Ludicrous as it sounds, biker dads are mostly like Batman. Not in the heroic sense, but just the alter-ego lifestyle we often lead.
While the family is still asleep in the wee hours of the morning, we put on our leathers, fire up the engine, rumble through the streets, avoid the cops, and meet up with other bikers to eat and drink coffee.
Then we get home, park the bike, peel off the riding boots, hang up the leathers and are back to the boring daddy stuff (housework, office work on the computer, reading the news) when the kids wake up bleary-eyed.
We don’t really talk about motorcycles during family time because no one is interested – The very fact that we’re allowed to ride is something to cherish greatly.
But what do bikers talk about when we meet up? Sometimes, it’s about other motorcycles, or the problems we face with our own machines.
With my group of riding friends, we spend more time talking about the existential stuff – jobs, people, motivation, the economy, Strawberry Generation, and what on earth is wrong with so many things. We are in different types of occupations, like different things (none of us ride the same bike model), yet there are many common issues to discuss.
I guess it’s because most of us are in our 30s and 40s, about halfway through our careers, and we don’t see life the way most people do because riding in itself removes much fear about many things. The common thread (or tread) in our lives is the need to go try new things…anything… in case we suddenly expire tomorrow.
I’m writing this because if you are just starting out as a biker, or wish to become one (like many who visit my blog these days), you will probably become a biker dad (or biker mum) too in time to come.
A lot of people read my motorcycle articles because they want to learn how to ride, maybe to save money on transport or experience new thrills.
The thing is once you’ve fulfilled those two wishes, you’ll find that motorcycling will teach you more things about living than you ever thought possible.
But like we always say – ride safe and stay alive first.
Daylight Drunk Drivers – what can bikers do?
Two terrible incidents involving alleged drunkards happened recently. One involved a young guy speeding on the right lane and crashing into a lorry on the Seletar Expressway. Another had a red car beating the red light (several seconds after it had turned red) and smashing into a motorcyclist in the Central Business District. Quite incredibly, nobody died in these two accidents.
I posted the video of the first accident below, but not the second because I have a personal rule never to re-post anything from Stomp directly.
Posted by Benny Phang on Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Motorcyclists must be wondering – what can we do in such circumstances?
People will tell you that you cannot stop such things from happening. It’s technically true but it’s also defeatist if you don’t deal with it – that’s why a lot of people don’t dare to ride or even drive, or worse, use the roads in fear and drive very slowly.
As a biker, you need to do everything you can to avoid such a situation, and then some. You need to always be looking in your mirrors and checking your sides to ensure you don’t see any crazy drivers appearing, and doing your best to stay away from other cars.
Most reckless drivers have genital envy, that’s why they feel more manly when they speed on the rightmost lane and threaten innocent people with tailgating or dangerous weaving.
After over 20 years on the road, I can sense these people from afar (if they’re up in front) and I just stay away. I can’t always tell who is coming from the rear, but I know it’s probably safer to stay out of the rightmost lane (expressway or normal roads) and keep watching my mirrors.
In other words, to fixate on the road in front all the time is just poor riding (and the cause of much poor driving in SG).
Then you may also ask – how do I avoid getting killed at junctions even though the lights are in my favor?
First, I must say there a lot of foolish bikers who move off before the red light turns green. You see them all the time.
A common excuse is that their bikes are small and need to move off early. Well, you can save up for a bigger bike (a used 400cc bike does the job and is still affordable) or realize the lights are red for a reason. You have only yourself to blame if you continue this dumb behavior of beating red lights yourself.
The right way, no matter which bike you ride, is to simply pause and check your left/right before moving off.
This one or two-second action will save your life at junctions. They teach this in driving/riding schools but most bikers will claim otherwise. I don’t care if the car driver behind me is impatient while I check, my life comes first and I will out-accelerate him once my coast is clear.
The other thing to note, is that even when the coast is clear, the lights are green, and the traffic is already moving…. all traffic junctions are still danger zones. You need to slow down before each junction and not just blast through them. You simply cannot treat normal roads like expressways.
Now, speaking off accelerating off from the stop line, there’s a new bike that is designed for just that.
Thoughts on the Ducati XDiavel
I’ve always considered if I should own a Ducati Diavel, the sports cruiser from Italy that has no real peer on the market. But the price (over S$40K in Singapore), excess plastics and overly-stout tank have always stopped me, even though I love the low seat and lovely, fat 240mm rear tyre. The other observation is that most Diavel owners in SG never keep their bike for long, which means the bike is not really a keeper.
My Monster 1200S actually uses the same Diavel engine, just in a lighter and narrower form factor suited to my body shape. So I’m happy as a lark and have yet to find a bike that meets all my riding and aesthetic needs as well as the Monster.
Now, Ducati has come up with the XDiavel, which essentially mashes the naked design of the Monster, sports cruiser philosophy of the Diavel and changing tastes of the cruiser market into one fearsome machine.
I’m not a motoring journalist like my friend Zaihan of The New Paper, so I don’t get invited to launches like the XDiavel in California. But reading the early reviews of the bike (which are almost all positive like this and this), I’m glad Ducati has finally cracked the nut of creating a modern sports cruiser without the odd bits of the original Diavel.
It’s got all the power and torque you need (156hp, 95lb-ft@ 5000rpm), can lean into corners like a sportsbike (40 deg lean angle), loads of modern electronics (hey, it can even display incoming calls from your phone via Bluetooth), belt drive (no more chain lube needed) and most crazily, has a dragster-style feature called Ducati Power Launch that lets you crack the throttle wide open and blast off without spinning out of control.
Back to my original comment about being a Batman, the XDiavel IS the Batcycle biker dads have been waiting for. It even looks like a Wayne Enterprise design.
Even more impressive is the new DragXter concept version of the XDiavel (just Ducati showing off before the XDiavel is actually in showrooms).
But I still won’t buy it, because I’m not rich (it’s probably going to be over $50K SGD) and I still prefer my 200kg Monster to the 247kg XDiavel. And even after pausing to check left and right when the traffic lights turn green, I can still pull away efficiently from every other car, and that’s good enough!
I’m just happy such a machine now exists and can’t wait to see how other bike manufacturers respond with their own designs. It’s a great time to be a motorcyclist.