Car Vs. Bike

Car Vs. Bike

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I always heard that although bikes will slaughter cars accelerating in a straight line, in the corners and on the brakes is a cars domain.

Your average 190 section superbike has a contact patch around the size of the palm of your hand to put close to 1000hp per tonne through.  For a start you won’t get many cars these days with tyres less than 190 wide – and of course they have two or even four driver wheels to get their power onto the asphalt.

Plus when hard on the power the car won’t be trying to flip itself over backwards, so you’d think a decent car would be able to whupp a bike from a standstill.

Unfortunately bikes are a Hell of a lot lighter, us bikers are able to get our beer bellies weighted over the front end, and even a bad start will see 60mph in around 3 seconds.  Most car drivers don’t understand this when they see us “Shooting off from the lights like a drag race!!” – the chances are we’re taking it easy but your car does 60 in more like TEN seconds.  Think about it.

To quote myself whilst explaining how fast bikes accelerate:  You know how you walk at, say, 4mph?  And you sort of take that very first step and are already at maximum walking speed?  That’s like how a sportsbike hits 30mph.  I could pull out into traffic between two cars (leaving your obligatory 2 second gap, of course) and be up to speed without anyone having to brake to avoid me.

If you haven’t ridden a fast bike you can’t even comprehend it.  It’s a blessing.  It’s silly.  It’s far too fast for the roads.  And to even begin to think that a lot of cars don’t have a rev counter?!  WTF?  I have no idea what the Fiat revs to, but I can only guess that it’s less than my ZX9R’s 12,500rpm?  And the Fiat certainly doesn’t do over 80mph in first gear…

Now, as any of my regular readers will know, after 10 years of riding sportsbikes I took and passed my car driving license a few months back.

OK, so I’ve only got some skinny-tyred Fiat Uno, but it’s weird.  I still find myself driving sometimes and think “What the fuck??  What the Hell am I doing in a CAR??? How did this happen?”.

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This is often followed by muttering about “Monkey drive car!  Oo-ooh OOKA OHH!!!”.

I have to recalibrate my whole brain to deal with the road speed differences.  The car is like being in one of those nightmares where you’re trying to run but can’t go fast.  Everything happens in verrrrrrryy slowwwww motionnnnnn….

And I’ve done a skid control course, tried to push the car, and fully intend of getting a racecar on a track ASAP.

Other than pulling out on islands and at junctions which require about five times the space of a bike in laziest mode, the thing that’s getting me is the corner speed.

Four tyres and loads of grip, and I’ve always just assumed cars are faster in corners… but that just isn’t the case!

In the Uno I’ve tried the Redditch Cloverleaf a few times and the ‘safe’ speed is about HALF what it is on a bike  I was horrified the first time as I drove into the first corner at a very conservative speed and still felt I had to brake.  And what a weird viewpoint it is compared to having your head banked over all the way to the left about 18 inches from the tarmac!

I’m still to drive a high performance car, but I just can’t see it pushing my limits like the bike does?  It’s too easy!

And riding a bike at 190mph is possible, and feels ‘OK’.  To be doing 120+ ina  huge metal box of a car, with all those forces involved if you do come a cropper???  Terrifying.

I think if I’d done this the other way around (i.e. had a car for 10 years and THEN a sportsbike), I’d just be absolutely terrified of the bike every time I threw my leg over it.

They’re an awesome vehicle to be privileged to ride – and I mean that ‘awesome’ in the truest and most lost meaning of that word.

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Failing The Driving Theory Test…

Failing The Driving Theory Test…

… is what I didn’t do!

I got 49 out of 50 for the questions, 66 out of 75 for hazard awareness video test, and a new Chicken Temptation footlong from Subway.

A pass is 43, 44 and a 6” Sub Of The Day respectively.

I held off on saying it was a piece of piss until I read the letter properly – after the test I just read the first word, so I’m glad it didn’t say “Congratualtions you’ve failed!”!

After riding on the roads for 10 years, I should bloody well think I passed, too!  I’m very mildly pleased, but to put that into perspective I was much more chuffed with the Chicken Temptation Sub.  Now if I pass the Practical test first time, THEN I’ll be pleased with myself…

OK, for you ‘Merkins who apparently have to be able to open the car door and switch it on to pass, I believe the British test is the toughest in the world.

The Theory Test consists of 50 multiple choice questions about The Highway Code and Road Signs, plus lots of Common Sense and a bit of First Aid thrown in.

The Hazard Perception test is tougher.  You have to sit through a video as if you’re driving a car, and click when you see any hazard which may make you change your speed or take other avoiding actions.  Basically you need to practise where they want you to click.

It’s much the same as the GCSE exams at school – you learn to pass the test rather than how to live in The Real World.

I did find an excellent site to practise, though:

http://www.theory-test.co.uk

Pass the link on to anyone in need.  You pay a few quid and get access to all the test questions, mock exams, and hazard videos and stuff.  Awesome site.

It also has a couple of free tests so feel free to have a go, if you want to see what we have to go through.

So that’s it!  Almost there, and now I’ll put in for my Practical Test, as there’ll be around a 7 week wait.

The penny seems to have dropped with my driving, despite only having had 7 or 8 lessons.  Normal driving seems pretty natural to me now, and I’m confident of controlling the car rather than being a pansy.

On the last lesson I tried reversing around a corner and parallel parking for the first times with no problems – just a bit more practise needed and it should be fine… then I just have to learn bay parking and do an emergency stop (they call it something gayer these days).

Meanwhile, the monstrous Fiat Uno sits waiting to terrorise the streets with a Nasty Evil Ninja at the reins…

Soon….

First Car Insurance/F*ck You, Your Family, And All Your Family’s Pets

First Car Insurance/F*ck You, Your Family, And All Your Family’s Pets

Today I decided to get some rough quotes to insure me as a first time driver.

I used the links to search engines from www.moneysavingexpert.com (an invaluable resource for EVERYTHING if you’re in the UK), filling in as many of my details as I could, and then sat back and waited for the quotes…

Now, bearing in mind that for a high-performance, 190mph superbike that I’ve ridden for 10 years I’m looking at £170 for fully comprehensive insurance, how much would you think an old 1 litre Fiat Uno worth around £300 will cost to insure?

If you guessed around SEVEN HUNDRED FUCKING POUNDS then you’re right.

Yes, you read that right – £700!!!  And that was for 3rd Party Fire & Theft – which is somehow cheaper than fully comp or 3rd Party Only?!?


Gee, I like you, Mr Insurance Man – you can come over to my house and fuck my sister!

For £700 I could hire a fucking limo to take me to work every day over Winter, and sip on Champagne watching the world go by without being bent over and pounded in my balloon knot by you cunts!

How about that?!

Twats.

I hope to God none of them phone me up about the quotes.  If they do I might try and record the conversation.

So fuck all that for now – I’m just going to pass the test and then worry about it all.  I know some bike insurance companies like Carole Nash let you use your No Claims Bonus on both car and bike, so that might be worth looking at.  I’m sure there’ll be some way of getting it down, anyway…

I can totally see why so many people don’t bother getting any insurance and just risk it.

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Being Driven to Distraction…

Being Driven to Distraction…

Last night I had my, umm… sixth driving lesson?  Something like that.

I make the odd cock-up, but generally it’s all going well.  I don’t really have any problems just driving around the streets, and can now do a three point turn and stuff.

I still have to try all the reversing and parking malarkey, but I just keep reminding myself that little shitty snot-nosed 17 year olds learn this shit, so it CAN’T be hard!

I don’t have a fear of the car, or of going over 10mph like most learners do.  I’m still well on track for the exam – which is good because I’ve bought a package of 22 lessons plus theory and practical tests for £550.  If I don’t use all the lessons then they’ll even refund their cost!

Brian The Instructor is cool and we’re getting on well, and more importantly we’re working well together!  I think he appreciates my laid-back attitude and sense of humour because it’s close to his own.

One thing I have noticed is that I’m starting to sympathise a bit with car drivers now.

You often hear people say how car drivers should be made to ride a bike so that they appreciate the awareness and skill it takes, and it will benefit their driving greatly.  Well, as a biker moving to cars I have to say that the opposite is also true: that every biker should be made to drive a car.

There are a lot of situations where on a bike normally I’d be ranting at the idiotic car driver, but now I’ve been on the other side I can sympathise and understand that idiotic car driver.  Not that this knowledge will stop me ranting at them next time it happens when I’m on the bike, but at least I understand a bit more now.

The overall impression I’m getting is that driving a car is designed to take your attention off your surroundings and off the act of driving safely.

On the bike I’m ALWAYS aware of my riding, the roads, surrounding traffic… just about everything from birds flying past to the sound of my engine.

In a car I feel like I’m sat in a big lump of heavy metal that’s tenuously controlled by me.  It doesn’t lend itself to concentrating.

It’s boring.

I think of the lessons as a bit of a chore rather than anything I look forward to.  When I’m actually driving it’s ok, but I just can’t get excited about it all.  To me it’s a necessary evil that will allow me to carry lots of shit, take my girlfriend away places, and stop me getting killed on the snow and ice during Winter.

I’m driving now – but I’m still 100% a biker…

Monkey Drive Car!!!

Monkey Drive Car!!!

It’s not good sitting back whilst life happens all around you.  The only thing stopping me learning how to drive was me making that phone call and booking it up.  Well, that and as I found out, there are a little over 400,000 driving instructors on every street in the UK to choose from.  Bastard!

I emailed four of them who seemed to have the best deals going (and who had a website, obviously) and just after emailing the fourth with an enquiry they phoned me back!  I said I could do my first lesson that very night, and that’s exactly what happened!

With not even enough time to panic, a couple of hours later I’d scoffed some bacon and egg and was sat in a car ready to learn for the first time ever!  At the grand age of thirty three!

We went through all the crap about checks, adjusting mirrors and seat etc, and within twenty minutes I was in the driving seat ready to go!

I gently pressed the accelerator pedal to hear the engine scream as the revs soared.

Going from fingertip control of the brakes, clutch and accelerator to using my big old hooves on the pedals was a bit of a shock.  I couldn’t believe how sensitive they were considering you’re supposed to use your bloody feet to operate them!

The same goes for power steering.  Speaking of which, I tend to use a steering wheel like a race driver – arms all crossed up, one hand on the gear lever, and ready to hold that powerslide!  It looks cool, but I really have to get my head around the push-pull crappy method.  Apparently this isn’t a test requirement any more, but if I accidentally twist my arms so far that they snap off at the wrists during the test, the picky bastards will probably fail me.

The gears weren’t as much of a problem as I expected.  I was getting a natural feel for where they all were by the end of the two hours, and only went from third gear into reverse once.  Ahem.  After using clutchless upshifts with a sequential box for the last ten years, I’m having to learn how to use the clutch again with it.  I was also surprised that you’re encouraged to skip gears rather than selecting each in turn when you move up and down the box.

All I did was use quiet country lanes and one short stretch of normal road, only making left turns, but I seemed to be making good progress, and didn’t kill anyone – even the shitty little Jack Russell that was stood in the middle of the bloody lane barking at me whenever I drove past!

I didn’t really do any observations, but my natural instincts are to check my mirrors anyway, so that should help for future lessons.

The instructor seemed pretty cool – we had a laugh and it was very relaxed, which is exactly how I like to learn new stuff.  I might try a few other instructors, but to be honest I doubt I’ll find anyone I’m as comfortable with as that one (Brian).  I may as well take advantage of some of the ‘first lesson’ offers around – after all I’m the one who has to decide who to train with!  I think it’s best to do a few lessons with Brian to get me settled in a car so I’m a bit more used to things, though.

So I’m finally on the road to, err… being on the road!  On four wheels!

Oh – something else that sparked this somewhat unexpected lesson off: the day before I’d unexpectedly acquired a car!

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No – not the Lotus Esprit V8 I’d always promised myself as a first car, but a 1 litre Fiat Uno.

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Living the dream…

I was glad to jump on the 190mph superbike to ride to work this morning, I have to say…