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Mid life crisis? CBT / Harley Davidson

No it can't be that, I'm past middle life, into my 60s fast approaching adolescence. So I went last week to my Compulsory Basic Motor Cycle Training, provided by courtesy of Haringey Council Tax Payers to make the roads safer. Slightly perverse logic that gets me out on the road on a motor bike to make the roads safer! Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the training. At my time of life new skills are trickier to pick up than when younger, though strangely enough I was not nervous. I found I could manage the controls of the bike, and I was astonished at how slowly I could make it go without it falling over. The one aspect I did have fears of was simply dropping the damn thing. I didn't. But I did manage weaving in and out of cones and a figure of eight. The day finished with a trip round the nearby roads, following an instructor, who had the power of making his words audible inside my helmet. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The whole atmosphere of a motor cycle training centre is a bit macho for my taste. I'm the sort of chap who likes to wear pink, and read books, so all that bad language and innuendo isn't really my taste. Recycling old jokes obviously is my taste - the old ones are definitely the best - but the thing about a joke is, if you have to explain it, it's not a joke any more. I may not have joined in that part of the day as enthusiastically as the training team might have liked.

There was one young lady on the course, with 7 blokes, and she seemed to take it in good part. There was one young man I was teamed up with for the ride round the streets, whose age was one third of my own. Indeed his age was one half of that of the jacket I was wearing. He was there with his older brother, clearly one of the macho gang and a biker, and so full of advice, I would have smacked him, had I been the younger brother, and of course not quite so much in touch with my feminine side.

So the next question is whether or not to buy a bike. Harley Davidson don't do a 125 I think. Qualifying to ride on the roads is such a complex process, I think the next thing I have to do is practice a bit on a small bike, before doing a week's course on a big bike to pass the next bit of the test. I've been told to buy a Honda, if anything, because they are 4-stroke and don't get thrashed, whatever that means. The Honda CBF125 is on special offer  at the moment for £2420 including 2 years warranty, and it does seem they hold their price quite well. Then a helmet might be £100, protective clothing £300 and insurance £150, so I need to be determined to undertake the experiment.

The saying goes "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" but equally "nothing ventured, only a doubtful opportunity lost". If the purchase happens it'll probably be an almost involuntary eBay click.

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Tags: cbt, midlifecrisis, motorcycle, training

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Comment by Adrian Essex on August 23, 2011 at 9:58

I'm tremendously pleased with my Honda - I paid a good price for it, it is in excellent condition, and I hope my precautions against theft, are if anything OTT. Maybe in the 70s Honda were still learning how to clone others' engineering prowess. The latest models represent what they have learned over the years. I also have a Honda Jazz - which I bought because, according to the stats gathered by Which, they almost never break down. 

As to the bike sharing idea - on the face of it very attractive. If everything worked perfectly and given my current level of use I could make do with a one seventh share of a bike, until I decide to take it on tour around Cornwall for a month. Bet your life even with a half share we'd both want it for the same hour of the same day. Maybe there is a business opportunity here - perhaps we could persuade Haringey that a Motorbike Club is good for the environment and win lots of parking concessions and free advertising for rental company.

 

Other episodes in my decline into senility can be seen here and here 

Comment by crouchhall on August 22, 2011 at 0:59
Cupcake's observation is sobering. 'But we don't want to give you that' to mis-quote a famous game show host. Don't buy a Honda 250 as I did in the 70's. Hopeless buy and it never really worked. I cpompletely re-built the engine only to have it stolen the day after. But then that was Liverpool in those days. I still have my full motorcycle licence earned when I was 21 - over 30 years' ago - and often toy with the idea of buying another m/c. Perhaps we should go halves Adrian?
Comment by Clive Carter on May 4, 2011 at 15:02

Okay Adrian, here's some additional comment. A long time ago, my sister asked me for advice on what kind of bike to get. Taking into account both her then inexperience and her medium term need, I recommended a Honda CB250 (four stroke engine). When she first got it, she complained that this bike was too big for her.  After a few weeks or months she complained that it was too small for her. I reckon I judged it about right.

I orignaly learnt on a Suzuki RV125 (two stroke) and later passed my riding test on a friend's Honda single cylinder XL350 (both trail bikes).

The benefit of a smaller engine is lighter weight and better fuel consumption. I suggest only buying a 125 if you think it will be adquate for your medium term needs – which it may be.

Comment by Adrian Essex on May 4, 2011 at 14:51
Reads like very practical advice, Clive. It is entirely consonant with other advice I have been offered. I am only allowed a 125cc bike with CBT. Had the Honda place just over the N Circular been open on Monday I would now be the owner of a CBF125 and a hire purchase agreement.
Comment by Clive Carter on May 4, 2011 at 11:19

 Hi Adrian

I've now ridden thousands of miles on motorbikes. I had one as a youth and after a gap of about a quarter century, I decided to get another. I looked carefully at the 600 cc bracket which normally means a four cylinder engine. I decided against on the following grounds:

  • cost
  • width
  • weight
  • thirst
  • insurance
  • complexity

And I settled for a second-hand Honda CB500. This is a twin cylinder four-stroke. It's a middle-weight and arguably it is a compromise between a town bike and a motorway bike. I have never regretted buying this model. It is far more drivable than the Kawasaki 400 cc two-stroke triple that I had as a student.

Most of the time around town, it has more power on tap than you need. I change up normally at between 3 to 4 thousand RPM – the red line is 10,500, which I've not been near. I once took it to about 9,000 RPM on the motorway and it can certainly keep up with motorway traffic.

The one litre engined motorbikes, in my opinion, are excessively powerful and in many hands, dangerously so. Around town, you don't really need more than about 400cc.

Comment by CrouchEnd Cupcake on May 3, 2011 at 20:20
I only wish the poor lad knocked off his motorbike on Topsfield Parade this afternoon had undertaken some extra training.  I don't quite know what happened as I was getting on the bus but he and his bike were sent flying and the front bumper was ripped off the car he collided with.  He was lying in the rode completely separated from his bike (which was mangled with petrol pouring out) in a very sad state.  A passer by was cradling his head and keeping him still whilst phoning for the ambulance and police and the car driver looked pale and clammy.  I do hope he was OK - he seemed conscious with no visible signs of serious injury but he'd been knocked quite far.

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