For free-wheeling markets ride a gas-guzzling Ducati
I used to be mad on motorbikes. My first was a Honda C50 step-through moped. OK, so it's not a motorbike, but at the age of 16, that hairdryer gave me my independence, and that's 90 per cent of what it's all about.
I used to be mad on motorbikes. My first was a Honda C50 step-through moped. OK, so it's not a motorbike, but at the age of 16, that hairdryer gave me my independence, and that's 90 per cent of what it's all about.Over 15 years, I progressed to a Yamaha FJ1200, a workhorse that annoyed my Triumph Bonneville-riding buddies. But it got me around London, effortlessly toured Europe, and had the uncanny ability of being able to identify unsuitable potential mating partners for life.Some girls hated them, some tolerated them and some loved them. Emma was between love and tolerance. That was enough.By 1990, there were as many bikes on the market as there were stocks on the stock exchange and like stocks, you could break them up into sectors, analyse their features, assess them on price, determine value and make a reasonable buy recommendation based on someone's circumstances. And I was an expert.The Honda ST1100, for instance, was like one of the banks: big, reliable, will go forever, but has no character and real bikers don't like them. They serve a purpose, they get you there, but beyond the fact you're out on the road with everyone else, it's not much fun and you can get more excitement riding something else.Then there's the Kawasaki Z1300 110 per cent grunt and muscle. This is BHP Billiton. At full bore, it can plough through a herd of bull elephants. A meaty gladiator's bike. But every time they add to it, they just cock it up more. If only they could leave it alone to do what it does best.The Honda CBR900RR Fireblade: Fortescue Metals. The first real sport superbike for "man racers". Nothing ever took off this fast. Unprecedented power-to-weight ratio 65,000 per cent return. In the early days, it was fast, wild and free - and dangerous. No one had ever ridden anything beyond the edge of the envelope before.It has since been superseded and now looks sedate but remains the bike we all wish we'd had.The BMW K1, also known as the Flying Brick. This is your ever-reliable utility stock. It was one of the first bikes to have ABS, an anti-dive paralever swingarm and a drag coefficient of 0.38, which meant nothing at the time. Purists hated it.The argument goes that bikes are inherently risky, which is why we love them, so why try to make them safe. If you want safety, buy a car.It attracted a new class of rider - the retiree. These days, when safety is paramount, we appreciate them a lot more. Now an icon.The Ducati 1098 S. A cafe-racer stockbroker's bike that requires specialist knowledge. Like a small resources stock, it's bloody expensive for what it is. Sucks gas. Impossible to insure. Impractical, uncomfortable, unserviceable, expensive, red, sexy ... irresistible. Life on the edge. Never knowing when you're going to get knocked off. It's all about appreciating the moment rather than planning ahead. Some Ducati riders will tell you you can tour on one. Jokers!Harley-Davidson Fat Boy - much like Telstra. Has been around forever but was relaunched on the market in 1993 and saw tremendous early demand. But it wasn't long before advances in technology made them look clumsy and out of date, and this, combined with an inability to turn corners, meant they failed to adapt and were left for dead.But a government grant and a new power plant has seen a recent revival, helped by the baby boomers looking for a more comfortable ride at a reasonable price. It still has the grunt and muscle, and hopefully one day, they'll sort out the performance.The Triton - it's a bond, not a stock. A combination of a Norton frame and a Triumph Bonneville engine. The Queen rides one. Respect. You vacuum-pack these and forklift them into the back of the garage and when you're older, you unwrap them and show them to your mates. When you die, they'll bury it with you and drape a Union Jack over you both. It's nothing like the stock market. It has class.I don't own a bike at the moment, but Emma's beginning to come around and we're thinking about it.