Most of us immediately think about cars first when it comes to private transport options, but have you considered a motorbike? We spoke with Natasha Harding from RichmondPRA who just happens to come from a long line of motorbike riders stretching all the way back to her granddad. Natasha still remembers her first time on a bike as a child, sitting on the gas tank while her cousin did all the work. After a short dalliance with sports cars (Natasha even worked for the Sports Car marque TVR in the UK) she was lured back to bikes by her husband, who is also a big fan.
“I enjoy riding a bike, and it’s handy, too,” Natasha said. She currently has a VTR 250, which she describes as a little commuter bike.
“I think bikes could be suitable for everyone,” Natasha went on.
And she has a point: after all, they emit less pollution, take up a fraction of the space of a car and don’t contribute much to congestion. Bikes make sense in a lot of ways, especially in the city or other dense areas. On the downside, some people think that bikes are total deathtraps that exist only for the inevitable shedding of blood. Natasha disagrees.
“It’s not as scary as it may seem, but if you think of riding as scary I wouldn’t recommend it – take a bus or a train instead, because a bike is something to enjoy! If you have an interest in riding, then go for it.
“Start with a scooter, or maybe a 125cc bike. Go to a showroom. Throw your leg over and see how you like it. If you know someone with a motorbike, ask to be a pillion passenger.”
(Note: To those of you who aren’t English, the “pillion” is an additional seat situated behind the rider of a bike.)
Natasha recently attended a course called STAY UPRIGHT at Eastern Creek raceway, which she would definitely recommend to riders. It’s not a racing course, but was designed to develop road skills in cornering, breaking, roadcraft and general confidence. Best of all, some insurance companies will recognise it as a reason to apply a discount on your premium. Yet another way to save money with a bike!
Saving money on travel costs from his inner city home was the motivation behind Peer Manager Peter Farrugia’s decision to get a bike.
“It costs between $8 to $10 to fill a tank and I haven’t had to fill it for a fortnight! Plus, Inner City parking is mostly free within time limits. There’s also a number of places that provide dedicated bike parking in the City.”
Saving time was also a factor: “I don’t need to use the cross-City tunnel to get through town, because you’re allowed to use bus lanes on a bike. My travel time to work every day is only two thirds of what it used to be.”
We asked Peter if he had any qualms about becoming a biker. Unlike Natasha, Peter confesses to being a bit worried about the idea at first.
“I’d never been on a bike in my life. If you’d asked me a year ago if I could see myself on one, I would have said no way. I’d never have dreamt it. But you can do it – it’s achievable!
“Besides,” Peter continued, “It’s heaps of fun. There’s no radio, but I can sing on the way to work instead. You have to be careful of bugs when you do that though, or you might end up with a little snack…”
Okay, so far Natasha and Peter have both sold the idea that biking isn’t as terrifying as many would assume. And if you get beyond the fear factor and want to take advantage of the many pluses of motorbike ownership, you’ll need to get a licence.
Peter told us that most areas of New South Wales require you to start off with a compulsory course from the RTA (note: the RTA used to be called the Roads and Traffic Authority, but was recently renamed Roads and Maritime just to confuse everyone). The course is held over two half days. Peter did his at Botany, but there are other places that offer the course, too, such as Clyde. You’ll have to pay to do it, but upon completion you’ll be much better informed and one step closer to riding your hog on the open highway.