Monthly Archives: September 2017

  • The Economics Of Riding

    The Economics Of Riding

    Motorcycles ridden for everyday transportation was a normal part of my life growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. With high gas prices playing a factor, I have fond memories of both of my parents riding. Dad had a 500 Yamaha with an aftermarket fairing that he’d ride rain or shine to work everyday, and on weekends would let me swing a leg over the passenger seat for a scenic afternoon cruise on the backroads. Mom rode a Honda 125 that was formerly used by the Shriner’s to put on riding agility displays at local parades. She would use it to ride back and forth to her part-time job while us kids were in school, or to pick up a few groceries or run some errands. As a kid, I viewed riding a motorcycle as just a normal part of everyday life.

    By the time I was old enough to drive, my parents had sold both bikes (I suppose the logistics of shuttling 3 kids around played a part in that decision, but my Mom also said she felt like drivers were not paying attention to riders), and I ended up learning to drive on 4-wheels, but always with a thought about wanting to ride a motorcycle...someday.

    Someday came when I started working as part of the marketing team here at Aerostich. After some training and practice, I got my motorcycle endorsement in the Spring of 2009. Donning a new Hi-Viz Roadcrafter Classic one piece, I threw my leg over a borrowed 1971 Honda CB350 and never looked back as I established my roots as a dedicated daily rider.

    In the early Spring of 2010, I was offered a great deal on a lightly used, ’08 Kawasaki Versys, (that fit into the ‘bike budget’ I had been saving for) and logged the first ride of the season on March 11th, continuing to commute nearly every day that year through the end of November. Out of about 165 workdays during that timeframe, commuting on the new bike accounted for 145 of those days (with a few longer day trips and vacation riding days mixed in too). A quick run of the math proved that after the investment in the bike and riding gear, I was saving a fairly significant (to me anyway) amount of money by choosing to ride over driving a car too!

    With my Aerostich gear and a determined mind-set, 2012 allowed me to ride (at least a few days) every month this year – not always easily, but enjoyable every time – from below zero Duluth, MN temps in January and February to sweltering heat and humidity in July and August. Riding (anywhere), for me, is always the most versatile, practical and economical (not to mention fun), way to get from point A to B. Gas prices were jacked-up most of that year too, creating an even bigger savings.

    Flash forward another 5 years and I’m still riding the same Kawasaki (have changed the oil annually and put 2 sets of new tires and brake pads on it over the years) and wearing the same (road grimed) Hi-Viz one piece Roadcrafter Classic. The bike and gear have gotten very comfortable after over 7 years of use, not to mention that every mile and every day that I ride further adds to the long-term value of the investment in the motorcycle and riding gear. Every ride continues to save money over driving the car too. Looking at just the gas savings over the last several years, the economic benefits of riding become pretty easily apparent. The fact that riding gets me from A to B more efficiently, allows easier and more readily available parking options and is better on the environment is nice too. But the personal benefits from riding are where the real reward is. Anytime I ride somewhere, I arrive more alert, aware and ready to take on tasks at hand. If you choose to ride more I’m pretty sure that you would find similar results. Save money, feel energized and healthy and have way more fun!

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  • First Day Riding

    First Day Riding

    Today fellow employee, Randy, reluctantly gave up the keys to the company owned Zero for the weekend. After he gave an overview of the all-electric motorcycle I was perched on, I hopped off and let the thumping adrenaline in my ears subside. What an awesome feeling, I thought. What’s it going to be like when I ride it? That’s when Randy turned very serious.

    Our legendary wall of crashed Roadcrafter gear was hauntingly visible through the open overhead door as we stood outside talking. Randy didn’t pull any punches. He explained how cars like to turn left in front of motorcycles and the importance of assuming you’re invisible when riding. Then he motioned toward the empty lot across the street and suggested, or rather required, that I get the feel of riding there before heading home.

    Forcing myself back inside the Aerostich building for a final meeting before heading home, I pondered the enormity of the adventure ahead. Our company is in town and home is in the country, leaving no way to commute without riding through town, which has lots of scary cars. Getting 100% on the permit test yesterday gives me confidence – just need to block out flunking it four days ago.

    The following half hour meeting was the longest week I ever spent sitting in an office. Finally, I dashed down the stairs and got suited up for the initiation. As a kid I’d ridden a Yamaha TY 50, but not on the road, much. Now, a hand full of decades later, I steadied my flipping stomach, turned the key, then the throttle, and pulled from the curb over to the dirt lot and practiced for 15 minutes. Good enough. I was anxious to get on with it.

    At the second stop sign a pickup almost went out of turn, then the driver smiled sheepishly and waved me, slightly wobbling, through. Turning from the streets, I white nickeled it up to 50mph on the highway and was exhilarated by the wholly unexpected blast of air. Fifteen minutes later I made it to our driveway and was so grateful for the safe transit that I named the bike! Seeing the bike pull in, my wife looked alarmed. Then, recognizing parts of the dorky outfit I wore, she relaxed, looking bemused.

    After a good rest and a settling snack, I hopped back on the cool, light orange bike and rode to nearly every friend and neighbor I know within ten miles. The bike even made it slowly through the rutted muddy trail in the back field with just one minor dump, which my sons saw. But, we pounded and promised everlasting secrecy from mom, which lasted under 30 minutes.

    Country rides for tomorrow have been mapped, more surprised faces of friends imagined, and now I won’t be able to sleep. Louise (the bike not my wife) is charging up outside and waiting, pretty as a peach, for Saturday to dawn.

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