Just when we thought Autumn was just round the corner, another heat wave hits. On the one hand this makes great biking weather, but on the other, it doesn’t make good biking weather, remember to dress for the weather and keep hydrated.
Many years ago, when I began riding at sixteen, motorcycles were seen as a cheap way of getting around.
A bike allowed you to be independent, you could forego the local bus, and this meant things like being able to go to a late-night cinema show, knowing you could get home (if someone hadn’t cut your HT leads)
The sad reality of that time was that all you needed was a helmet; AA or AAA, specification motorcycle clothing, was not a thing. If you were lucky, the Frank Thomas jacket (if you could afford it) came with some foam in the elbows and perhaps a more significant piece for the back, but that was your lot. Most of us just wore jeans with a pair of parachute trooper boots from the local army surplus. The bike was the most expensive item.
Fast forward to 2023, and whilst the bike is still likely to be the most significant expense, equipping yourself with a half-decent set of boots, gloves, trousers, jacket, and a helmet is almost as expensive, and that is before you look at insurance which can be eye-watering if you live in London or park on the street in Crawley.
The new Shoei Neotec 3, is a beautiful creation and one which will help keep your head away from the road is over £600; add the Bluetooth Comms, and you are just shy of a thousand pounds. My first bike, insured, taxed and with an MOT, was less than this.
Sadly, then, bikes and biking are no longer cheap forms of transport, nor are they a cheap hobby.
A new Ducati Rally is twenty-seven thousand pounds, and if you are lucky to have one, they are likely another two thousand pounds to insure. The cheapest car in the UK now is fourteen thousand pounds (a Dacia if you are interested), so the bike is almost twice the price!
Yes, you can get cheaper bikes and second-hand bikes, and you can choose to buy a decent laminated suit for five hundred pounds; you don’t have to spend three thousand on the latest Rukka., but the prices seem to keep going up and show no sign of stopping and now compete with the electricity, heating and home insurance. We know prices have increased and that Brexit, cost of living, shop rates, higher safety standards forcing the prices up, and even fuel are all limiting the biker's ability to have fun.
A coffee and a slice of cake is now over a fiver (but not at our group meetings, which remain excellent value)
So why do we ride, well that’s easy, it provides a massive mental uplift, it is something that can be enjoyed solo or in groups and when you make the perfect overtake or nail that corner, there is nothing better on the planet – all of this is made better if you are off for a coffee and a slice of cake or a breakfast run.
Over the last month or so we have had a great turn out for the group meetings both for Associates and Observers. We’ve held the Chair Run which is the groups’ way of saying thank you to all the Observer for the time and effort that they put in for running ORs and training Associates, so if you are an Observer and were unable to attend, a big thank you from me for your time and efforts.
By the time you read this, the Wales weekend would have taken place, so hopefully we’ll have a few more people up to test standard and with a test pass in the next few weeks, and a big thank you to the organisers, those up front and behind the scenes. This event could not take place without you!
We also have the AGM coming up in November which I think all details will be in this edition of Progress. Remember anyone can attend and find out what’s going on and have their say but only full members will be able to vote.
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