Toad Talks | The petrol price problem – fun vs frugality

There has been a lot of chatter re petrol prices in the news lately – for very good reason – here’s Toad’s two pence worth

motorcycle refill at petrol station

PETROL prices have hit an all-time (and slightly inevitable) high this month, with my commute to work seeing the 18l tank on the Triumph Rocket 3 I’m riding cost me nearly £30 to fill.

Once I’d finished crying, I thought it was about time I added my two pence worth to the chatter – and that’s about a tablespoon of petrol at today’s prices, in case you were wondering…

Now there are a number of factors at play when it comes to the petrol price debate, depending on what you read and consume news-wise, it could be anything from the Ukrainian war to governments pushing the electric agenda. Whichever side of the fence you are sitting on, filling the fuel tank of your car, motorcycle, or even lawnmower is costing more now than it ever did.

But is petrol really that expensive? Well, on the one hand, yes. Historically fuel has never cost so much. But when you think about the process involved in making the fun juice, and bringing it to the pumps, it’s a bit more complex.

First off, a team of scientists have to track down deposits of the natural resource that becomes fuel. Then a drilling platform has to be shipped in (and in some cases built) to drill into the underground reservoir and being the black gold to the surface. From there it is shipped or pumped through a pipeline to a refinery, where men in lab coats turn the thick black viscous sludge into delicious fine wine we enjoy in our bikes. But the journey isn’t over there. Keith the HGV driver then has to drive the tanker of fuel from the refinery to the petrol station, where it is then distributed into our waiting vehicles.

Now, I’m no scientist, but that is a shed load of work.

The thing that makes petrol seem expensive (or more so now than it’s been before) is the fact that so many people, businesses and service providers rely on fuel in such great quantities to get on with the day-to-day. The only other liquid a human relies on daily that comes close to fuel is water. And that’s cheap as chips by comparison, so it really doesn’t help the cause. But when you think about it, there are hundreds, thousands of products out there on sale that cost a shed load more to buy than the amber nectar we deposit in our fuel tanks. From Mayonnaise to perfume, they all cost more per litre for Joe Public to buy at the shop and cost a whole lot less to produce.

And while we could all go out and don out gilets jaunes and blockade the motorways, as the French do so well. For the majority of us, we will suck it up and keep doing what we are doing, filling our tanks, sucking it up and cracking on. But I’ve noticed a much more subtle thing begin to appear in my riding behaviour…

How petrol prices have changed my riding style

Since petrol rose to above £1.70 a litre – remember the good old days… - I’ve started to head out for less and less brain-out blast across the countryside. The kind of ride when you head out on the bike for no other reason than to waste some fuel and bring a smile to your face. And when the red mist does descend, there is always one eye on the TFT keeping watch of the range and the real-time MPG. I also find myself really getting into motorway riding, working the Rocket 3’s cruise control to get maximum MPG out of the thirsty 2,500cc engine.

Sad? Probably.

While petrol prices will likely never prevent me from riding, let’s face it, I couldn’t live without it. I do foresee a situation where I’m actively weighing up the costs of a ride before getting my kit out of the cupboard. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s close. Maybe I should be more French, maybe we all should in a way. Private road users are being trampled off the road right now, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. Just thank your lucky stars you don't only have a car to use!

Right, were did I put that Hi-Viz vest…