Late converts are always the most obsessive. I’m one of them. A late convert to motorcycling.
My motorbiking life started badly: aged 13, I crashed my friend Omar’s scooter against a wall after braking mad because I’d just got the creature moving forward towards the wall, after which, in a panic, I opened the throttle again. Cue 20 years of a combo of puskbiking, public transporting, running, rollerblading and walking. With the occasional driving a rental or parents’ car.
Then, life took me to China, where I purchased my first car and discovered the joys of one’s own vehicle.
Three years later, with the prospect of leaving the convenience of my 4×4 for the squeeze and impracticalities of the Tube, my mind turned to the strange idea of owning a scooter.
Long story short, as soon as I got back to London I ordered a Honda PCX at Metropolis Vauxhall, sat on a Ducati Monster on the way out, went back in and said: ‘forget the twist-and-go rubbish, I want to learn gear-changing, I want a MOTORBIKE.’ A few weeks later I was the scared owner of a Suzuki Vanvan. The slowest production bike for sale in the UK. And great for learning on. Stylish in a strange but not unappealing way.
8 months later, in May 2011, with my sights firmly set on the R1200R, I took my DAS test. 5 minutes after passing the final module, I was the owner of the BMW.
I bought it used from BMW Park Lane. 2 years old, 700 miles on the clock: oh yea.
From May 2011 to October 2012, I rode 20.000 miles on it. England, France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, in baking heat and severe cold weather, rain, snow, wind and sun – the works. The German didn’t let me down once. Always started, always stopped, never complained. Total bliss.
Well, I say that, but in fact I agonised about selling it for a while. It was perfect: powerful, safe, nimble when needed, planted, fun (yes, fun!). Yet I still felt unhappy with it, frustrated. After much mulling over, I put my finger on what was wrong: the exhaust.
As soon as I fitted the Remus Powercone on it, baffles on, the R1200R became the most awesome companion.
Always used to think that people putting value on the sound of an engine are mindless philistines. Well, I’m now a proud club member. Hard to explain, but a crap-sounding bike now feels to me like a book filled with white pages: it’s all there, but what it means is missing.
I might well have died of age with my beloved R1200R in the garage. But then the news came that I was to move to Laos… A fantastic prospect. Except in motorbiking terms.