The Journey

But it’s not that easy

So, I’ve come up with a clear and compelling case for getting a motorcycle (I’ll go crazy if I don’t get one). And I can even produce solid evidence that motorcycle ownership is a responsible and practical thing to do. In the United Kingdom, especially, motorbikes are a wise move in terms of transportation because they are (generally) cheaper to insure, cheaper to maintain, and cost less in taxes and MOT*. Add to this the fact that they require a fraction of the petrol (gas) that a car would use and they are not only cheap but environmentally friendly**.

Indeed, as far as commuting practicality is concerned, one can’t help but feel that to not own a motorcycle is downright foolish. And yet, I don’t own a motorcycle. The obstacles in my way are threefold:

1) I’m not licensed to ride a motorcycle in the UK.
2) I don’t have a lot of money.
3) My wife isn’t all that fond of the idea.

The first issue is easily fixable. I’ve trained before; I can train again. The system in the United Kingdom is quintessentially British in its circumlocutory bureaucracy, but a motorcycle license can be attained within a handful of weeks – faster if the rider is particularly keen. But, unfortunately, to do this “is gonna take money,” in the words of George Harrison. Whole lotta spendin’ money.

The Cardiff region has a handful of reputable training schools, with 1st Class Rider Training being the one I’m leaning toward. I like it because Andy, the owner of the school, is a former cop (which makes me think he’ll be well versed in the laws). But also, from his blog and Flickr and Facebook accounts one gets the sense that he’s genuinely pleased when another of his students succeeds. I’d like that kind of support.

I’ve calculated it will cost roughly £800 (U.S. $1,285) to go from beginner to fully-licensed rider. That’s a sum that makes my eyes go funny. There’s a possibility I could turn out to be a super amazing student, somehow remembering perfectly all I was taught 18 years ago, and thereby not need as much training, but I think it’s wiser to expect the worst.

So, the first issue standing between me and a motorcycle is exacerbated by the second issue. And that second issue is a motherhugging mountain of an issue. So much so, that I’ll save it for another post.

*For those of you reading outside the United Kingdom, MOT stands for Ministry of Transport. All motorised vehicles have to pass a rigorous yearly MOT test to ensure they are road-worthy.
**That’s based on the simple equation that less consumption = less waste. Some people will counter this argument by pointing out that motorcycle engines don’t burn as clean as those of cars. That’s true of older motorcycles, certainly, but modern bikes face increasingly stringent environmental standards, so the green argument is ever stronger for motorcycles.