A year in the saddle

It was the one year anniversary of my DAS recently and I thought I should write a bit about what it’s been like riding a motorbike ever since. I’ve done pretty much exactly 5,000 miles on the Yamaha XJ6. Though wind, rain and snow I’ve ridden it, and truth be told I’ve loved nearly every second of it.

I’ve always been huge into cars. I spent untold thousands on my old 200SX making it a mean beast of a car, but riding a bike has really changed my perspective of them. I still love cars, but have a different appreciation for them now. Even on my bike with it’s measly 75BHP, open the throttle wide and it’s the most incredible sensation of speed that no car (that I’ve driven at least) can compare to. Experiencing that has shifted my perspective of cars to being less about raw speed to being more about what they are and stand for.

Thankfully I have had no accidents. The closest being a woman who pulled out and just clipped my leg and the other being when I stalled moving out of a parking bay and dropping it. I’m not ATGATT, but I wear a helmet 100% time; jacket, boots and gloves 99% of the time, but normally just jeans. If I know I’ll be on the motorway or fast moving roads I’ll kit up in the leg department.

Running costs have been pretty good. I manage about 110 miles out of a full tank. This time last year filling up cost around £15, but now seems to be more around £20. Tax is around £30 for six months. It just had its annual service which turned out to be more expensive then I anticipated as it needed new tyres. The final bill was £550 (£250 for tyres and £150 labour). In the last year I’ve also had heated grips and a tail tidy fitted which has added a bit to the total cost. A big expense has also been gear. You need gear for winter and gear for summer. You can skimp, but how good will cheap stuff perform when it comes to protecting you?

The majority of my miles have been in and around London. I haven’t gone out for a countryside blast as much I would have liked, mostly because there haven’t been any weekends nice enough to tempt me out. I’ve only done one really long motorway journey (up to Telford for i46) and that had to be the most mind numbing and boring experience ever, it didn’t help that it was freezing and raining too. Getting around London is great though, you can get pretty much anywhere in no time, without traffic and parking being an issue.

Random thoughts: Heated grips are a must, it can get blisteringly cold. Riding in the rain is nowhere near as bad as you think it would be. 70mph is comfortable, 80mph is not, there is a huge difference between the two. You will come across idiots intent on killing you every day. Bikers love to aknowledge each other, it’s like being in an exclusive gang. Scooter riders are to be looked down upon. You will miss second gear plenty of times and will feel like a fool when you do. It’s extremely easy to break the speed limit. Bikes and shopping do not mix. Riding a bike instantly makes you a badass and a hit with the ladies.