Motorcycle Rider Tsunami
The attraction of motorcycle riding is fast becoming a fashion statement. Have you noticed just how many more motorcycles there are out on the road compared to 20 years ago? Where are they all coming from? Why are their numbers growing?
A friend of mine is a Motorcycle Licence Rider Trainer. He lamented to me recently that the company he works for are flooded with bookings. They are having trouble keeping up with demand. He believes that there is an oncoming tsunami of new riders that will be hitting the road in future years.
Many is the time that one of my Harley Ride passengers has expressed an interest in obtaining their motorcycle licence and riding a Harley Davidson of their own one day. They are just the tip of the iceberg.
Recently I met a woman who longed to get her own bike. She possessed what I would describe as a "romantic vision" of how she would feel cruising along on her own motorcycle.
But? What is the reality? Is their vision correct? Will getting their licence and obtaining a motorcycle of their own turn out to be as they imagined? The reality? What most people know about motorcycles and the reality of riding a motorcycle, let alone obtaining one's licence, span a gulf of ignorance.
One of the first things I tell my Harley Ride passengers is that they should relax, that they don't need to hang on tight and that as long as the bike is in motion it wants to stay vertical. This quite often comes as a shock to many, who have been fed with stories of horror about the dangers of riding a motorcycle. This demonstrates the beginning of the gulf of ignorance held by people who have never done anything other than see someone ride past them on a motorcycle, seen a motorcycle movie or watched a a road safety advertisement involving motorcycles. I hazard to point out here that I hold the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) guilty of spreading many falsehoods about motorcycle riding that have reduced my potential Harley Ride customer base of the many years I have been in business. There is no denying the fact that riding a motorcycle, and in particular a Harley Davidson, is a highly pleasurable experience. It compares to the freedom of flying, but in two dimensions. The world takes on a completely different look as one discovers that they can see everything around them, unlike the many blind spots one has when driving a car. Motorcycle riders describe people in cars as "cagers", because seated behind their steering wheels they are surrounded by a cage of steel. Riders treat cagers with amused derision because they now understand what the cage drivers don't.
There is a brotherhood with others who ride. Riding with a group of other riders feels similar to flying in formation. As the saying goes, "If I try to explain, you won't understand." The culture is very social. Friends who ride will call you to invite you to go out for a ride with them. Clubs exist for the sole purpose of organising "group rides". There are many rewards that outweigh the risks.
Motorcycle ownership is not for everyone. To those who express a desire to go out and get their motorcycle licence I give them the following counsel:
a. When are you going to ride it? How often are you prepared to ride it? Are you prepared to ride in any and every sort of weather?
b. Are you prepared to undertake all the necessary riders training? And what about going back for refresher training to have a rider trainer identify your bad habits, that you have acquired as you have gained confidence riding (this is the one greatest factor that brings riders undone in their first two years)?
c. Are you prepared to invest in all the the right protective gear? All the Gear All The Time (ATGATT) is an attitude that is critical in the formative years of riding. Its not cheap and can exceed hundreds of dollars for just the most basic protection.
d. Are you prepared to accept the fact that you will fall off at some stage? No, I'm not talking about a life threatening event, or a major injury event, rather the idea that you might scratch your prize possession at some point. This happens at the the most embarrassing of moments......
A motorcycle is like a pet. It has to fit into your life. It must be loved and cherished. Unless you know that you can fit it into your lifestyle, family commitments etc, its not something you should do. Many are the people I know who purchased a motorcycle, that has languished parked in the shed, having clocked up only a few hundred kilometres over many years, because its owner just couldn't find the time to get out and ride it. To take your bike out on a ride, after a long break, on a beautiful sunny Sunday, only to have the weather change to raging storms on your way home is not something I recommend. I hope you get the gist of what I'm saying.
Do I recommend motorcycle ownership? Absolutely. There is nothing more satisfying than going out for a ride, lane filtering through heavy traffic on one's daily commute or the sheer feeling of exhilarating freedom one feels.