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"Fast Bikes", April 1, 2013


As an integral part of our lives, biking has natural highs. Because of the dynamic nature of these machines that we hold so dearly, it’s no surprise that the peaks are euphoric. But to counter this the lows can be desperate...

Our highs this month came in many forms. The biggest one for me was having a shot on a 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1. You would not know how much I lusted after one of these bikes when I was 25. I studied all the launch reports, dribbled over one at my local dealer, tried desperately to afford one – but ultimately failed to get an insurance quote that didn’t look like a banker’s bonus.

My feelings for them have never gone away. To me, the R1 represents the birth of modern machinery. The 1992 FireBlade has a clearly defined position in history, but the influence of the R1 is still seen in today’s machinery. It really was a pleasure to ride, and has stirred me into thinking how to fund one in the future.

Riding-wise, it was a tricky month to get anything done – dodging the snow showers to get stuff done was a logistical nightmare. Arm yourself with an enduro bike, however, and the weather simply doesn’t matter. Al and Beaky headed off to Mick Extance’s school this month, with the trails covered in deep snow – and both came back babbling incoherently about how amazing the day was.

And then there was the low. Kevin Ash was killed on the launch of the BMW R 1200 GS – a desperately sad end to a brilliant journalist, a good mate and loving family man. We don’t know what happened, but we do know that Kevin loved bikes; their engineering fascinated him and riding them was clearly one of Kevin’s deep pleasures in life. If we can take as much pleasure from bikes as Kevin did, we’ll all end up being very happy indeed. Have a good month.


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