Motorcycles – Practical and Pleasurable

Motorcycles can be both a practical means of transport and a pleasurable pastime. If names such as Doohan, Sheene, Duke, Gardner or Surtees are inspiring then motorcycling may be the transport mode of choice. Replicating the deeds of these World Champions who went faster than anyone else on their days on machines that were state of the art pieces of engineering is not for everyone. It is also not to be attempted on public streets among ordinary road users. There is something satisfying in riding a machine that feels so much more a part of the body than the average motor car.

A motorcycle is not the device of choice for going down to the local store for some quick shopping. It is also less useful compared with a car for bulk purchases at the supermarket. It is necessary to dress appropriately whether going on a long or a short trip and at least one item of clothing is mandated by law in most countries. Just as seat belts in motor vehicles are proven life savers so are good quality helmets for motorcyclists. The heavy duty leathers, gloves and boots are equivalent to the airbags, rollbars and collapsible compartments built into many modern cars. It may well take more than just a few minutes to “suit up” for a ride so a short journey is more of a nuisance than a pleasure. The clothes both required and recommended can save fractured skulls and severe skin scrapes. Skill can avoid serious injuries caused by becoming tangled with the machine in a fall. Indeed it is only skill, which must be well learned, that can prevent accidents not caused by other road users.

If the idea of the wind riffling through the hair on a warm summer day is appealing then perhaps a sports car with the roof down is the best vehicle. Alternatively if being astride a powerful machine which feels more like an extra prosthetic body part than a separate entity is what is craved then motorcycling is perfect. There is no need for extreme speed to enjoy the feel of the road and the sway of the machine leaning into a curve. Speed can be experienced on private roads or purpose built tracks on motorcycles of any size simply because of the high power to weight ratio. Even a small 125 cc machine can reach three figure speeds carrying an adult rider. Larger machines can reach speed well in excess of 100 miles an hour (160 kilometres and hours).

Machines can be tailored not only for the rider’s size but also for the required purpose. Motorcycles may be small, stripped down, sports versions unsuited for road use to provided the thrills of motocross or “rough country” riding. At the other extreme large engined, in excess of 650 cc, machines can provide the comfort of windshields and large panniers to carry luggage for touring work. Anything in between is possible from the practical commuter bike to the specialist road racer or dirt track speedway machine.

Young riders with fast reactions may be best suited to speed machines but any age group can enjoy motorcycling. The skill needed, once acquired, is just like riding a pedal powered bicycle. It is never forgotten. Motorcycles, in their almost infinite variety, are practical and pleasurable for all.


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