away.

Then there's the annoyance of having to gear up and dress down every time you get on and get off your bike. It takes a motorcyclist several minutes to get all their protective gear on. By contrast, cagers (car drivers) simply get in and drive off. The time saved looking for a parking spot is offset by changing into and out of your gear. Is it easier to park? It would seem not!

If you normally park outside, think about when it rains. The whole bike will be wet. Forget the demister and windscren wipers - you have none! Not to mention the need for additional wet-weather riding clothing.

Conclusion: It's up to you
All the above is not meant to deter you from taking up the passion of motorcycling, but rather, to make you aware of the darker aspects to motorcycling. If you understand the risks involved and are responsible then it can be a very rewarding experience, as long as you get into it for the right reasons. And to repeat - you must have a passion for it. You wouldn't marry someone just for their good looks. The same applies to motorcycling.


Shosh, Thu, 05 Sep 2013 04:14 am:
Pat,Are you the fellow that caelld or emailed me about collecting CB500 s and 550 s? I know a guy with one for sale in Stamford NY. Sounds pretty good.If Shane, who does not need any more bikes or Peter gets your dream, I may be able to help getting them up their way sometime.Jack Cole

Happy, Thu, 05 Sep 2013 06:22 pm:
I am selling a 1966 Honda dream 305. It does not have <a href="">parrewopk</a>,and was last registered in 2006. It has been mostly dis-assembled by previous owner. $350.00 firm. I am located inschoharie NY 518-361-1670. Thanks Pat

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