Given the strange mix of UK weather we’ve been having recently, presenting a particular challenge for motorcyclists, it’s time to republish a blog written by Visorcat inventor Alan Boulton that raises some interesting points about safety and motorcycle gear …
NOW THAT it has nicely cooled off from the scorching near 100F temperatures of late I’ve just been out for a quick 70-mile blast on my KTM Duke II to celebrate.
Fact is, it’s just been too damn hot recently for me to have ventured out in my normal textile based riding gear, not that it’s stopped me from running the odd errand into town while enjoying the fantastic ventilation (but sod all crash protection) afforded by er, a track suit & trainers.
If you’ve never got out on your ‘bike wearing anything less than several pages worth of riding gear from a Hein Gericke or Frank Thomas catalogue then you may now be thinking me a bit irresponsible.
Helmet & gloves aside, riding your motorcycle while dressed as if going for ‘a jog in the park’ does at least offer a pretty good extra incentive for sticking to the urban speed limits. I’m glad to say that this ‘less is more’ philosophy also applies to my current motorcycle – mildly exotic and race bred it may be but designed to cruise effortlessly at 130 mph it ain’t. This means that it is quite good fun to ride even at sub 45mph speeds rather than inducing that awful mind – numbing frustration you get while indulging in low speed excess on your Fireblade or Hayabusa.
Now if like me you have ever done 25 – 30mph on a bicycle while dodging cars out on the road and dressed in little more than shorts and a T-shirt, doing 30 – 40 mph- ish on a light – weight Supermoto motorcycle (with vastly superior brakes, tyres, suspension, lights and it hardly needs to be said acceleration) while afforded the superior protection of gloves, a helmet and a track suit doesn’t seem that dangerous after all, though you might want to think twice before trying it two -up on your Goldwing or Harley Davidson Electraglide.
Er, now that I’ve just re-read that last bit I thought I should maybe just add a little ‘Don’t Try This At Home Kids’ disclaimer. When you’ve put in as many miles on two wheels as I have – bicycles included – then you should develop a much keener ‘sixth sense’ for accident avoidance, with confident machine control completely second nature. If on the other hand you’re just starting to rack up your first few thousand miles on public roads then you’ll be well advised to stick with the right riding gear for now.
Anyway, (apart from last week, when I actually made the effort amidst the heat to dig out and squeeze – just – into my old, vented one piece leathers before heading for the much cooler, fresher air to be found amongst the hills an hour’s ride away) today was the first time for a while I’d got much further than the nearest bank or local store.
But at least part of me was wondering why I bothered.
There was the police vehicles for a start. In 70 miles I counted no less than five, at least one of which came with a nice big camera in the back. Yep, that’s an average of one every 14 miles.
Then there’s the bike. Whereas even a 300 mile trip on my old R1100GS could (assuming you stuck to the tarmac) be about as taxing as popping to the shops for a pint of milk, a third of that distance on the KTM and you’re looking for a well earned rest. Assuming you’re not planning any two – up tours this is only really a problem if you lack decent roads in your area………….but,
Finally, there’s where I live, which let’s just say is hardly reminiscent of the vast open spaces of that well known ‘biking playground’ North Yorkshire – an area I was lucky enough to grow up right in the middle of.
So – limited by the need to find some decent tarmac as close to my house as possible – where I live today, I tend to end up on the same two roads. The one that heads north into Derbyshire, or the other one, that heads north into Derbyshire.
And seemingly in recognition of the very few routes from which I now tend to choose, today’s choice came with a very visible police presence and a fair few signs depicting motorcycles with the unforgettable words To Die For? written large alongside.
Not that I minded the signs that much – just the fact that THEY seem to know all of the roads I want to ride on. They would’ve needed a helluva lot more signs up in the heart of N. Yorks.