Back when I was about fifteen I was seriously into heavy metal – Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, AC/DC and a lot more like that. It was excellent music and it’s still a big part of what’s on my MP3 player, but in those days it wasn’t enough just to like the music – I had to dress the part too. This meant a leather jacket with sleeveless faded denim jacket over the top and patches on it. I also had a bullet belt and a studded wristband; at the time I thought these were great but although I’d like to believe that was true I have a sneaking suspicion I must have looked like a bit of a twat. I mean, it’s a good look if you’re an outlaw biker but at that age I was getting around by bicycle, bus or “a ride from someone’s dad” and how much of an outlaw can you be like that?
What I really needed was a proper bike, but I wasn’t enough of an outlaw to steal one, wouldn’t have been able to ride it if I did, and couldn’t afford to buy one even when I was old enough, so I was kind of stuck with the ten-speed. Probably just as well – a mate once had me try out his 50cc Yamaha in his garden and, with no concept yet of the niceties of clutch control, I grabbed a handful of throttle, let the clutch out and wheelied into his dad’s fence. “Ride to Live, Live to Ride Into A Fence”, that’s my motto.
I mention all this because my neighbor just came home with a new Honda Rune, which is apparently something of a rarity (less than a thousand on the road) and pretty powerful. It’s not something I personally would lust over – I prefer the idea of a big custom Harley – but it got me thinking that it might be time to try life on two wheels.
I can imagine my mum would be mortified if she read this (which would, to be fair, only happen if my dad showed it to her). It’s all very well me talking to the world about animal blowjobs and setting new standards for gratuitous use of the word “cunt” on the internet but getting a bike would be something that would actually worry her. Personally I blame my dad – he had a moped for a while but fell off coming home from work one night as a result of the council helpfully coating our street with loose chippings during the day. It’s not like he was really fucked up, but the moped went soon after and we kids used his dented helmet as a toy from then on. Then there’s my brother, the anesthesiologist, with his helpful description of motorbikes as “mobile organ donor units”…
Lots of professional people have taken to getting bikes in the States, and there’s none of this twatting about on a 125cc while you take your test over here. No, you can go out and buy a big Harley and take it out with no training, pass a simple test and ride to your heart’s content. Which may explain the serious spike in motorcycle fatalities among the over-forties. (Perhaps their motto should be “Ride to Live – Maybe”.) What’s probably more worrying, as you may have realized if you happened to see that shite movie “Wild Hogs” (I saw it on a plane, honest) is that most of the people riding Harleys now seem to be dentists, accountants, finance directors and chiropractors. Doesn’t this sort of take the edge off it? Maybe when they go out as a group they can wear a big patch on their backs: “Ride to Live, Live to Itemize Deductions on My Tax Return”, or maybe “Ride to Live, Live to Max Out My 401k”.
Somewhere at my parents’ house, unless they quietly threw it out during one of their various moves, I still have a bullet belt. I’ll need to buy some more bullets – my waist isn’t quite what it was when I was fifteen, you understand – but I could get a real bike now and finally get redemption for dressing up like one as a bum-fluff-faced teenager. I’d need a pisspot hemet – you can’t look the part in a full face job, although it would certainly cut down on the need to pick bugs out of your teeth – and I’d also need to learn to ride. (Small detail.) Yeah, nothing would spoil the look quite like grabbing a handful of throttle and riding into a minivan, would it? Of course, if the worst comes to the worst I still have that old ten-speed in the garage, and a studded wristband…
Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison