While we've always been more than happy to get involved in political rants in our Fighting Talk editorial column, here at Streetfighters we're not really the sort of mag to plagiarise other publications' publicity drives, and we tend to leave the motorcycle industry to get on with its own self-promotion too.
Recently, there's been something of a drive by both the MCIA (Motorcycle Industry Association) and Britain's Most Popular Motorcycling newspaper (ie Britain's only motorcycling paper) to encourage more people to take up motorcycling, both as a hobby and as an environmentally-friendly and economic way to commute to work. And they have good reason.
The number of new riders coming into motorcycling has plummeted faster than Shell Petroleum's street cred over the last year or so (estimates suggest that the number of completed tests in the UK is down by 60%, that's fifty thousand fewer people gaining their bike licence over just one year!), partly due to the horrendous weather last winter, but primarily due to the new half-arsed approach to the testing system, as brought in in April last year. Not only were the number of test centres reduced (thus forcing some people to have to travel in excess of 100 miles to get to their nearest centre), but changes in the test itself (including a compulsory 'brake and swerve' test that had to be undertaken, even in wet weather) dissuaded many people from bothering. Fortunately, it appears that the testing procedure is now being reviewed, but is this too little, too late?
Now, no-one who reads this magazine got into motorcycling because of economic reasons or environmental concerns, but because it is FUN. Nobody who has ever ridden motorcycles needs to be told how great they are (although our little corner of biking is particularly exciting, thanks to all the one-off machinery and some rather extreme engineering and power outputs). But, it could also be said, that many of us have become a bit jaded with bikes over the years – we've accepted that modern bikes have prodigious amounts of power, razor-sharp handling and brakes that can stop the world from spinning on its axis, but many of us can't remember what it was like to just get out on a bike, any bike, and the liberating sense of freedom that it brings...
Read the rest of this Fighting Talk in SF 201, on sale now