There’s a problem with my scooter. Sure, it’s economical to run, easy to ride, park, and I can filter my way to the front of most traffic jams. But at heart I’m a Biker, not a Scooterist. I used to ride big bikes in my late teens, and that urge has never left me despite a non-biking gap of twenty-cough-cough years.
So the problem with my scooter, actually any scooter, is that it’s not a proper bike. A Real Bike. It’s totally practical and is one of the best scooters available, but I want to ride down twisty country roads on a bike designed for that purpose, not thrash a commuter scooter in a vain attempt at proper biking. I want to glide onto the forecourt of The Ace Cafe with my head held high, not park around the back so I don’t get pointed at by The Big Boys.
Yes, the time has come to Upgrade. I didn’t see this day coming, and when we moved to London I felt sure that the scooter would allow me to scratch my biking itch while also ticking all the economic and environmental boxes. But six months on I’ve outgrown it. Every day I see big motorcycles on the road and it makes me feel like a kid on a toy tricycle.
My main concern was how Karen would feel about it, and we’ve talked at length. She is naturally scared of my having an accident, and that fear grows the longer I’m out riding. I too am acutely aware of what can go wrong, and how fast it can go wrong, and as a result I ride very defensively — especially in town. A motorcycle is actually safer than the kind of scooter I’m riding now, for a couple of reasons: One, they have more power, so give you the option of accelerating away from a hazard: on the scooter all I can do is brake/swerve to get out of an obstacle’s way. Secondly, big bikes get more respect from car drivers in London. It is apparent to me as a ride around that car drivers will move over to give a big bike space to pass, but will seldom do the same for a scooter looming in their rear-view mirror. Car drivers view scooter riders as one level of pond-life higher than cyclists, while motorcyclists are acknowledged as real people.
Time-scales: I haven’t signed anything yet but I have been to a couple of showrooms and have a shortlist of three bikes. Test rides should take place over the course of the next week or so, then I’ll make my choice and should take delivery a few days later. I reckon I’ll have made the switch by mid-July, and first order of business will be a day of refresher training.
I’m excited at the prospect of riding a proper bike again, but also a little nervous about taking my first steps on a bigger, faster machine. Still, I’m sure it’ll all come flooding back, and I’m (much) older now and (a little) wiser, so I’m not about to take any silly chances.
More news soon.