Now here’s an interesting question, well, to me anyway. I had occaision, only today, to wander around a very large motorcycle shop. There was much fine and shiny stuff there, most of which left me fairly ambivalent to be honest, though I did come dangerously close to parting with real money for a rather beautiful ZZR1400. Not normally my style at all, but the whole thing was so well proportioned it just fit right. Even my long suffering girlfriend had to agree (not without a measure of enthusiasm) that it was simply made for me.
OK, so it is insanely fast and surely would require a gentle touch in the wet but, as my old mate, who retired from racing (still competitive, but broke) at the age of sixty seven, always pointed out, “the throttle works both ways”.
So firstly, should it be embarassing to ride the worlds fastest production motorcycle and only take it over the ton once a year on a European run? How many people with such bikes really use the potential? How many people get anywhere near the potential of any bike over 600cc on the way to work anyway? I did know one such chap, but I’ve long lost count of his list of broken bones.
For me that’s an easy one, if I happen to like the bike and don’t get frightened by the power output then who should care? It’s my bike (well, I’d like it to be) and I’ll ride it how I want to as long as that doesn’t endanger anyone else. What I liked about the bike was the feel of the thing.
To be brutally honest, I neither knew nor cared that it was that fast at the time.
Yet I’m guilty of the self same judgement. I was looking at a rather smart KTM recently, noticed that it had chicken strips even wider than mine on the tyres and thought, “so why buy such a sporty bike then?”… because he wants to, of course, and what’s wrong with that?
But that led to the next question. Not very far from it was a very bonny CBR1000 in full Repsol replica livery. Without doubt a slower machine, but I reckon that I would feel embarassed riding it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s a very pretty bike, nobody’s pretending that it’s a MotoGP bike and it’s flying the Honda flag. But surely, riding it in an old jacket and a pair of jeans (armoured or otherwise) or even in a set of plain black leathers would look all wrong.
In fact, riding it in anything but a set of Repsol replica leathers would look wrong. And then I really would look like I was trying to be Mark Marquez, which at well over twice his age and and far too close to twice his weight would look just plain sad.
So where do we get our prejudices? What’s the difference between a set of replica leathers and going to the pub in your teams football shirt which, come to think of it, I wouldn’t dream of doing either, even if I had the slightest interest in football. But thousands of others do and quite reasonably don’t expect some pillock to point out that, since they’re clearly out of breath carrying a round from the bar to thier table, they may not be truly qualified to wear the uniform of elite athletes.
And now I’ve strayed into really scary territory. Uniforms!
You see, despite having had long hair from the age of twelve, telling the Boy Scouts to take their para-military orders and shove them after one day, being threatened with expulsion from school for starting the UKs first secondary school chapter of the NUS, and even briefly living the hippy dream in a commune (well, it was a commune, but it was also in Middlesbrough… and I had a job… but it was a commune) I was also brought up on “The Cruel Sea”, “One of our Aircraft is Missing” and tales of Douglas Bader (who it turns out seems to have been something of a bad egg and stole kills from his underlings) so there’s still something very deeply ingrained that says you can’t wear the uniform unless you’ve earned the right to do so.
Now that, is a lot more scary than trying to put 185 horsepower down through a single, cold, wet tyre!