Get your motor running

July 4, 2008

So I’ve been and gone and done it. Got my motorbike licence, that is.

Well, not entirely.

You see, I have a 50cc Hyosung Fast 50 (soon to be flogged off on TradeMe for $500. Any takers?).

I’ve enjoyed the Hyosung. It’s a nice bike, does the job. Revs well, scoots along but just doesn’t quite keep me as safe as I’d like.

There’s something about being at full throttle all the time that’s not very good. If a car pulls out (or in, or over, or does … anything at all) your only option is to slap on the anchors and hope you stop in time.

That’s not pretty.

The other option is to upgrade to a bigger, more powerful Beast and so have the option to either brake or accelerate. However, in NZ if you want a bigger bike (bigger than 2kW that is) you need a bike licence.

The process for this is … well, a little strange.

Before you even sit on a bike, you need to do a practical.

Yes, you read that right. Before you can get a beginner’s licence to learn how to ride you have to … learn how to ride.

Interesting.

So anyway, I can ride. I have my Hyosung. So off I went to get my practical basic handling certificate which involves riding a bike around a series of cones, proving you can stop on command, ride slowly and ride round a curve.

This I did – except the cones… There’s something about tiny wheels on a tiny scooter that has quite a long body that makes it IMPOSSIBLE to go round the cones properly. Fortunately my tester understood this.

From there you take your certificate and go directly to the AA, or Mother Russia, Land of Soviet Enterprise as I like to call it.

It works like this: enter the AA at lunchtime. Chose one of about 15 nearly identical forms at random. Fill in said form. No, you cannot download the form and fill it in before venturing to the AA. You have to do it in the store.

Stand in an astonishingly long queue. Watch the big plasma TV on the wall which is showing a newsreel of headlines from (I’d say at a guess) about six months ago. Watch as it cycles through the same five pub quiz style questions. Shuffle forward as required.

Once at the desk (roughly 80 minutes later) you’re told you haven’t filled in the correct form BUT (just as the blood begins to boil and your basic urge to go postal surges to the surface) they’ll let you stand there filling in the right form.

Once you’ve filled in the form you have your photo taken. You take an eye test. You then get to chose a time for your actual test. No, you can’t do it there on the spot, you have to come back.

You pay for it in advance.

Once you’ve chosen your time, and paid your money, you’re then informed that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can that time be changed without 48 HOURS notice. Given that I asked for a test for the next day, that’s not likely unless I invent time travel (or reinvent it. ha! take that, paradox freaks).

You’re also informed that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will you be allowed to sit your test should be more than two minutes late. TWO MINUTES!

So it is that early the next morning I drive my family to the library for story time and then on to the testing facility (another AA store in a dodgy part of town) where the girls wait at a caff (definitely not a cafe) while I go in to the AA, or Mother Russia, Land of Soviet Enterprise etc.

There I queue. Then I’m taken to a booth off to one side. There I’m presented with a scratch and win test paper and asked to check none of the scratchy panels have been pre-scratched. Then I’m told not to talk to anyone, answer any questions, use my mobile phone or any one of a dozen other things. Then the invigilator (no other name for her) stood behind me while I took the test.

Took about 12 minutes and had two errors. One was my own stupid fault but the other was odd. The sun is shining directly in your eyes as you drive along. To be safer do you: a, pull closer to the centre line, b: pull closer to the left line or c: turn on your headlights. I opted for pull to the left but apparently I was wrong which means it must be turn on your headlights. Weird.

From there I queued again (used to it by now) handed over my old driver’s licence and took up the temporary paper beast she handed over. A week or so later my new licence arrived and GASP it lists me as a learner. Oh well.

From there the girls took me to the scooter shop, I picked up my new MotoFino 125 in racing red (well it is the company colour) and I’m away and loving it. Not as quick off the mark as my Hyosung but I can keep up with the flow of traffic and get out of trouble far more easily. Plus the headlight is like the sun exploding in their eyes (no dipped headlight for me) and the brakes are nice and sharp.

Bliss.

This isn’t the scooter I intended to buy either. Originally I went in to talk about an ItalJet Torpedo 150 which looks great and has good reviews, but in the real world it’s huge. Much bigger than I was expecting, so I chatted to the good guys at Retro Scooter who talked me into a MotoFino and when I said yes to the 150 told me I wouldn’t need it (I don’t go on the motoroway) and would be better off with the 125 which has better gearing.

So, save money (fuel is $6 a week for me, and no charge for parking), have fun (and take control of your own life, literally) and go visit Retro Scooter in Newton Road if you need a bike. Tell them I sent you.

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