Thursday, 31 October 2013

The hunger for something more

Turning 16 in January 2010, I passed my CBT and quite happily rode around on it for 9 months or so. I cherished my little Derbi Gpr 50 nude, taking it everywhere from a trip to the shops, to a 6 hour journey to the Welsh coast.

My Derbi Gpr 50 nude on our Fairbourne trip

However, November came and I suddenly realised that my 17th was imminent.  I began to fantasise about a 125... My evenings were spent scrolling through eBay, looking at what I could and couldn't afford. Sooner or later, the Derbi's spot in the garage had been replaced with my 125 - before I was even 17!

January came again and I began to ride around on my Hyosung Gv125. A few months in, I began to ride much faster around bends. Consequently, this led to my low exhaust and foot pegs being dragged around every round-a-bout. Therefore, I sold the Hyosung and bought my Yamaha Yzf R125.

The R125 was probably my most favoured bike out of the five that I've owned; with the extra engine power and ground clearance, I began to race around, dragging my knees off bends. I took the R125 on day trips to Wales and once on a very wet road trip to Devon. But yet again, the hunger for something more was creeping in...

My Yzf R125 on our Woolacombe trip

I took my test not long after my 18th Birthday and had bought my 33bhp Suzuki Sv650s a month or two later. Now, the Sv650 has taken me to amazing places; a snowy, winter trip to Barmouth, a sun-flooded day at the horseshoe pass and an epic 1500 mile journey through France. Yet believe it or not, I still wish for more; a bike with more power, more comfort and more touring capabilities. Once again, my evenings are filled with eBay searches and reading the MCN classified ads.

My Sv650s on my France trip

My point is, in the days of my 50 and 125s, I was in such a crazy rush to upgrade to something more powerful, I was totally oblivious to the fact that I was having the time of my life. I now look back in regret that I didn't spend a bit more time with my little Derbi and my Yzf R125.

And now a message to all readers that are still riding their 50s and 125s; don't make the same mistake as me, rushing through the best time of your life wishing for something better. Just love what you have at the moment, because one day, you'll really miss it.

But a question that I will leave with you is this:

At what point will we ever be satisfied with the bike we've got? Or will we always have a hunger for something more?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What makes a biker?

Before I start, I would like to point out that my examples are all stereotypes and I realise that there are exceptions etc... But for the sake of this article, I'm going to use these stereotypes.

A 125 commuter travels to work and back everyday. Regardless of the weather, he wears his same textile suit or waterproof overalls and rides the same 40 mile round trip everyday. He never uses his bike for a nice ride at the weekend, it's purely a form of transport. He does approximately 10,000 miles a year.

courtesy of

A Ducati 1098 rider wheels the beast out of his heated garage, whenever the sun is shining and the roads are sure to stay dry. He wears one piece Dainese leathers, knox gloves, Sidi boots and an Arai lid. All of his gear is brand new, squeaky clean and matching the colours of the Duc. When he goes out for a scratch, he is back within an hour or two, cleans his bike and then wheels it away for the next time the sun comes out. He does around 300 miles in a year.

A Harley Davidson owner spends most of his free days polishing his Road King, buying extra bits to bolt onto it and when there's no polishing or buying to do, he flicks through catalogues and custom chopper magazines, reading about other people's different Harley's etc... He rides the Road King occasionally when the weather's really nice but most of the time it's sat in the garage being cleaned. He does around 500 miles a year.

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There's a 16 year old boy on a Aprilia Sr50 scooter. He rides around his local town, never riding any more than 3 miles away from his house. He sits outside McDonald's and carparks with his mates, also on scooters, blasting out music on most nights. He wears no gear as he doesn't feel the need to and does around 2,000 miles a year.

The owner of a streetfightered 1998 Suzuki Bandit 1200 attends all the bike meets, goes out in most weathers and who's bike is a bit tatty and well used. He wears second hand leathers, a nitro helmet and in bad weather he wears hi-viz. He does annual bike trips with his mates and is prepared to go as far as his bike will take him. He is a member of several forums who all discuss bikes, he also makes YouTube vlogs and writes a blog. He does around 8,000 miles a year.

courtesy of

Now, out of those 5 examples, which ones would you call a 'biker'?

Do you need to ride your bike everyday to be a biker? Or can you wheel it out of the garage once a month and still be called a biker? Do you need to have a big expensive Ducati to be a biker? Or will a 50cc Scooter be enough? Do you need to be a part of the 'online biker community' over YouTube and forums to be a biker? Or can you ride solo everywhere and still be a biker? Are fair weather riders not bikers? What about the gear you wear, do you have to be fully kitted out to be a biker or will a jumper, jeans and trainers do?

Now that's a lot of questions. Technically, all of my examples are bikers. They ride bikes don't they? But is there a checklist out there which must be filled to become a true biker?

My personal view is that they all are bikers. Prejudice is an easy mistake to make, perhaps the Ducati rider has an important job which requires him to attend all sorts of conference meetings around the country so he simply doesn't have time to use it as much as he would like. And for when it rains, he probably just doesn't want his Ducati to rot away. 

As for the Harley rider, I think he's a biker. He obsesses over making his bike look the way he wants. Remember, biking isn't just about the riding, it can also be about the tinkering and the pride you hold in your bike. The commuter's a biker too, he relies on his bike day in, day out, riding in all weathers - that's pretty hardcore if you ask me. The bandit rider uses his bike frequently and loves it, he participates in all sorts of bike meets and in my book he is definitely a biker.

However, the tricky one is the young lad on his scooter. A lot of people would argue that he isn't a biker and that he just uses it for a bit of independence and a stepping stone for getting a car. But, isn't independence very relevant to motorcycling? That's what it is for most people, having something that is totally yours that can take you wherever you wish to go. I think he is.

So that's it. Everyone with a bike, in my point of view, is a biker.

But what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Do you need a big bike to be a 'biker'?

I distinctly remember two trips (of hundreds) to my local bike cafe. They were both inside June 2012, a month after passing my bike test. The first, I raced down the Bridgnorth road on my little Yamaha Yzf R125; polluting Shropshire's quiet, calm farms with the deafening exhaust note protruding from my Remus Powercone.

After fifteen minutes of 12,000 rpm,  I pulled up at the cafe on a fairly quiet friday afternoon, wearing my one piece Spyke leathers and my usual Shoei lid. I grabbed a usual cup of tea and went to sit outside to enjoy the glorious sunshine with my fellow bikers - or so I thought.

Myself on the Yamaha Yzf R125

I was ignored. I attempted to speak to the regulars and I got the odd mumble and a shrug. I tried to nod and say hello to the new people turning up and I still got nothing. Puzzled, I swung my leg over the little 125 and blasted off.

Two weeks later, I returned on my Suzuki Sv650s. Grinning behind my tinted visor, proud of myself for finally getting a big bike, I raced down the cafe on a sunny Saturday. I pulled up again, wearing the same gear, drank the same tea, on the same bench - and I was having people speak to me.

The weirdest thing was, was that nothing had changed - I had the same full leathers, the same tinted visor and was sat in the same spot. I didn't even have L plates on the 125 as I had received my full license. The only difference was having a bike with an extra 525cc.

Is this right though?

When you ride, do you nod to Scooters still? Do you nod to Harleys? What about Yzf R125 riders in full leathers? Or do you require a 'big fast bike' to receive any sort of recognition from the biker community.

It's a form of snobbery. And I don't like it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Do you need an adventure bike to have an adventure?

Courtesy of
Looks cool doesn't it?

But is it really necessary to have a £15,000, 270 kg bike that has more whizzes and gadgets than the average spaceship? Do you really need heated seats, grips and clothing? Do you need ABS and traction control? What about electronic adjustable suspension? I mean sure, if you're into all of that stuff than fair enough, but is it really necessary? Could you live without it?

Will a 2013 Bmw R1200Gs get you to Vietnam and back? Yes. Will a 1987 Honda C90 Cub be able to cope with the same trip? Of course it would.

Obviously, the bike which you choose will adjust the difficulty of your trip. But it could also adjust the fun. For instance, you could tour the world on an R1 which will obviously not be as economical on fuel and tyres, it will be very uncomfortable and luggage space is limited. But would you have a hoot? Probably more so than some dull, lifeless, built-for-the-job workhorse. 

Then again, you could travel the world on an old 80s Dt125 and you'll be breaking down frequently and requiring rebuilds etc... You'll have a top speed of 65mph and will struggle up hills, but the delays and the hard bits are what make a trip memorable. Which brings me onto my next question;

'Is buying a bike made for touring the best thing to tour on?'

Maybe, depends on how tough you are. Can you handle having to travel at 40mph on a scooter in the bitter cold rain with no heated grips or big, wide fairing to take all the impact? Or do you find that idea a true adventure?

I'm not saying a GS or a Pan European etc... are dull, boring bikes. I'm sure there're owners out there that love them, and I don't have any particular hatred towards them. I'd just like to open the new narrow-minded view of 'I need a GS to have an adventure' a little bit further.

Because it's simply not true.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I will become a motorcycle journalist.

Lately, I have been neglecting this blog. I was never 'full on' with it but over the past 12 months I seemed have to forgotten about it.

A few days ago, my friends and I started to discuss careers and plans for the future over a few pints down the local pub. It was then that I realised that I really am going nowhere with my life, going in and out of dead-end jobs. I've hit a bit of a brick wall.

I obviously have the ambition of becoming a motorcycle journalist and would thrive at the prospect of working for MCN or one it's sister magazines. About 6 months ago I applied to everywhere I could asking for help or work experience.

I had no replies.

And since then I have sort of given up. I know it was a pathetic atttempt and a bit of a long shot but I at least expected a reply and maybe some advice.

However, as i reached the bottom of my Bank's Bitter I began to consider starting all over again. Fulfilling my dreams and doing the things I want to do - Not working at minimum wage factory jobs scraping a living.

Naturally, doubts creep up on me. And I begin to think of my new plan as a pointless journey, but I shoved these dark thoughts to the back of my mind and reminded myself that this is what I want. I want to travel, to see the launches, write the reviews, and become a recognised member of the biking community.

I will not give up at the first hurdle this time.

I will not forget about what I strive to be.

I will become a motorcycle journalist.