Thinking About Your Minimum.

You need basic things to survive and you need a multifaceted support structure to thrive. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates this very well. Basic needs of air, water, food, shelter and health supersede self-actualisation as you develop professionally and personally. But even as strong independent person if your air, for instance, is taken away from you for more than two minutes it would be understandable that you may get a little panicked and not be able to full fill your normal duties. Nor do you need a five bedroom house and a double garage but you do need a structure that keeps the elements off of you.

The Flying Pigeon is the most produced vehicle in human history. It is a simple bicycle that was produced for the Chinese population that has sold in excess of 500 million units meaning that is well ahead of the best sold motorcycle in history (Honda Super Cub 87 million units sold since 1958) and leagues ahead of the best sold car (Toyota Corolla over 40million sold).

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Each of the above vehicles reflects reliable transport. They full fill the basic purpose to get around, place-to-place, here and there. What people want is very different. In western culture there is an overreaching culture of status and how you fit into the world that is linked with what you own. It is good to aspire but with aspiration comes a level of vulnerability and/or sacrifice. What are you will to sacrifice for your higher goal? Commendable in some instances but in the pursuit of a product to verify to others and yourself your status it begins to feel hollow.

With Maslow’s idea in mind you could imagine that the basic ability you would need to travel would be the ability to move and walk. The Flying Pigeon represents, in travel terms, a low-level local transport solution. As you continue to ascend the vehicles become more complex and expensive (motorcycle then car, van, truck, train airplane etc).

As Maslow demonstrates humans have an innate curiosity and clear motivation to aspire and develop. These can be seen in all parts of our lives and in some ways it feel natural to progress from a bicycle as a child to a Porsche when you are 40. However, there is a satisfaction to be had by challenging yourself to continue with less. Similarly, the view at the peak of a mountain is sweeter when you have just hiked up instead of taking the train. The challenge reinforces the view at the top. Likewise, the challenge of using a bicycle each day where you can or getting the most out of a small capacity motorcycle can have a greater personal benefit than acting as a passenger on are superior machine.

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There are sub-sets of travel solutions within any vehicle. Though a bicycle is a simple efficient design it is still possible to spend £10 or £10,000 on one. Simple materials that are easily mass-produced or exotic materials with master craftsman hours invested. There is a balance of what is needed and wanted. If you needed a part off of a broken bicycle then £10 would be fine. However, if you need it to be reliable then you may need to pay more. If you need it to win you an Olympic gold medal then maybe the higher price is justifiable.

Similarly to a bicycle, low capacity motorcycles and scooters meet a need with little frills or boasting prowess. They are looked down on as lesser machines despite the fact that globally they out sell larger capacity machines year in year out. Larger capacity motorcycles have the benefit of being desirable for reasons over and above that of simple transport. They add luxury, comfort, speed and status beyond what can be achieved with a 125cc machine.

As a more powerful engine is not solitary increasing the power of a motorcycle has an exponential affect on status, price, service costs, fuel, replacement parts, consumables, tax and insurance. Performance-orientated motorcycles are beyond the skill of even the most hardened riders and are superfluous. Less sport-orientated machines are simply inefficient with a lot of motor doing very little. Knowing you can get similar output from a motor one third the size poor fuel economy, high service costs and ‘more show than go’ these machines sell well for ‘aspirational brands’ but have little practical application.

Buying, servicing, fuelling and riding these motorcycles naturally will put you in a more financial vulnerable situation. Deprecation, tyres, fuel, insurance and so on starts to build up quickly and can become over whelming for many. I have seen people continually surprised by the price that dealers offer people for used cars and motorcycles. There is always an element of shock as something that the owner thought was worth 5 grand is actually worth 3. And inevitability they have just spend hundreds if not thousands to keep it on the road.

But this is missing the point. The pride of ownership, the joy of owning something that previously you were unable to compounded with the sound, the size and people turning their heads and these machines go beyond what can be written down or rational thought. But ultimately they are more that can ever been imagined to be needed.

Considering your need to travel each day how likely is it that you could solely rely on walking and/or a bicycle? Dependant on circumstance and responsibilities answers will vary. So maybe you could get by with a motorcycle? Maybe you do need a car. But do you need a car or a van, two seater or four? A Ferrari or a Toyota Corolla? The options go on. Not considering ‘it would be nice to have…just in case’ what do you need?

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