Four Wheels or Two? The age-old debate of the Motorcycle.


When it comes to private transport many people feel that the car is the only way to get around, but with high insurance premiums, expensive road tax, and rising fuel costs, buying and running a car nowadays can really leave your pockets feeling empty. However, there is another alternative, which a few unsung heroes endeavoured to find… the motorcycle. With the high retailing prices of cars you can have a pretty average car or a high-end bike.

For example, with just under 4k, it is easy to pick up a Honda CBR600 RR with a full service history and a low mileage. For the same money you could also have an eight year old Volkswagen Polo 1.2 that has done about 50,000 miles and passed more owners hands than traffic lights. Still not convinced? The Honda has 118hp and a dry weight of approximately 165 kg, meaning it will do 0-60 quicker than the newest Ferraris off the production line. The Polo, having only 55hp in comparison, has the power-to-weight ratio of a sloth, and a tired one at that. For those who aren’t bothered by speed in particular and are more concerned with the practical and frugal side of motorbikes, mopeds and even some motorcycles will give 85 miles to the gallon. That means 38 return journeys from Portswood to University road for five pounds or 7 pence each way to be exact.

So more about preference. To car drivers the motorcycle is dangerous, noisy, and annoying. But to a biker it’s thrilling and exciting, it turns boring commutes into an adrenaline rush, every roundabout is a chicane, and petrol station a pit stop. However, what comes with this excitement are the two worst things about biking; wet and cold weather. At 30 miles an hour, what feels like drizzle when walking turns into a typhoon on a bike. When it’s sunny you’re boiling and when it’s cold you’re freezing. But although you can’t beat the weather, you can definitely beat the traffic and the stresses it brings with it.

When reliable, cars are convenient, practical and comfortable. If you are someone who prides themselves as the designated driver then motorcycles definitely aren’t for you. Imagine strapping a helmet onto your granny and zipping her to Somerfield, it just wouldn’t work. Motorcycles cannot do what cars can, in the way that cars are easy. You need a car for a big trip to Asda or Ikea. Although parking in town is mostly free on a motorcycle you have to learn to refrain from buying that chest of drawers even though it’s flat pack, resulting in you having to endure the angst of waiting for a home delivery and the potential disappointment of a ‘Sorry we missed you’ note through the letterbox.

Everyone knows that the main problem with riding motorcycles is danger. For many, the dangers of only two wheels are too high to risk. Having less tyres on the road means less grip, thus meaning longer braking distances and a dependence on balance when riding over potholes. However, a lot of this concern for the dangers of motorcycling is passed on by society and more often than not, parents. Society’s view of motorcycles was reflected in the 2008 National Statistics survey that revealed fewer than 3 percent of households in the UK had at least one motorcycle. But did the remaining 97 percent of households consider that motorcycles have the agility and power to get you out of just as many sticky situations that they can get you into? Some may also consider the potential danger an advantage because it makes you more aware as a road user. For everyone that crashes there are many more people that don’t – It can rightly be argued that when driven more like a car, motorcycles are very safe, if you can contain the urgency to put your knee down on a roundabout in a Valentino Rossi-like style or stop yourself from overtaking traffic on the opposite side of the road then there is a much higher chance that your life as a motorcyclist will be a healthier one.

After taking everything into consideration you may think that motorcycles aren’t right for you and that’s fine. Some people are just happier in cars and that’s very understandable. Cars are great, and from many aspects faultless as a vehicle. But some may want to challenge the concept of cars and dare into what is, to many, the unknown world of motorcycles. So next time you hear the screaming roar of a sports bike or you find yourself using a bright orange phone on the hard shoulder of the M3 because your baby blue Nissan Micra doesn’t like the motorway, just consider if a motorcycle might be a better option for you.


Discussion5 Comments

  1. avatar

    For short journeys around soton there is really only one answer. On my push bike I bet I could beat both of these from the uni to jesters over half the time, and it burns a few calories as well. Get a second hand race bike and blast through the traffic!

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