Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nempnett Thrubwell

One of the side-effects of middle-aged spread is traditionally mid-life crisis. Personally I don’t believe a word of it. The desire to own a motorcycle is far more deep-rooted than that.

“A motorbike? In Dubai? Are you insane?”

Maybe. The climate mitigates against motorcycles for half the year, and the local driving style for all of it. I’ve been looking at 21st century protective gear rather than the oh-so-last-millennium effective but heavy traditional leathers.

I’ve found a jacket with armour for shoulders, elbows and spine, and so many ventilation holes that it resembles a cheese grater. The trousers are lined with Kevlar. Boots and gloves are traditional and mostly leather. The whole front of the full-face helmet swings up to keep me cool at the traffic lights. The helmet is also peppered with ventilation holes to keep my brain cool. I own a waterproof overall too, but as it’s unlikely I’ll ever ride the bike in the rain (q.v.), that is only going to be used on winter boat dives.

As for the driving style, twenty years of riding in the UK taught me that bikes are completely invisible to other road users. I believe the fundamental difference here is that this level of inattentiveness is extended to all road users. It would be unfair to restrict it only to motorbikes.

Another thing is conspicuity. The new beast is a monster, weighing in at the thick end of 280kg excluding a great lardy Goat on board. It has Presence. It also cranks out an unfeasible quantity of Pferdestärke and loads and loads of torques, so there’s plenty of squirt.

I’m not new to this motorcycling thing. Having ridden bikes regularly since my 16th birthday up until 1996 I reckon I gained a fair whack of experience. Of course, I’m out of practice now, so I’ll certainly be taking it very, very carefully. Big bikes are hugely expensive to drop.

As for the bike itself, it’s a Kawasaki Concours. At least, that’s what they call it in the States and mainland Europe. The monicker in the UAE and indeed the UK is ‘GTR’. The original 1000GTR came out in 1985, I bought a used one in 1989, and I rode it regularly - and occasionally all over Europe. The model remained in production with only teeny changes, until at last in 2006 Kawasaki ceased production of the 1000GTR. The replacement, introduced in 2007, is the 1400GTR. Fourteen hundred? Gordon H. Bennett! In the words of the man who introduces American Chopper on the Discovery channel: “Biggah! Fattah! Chunkiah!”

So why Kawasaki? Well, a big comfy bike with shaft drive and hard luggage is what I want. I’ve had various Kawasakis since 1984. I considered a Honda Pan European ST1300 (as ridden by the local Traffic Police), and I even saw a herd/clutch/gang of ST1300s in Al Futtaim’s Dubai showroom. Alas, the sales manager failed to send me any details or follow up my enquiry as we had discussed. Compare this with Liberty in both Sharjah and Dubai, where I was greeted as a long-lost friend by enthusiastic and helpful staff. I mentioned the ‘H’ word to the General Manager and 12% immediately dropped off the asking price of the Kawasaki, and a whole host of free (not actually ‘free’, but included in the price) accessories were added to the package.

Sorry Honda; you lose.

Various of my motorbiking buddies have congratulated me on my choice of brand. I hope to have made the right decision. My usual response to the question of why I didn’t choose a Harley Davidson is that there is already a Fat Boy resident in the Crumbling Villa.

All the paperwork is now in order, and I’m picking the machine up after work on Thursday. Anyone out and about on 29th January in Dubai in the afternoon might like to consider Murphy’s Law and carry an umbrella.

Meanwhile, Beloved Wife has been exceptionally supportive after recovering from her initial shock. She absolutely refuses to ride pillion. The deal appears to be that if I’m allowed a motorbike, then in due course I’m not permitted to object when she buys a hot-air balloon.



Keefieboy said...

I had a moped when I was a kid. Hot-air balloon seems like a damn fine alternative.

But, congrattipoos, Señor Cabra, I'm sure you'll have lots of fun on your new toy. And you bought half of Cyprus too! Did you win the lottery?

Mars said...

congrats on the bike!

although i thought harleys were the grand-daddy of all bikes

Richard B said...

Well done, congratulations on getting a hot air ballon ?

the real nick said...

Congrats, but take care. A lot.

Having ridden five years in Central London and on the North Circular I concur with you - bikes are almost magically invisible, especially to drivers who remember to turn here! screech crash

nzm said...

Wait until Jayne hears that you haven't bought a hog!

Kudos on the acquisition, as well as the magnificent adaptation of Meatloaf's cover art.

We saw a Kwaka 1400GTR parked on the pavement in a Berlin street the other day. My God - it's a huge beast.

Time to pump up those tyres though - they look a little flat to me!

Jayne said...

Good for you Mr Goat! I naturally am gutted you went for a rice rocket, as opposed to a Hawg, but each to his own. Having said that, the current 'management' of HD in the UAE needs a damn good kick up the arse. I shall spit my dummy about them in my closing post on the ADHOGblog, because their apathy is disgraceful.
Enjoy your bike hon & as ever, Ride Safe. Just make sure the cagers can hear you!


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