As thoughts turn to the spring and warmer days, there are some commuters out there thinking about making the change from four wheels to two – perhaps after the Easter break. However, along with many other riders, I have found myself making the swap earlier this year. What started out as a short-term fix to cope with my car being in the garage for some routine maintenance has now become everyday transport – even through the recent sub-zero conditions.
In fact, advances in materials technology have made all-year riding a great deal easier, with gear designed to keep you warm on cold days and cool during the heat. Bulky materials are out and stylish, weather resistant, protective clothing is in. Rider safety devices have also taken a leap forward with the introduction of advanced composite materials into garments, the introduction of air bag systems in some riding wear, increased levels of protection built in to clothing as standard and increased use of reflective materials.
My decision to make the swap more permanently was mainly driven by my enjoyment for riding, however rising fuel costs also played a part in my switch. My commute to work is around 80 miles per day and the bike not only helps me to reduce the cost of my journey to and from work but also reduces the time it takes because I no longer have to sit patiently in the morning M42 traffic.
I am among what seems to be a growing number of people choosing two wheels as a means to get to work, with recent figures showing that there has been an eight per cent rise in sales of commuter bikes. However, it is not just people using 125cc machines in London. I have been amazed in recent weeks just how many people have returned to biking early this year. Perhaps some of these people, like me, have been driven by a wish to reduce monthly bills. Indeed, a recent MCIA study has proven that using a motorcycle every day can reduce annual travel cost quite considerably, even after you factor in the purchase of a bike, its running costs, equipment purchase etc. The example given by the MCIA was an impressive £6,000 over three years for a London commuter who swopped their 30-miles journey on the train each day for a 500cc motorbike.
The question on everyone’s lips within the motorcycle industry is whether this small trend might grow into something bigger to help turn the tide on the current decline in motorcycle numbers. Unfortunately, for many people, motorcycling has moved from an everyday form of transport to a weekend past time and, as a result, the industry has experienced a steady decline in motorcycle sales over the past few years. However, perhaps the tide is beginning to change and the daily commuters will help to encourage others to don their leathers and start using their bikes more often!