If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Why Change (Part The First)?

I tend to have a fairly busy interior life. I spend a lot of time thinking about things, and assessing things, and calculating things, telling myself stories, and 'reading up', and having arguments with my internal voices, without ever telling anyone what I am doing. It's probably the result of being an only child. You get used to doing things for yourself, without constantly batting ideas about with siblings and being persuaded this way and that. You consider, you make up your mind, and you act. But those around you may be totally unaware that you are considering anything at all, so sometimes the decision seems to be out of the blue, even to those closest to you. It isn't, but it looks that way.

So it is with cars, and of course bikes. I don't think I have ever consciously planned the purchase of a vehicle by reading reports, making the rounds of dealerships, test riding/driving several options, and saving my pennies for something I might buy next year. I can't do that. What happens is that an idea pops (or is popped) into my head, right into the middle of an ongoing train of thought, and I go through a rapid sequence of mental calculations:
  • Does it excite/interest/intrigue me?
  • Will it do what I need it to do?
  • Have I got the resources to do it?
  • Do I really, really want it?
  • No? - forgotten about immediately.
  • Yes? - right, let's do it now.
Regular readers will remember (wake up at the back there) that I bought the Bonneville as a reaction to the Honda Pan European. The Honda was bought (with proceeds from the sale of a fabulous Ducati) because Anna had finally agreed to do some Continental touring with me. When it became clear that this was never going to happen for reasons of her health and fitness, the Honda became just too much bike to have sitting on the drive. The daily driver, the XT, hit so many buttons (fun, utility, cheapness, 'soft spot') that the Honda was hardly ever used. So one day, apparently out of the blue, I decided to sell it and get something smaller and nimbler. It wasn't out of the blue at all, of course. I had been thinking about it for months, and the feeling of 'it's got to go' had rumbled on for a long time. But when I finally came to a decision it was lightning-quick, even though it was a hard one to make, as what was being abandoned was not so much a motorbike as a plan and a dream for two people. Nevertheless, I was having my usual mooch around the local dealership and got talking to someone about the Triumph Bonnevilles they had in. One was available at around the magic figure that I thought the Honda would fetch, and the deal, in my head, was done. I had an eBay listing up and running that night, and in the seven days of the auction I sorted out a deal on the Bonnie. Ten days after flicking a mental switch, I was riding around on a different bike.

Why the Bonneville, and not a similar and perhaps more capable middleweight like a Versys or a Hornet or a Diversion? I guess I liked the looks of the bike above all. I have no emotional attachment to Triumph or even to British bikes particularly, and for a long time I regarded the 'retro' twins as ersatz and rather naff. But I like naked bikes and have a bit of an aversion to body plastics (fragile, flimsy, expensive to replace and get in the way of simple maintenance), so the simple all-metal, what-you-see-is-what-you-get of the Bonnie was rather appealing. And the test ride was the deal-maker: glorious sound from the open pipes, comfy seat and perfect riding position (remember this was only a twenty-minute appraisal), and I was hooked. Or, if not hooked, convinced that the Bonnie was a worthy way to replace the gargantuan, phenomenally-capable but bland Honda. Half the cylinders, half the horsepower, half the speed, twice the fun, as I told myself.

Fifteen months and 6000 miles later, I have obviously got a much clearer view of the bike, and I have decided that it was not the keeper I had imagined it might be. Why this should be must wait until another post, as it's gone 9 pm and I have to up at quarter to sodding five tomorrow and I am sleepy.

More anon.


  1. I don't know that being an only child is the reason for calculating everything in your own head. I wasn't and I do it all the time.

    My problem is that even though I may arrive at a particular decision and sally forth to a place of purveyance, I am easily distracted... ooh look, shiny.

    Case in point;

    I had a car that had no stereo. I thought it would be nice to have music on the go and proceeded to audition car units and read reviews. After a few weeks of sorting the chaff from the wheat (in my own mind) I informed the wife that I was going into town to purchase a car stereo.

    Off I went, drove the ten miles and parked up. As I was walking to the shop I happened to pass the local motorcycle emporium. 'I've got time', I thought, so popped inside...

    Thirty minutes later I was the owner of a brand new, heavily discounted, RD350LC YPVS.

    I got home and the OH asked if I'd got what I wanted.

    I said, "You'd probably be better off sitting down."

  2. Ah Richard, you think like most men (athough I see the previous commenter is an impulse buyer). Women tend to try to substantiate buying something rather than have such a clean cut checklist.

    An example is: I bought a lovely paid of shoes in a duckegg blue this week. I don't really like blue or wear it but I liked the style of the shoes and they were half price after all.

    Now I've to substantiate the purchase by making an effort to find a few jackets or tops which would tone with them. Very time consuming.

  3. My mind works exactly the same way (although I'm also not an only child). Especially the end result of "right now" - for me, it's like the mental image becomes the actual situation and it is necessary to immediately adjust reality to fit in with that.

    With vehicles, specifically, I don't set out to change bike, or plan for it and I don't ever have any particular model in mind. At some random point, usually getting on for a year of ownership, I'll simply see something that I instantly know *is* my next one. Oddly, it doesn't have to be better than the current one, or even markedly different in style or purpose. It just has to trigger the thought that I can see myself riding it...

  4. " I don't think I have ever consciously planned the purchase of a vehicle by reading reports, making the rounds of dealerships, test riding/driving several options, and saving my pennies for something I might buy next year. I can't do that. "

    Me neither. My first car, after passing my driving test, was a Jaguar Sovereign. I just liked the shape of it. ;)

  5. Richard (at work)7 July 2011 at 08:19

    Good to see I am not alone!

    Xen347 - that could have come from any chapter of my life. Superb swerve to the RD, which I fully understand. And I think your words to your wife were masterly. Such thoughtfulness.

    Rosie - again, familiar words. A 'bargain' handbag necessitates a complete new outfit 'to save money'. Duck-egg blue shoes sound lovely, though, and I'm not surprised you were tempted.

    Endo - bang on. The 'new one' (camera, bike, underwear ...) doesn't have to be bigger, faster, better, just different and in accordance with the mood of the moment. Especially the underwear.

    Julia - I like that. Pure class, girl.

  6. It's best to get rid before you have put too much investment of time money and love into it - a mistake that I have made with my GS!

  7. Richard (work)7 July 2011 at 10:28

    Nikos, you are exactly right. That's the reason I could never get rid of the XT, and a major part of the reason I decided the Bonnie had to go. By the time I listed (and priced) the modifications I would need to make it better for my porpoises, I had decided that it would be cheaper and easier to get a more suitable bike. I must have lost thousands over the years in non-standard parts that I have given away in trade-ins or private sales.


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