Sunday, 10 June 2012

Motorbikes

I used to ask myself, "Why on earth would someone ride a motorbike when there are perfectly good cars around?".

I was sitting around on January 4 this year and decided it was time to learn how to ride a motorbike and see what the experience was like. It was summer, beautiful sunny days, so why not.

First step, get a licence. On my birthday last year I went and rode a motorbike and got my proficiency certificate. A quick check showed it was good for 6 months so it was still valid. Next step, learner licence theory test. Down to the AA office and luckily, being a holiday period, they could take me straight away. Eyesight test, check, photo, check, then off to the computer. 10 minutes later and 35/35 I was walking out of there with my learner motorbike licence. In New Zealand there is a graduated licensing system. At my age (50+) I have to spend 6 months on a learner licence and then 6 months on a restricted licence. During this time I am not allowed to ride anything bigger than a 250cc bike.

Next step was to get a motorbike. On my way home from the test I stopped off at the Suzuki dealer and immediately took a liking to a Suzuki Intruder 250LC.


Bought the bike, a helmet, jacket, boots and gloves. They said to come back the next day for the bike, so it was off home to tell my wife. I married a great woman, when I told her, she just laughed and said, "I knew you would".

Next day, I got dropped off at the Suzuki dealer to pick up my bike and go for my first ride. I have to say, that first ride was scary. I had no coordination with the gear changes and struggled to just manoeuvre the bike. I made sure I went for a ride every day for at least an hour. I was only riding around town and getting used to riding in traffic, turning, stopping starting and changing gears. By the end of the first week I was starting to enjoy it. By the end of the first month, I just couldn't wait to get home to go for a ride. Every time I got off the bike after my ride, I felt hyper and alive. Even my kids noticed that I was a happy bouncy guy when I got home.

At the end of the second month I started riding on the open road. I would ride every Saturday and Sunday for an hour or two. Being a 250 and with me weighing in at 110kg, top speed is only 100 kmh before the bike starts to strain (well maybe 110 - 120 with a tail wind and downhill), but that is fine when the open road speed limit is 100 kmh.

By the 3rd month I was very comfortable on the bike and just loved the sensation of riding on the open road with wind rushing by. I ride all around the back roads of Manawatu for 2 hours at a time. I always finish feeling really happy. The endorphins are really racing around my body and the feeling lasts for at least a couple of hours after I finish my ride.

I sit my restricted test next month which will have me on the final stage before I get my full licence. I then have another 3 months before I can get my full licence and then be able to get a real bike. It would normally be 6 months but if I do a defensive riding course, it gets shortened to 3 months. I will definitely be doing the defensive riding course as the little 250 is starting to be annoying. I want a real bike.

I have joined a group of like minded people in a riding group. The group is e-riders and is made up of motorbike enthusiasts in the IT industry in Wellington. My first proper ride will be a ride around the North Island of New Zealand at the end of November, but first I will need to get my full licence (Scheduled for October 4) and get a real motorbike to replace the 250cc Suzuki.

I have been doing research and have found the bike I will be buying on October 5. It is a Triumph Thunderbird Storm from Motorad in Wellington.

Roll on October.