For a while there I was having real problems with getting on the bike and really going anywhere. With the recent purchase of some Draggin Jeans, however, I completed my set of minimum protective gear:
- Helmet (Research suggests that the cheaper polycarbonate helmets are actually safer than the expensive ones)
- Gloves (Courtesy of E, I have a loan of some light, breathable motorcross gloves and some heaver leather winter-weight ones)
- Boots (It seemed important to me to get ankle-armor and something sturdy to meet the gear-shift with)
- Jacket (Again a loan from E: a completely magnificent lime-green leather jacket with all the trimmings)
- Pants (The aforementioned Draggin Jeans)
This removed my last excuse for not really riding anywhere, so I caught up with brother Heffa and got out there the Sunday before last. Since then I’ve done four decent-sized rides, and have to say: I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
The thing that was keeping me off the road was essentially fear: I’ve read a lot about riding safety, crash statistics and injuries, and was still finding the complexity of the bike a bit overwhelming. What I needed was to just get out there and do it a bit.
After a few initial rides, it is suddenly much clearer to me what all the fear is about: Most people who try to do this are doing it as their first exposure to driving on the road!!! That’s frankly insane. The skills needed to ride a motorbike are moderately demanding; it leaves less margin for error than a car and requires much more constant attention, discipline, etc. Trying to acquire those skills while also coming to terms with basic driving strategy strikes me as a fairly reliable formula for suicide.
…not that there’s an easy way to prevent that: Suppose you’re sixteen and just a born bike-nut. You probably wouldn’t take kindly to the idea that at eighteen, you’ll have to buy a vastly expensive thing called a car and drive it around for a year or six before you’re even allowed to attempt to ride the cheap, economical vehicle you’re doing all this for in the first place. The very likely scenario is that you’ll do the minimum driving necessary to get your license and then avoid cars until you can get your bike; nothing is gained but a lot of frustration and wasted time.
Still, I don’t envy that hypothetical you, nor would I put high odds on your survival. I’m very glad I did it the long way round myself.