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Blog Date - 18 April 2016

It's a terrible and yet essential thing the human ego. Without self esteem and self confidence we are but gibbering wrecks in the face of adversity, an ego raging out of control turns other people into gibbering wrecks. Like many things, it's a balance thing.

It has been a lovely and dry weekend, although cold as the wind was coming from the north. Usually when Sharon and I ride together we're both on 125s, her 125 is just a leeeeeetle bit faster than mine so she has no trouble keeping up with me. However this Sunday I was on my 250, giving me a rare and thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to properly burn her off, leave her in my dust and vanish into the distance. Of course being the kind, considerate and thoroughly decent chappie that I am, I took every legal opportunity do do just that.

It bothered her. Not in a sulky grumpy way, just in a friendly but jealous manner. This got me to thinking about motorcycles and the human ego.

Sharon looks wryly at the camera with her helmet still onIf looks could kill...

Why? Why did I enjoy going that much faster than her and zipping off? Why would it bother her being left behind? We are 2 mature adults, we have nothing to prove to each other. We both ride for the simple pleasure of feeling the wind in our faces, taking in our surroundings and the stimulating sensation of feeling the machines beneath us curving the corners. After all, this is NOT a race.

Or is it? 

When I was a younger man I wanted to be fast. I tried and I tried and I crashed and I tried. About 12 years back I started to ride with a group of lads all with quick machines. One bloke amongst them stood out due to his natural talents. While the rest of us were screaming our engines, braking late into bends and generally looking like accidents waiting to happen he would always be smoother, faster, perfectly positioned, totally aware, and looking like he was on a gentle bimble to the shops while whooping all our asses by some considerable margin. He could have been riding an old 250 Superdream and been fast, it wasn't simply the bike he was riding.

Ren's old Fazer 600OK, I know the Fazer 600 is not the fastest bike, but 140mph was FAR too fast for the likes of me.

I grew to understand that no matter how hard I tried and practised I would never be as fast as he was. I also noticed how frustrated I could become when I could not keep up. This would lead me to take unnecessary risks and having had one big smash I was not looking for another one. I actually stopped enjoying the rides, I was scared of crashing and envious of his speed. 

Then I got a 125 for commuting and I fell in love with motorcycling once more. Why? Because I knew there was no chance of winning any races against my friend or almost any other vehicle. This stopped me from trying. I rode the 125 at the speeds I was happy with and I stopped pretending I was fast. I still had the fast bike but eventually that got relegated to only being used for 2 up rides and camping trips. 

Honda's CLR 125 City Fly
Putting the fun back into motorcycling, 125 style.

I am thankful to my fast friend for showing me that I am not fast. I am also grateful to the 125 for showing me what motorcycling is really about for myself and putting me back on track. 

And yet it is still there, within me. And it seems it is there within Sharon too. It is within many if not all of us. The desire to win, the yearning for victory and the sick pleasure of watching your enemies and even those you cherish suffering in defeat. I might be 44 years old and almost half a million miles wiser yet I am churlish enough to gloat over out-pacing someone riding a bike with half the power of my own and with one twentieth of my experience. No matter how unfair the advantage a victory is still a victory.

It is a basic instinct. Survival in prehistoric times gave pleasure to the victors and pain to the losers in the interest of survival of the fittest. Here in modern times this can be the cause of our downfall rather than our success. As we strive so hard to be winners we throw ourselves into danger on machines capable of speeds the fragile human body is not designed to withstand. It is all to easy to remove oneself (and innocent bystanders) from the gene pool while trying to massage one's ego.

Ego is the thing that drives politicians to lie their way to the top. Ego is also the thing that drives scientists to cure terrible diseases. Ego makes young drivers and riders do incredibly stupid things. Ego also empowers modern women to be who they want to be not just domestic servants. Ego creates wars. Ego leads to self improvement.

Ego is a complex thing. I suspect the key is finding the right balance. By the way, I've just purchased a brand spanking new CB 500 X. Did I do this to massage my ego? Is this purchase simply so I can go ever faster than Sharon? Perhaps it is because I wanted the life experience of owning a brand new motorcycle? Are there pragmatic and practical reasons for my actions? Am I returning to larger capacity machines which will once again spoil my enjoyment of motorcycling? Do I have too much money? Whatever you're thinking, you're probably right.

Reader's Comments

Daf said :-
OOOOO You lucky bugger!!! You'd better give us a proper review of it soon, and a long term review as well!!! What's it like on fuel? what's it like on servicing? Are you selling that lemon of a 250? Whatabout the 125? Whatever, I hope you bloody well enjoy your new machine Ren!

18/4/2016 10:34:25 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ain't got the bike yet Daf, be a while till it's all sorted. The 250 is being traded in for what it is worth. The 125 will remain and continue to suffer under my mismanagement. I'm half excited and totally in shock that I actually blooming well did it.
19/4/2016 12:11:55 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
First preaching the 125-gospel, over & over, then giving in to the devil :-)

Congratulations !!! what a nice bike !!! a little less off-roadish than the
KLE, but a good mix, and certainly also what I would have choosen in this segment of bikes, there is even div adventure-kits to make it more hard-core

A new bike is something very special, knowing the history from start, just knowing that no one else have been flatulating the seat and such things :-)

Guess, since the emphasis seems to be "travel and nature" the timing for a bigger bike is well choosen, since new destinations will demand some miles to get there, transportation miles. Europe will be more open also, f.eks. with the free speed limits in Germany, the Alps will be in reach more easy, or Scandinavia. (just returned from 4 nice days in Stockholm btw)

19/4/2016 5:08:58 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Engine envy strikes again. I so nearly got the 500 Honda. It was a quality bike with a bit of speed.

But I'm going backwards as I age. I no longer seek the 100mph thrills. I think getting knocked off my police bike by a half blind 89year old bloke put things in perspective.

I went to matlock this weekend for a ride out and seeing all the bikers out overtaking me and cars with ease whilst I struggled to get past on my inzuma was a real issue for me. Seeing all the superbikes outside the pub was terrible to the soul.

On the return journey the mist cleared and I realised my little bike got me there in comfort and economy. Pottering along some nice roads around Ashbourne on the way back made me realise I was still a happy biker at 40mph why race why worry the suns out all is well with the world.
19/4/2016 8:35:34 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
As Pete implies you may well grow out of it. I think I have as far as bikes go, and I always think of myself as a co-operative non-competitive type. Think an ageing version of Neil from the Young Ones.

However, to keep me out of mischief I volunteer to take part in a number of clinical trials and academic studies - usually to do with cognition / memory / perception. And I find myself desperately trying to do "well" at these even though I have no idea what "well" is or how other people are doing.

Except.... the last time I did one the 2 researchers (young and female so no-one to impress there!) were amazed by how well I completed one of the tests and told me I was way out ahead of all the rest. Talk about preening......

Going back to bikes, I learnt long ago not to ride in groups as that just encourages lunacy. This was brought home to me on a charity ride-out up in your neck of the woods perhaps 15 years ago (organised by Suzy Perry). Among the participants were a few ex- and current roadracers - one was Trevor Nation on a rotary Norton, can't remember the others. But they all rode like absolute maniacs and some misguided "ordinary" folk tried to emulate them - fortunately with no-one coming to grief but I saw a couple of very near misses.

Oh and BTW how do you "feel the wind in your face" with those awful full face helmets?
19/4/2016 12:49:31 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You folks! You do make me laugh.

Henrik, yes I preach the 125 gospel then sell my soul to the devil in 500cc disguise. I am keeping my 125 and up to scratch the plan is to take the 125 to The Netherlands in June rather than the 500. I've just returned from some local countryside lanes on the 125 and I still think 125ccs is plenty of fun.

Pocketpete, I understand and suffer alongside you as I see massively powerful machines making overtaking look like child's play. It can be frustrating. But if I calm myself and relax into the ride I often find myself wondering why anyone would ever want for more the 40mph when the sun shines, the countryside is blossoming and the skies are clear.

I cannot lie to you and say I'm not a little excited at the thought of getting the 500. I do know that it won't solve my problems, it won't make the world a better place and it does not change the speed limits that I try to keep to not matter what capacity bike I'm riding. It is a sexy bike and that...that does rather massage my ego somewhat. Oh dear.
19/4/2016 12:53:02 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
OK, ok Ian, I do open the visor sometimes to feel the wind in my face but generally the wind is kept out. Gosh there's nothing gets past you is there!

Groups can encourage lunacy and the stupid behaviour mentioned in my post was "group" riding. I am very fortunate that the current group I ride with are a very sensible bunch indeed and this pleases me greatly. With a wide variety of machines from learners to 900s we try our best to keep to the speed limits and control our egos. I know this has bored some people who've joined us in the past, that's their problem and if they don't like it they don't have to come along.

And if it wasn't for the full face helmet I doubt I'd be typing this missive today. To each their own.

Smashed and bloody motorcycle helmet
19/4/2016 4:28:06 PM UTC
Trazymach84 said :-
Congratulations on your new bike! I wonder if its mpg is better than NX700? Would like to read your review on CB500.
19/4/2016 9:04:26 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Just done my latest inzuma fuel stats. Getting 75.1mpg not quite the 85 suzuki quote.

It's gone up just a touch maybe the sprocket changes and the couple of extra long runs around Derbyshire have made a slight difference.

I think the real reason is me dropping a stone and my wife loosing the same. I don't know where she's lost it as she only weighs 8 stone anyway.
20/4/2016 7:28:48 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
The great MPG-swindle :-) Ren how many MPG do you approximately expect on the new Honda ?
20/4/2016 7:42:21 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Trazymach84, thank you very much. I shall put some miles on the CB500X and put together an initial review and of course later on a long term review. All this will include the fuel consumption figures, they are important to myself and it seems they're important to plenty of others too.

Pocketpete, 85mpg will be Suzuki using a rider that weighs 7 stone wet through riding solo. The "simulated" conditions will mean a flat track where the rider stops from time to time. Weight makes a massive (sic) difference as it takes energy - fuel - to accelerate mass, the more mass the more fuel required to achieve the same acceleration. I think if you're lightweight lady wife was to take your bike out on her own and ride gently she may achieve that 85mpg figure.

Henrik, yep it is something of a swindle. That's why I'm a big fan of because (hopefully) the figures are from real people riding on real roads in real traffic. I'm hoping to regularly achieve 75mpg from the 500, as much as 85mpg if I maintain a steady 60mph on a flat motorway with no wind and following a lorry in the slipstream. I'll be sure to let you all know!

If you got to remember to select the metric you understand (mpg, US gallon, UK gallon, km/l etc etc)
20/4/2016 9:21:00 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Lovely sunny evening though I would have a ride out with paula. Went across werneth low dropped into broadbottom. Lots of big bikes out.
A couple of bikes seemed to be following me as we climbed cowan edge onto the Hayfield road. Dropped down through little hayfield on the twisty fast sections.

Sun in our eyes paula moaning via the Intercom about being blind. Put your sun visor down. I tell her how to do this she screams in delight as the internal visor comes down. I feel a bit of an idiot I got her a m1 schuberth helmet and failed to tell her about this feature.

Down through hayfield at 50mph. Right onto the Newmills road. Bikes still behind me. I turn off down a little Lane which comes up into rowarth. At the told of the hill. Lots of lambs.

These bikes are still behind me. What's going on. Next minute my helmets beeping. One of bikes is calling me via intercom. I press to connect and chat. They are following me. They are lost.

What a handy thing didn't know they did that. I tell them to follow me as I pass near the motorway. They got lost over the woodhead pass. Back through rowarth onto Glossop road past three hunter's pub and back through Romiley and I point out thd way to the motorway so they can head back up the woodhead to Holmfirth.

As they pass me they are both on cb500x's. I definitely should have got one.
21/4/2016 7:54:49 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Pocketpete - that's a gorgeous picture you paint and the chaps following you just because they're lost! Spot on. They might have the CB500X but you knew where you were going. I can imagine Paula's joy when she discovered the visor.

Do not covet another's vehicle. On a 125 you wish you were on a 250, on a 250 you wish it was a 500 and so on and so on until you're riding a 1400cc monster. Then you find you can't ride those country lanes and quaint villages any more as the bike always wants to run away with you. There is no perfect motorcycle for all situations.

As such the perfect motorcycle is whichever one you are riding.
21/4/2016 9:10:50 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Hmm how can you have a loverly run out in the sunshine and the next week it's bloody artic conditions again.

Maybe England's not the green and pleasant land I thought it was.

29/4/2016 3:07:48 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It's what makes the British weather the big talking point among we Brits! "Variable" is the term I believe. If you don't like the weather...wait.
29/4/2016 9:34:21 PM UTC

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