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Discuss: It’s okay to have a bike you can't ride

Know someone with a BMW S1000RR which they ride like a Puch Maxi? Let them get on with it, says Si Hargreaves. If they're having fun, that's all that matters

TIME was when a career in motorcycling included a progression through the ranks. Initiation was a 50cc, the 250 or 125cc a right-of-passage, a grey import 400 or sports 600 the hors d’oeuvre. Anything that came after was something you’d earned, like the right to be a hypocrite to your kids because you’re an adult. You spent most of your life aspiring to ride the big stuff and by the time you did, you knew how to.

These days it’s all to cock. City boys start learning to ride in May, do their Direct Access in June, and by July they’re wobbling around the Nurburgring on an S1000RR, getting overtaken by vans.

Men over 60 ride million-dollar sportsbikes with traction control when they’d be better off with bladder control.

Meanwhile young ’uns in turn-ups and neck scarves tit about on lagged-up cafe racers recycled from rusty old fag packets. What’s that about?

Point is, while fast bikes have got much better, the people riding them haven’t, and many now have machines whose limits they cannot approach.

But it doesn’t matter.

A magazine once decided to ‘measure’ the amount of throttle – and therefore how much power – a motorcyclist actually uses in an average ride, compared to the amount available to him. I can’t remember the details – like who wrote it; it might have been me – but I remember the conclusion being we all use substantially less of an engine’s potential in our day-to-day riding.

Not a surprise. I’m sure none of us uses 100% of our engine’s potential all the time because that would be a recipe for human soup even if we ‘only’ rode a moped. So I’m not sure what the point of the story was (in which case I almost definitely wrote it) because no-one listens to a stereo at full volume, no-one cooks in a gas oven at 240°C (do they?) no-one uses a toaster for more than a few minutes yet they still come with a 10-minute timer, and no-one in my house has a shower over 38°C but it goes up to 50°C, which is hot enough to burn the hairs off anyone’s arse. Even my girlfriend’s. We fail to fully utilise the potential of almost every ‘thing’ we have. I’ve got a 100ft front drive but despite best efforts have not filled it with vehicles. I’m not about to sell the house and buy one with a shorter drive. Neighbours might hear the screaming.

Anyone can ride whatever they want - shit-box to rocket, Panigale to Puch Maxi - as long as we’re all having fun. We’re all just doing our thing on two wheels and that’s about as cool as it gets. Isn’t it?

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