The NYPD Motorcycle Escorts Story

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Seeing double!

One of the best parts of being a motorcycle riding instructor is getting to meet new and interesting people, and hearing the reasons they want to ride, and what they are riding, or are planning on riding. Sometimes, I’m even lucky enough to form new friendships with some of the people I teach. This is the story of one such friendship forged over a love of what else but BMW motorcycles, but not your average everyday BMW motorcycle.

DSC_0007 copySometime towards the end of 2012 I had a gentleman by the name of Allan on one of my L’s courses. During our introductions at the beginning of the course, I had mentioned my mild obsession with the BMW brand. When it was Allan’s turn to introduce himself he mentioned that he had ridden when he was younger, and had decided it was time to get back into motorcycling. He also mentioned that he had already purchased a damaged BMW motorcycle which he was planning to repair and ride when he had completed the licensing process.

DSC_0005 copyOf course an admission like that was only going to lead to one thing, much discussion during the breaks. From our discussion I discovered that the bike in question was a 2007 R1200RT-P. The P designation stands for Police. I think when people think of police motorcycles, two images come to mind. The american Harley Davidson police motorcycles, or the BMW police motorcycles. I think you can probably guess which I prefer, and I also think I’m probably safe in saying that worldwide, BMW would hold the record for the number of “service” motorcycles sold. I use the term “service” because of course it is not just the police who use these bikes. Ambulance services and the military also make up a large portion of this segment, but certainly the police are the most visible.

DSC_0013 copyThe bike had been retired from the South Australian Police Service, and had been subsequently crashed before Allan purchased it. When the bikes are retired all of the police signage and equipment is removed, and often the private purchasers replace the radio box with a pillion seat, so the only sign that the bikes were formally police models will be the extra switchgear and brackets for the likes of the lights and sirens. I asked Allan if this was his intention, but his reply was “no, I’m going to keep it in police  trim”.

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Hey, I like those stickers!

A few months later Allan was back on my P’s course, and no prizes for guessing what our conversation during the breaks was about. Allan had exciting news, not only was he making good progress repairing the damaged bike, but he had added another one to the stable. This bike, also a 2007 R1200RT-P, had been retired from the Queensland Police Service, and was in good running condition.

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The first outing with both bikes together.

As much as I love them, I had to ask “why do you want two identical ex-police motorcycles?” The reply I was expecting was something along the lines of “because I can”, or “it always pays to have a spare”, but the response I got was much, much more intriguing. “I’ve got a little plan in mind for them, and I’d actually like your help with it” was the reply Allan gave me. That’s a way to guarantee you’ve got my attention!

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That’s me.

And so began my friendship with Allan, and my involvement with NYPD Motorcycle Escorts.The first time I saw the bikes I was amazed at the work Allan had put into them. The repaired bike was almost complete, sporting strobe lights and signage, and the second bike was well underway. I soon realised that Allan has a touch of “the obsessive” about him when it comes to detail. As the bikes were decommisioned Allan had to research and obtain suitable lights for the front of the bikes, a strobe light on a pole for the rear of the bike, aerials for radios, and sirens. Initially he could not source genuine articles, as the police items don’t seem to appear on the open market, so he went with the option of recreating the look using items from other sources. As his search continued he was able to find some genuine lights and sirens from ex-military motorcycles, and because he is stickler for authenticity, he had to get them. If the bikes weren’t proof enough of Allan’s attention to detail, there was the immaculately restored 1955 Austin Champ parked in the shed also. The Austin Champ was the British equivalent of the US Army Jeep, and this one is pristine right down to the radios, shovels, rifles and a dirty great gun on the trailer behind it.

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Lots of interest at Breakfast Torque.

He showed me the research he had done into the motorcycles, and even had a picture of the ex-SA bike in service. The decals for the bikes had been produced in Australia to Allan’s specifications, and the questions of “why NYPD?” was asked, as I know it has been many more times by many more people.

Allan’s aim for the bikes was to give “the impression” of a police motorcycle, while not trying to imitate a police motorcycle. While at first it might seem odd to have mock New York police bikes in Australia, the logic is pretty clever. If you see “NYPD” on a white BMW motorcycle you instantly think “police”, even though we’re in Australia, and even though, as far as Allan has been able to discover, the NYPD never actually used BMW’s in active service. In fact, even though the decals are based on genuine NYPD signage, if you look closely, there is nowhere on the bikes that it actually says “Police”, it is all a trick of the mind. And the other advantage of having NYPD on the bikes is that it avoids any issues with our local upholders of the law.

DSC_0007 copyThe only time you will see NYPD BMW’s in New York is in film and television productions. Possibly the most famous bit is in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, which you can check out here;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOafepzsHgw

Of course, that’s not how Allan’s bikes get ridden!

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(L to R) Chris, Steph, and me.

It is however, amazing how much notice people take of these bikes, and how many road users slow down, or give way to you. I even had a motorcycle riding filtering lanes behind me, until he saw the bike and got into one lane quick smart. So the optical illusion obviously works. And that after all is the aim of these bikes, to make people “take notice”.If you are the bride arriving at the church on your big day, you don’t want people to miss your arrival do you? And quite frankly, just having a big white car in this day and age may not be enough. But with a couple of escort bikes leading you down the street, everyone will definitely notice your arrival, whether they are wedding guests or not.

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The arrival!

On our first escort with the bikes every person who saw this white limousine approaching with the “police” escort stopped and looked, and no doubt thought to themselves “wow, they must be some celebrity”. We even passed several real police officers, and when we got close enough for them to realise what was going on, they all gave us a smile as we passed.Billy&Stephanie_b&w-96 Following the wedding service we escorted the limousine into the Sydney CBD for photographs. More looks, more smiles and waves. The attention these bikes garner is quite amazing, so if it’s attention you are after, having a NYPD Motorcycle Escort could be just the thing you need to make your arrival stand out from the crowd.

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What a good looking couple.

NYPD Motorcycle Escorts are available for Weddings, Formals, Engagements, Funerals, TV and Movie Production, Photoshoots, Corporate Events, or Celebrity Escorts.

If you are interested please contact Allan via his website, or Facebook, or if you know of someone who might be, please share the word.

That way, not only does my friend Allan get to further his obsession with BMW motorcycles, I get to further my obsession with riding them. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

The Perpetual Motorcyclist

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Suzuki NZ250 Lives Again!

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1986 Suzuki NZ250 in “as found” condition.

In November of 2012 I managed to “acquire” a motorcycle to fix up for my wife to ride.

As it transpired, the motorcycle, a 1986 Suzuki NZ250, turned out to be a bit of a rarity.

At the time I publicly stated my intention to have the bike “up and running early in the new year”, but age and experience bring with it a few advantages, so cunningly, I was careful not to specify the year!

As soon as the NZ250 was in the garage it quickly progressed from what you see above, to this…

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A fine assortment of random parts. Will they ever become a motorcycle again?

Once I had figured out what parts I was likely to need, it slowly started to go back together.

DSC_0101 copyAnd then…, well, things sort of slowed down. Or to be more precise, things stopped!

Now of course, when dealing with rare motorcycles, things take time. Parts are hard to find. When you can’t find them, you must have them made, and that takes time too.

So I have a valid excuse, don’t I?

Well, to be honest, I just got sidetracked by all the other stuff going on around me. That stuff called “life”.

I was waiting for some exhaust flanges to be made, but there was lots of other stuff I could have been “getting on with”. Most of the parts that the bike needed were common consumables. Filters, brake pads, a battery, and these all proved fairly easy to get via the wonders of the internet.

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New battery in place.

So as 2014 rolled around, with a few days up my sleeve, and with the prospect of moving house spurring me on, I got back to work on the NZ.

Interestingly, as is often the case with procrastination, once I started devoting a little bit of time and energy towards the bike, it went back together remarkably quickly and easily, and all the parts that I had been waiting on started to arrive “just when needed”.

Funny how the Universe does that!

Aftermarket front master cylinder assembly.

Aftermarket front master cylinder assembly.

Once the bike was back together I discovered that the front brake master cylinder had given up the ghost, so rather than trying to source a rebuild kit, I have opted for an aftermarket one. I’m not that hung up on “100% originality”, and I would rather get the bike running than spend more time sourcing parts.

So now the bike is running again, and while the cosmetic changes have been slight, mechanically it is a much happier motorcycle.

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Look at those angular lines.

Yesterday we went out for our first little ride. It still needs new tyres, and is still unregistered, so I had to stick to the quite lanes around my house. No runs down Macquarie Pass just yet!

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Nothing screams 80′s more than a rectangular headlight.

So I guess the burning question is, “how was it to ride”? “Bloody great” would be the short answer.

The motor is strong and willing and happy to rev, the gear box changes easily and positively. Brake pads are still bedding in, so the brakes are not fabulous, but do the job. It is a feather light little bike that is a breeze to ride. A good choice for its intended use I think.

1986 Suzuki NZ250

1986 Suzuki NZ250

I can’t comment on handling at this stage, but initial signs are good.

Here’s a little video of the bike in action.

https://vimeo.com/85321627

The Perpetual Motorcyclist

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Skill Master Motorcycle Services Upskilling Course, 20th January 2014

Here’s a quick look at what goes on at a Skill Master Motorcycle Services Upskilling day.

This was at Picton Kart Track, Monday 20th January 2014.

The course was attended by five riders of varying experience and skill. There was also an eclectic mix of bikes present.

Instructors on the day were myself, and Paul Riley.

https://vimeo.com/84646428#at=1

The Perpetual Motorcyclist

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Meeting Charlie Bear

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The inimitable Charlie Bear.

Well 2014 is upon us, and what better way for The Perpetual Motorcyclist to start the year than by meeting a motorcycling celebrity, and not only that, but a famous Round-The -World motorcyclist.

This particular celebrity left the US of A in July 2013, and has so far travelled through the US, NZ, and the East Coast of Australia.

Like all important motorcycle related events in my area, the meeting occurred at The Robertson Pie Shop, following said motorcycling celebrities ride up Macquarie Pass.

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Charlie’s entourage. Andy, Maz and Peter (R to L).

He’s only a small fella, and I must say, not very talkative. With all of his adventures so far, I was expecting him to have many a story to tell, but I guess it is like they say, “what happens on the road, stays on the road”. Thankfully his entourage were considerably more communicative.

The celebrity in question is Charlie Bear, the ambassador for World Wide Relay Riders. Like many motorcylists Charlie is doing great work, raising money for charity, raising awareness, and bringing the international motorcycling community together.

On this leg of his journey Charlie was in the capable hands of Andy, Maz and Peter, members of the Illawarra Scooter & All Riders group. Having been collected from Bald Hill, North of Wollongong yesterday, and given the “official” Illawarra tour, he was now on his way South to Goulburn, for the next stage of his journey down to the nation’s capital. I wonder if he will be getting an audience with our PM?

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About to hit the road again for Goulburn. Are you sure you put Charlie’s seat belt on Andy?

 Travel well young Charlie, and keep up the good work. He still has a way to go, and if you would like to get involved in Charlie’s trip, check out the World Wide Relay Riders website.

The Perpetual Motorcyclist

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Day Out at the Track

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Aries being hunted by a VTR. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

Getting yourself and your motorcycle out on a racetrack is a great opportunity to have not only a huge amount of fun, but also to focus on improving your riding in an environment devoid of other traffic, clear of objects to hit, and where everyone is (hopefully) heading in the same direction. You can also explore the upper limits of your motorcycles capacities without risking your licence.

This week I had the chance to do just that. The track day was run at Eastern Creek, or as it is now known, Sydney Motorsport Park. Our group booking was organised by Paul Riley from Skill Master Motorcycle Services, and there was a number of great reasons for this get together. Most importantly it was a chance to celebrate a friends 50th birthday, Russell, who was travelling down from Dubbo for the event. It was also an opportunity to get together before Christmas. Oh, and did I mention, there was the opportunity to ride motorcycles around a racetrack.

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An eclectic mix of bikes and riders! Not a tyre warmer in sight. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

Most of the riders on our group were riding their road bikes, and it was an eclectic mix. There was a few BMW’s, a few Honda’s, some Suzuki’s, a Yamaha and a Ducati. The riders too were an eclectic mix. Some, like Paul and myself get paid to teach others to ride, some had been riding for years for transport and pleasure, and others were relatively new to riding. It’s this variety that is one of the great things about a ride day for me.

It is about an hour and three-quarters for me to get to the track, and I left home feeling less than ideal. I was hoping that the riding would set me straight, but after my commute I was still feeling fairly ordinary. I got the prerequisite registration, scrutineering and safety briefing out of the way, and set off for the cafe to see if caffeine would fix my aching head. It still hadn’t by the time the track sessions commenced, so I opted for some pain killers.

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Paul Riley leading the pack on his very shiny FZ. Aries lurking in the background. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

There were four groups running, with our group the third session on the track. Sessions were run at approximately 20 minutes. That first 20 minutes felt more like 5, and when we came back into the pits I had to admit to being rather disappointed with my riding. My braking and gearchanging had been far from smooth, resulting in a few “interesting” moments into curves. Part of this I put down to not feeling 100%, and part to it being the first session. “There is only room for improvement” was to become my catchphrase.

In the safety briefing the organisers go to great lengths to point out that a track day is not about racing, but a funny thing happens when you get onto a track, and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t just me that from suffering from a little of the “red mist”. I’m not a naturally competitive person, unless you overtake me!

Russell hustling his Ducati. Do you like his "ocky" strap?

Russell hustling his Ducati. Do you like his “ocky” strap? Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

The second session was certainly an improvement for me, although I had a few rear wheel slides which could have been better managed, so I still had to work on my throttle control, but the braking and gearchanges were improving. The session also felt longer, which I guess comes with being more familiar with the circuit. The 4.5km circuit has 18 turns, 10 left, which I guess means the other 8 are right. Or it means I can’t count, which is also a distinct possibility. A new 830m section was added to the track this year, and this was the first time I had ridden it. It is a tight technical section, but once mastered was a great deal of fun. The smiles from the rest of the group were a good indicator that everyone was “starting to have fun”.

Russell, who was the gentleman celebrating his 50th, is one of those inspiring people who you are sometimes lucky enough to meet. A few years ago he lost his right leg, in a motorcycle accident! It hasn’t affected his love of riding, nor his passion for helping others. His Ducati is standard apart from two small modifications, his rear brake and clutch are operated via a “Clake”, and he has an “ocky” strap to stop his right leg from falling off the footpeg. To watch him ride, you would never know any different.

Pastor Dave leading the flock through turn 2. Photo coutesy Noel Taylor

Pastor Dave leading the flock through turn 2. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

For me the third session of the day was when everything fell into place. Everything started feeling smooth. I found my flow. It is often said amongst motorcyclists that if you try to ride fast, you won’t, but if you try to ride smooth, then you will ride fast. Not that speed was my aim, but it is surprising how quickly you get blase travelling at speeds in excess of 200kph. The tricky part is dealing with the bikes which are blindingly fast down the straight, but then almost come to what feels like a standstill once they reach the corner. A few “exciting” moments were encountered at the end of the straight!

At the end of the third session Paul Riley commented that he had enjoyed following me and watching the black lines Aries was leaving out of the curves under acceleration. I do love torque. Of course Paul didn’t follow me for too long. Eventually he overtook me and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The smoke was not from his tyres or engine, but from his boots dragging on the ground. He has big feet!

Paul dragging his boots. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

Paul dragging his boots. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

By the middle of the day there was no doubt that everyone in the group was exploring the capabilities of both their bikes, and themselves, and having a fantastic time doing it. This is the great learning tool that a track day offers. You can practice and improve on skills you need to use everday out on the road, but you can also try things that you would never try on the road in a safe environment, and in doing so improve as a rider.

After lunch I was still felling very average, so more pain killers were imbibed in preparation for the final few sessions.

Patrick making the most of the GS's ground clearance. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

Patrick making the most of the GS’s ground clearance. Photo courtesy Noel Taylor

 After another two enjoyable and incident free session on the track I was beat. I still had my ride home to contend with, so I filled up with caffeine, packed up my gear, bid the group farewell, and headed for home.

After such enjoyable traffic free riding the commute back home was a huge shock to the system. Even if I had been feeling well the trip would have tested my patience, and with the way I was feeling, my nerves were well and truly frazzled by the time I got home, and boy was I happy to be there.

It had been a great day of fun riding, an ideal opportunity to refine life saving skills, and a perfect chance to blow the cobwebs out of Aries. If you have the chance to do a track day I highly recommend it. I’ll let you know next time I’m going. Maybe you can join me.

A big thank you to Noel Taylor for the outstanding shots, and for letting me use them. The only thing that can make a track day better, is being able to look at the photos afterwards. The only down side of the photos, I thought I was really hanging off the bike in the curves, just like a MotoGP rider, but when I saw the photos! Well, lets just say, “no knee sliders were harmed in the production of these photos”!

The Perpetual Motorcyclist

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Can you spare some change?

Back when I was an instructor teaching the motorcycle L’s and P’s courses, we used to use a simple analogy to demonstrate how a motorcycle rider needs to balance their attention in order to stay alive. It went like this; if the total amount of attention you can pay while riding is represented by $10 in change, in order to survive you need to be spending about five cents’ worth on riding the bike and dedicating the other $9.95 to watching what’s going on around you.

I like that analogy. It used to get quite varied reactions when we rolled it out in the class. Plenty of wide-eyed students, still struggling just to get their heads around operating the bike, couldn’t imagine all the various tasks – clutch, gears, brake – ever coming together almost subconsciously. Other riders mentioned that they only rode once a month or so, and that the first hour or so of every ride felt like a refresher course. It was interesting to compare all the different viewpoints. But the fact remains no rider can afford to waste attention on simply operating the bike. There are too many threats unfolding around us on the road.

I’ve been riding for ages, so I’m now able to jump on my bike, or indeed almost any bike, and shortly thereafter ride it without a second thought. It’s a handy skill that springs from nothing more than experience. Yet recently I found myself in a situation that had me thinking about the old ‘$10 change’ axiom all over again.

On my race bike, ground clearance on a couple of corners has recently become an issue. So I spent some time in the shed and swapped the shift mechanism to ‘race shift’ – in short, my gear change is now ‘one up, five down’ instead of the other way around. I tap down to change up a gear, and up to change down. Simple. It means that instead of trying to squeeze my ungainly hoof under the shifter while leaned hard to the left, now I can keep my toe above the shift lever and just keep tapping down to upshift as I accelerate out of a left-hander.

I hadn’t worked with this shift pattern for awhile, so after I set it up I went to the track to test it. No problems. I adapted to the reversed pattern right away, didn’t miss any shifts and didn’t have any problems.

On arriving home, I decided that it might be a good idea to also reverse the shift on my road bike. After all, I ride the road bike more often that the racer, so a reverse pattern shift on the road bike would help reinforce the habit. The next day I spent fifteen minutes reversing the shift on the GSXR and then went for a ride in the hills.

And I made mistakes.

I counted three times that I stuffed up my shifts. Happily, I wasn’t riding quickly, so there were no disastrous consequences. But it occurred to me right away that I made mistakes on the road because of the endless distractions and unpredictable situations. On the track, all I had to do was ride fast on a clean surface, surrounded by other racers. On the road, stupid moves by car drivers had me devoting all my attention – every cent of my $10 – to staying alive. As much as I’d convinced myself that the new shift pattern had become automatic to me, it was obviously occupying at least a few whirring neurons, because in a survival situation I still messed up my shifts as I swung all my attention onto the situation at hand.

So I’ll definitely keep my road bike set up as it is so that every ride reinforces my habit. In the meantime, the experience has given me pause to consider just how vital it is that our riding becomes completely automatic. The holidays are upon us. Drivers have their minds elsewhere – on shopping, kids, holidays – and they’re distracted. If you’re heading out into the melee on your bike, make sure you spend your $10 wisely. It might just save your life.

Kym

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stop Making Sense

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One of the most popular classes of sports bike in the world today is the ‘litre bike’ – bikes with a capacity of around 1,000cc. Sales statistics back this up. You see them out on the road all the time – the ubiquitous Yamaha R1, the GSX-R1000, the ZX/10R, Honda’s Fireblade and the new king, BMW’s S1000RR.  Yet it’s arguable that nobody needs one of these bikes.

Today’s 500cc commuter bikes deliver the sort of performance our biking grandparents dreamed about. Today’s 600cc inline four sports bikes all make well over 100 rear wheel horsepower. I can remember back when bikers used to get excited about 100 horses being made by any bike of any capacity! 750’s? You’re looking at 130-ish. And the litre bikes are all making between 160 and 190 horsepower – not claimed horsepower, but real, measured ponies at the rear wheel. That’s the power that race machines in the World Superbike series were making not so many years ago. It’s all a bit mad.

Back when I was a mere yoof, I mistakenly thought I was buying into the litre bike dream when I purchased a mint Ducati 900SS. It was fun for awhile, but I probably should have researched the relative shortcomings of two-valve, air-cooled twins as compared to four-valve, liquid cooled inline four cylinder engines before I laid my money down. The Ducati sounded awesome and had oodles of torque, but the fact was that in performance terms, the engine design was already about 15 years off the pace when the bike was released. Pedestrian 600’s (which I told myself had no character and no heritage) hosed the Ducati mercilessly. Owning a ‘thoroughbred’ is all very well, but being regularly shut down in a straight line by everything this side of a postie bike gets pretty tedious after awhile.

So the Ducati was sold and I upgraded to a Kawasaki ZX/9R. No, not the disastrously tubby early model, but the lighter, nimbler second-generation bike. Rated at around 130 horsepower, there really wasn’t much other than perhaps the early Yamaha R1 that was quicker at the time, and only by a whisker at ‘do not pass go, go straight to jail’ speeds. My brother owned a FireBlade at the time, and we had the time of our lives scaring ourselves witless. To paraphrase a magazine shootout of that era between the Blade and the ZX/9, ‘both bikes have the ability to reach forward, tear out the horizon, scrunch it into a little ball and toss it back over your shoulder in a matter of seconds.’

I loved that ZX/9. But I loved my new baby daughter, too. And seeing as the bike was worth several times as much as the family car I owned at the time, I gritted my teeth and put it upon myself to sell the bike, buy a decent car for the family and trade down to a slightly less mental bike. It must, in fact, have been a lot less mental, because I can’t for the life of me remember what it was anymore.

I have owned some great bikes since that time, but none have been litre bikes. Nonetheless, I have always made it my business to ride every litre bike I can possibly sling a leg over, borrowing mates’ bikes and taking cheeky demo rides at dealers. Standout bikes include KTM’s 990 SuperDuke, Kawasaki’s ZX/10R and, needless to say, BMW’s S1000RR.

The Super Duke will wheelie if you so much as fart, and ride along on the back wheel until you get a nosebleed. The ZX10 is just an angry bike that wants to break the sound barrier and hurt you on the way there. The BMW makes you feel smug and invincible until you glance down at the speedo and see the sort of numbers that used to frighten you back in High School maths. All of this is unnecessary, irresponsible, and inexcusable. And of course utterly intoxicating.

Nobody needs a litre bike. So let’s look at need versus want.

I have nothing against cars. But cars often take a lot of needs and dress them up to try to give them some ‘want’ value. Look at car ads on TV. Practicality and economy combined with all the performance of a salted slug, dressed up with go-faster stripes and a spoiler. Sheep in wolves’ clothing.

But if that’s all a bit of a laugh, TV ads for performance bikes really make me giggle. They’re like a Tarantino movie with all the swearing and violence edited out, leaving…nothing much at all. Let’s face it, outside the biking community, 190 horses and a top whack near 300 kilometres an hour are always going to look a wee bit irresponsible. But it didn’t stop me laughing out loud when I saw a TV ad for Suzuki’s Hayabusa recently that mentioned nothing at all of performance (arguably the bike’s number one selling point) but instead waffled along with something as bland as ‘an undeniable presence on the road.’ Wow.

Of course it’s just as well. I get the feeling that if the mainstream media ever got tired of recycling the same bullshit stories about neighbours at war, youth gone mad and rogue tradies, they could have a field day with litre bikes – and possibly sports bikes in general. Look at the hoon value in it!

So while selling points for cars include cup holders, air bags, free Bluetooth connectivity and roadside assist, give me zero practicality, no luggage space and ridiculous power any time. I love the fact that in the world of bikes, the bite still matches the bark. It’s not that I have a public road where I can legally unleash a fraction of this performance, or even the talent to use it if I did. It’s the satisfaction of simply knowing that I can still have it if I want it. Without trying too hard to borrow nobility for my cause, it’s the same sort of thinking that led George Mallory, when asked why he felt compelled to conquer Everest, to reply simply Because its there. That’s not a statement based on practicality, that’s just pure desire.

And that’s another wonderful fact about motorcycling and motorcyclists. We don’t have to make any sense. To people who don’t ride, we’ve never made any sense, so why not take the senselessness as far as we can while it’s still an option?

I’m not advocating irresponsibility. If you want to own a performance bike and really enjoy what it has to offer, book some advanced riding courses and take it to the track. In my experience if you do this you’ll not only appreciate your bike more, you’ll be far less tempted to do anything naughty when you ride on the road.

But don’t leave it too late. We’re living in something of a golden age right now. In the not too distant future you can bet that there’ll be a slow night on A Current Affair and thereafter the fun police will start doing all they can to take our amazing toys away. Why, after all, would we need our impractical, overpowered two-wheeled monsters when we can all get by just as well with a lovely little electric hybrid hatchback?

Now is the time to drink deep at the well. To celebrate the impractical, the excessive and the unnecessary. Nothing else makes sense.

Kym

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