Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sleepers, awake!

I’ve only been doing a little bit of gentle commuting plus one business day-trip to Khor Fakkan, and the bike’s already in for its first service. This will include all those little niggling odds and ends that have come to light since collecting the machine on 29 January. The first problem manifested as I rode away from the shop. The handling was very peculiar. I got home and discovered 19psi in the tyres rather than the correct 42psi. I have since bought a foot-pump and pressure gauge for home use. A second issue is that the magic tyre-pressure-monitoring system, an arrangement whereby the pressures are transmitted wirelessly to an on-board computer display, doesn’t work. Frankly, I think the TPMS is an unnecessary gimmick. It will, I am assured, be fixed under warranty.

I quickly discovered that although riding at night and early in the morning is freezing cold - Man is not designed to be whizzed unprotected through the air five times faster than he can run, and neither is Goat - riding when the sun is near its zenith gets all hot and sweaty even in February. As I will not ride without protective gear, I’ve found a lighter-duty jacket that is essentially a fishing net with some padding for spine, elbows and shoulders. My Kevlar-lined “Draggin’ Jeans” are excellent, but I’ll acquire some knee pads in due course.

A huge advantage of commuting by motorcycle rather than by car is being able to stick the bike where a car cannot go. Straight to the front of the traffic light queue, for example. However, unlike those little couriers’ bikes that can apparently fit between two sheets of paper, the Connie is forty-two inches wide at the mirrors, so any gap between stationary vehicles has to be huge. (There’s a facetious remark here involving ‘stationery’ and the aforementioned ‘two sheets of paper’. Must…resist…). Arriving at the office, parking is a lot easier than with a car. I have found a space beneath a building: one that’s too small for a car and is beyond the guano range of all but the most imaginative pigeons.

Another advantage is 47 miles per imperial gallon AND 0-100kph in about three seconds. The bike will allegedly accelerate eventually to a licence-erasing 240kph, although mine is unlikely ever to go anywhere near there. Compared with driving the car, speeds in the 80kph to 120kph range feel astonishingly rapid. It must be the wind. For the time being, the hero blobs on the footrests remain pristine and unsullied. Despite my preference for bendy roads, I’m still out of practice and therefore continue to take corners like a total gurl. Being overtaken by White Van Man on a cloverleaf loop is nothing short of embarrassing.

What of the disadvantages? One obvious one is the total inability to go off road. Gravel tracks are possible, but I absolutely detest riding a motorcycle on a slippery surface. I took the car to work on Sunday because of the rain. I note with alarm the number of oil spills on curves. Does someone go out late at night with a watering can full of diesel?

The main problem is, as anticipated, other motorists. My invisibility is astonishing. Minibuses emerge from side roads and launch into roundabouts. Mind you, they do this in front of everyone. Cars drift from lane to lane into the space occupied by a motorbike. But they do this to other cars too. On single carriageways it’s apparently OK to overtake even if there’s a 350kg projectile incoming at a relative 200kph with 110 watts of unswitchoffable halogen headlights blazing.

What I need is a loud twin-tone horn to alert the Acolytes of Μορφευς. The factory-supplied mouse fart is inconsequential, inaudible and inadequate.

I’m open to suggestions on the next issue. Throughout my motorcycle training all those years ago I was taught that, when riding in a lane of traffic, to position the bike to one side or the other, preferably the outside. This enables the guy in front to see the bike in his driver’s mirror, offers the biker additional forward visibility, and also provides an escape route if the vehicle in front unexpectedly stops for some reason. Never, I was taught, ride directly behind the middle of the vehicle because there’s no escape route and, in the case of a van, truck or bus, the bike is totally invisible from the front. “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”, as the bumper sticker says. Guess what happens here. Ride to one side, and some clown behind invariably tries to squeeze past the bike. Next time someone tries to push me into a flowerbed, there might be an incident involving a motorcycle boot and a door panel.

The proper place for a big bike isn’t fighting through heavy traffic. It’s enjoying the freedom of the open road. How apposite then, that the Kawasaki agent glories in the name ‘Liberty’.



Anonymous said...

"Does someone go out late at night with a watering can full of diesel?"

As a matter of fact, yes they do - about 50 watering cans full in fact.

If you come off Sheik Zayed road through the tunnel to the Greens intersection, continue straight until you cross Al Khail road and have a look around just after the crossing there is an area where the young local neanderthals are in the habit of dumping an intentional 100 litres of motor oil on the road.

This happens in the early hours of Friday morning, giving them a few hours to impress their friends with slides and donuts and such.

They then retire to tea, caring nought about the innocent family who next happens by.

Dubai so often offers opportunities to observe new attempts to plumb the depths of bestial stupidity.

the real nick said...

the Connie is forty-two inches wide at the mirrors, so any gap between stationary vehicles has to be huge.

What do you need mirrors for anyway? Problem solved.

And with regards to the issue of where to position yourself on the lane I suggest riding snakelines, very much like Corolla man.

Jayne said...

It's the arrogance of cagers that does my 'ead in really. You (like every biker) has the RIGHT to be on the road, whether you take up a small section of lane or not. Just because you might ride to the side of a lane, it doesn't give the idiots the right to merely push you out of the way. Boot & car door has a nice ring to it GG & if/when you get to participate in such an action, give an extra one from me!
And yes, get yourself a very loud horn - they really are well worth it.

The Yellow Box Of Doom said...

My god, its is Stigs black clad middle eastern brother!!!

Grumpy Goat said...

The Goat is a kind of inverse Stig:-

Black-clad, Fat, Slow...

Richard B said...

Highly recomend a tennis ball in a sock.

Smack any offending 4 wheeler, makes a hell of a noise, scares the XXXX out of them and only minimal damage.

Anonymous said...

Oi! You Lot: Please do not encourage GG to be bad on the bike (tennis balls in socks, boot in door, etc). Beloved Wife does not want to become Beloved Widow when GG p!sses off the wrong 4x4er. I may be a Big Girl's Blouse, but I read the papers. -- BW (blogger wo't let me sign in!


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