Okay, I admit it. I'm officially having my mid life crisis. Until yesterday I had never ridden before and I want a massive cruiser!!!!!
I can see readers now. Some will be laughing AT me (I'm going to have to get used to that), some will be thinking 'What a pillock' (my wife agrees with you in every way), and maybe even the odd person is nodding their head in understanding. I'm a 45 year old called Jon, and I passed my CBT yesterday - my first time on a bike. My theory exam is next week. And then it is on to Modules 1 and 2. And now I'm thinking 'Oh, bloody hell, what have I done!'
A bit of history. Married, 2 kids. Every since I was a teenager I have wanted a Harley. I put the blame firmly at Arnie's door. Thinking about it now, it has to be because of seeing Arnie in Terminator! Whether you like cruisers or not - it looked cool as ...... to an adolescent lad and it has stuck with me. I recently went through some health problems and jacked in the rat race as a result. I lost my job, gave the company car back, got my health back, took at 85% salary reduction and went to work in a supermarket stacking shelves. I wish I had done it years ago, Yeah, the money is crap, but there is no stress, I enjoy the job, I start and finish on time, and we have enough money for what we want to do - just.
The only problem with handing the car back was that I cannot get out of the small town we live in without getting a bus - arghh!! I cycle to work (I can manage a couple of ciggies on the way) and all the walking at work have definitely improved my health as well.
So I got to thinking - why not learn to ride a bike? You've always wanted to? Next thing I knew I was staring lovingly at pictures of the Triumph Rocket III and sighing a lot. Then, the next thing I knew I had paid for the DAS and booked my theory test.
After a quick trip to the loo I felt pretty smug with myself. I started swatting up on my theory - that looks to be okay. I did some online Hazard Perception and thought 'What the hell is this? It's nothing like driving. I've no peripheral vision, there's no sound, the picture is fuzzy, why is that plonker carrying on oblivious and not looking at me when I have just screeched to a halt 3cm from their backside, and I keep pressing the button too early. Oy, computer - I saw that hazard ages ago!' Suffice it to say, I think it is a good idea for new drivers, but for someone with 28 years behind the wheel, it took some getting used to. I don't even play on my sons PS4 so am useless on that sort of this. I'm getting there though.
Then there was yesterday. CBT day!!
I arrived with a mixed sense of excitement and nervousness. I had a basic understanding of the controls, but no idea how to use them properly. I had 28 years behind the wheel which, as far as I could see, was going to be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing - I had road sense from a car point of view. The curse - all the bloody controls were in the wrong place for me!! I had to actively think before doing things. It really made me realise how much of driving a car I do automatically.
Anyway, thanks to a great instructor, I passed, with a Masters Degree in stalling and a lot of aches from being so tense instead of relaxing! My clutch control was rubbish. It was okay at the end though - maybe I am being too critical on myself as I wouldn't passed if it was that bad. I have to remember that I had never been on a bike before and I did it. However, I need practice, and lots of it. Fortunately, the place I am learning at hires out bikes with gear on a daily basis. I'm going to do that. Just drive (with plenty of stopping and starting to get that clutch control improved), on my own with no pressure, on quiet roads. I want to feel confident in my control before I move on to the bigger bikes.
I WILL get that cruiser.
Anyway, after all my waffling I'll get to the point - I just wanted to get all that down and hopefully make someone smile.
People - I need advise:
What's the best cruiser for me? I am not going to go Harley as I want to get the best value for money. It's got to be second hand for cash. I am looking at the likes of Yamaha XVS950 Midnight Star, and the Honda VT750 Shadow.
Who are the best dealers for cruisers? How to buy from a dealer a long way away? I want to buy off a dealer as I don't know enough to buy privately yet.
Where to get best cruiser gear? Are Kevlar jeans any good?
What type of helmet? Cruiser image (open face) versus protection (full face)? Modular?
What aren't I thinking of?
Windshields? Again image versus protection?
The pros and cons of foot plates.
Yes, I know, I'm a daft old sod (please insert expletives at your discretion), but I look forward to a good chat and learning a lot from the people out there.