Driving a high performance car on a technical and challenging road is certainly one of the greatest pleasures in life. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for the daily commute. No matter what car you drive, there is nothing enjoyable about sitting in start/stop traffic for hours on end. And even if you’re lucky enough to own something like a McLaren P1, once you hit traffic, your 903bhp counts for nothing.
This is where bikes come into their element. In the UK, where filtering (lane splitting) is legal, commuting into cities is an absolute breeze. On my local commute, switching from four wheels to two reduced my commuting time from over one hour to under 15 minutes. Knowing the fact that my bike was also cheaper and faster than using public transport was also incredibly satisfying.
Another benefit of reducing your commuting time is that you can experiment with new, and more exciting routes to work. And you can actually enjoy these routes to the full, because it is completely possible to use a superbike for the daily grind. Perhaps surprisingly, track-focused machines with their narrow bars and high seating positions are far better than heavier and wider touring bikes, which is a little bit like a GT3RS being more practical than a Mini. Brilliant!
Being a petrolhead can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. For example, I guarantee that if you ask anyone what car they would buy if they won the lottery, they wouldn’t be able to give you just one answer. Instead, you’ll hear a comprehensive list of vehicles that they would need for separate occasions.
Unfortunately, for most of us, these lists are a pipe dream. And, let’s face it, buying even one of our dream cars would probably take years of sacrifice and serious saving. Bikes on the other hand are a much more realistic prospect; on value alone, two wheels will always beat four. For example, the fastest, and arguably most technically advanced motorcycle currently on sale, the Kawasaki H2, costs less than a base-spec VW Golf GT.
And if you’re talking about seriously cheap bang for your buck, then you can pick up any number of 186mph (300kph) GSX-R1000 K2s for less than £3000.
The age old argument of which is faster, two or four wheels, will always be a bone of contention between the car and bike community. But in the real world, two wheeled machines are the clear winners.
On a country road, a superbike like the BMW S1000RR will tear most road cars to shreds. Granted, something like a Radical SR8 LM will be able to carry more corner speed due to its four sticky tyres and significant downforce, but as soon you catch the first slow-moving vehicle on the road, the bike will have overtaken and cleared off into the horizon. Also keep in mind that cheapest Radical on sale would cost you north of £50,000.
Owning a performance car is a highly rewarding experience, but it does come with its downsides. If you’re young, your insurance is most likely going to be high, your fuel bill will probably keep you up at night, and if you’re unlucky enough to live in the UK, you’ll probably have spent a small fortune on road tax.
However these problems are not so apparent on two wheels. Insurance is significantly less (because you’re more likely to only hurt yourself rather than anyone around you) and even on a fire breathing superbike like the BMW S1000RR, you’re likely to see a more than reasonable 35mpg. On two wheels, your biggest expense will be tyres, which you can get through in less than two thousand miles of use if you’re really trying.
We recommend that if you have the time and money, you should definitely book a track day. They’re great fun and allow you to get a feel for the limit of your car in a safe and controlled environment. However, please be warned that if you do take your car onto track, it will put the vehicle under an immense amount of strain. In addition, your standard ride will probably be unsuitable for track work straight out of the box. Even high performance cars like the BMW M3 can struggle…
Modern performance bikes on the other hand are good to go straight from the factory. For example, the Honda CBR1000RR that Michael Dunlop rode to victory in the 2013 Superstock TT (achieving a scarcely believable 131mph lap on the way) had practically just rolled out of the showroom. And unlike gimmicky gadgets like the Porsche Sport Chrono stopwatch, superbikes like the Yamaha YZF-R1M feature fully functioning data logging which allows you to dissect your lap times and thus help you go faster.
Improving your driving skills can be a lifelong quest for perfection, but improving your riding technique is even more challenging. For example, one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, Valentino Rossi had to go back to the drawing board when young Spaniard Marc Márquez entered the Moto GP championship back in 2013.
Márquez with his wild riding style started to steer the bike using the rear wheel, and used an unconventional elbow down style to carry high corner speed. This was at odds with the ‘wheels in line’ riding style that the other riders had adopted after years on the 800cc GP bikes. After Márquez dominated the championship at his first attempt, all the top riders, Valentino included, started to adapt their riding style, using more lean angle and being far more aggressive with the bike.
Now this might seem like it doesn’t have any relevance to day-to-day riding, but what it shows is that even if the top riders in the world can be ‘schooled’, then so can you. Learning how to improve your riding is a never-ending challenge and it just so happens to make biking seriously addictive.
So CTzens, have I convinced anyone to consider the two-wheeled life?