“Whaddya mean, you don’t own a car?”
The tall man in the cowboy hat asked, looking at me like he wasn’t quite sure if I was crazy, or he admired my sheer chutzpah. I may have gotten a milder reaction if I had grabbed his sister’s hindquarters.
Asking why I don’t currently own a car is a question I get often. I’ve just got my trusty Triumph Sprint ST as my main means of transportation. After my last Nissan Sentra, blessed appliance-mobile that it was, I just didn’t buy another one. It’s not that I don’t love cars. I do. I love cars like Fluffy loves chocolate cake. You’d know this if you followed me on Twitter.
Despite the folks at Jalopnikthinking that the answer is always Miata, it isn’t. The answer is motorcycle. Here’s a few questions I know you Dear Reader are asking, and a few things I’ve learned in my daily travails.
What If It’s Hot/Cold/Typhoon/Sasquatch Weather?
If it’s hot, I wear a mankini. You should see the looks I get in traffic. Just kidding. That would be a terrible idea. Mainly because I’m not really into mixing pain with my pleasure, and having my buns scorched in summer.
I’m actually a strong advocate for wearing full gear as much as possible. In typical Dallas†summer weather, I†wear an Alpinestars T-GP Plus R Air Jacket, which breathes really well, except for the lower part of the arms which are not mesh. My main helmet is a Icon Alliance Dark which will soon be replaced with the Icon Airmada for better airflow. The Alliance is a big step up from my previous Joe Rocket and Speed & Strength helmets, despite them being the same price range. Kudos to Wes Siler for suggesting it. I wear my Sidi On-Road boots and usually regular jeans. If I’m out for a fun ride, I’ll throw on some mesh motorcycle pants. There nothing quite like having the wind in your trousers.
If it’s cold I still ride. My record is 28∞F on a ride to work with clear roads, and no precipitation†or snow. For you metric folks that’s literally, “freezing my derriere weather.” I just wear my Triumph leather moto jacket with liner, or my Icon Device Jacket. I put Dainese glove liners in my Rs Taichi RST408 gloves to keep my hands warm, or wear a crappy pair of Speed & Strength winter gloves I have, but rarely use. I also have thick Bull-It motorcyle jeans with kevlar in them. I do own a pair of Fieldsheer motorcycle pants that are very warm, but make me look like I’m catching for the Texas Rangers. They rarely get worn.
If we get snow or ice, which happens a couple of times a year, I can work from home, bum a ride with a coworker, or ride the train. If a typhoon or a Yeti is on the loose, I stay inside, make s’mores and sing Kumbaya until it passes.
What Do You Wear To Work?
I work for a Dallas marketing agency for my regular job, and ride the bike to the office and do creative swearing in traffic, just like everyone else. I normally wear moto boots, regular jeans, a button-down shirt, and then my moto jacket, helmet, and gloves. Despite the Mad Men idea everyone has, we dress pretty casually, unless we have client meetings. If I have client meetings, I’ll throw on my Cole Haan dress boots and my Ted Baker jacket in an attempt to appear professional.
So no, I don’t†appear like a slovenly hobo for work, and dress like a professional. I sometimes sacrifice the motojacket and boots, for more work-appropriate items, despite this giving me less protection. Its†like a one man Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
What Do You Do For Luggage?
For luggage, the Triumph Sprint ST has great hard saddlebags which swallow a full-face helmet or even my work laptop. Now the hardbags do affect the bike’s handling a bit, so I leave them off unless I need to have them on. Without the hard bags on the bike, I just use a backpack like you see a lot of people doing. The backpack makes me sweat due to the lack of venting, so I avoid that if the weather†is hot.
I also go grocery shopping on the bike and stuff whatever into the backpack or hardbags. I can’t carry a ton, but it’s not a big deal. Honestly, for 99% of the things you’d want to transport or do on a daily basis, a motorcycle is just fine.
How Do You Live?
I really just wanted to link to this Zoolander clip, and needed an excuse. Instead of going out in the morning for work, and starting up the car, I put on my moto gear, and start up the motorbike. If I go to lunch or wherever, I just take the bike. No one cares. You’re just a guy who rides a motorbike instead of taking a car. Since Lyft is now a thing, if I don’t want to ride I’ll just use that.
Parking Issues Begone!
“You’re a parking wizard, Harry.”
Living in Dallas-Ft.Worth, with an area population upwards of 10 million people, parking is an issue if you’re driving a car. With a bike, it’s fantastic. I can park the bike in places that cars won’t fit. This includes those†half-spaces where someone†parked their vehicle way over the line and you’d have to shoehorn a Miata in there. A motorbike takes that space perfectly. We also have motorcycle specific parking in places, can park on sidewalks, and get charged less when we have to pay to park. It’s like unlocking a cheat code for big city parking. There’s been more than once that I went to an event with the girlfriend and we took her car and I wished that we took the bike instead.
Transportation & Toy
I also love that I can do things in traffic that you simply can’t in a regular size car. Bikes are fast and manoeuvrable. I can hit gaps in traffic that no car can do with aplomb.†One of the best things about a sport-touring bike is the†sport†part. I can pull the bags off,†throw on my serious motogear, and carve the fun roads with some pretty fast folks. Try that in your beige Dodge Caravan.
A motorcycle is legitimate transportation in many countries around the world, and seems to get overlooked here in the States. If you ride a motorcycle daily, leave your thoughts below on your experiences.