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 Japanese workhorse that annoyed my Triumph Bonneville-riding buddies but it got me around London, effortlessly toured Europe a thousand times and had the uncanny ability of being able to identify unsuitable potential mating partners for life.
Some girls hated them, some girls tolerated them and some girls loved them. Emma was somewhere between loved and tolerated. That was enough.
By 1990, there were about 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 then make a reasonable buy recommendation based on someone's personal 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 that you are out on the road with everyone else, it's not much fun and you can get a lot more excitement riding something else.
Then there's the Kawasaki Z1300 110 per cent of grunt and muscle. This is BHP. At full bore it can plough through a herd of bull elephants. A gladiator's bike. Meaty, but every time they add to it they just cock it up that little bit more. If only they could leave it alone to do what it does best. The Honda CBR900RR Fireblade Fortescue Metals. The first real sport super bike for "man racers". Nothing ever took off this fast. Unprecedented power-to-weight ratio. In the early days it was fast and wild and terribly dangerous. When it first came on the market no one had ever ridden anything beyond the edge of the envelope before. Has been superseded and now looks sedate, but will always be the bike we all wished we'd had.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. It was hated by purists. The argument goes that bikes are inherently risky which is why we love them so why try to make them safe? It attracted a whole new class of rider the retiree. These days, when safety is paramount, we appreciate them a whole lot more. It's now an icon.
The Ducati 1098 S. A cafe racer stockbroker's bike. Requires specialist knowledge, like a small resource stock. Bloody expensive for what it is. Sucks gas. Impossible to insure. Impractical, uncomfortable, unserviceable, expensive, red, irresistible, sexy. Life on the edge, never knowing when you'll get knocked off. It's all about a great ride and appreciating the moment rather than planning ahead.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy like Telstra. Has been around forever but was relaunched in 1993 and saw tremendous early demand. But the world moves on and it wasn't long before advances in technology made them look very clumsy and out of date. 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 return of the baby boomers looking for a more comfortable ride at a more reasonable price. It still has the grunt and the muscle and hopefully one day they'll do something about 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 sharemarket. It's got class.
I don't own any bikes at the moment, but Emma's beginning to come around and we're thinking about it.