Ride one bike, ride it well.
Yesterday was my day to do whatever I pleased with. Katie spent the day with a girlfriend of hers doing whatever they do on their "shopping" days. The first thought to spring into my head was to just hit the road and go. There are some little roads I've been meaning to check out. Where do they go and what might I find on them?
The bikes in the small stable were vying for my attention. I had my mind on my ST. It's funny how I always seem to gravitate toward this one. I don't think it's a matter of the ST being more comfortable physically. While this is certainly a factor on longer rides, this ride wasn't going to be all that long. In fact, the lighter CBR is actually a more willing steed for buzzing up little roads to take a look. Not to mention the fun factor!
Here's my take on it. I am a dedicated commuter. My consistent choice of which bike to ride directly relates to what I face as a commuter. Firstly, a commuter needs to pick out a bike that works for the function. Most of the time we can only support one bike. If you have a short trip with little to haul there are probably more choices available. For me, I need to carry a certain amount of stuff with me. My ride is 44 miles one way. Weather protection and comfort become bigger factors. I also run errands on the bike. Which means I need saddle bags and they need to lock.
The bike also needs to be something I can use on weekends. Since I teach motorcycle classes frequently the weekend commuting duty is similar to what I do during the week. On those rare times when I ride just for fun, the bike needs to have some sporting capabilities. It also needs to be able to carry my sweetie comfortably when she comes along on weekend rides. For all these reasons I would chose the ST1100 if I had to have only one bike. With me so far?
Now throw into the mix the fact that there a few bikes sitting here. It's tempting to throw a leg over a different one every day. Something about variety being the spice of life, and all. I think it can be potentially deadly to do that on a regular basis while commuting. Here's why.
It's one thing to take a bike and just go for a ride. Traffic is just something to be dealt with for a short while on the way to the good stuff. At these times I think a rider gets their head totally into the ride and is tuned into the bike. That works for that situation.
Commuting is a whole different species of animal. One isn't always totally into the ride. For the most part the ride to work is in traffic consisting of other commuters. Everyone, even the rider, can tend to be distracted. Thinking about what is going to happen at work that day. Or, thinking about what did happen if it's the ride home. There's something about going to and from work that invites thoughts of family finances, vacations, or whatever. It's times like these that I see the huge value of always riding the same bike.
Muscle memory gets honed into that bike. Where are the controls, how much squeeze on the lever does it take, how quickly will this bike stop, what kind of feedback are we used to? All these things the inner rider knows through long familiarity. In high adrenaline situations it's important for habits to be the right ones. Our attention is too divided as a commuter to have to stop and think what bike we're on. Even worse, to make the mistake of doing something automatically that works on one bike but, wouldn't you know it, we're on a different bike today.
Does this make sense? There is an extremely high value in riding one bike and riding it well as a commuter. I guess that's why I find myself gravitating more and more to the ST.
We got our short ride. I stopped and talked to as many riders as I saw yesterday in gas stations and coffee stops. I was curious how many commuted and how many were just out for the nice day. I came to the conclusion that I've been right all along. Motorcyclists are like bugs. The nicer the day the more you see. It was still good to visit with them. Maybe the commuting thing will slowly spread.
There was still a little daylight when we got home. I treated the ST to an oil change and a bath. I always have mixed feelings about washing the bikes. One the one hand, a bike with road grime is like a badge of honor. On the other, a great bike deserves a little better. So the ST got washed. When Katie came home I had a nice dinner ready. A great woman is like a great bike, she deserves special attention once in a while!