Wannabe bikers need to realise it's not that simple - and far more dangerous than they imagine
Focus on bikes
We have had quite a few irate emails from readers following a reply from our popular Advice Desk, writes our motoring editor.
The 'dialogue' started with a question from a man who asked if he should get a motorbike to commute, because he didn't have a car-parking spot at work.
As well as thinking about a bike for commuting, he also really needed a car to take his children around too.
So our advice was to completely set aside the notion of a bike.
We asked if he was 'joking' because we felt it was completely out of the question considering his family circumstances and needs.
And that's what got some people's backs up apparently - as if we were denigrating bikes. Far from it - as you will see.
But the response got us talking and thinking - especially about the dangers of people thinking they can just switch over to a bike like that.
'Biker' AIDAN TIMMONS takes up the story from here:
As someone who has ridden thumping V-Twin KTMs and L-Twin Ducatis and 1-litre sports bikes, I don't dismiss the idea of riding a motorcycle without careful consideration of the facts.
In fairness to the man who asked the question a few weeks ago, he didn't have a problem with our advice.
It was motorcyclists who didn't like it.
But I think some of them missed the point.
We weren't having a dig at bikes in general.
We were ruling them out, in no uncertain terms, as a commute solution for one reader.
Bikes are one of the biggest liberators of people worldwide. They offer convenience when commuting and parking.
They enable police and emergency response teams to react quicker in distressing situations.
Most of all, bikes are great fun to ride.
If you are thinking of learning to ride a bike, then go for it.
However, for us to recommend a bike to any of our readers, we must bear in mind that you will:
• Have to apply for a driver's permit and pass your bike theory test, and
• undergo between 16 and 18 hours Initial Basic Training (IBT).
If you pass, you get a Certificate of Completion, which means you can ride unaccompanied, but you then need to spend six months riding your motorcycle before you can apply for your test.
In the interim, you need to purchase a helmet, boots, jacket, pants, back protector (preferably), and gloves.
I, for one, value my head at more than the €100 price tag attached to some budget helmet brands.
Factor in more than €1,000 for proper gear with appropriate levels of protection.
You also need to buy a bike, and pay tax and insurance.
Then - and this is the harsh truth - you will face all of the dangers that we motorcyclists sometimes take for granted, such as riding over diesel and oil spills, and being forced to pull sharply on your brakes, which can throw you forwards over your compressing front suspension.
And even if you negotiate all of that, you still can't commute on a bike with two or three children - which was a major element of the man's query to us in the first place.
So forgive my candidness in thinking the suggestion of a bike was a joke a few weeks ago.
I said it out of intimate knowledge of how bikes are no laughing matter.
I am glad to have had this opportunity to clear this matter up, on the one hand, and to highlight what owning and riding a bike really involves.
• Bikers, let us have your views: ecunningham@ independent.ie