Henry Rollins has been repeated as explaining the importance of weight lifting on ego that reinforces identity. When you are lying on your back with a weight above your chest it is very hard to fake your strength. You can either lift it or you cant. You can talk all you want and believe that you can lift any weight but when it is just you and 80kg an inch from your chest you learn very quickly about mental and physical strength. You cannot fake your way out of a lift.
Being a ‘motorcyclist’ can be part of your identity. As soon as you do not have a motorcycle, for whatever reason, a piece of your identity may become fractured. Driving a car for a number of weeks reminds you of the enjoyment that was had from owning and riding a motorcycle. You start to feel that itch. Without noticing your watch list on eBay is full of all types of motorcycles for various prices. You have been visiting motorcycle stores just to have a look around. You are basically dipping your toe in. You know you will have a motorcycle again but you have to go through the motions to justify the purchase.
I became some what of an expert on mid capacity motorcycles from 1996-2001. Supported by stacks of magazines, endless hours on bike trader and eBay, looking at unremarkable parked motorcycles and ringing dealers across the country to inquire about specific machines they had on sale. However, all of this searching was put to an abrupt halt as other priorities forced themselves forward to the precept. With a change of job I needed a car. Nothing fancy just a run around. It was at this point that I noted just how expensive a used motorcycle could be.
I was looking a bikes over 15 years old with +32,0000 miles on the clock for over £1500 for one in good enough condition. Now I was looking at cars 10 years old with 90,0000 miles for £700-£900. Considering the practicality of the car, reduced service intervals and fuel/ running costs likely to be the same I was finding it harder and harder to justify the motorcycle at all. The ability to manoeuvre around traffic was not stacking up against the cold, danger and increased maintenance and cost.
It came to the point that I felt I needed to have a motorcycle just to hold onto a shred of my identity. Hopefully I am more than the sum of my vehicles but another part of my identity is being mindful of my spending. So these two parts of my personality were at loggerheads. At present the more sensible side of me has prevailed over my more impulsive side. I do however continue to search for the elusive machine that fits my needs as well as budget.
Like motorcycling as a culture buying a motorcycle appears an honest endeavour. Prices for motorcycles appear to truly reflect the machines value and spec. It is rare that you find a true bargain. Though motorcycles do seem to command a premium price this price is repeated though various examples of machines.
I had to remind myself of how small motorcycling is in the UK. Go to shows and meets and you would think it was the most popular hobby in the country. But on a larger scale it really isn’t. Motorcycles are therefore scarce in comparison to cars. Try finding a particular make or model and it is no surprise that they cost more. But you have to want-to-want one. Despite how hard you try they do make little practical sense when you consider other options. You are paying more for less and will continue to do so if you buy an older machine.
It appears to be the job of other motorcycle publications, with narrow sight, to play up to the benefits of motorcycles and play down the bad. The fact is that motorcycle technology is always about 10-15 years behind that of cars. BMW minis have electronic value regulators that result in valves never needing to be adjusted and 20,000 mile service intervals. Internal Measurement units (IMU) that we are starting to see on motorcycles have been on planes since the 1940’s. Trucks are currently held to euro 6 emission ruling opposed to euro 4 that came into force fifteen years ago. Ford Fiesta’s with triple 1000cc engines are getting 80 mpg.
Motorcycling is a fantastic expensive hobby for a lot of people. But if you want to see more people on bikes then giving them true value for money would is imperative.