Don’t get me wrong – the RACV does a good job, I’ve been a member for over 25 years and have little cause for complaint, but the “A” in their name is really what they are about. It’s cars they care about, they do consider bicycles and motorcycles, but it’s patchy and somehow always dismissive. Take this month’s Royalauto magazine as an example.
The article asks: “Can two wheels be better than four?” and more or less concludes that fuel economy is the only advantage. Based on their flawed information, this is a reasonable conclusion, but they’ve chosen to ignore a number of important factors.
All through the article, it talks about ‘big bikes’ – the 900cc+ machines (A Ducati 916 is mentioned) with high price tags, expensive spares and fiddly maintenance. These bikes are the performance equivalents of Ferarris, but the article compares them with the ‘average family car’ (a Camry is mentioned). Sorry, did I miss something there? Hands up who thinks a Ducati 916 compares in any way with a Toyota Camry? What about comparing these bikes with their equivalents – top of the line sports cars – the sums might even out a little there.
That’s one myth exploded, but it’s only a minor one.
They talk about the time taken to ‘get your gear on’ as negating any advantage to the trip time. OK, it does contribute, but when I take my bike to work, I park outside the door, not a ten minute walk away. Oh, and I park for free. That’s right, it doesn’t cost me any money to park my motorbike. In time, I expect this will change for the really busy areas of the city, but by then car drivers will be paying a congestion tax… I look forward to it!
Here’s another one to really rile the poor old cage dwellers: Motorcycles pay no tolls. That’s right, at least for now, there is no satisfactory way to attach an eTag to a bike and the law does not require a font number plate, so it’s too hard to charge tolls. So, while an average trip on Citylink racks up a toll charge of at least $5 your average motorcyclist pays nuthin!
Finally, if we get real and start talking about a commuter bike like my dear little CB250, you would be amazed how the dollars vanish from the balance sheet. It cost me less than $2000 to buy in good nick (30,000k) second hand. It hasn’t been off the road once in 2 years. Because it’s a very basic bike, I service it myself for typically less than $50 parts + liquid. I put a new (top quality) battery in it the other day for just $50… and it takes just $12 to run it for over 300km! (yep, just over 3l./100km.)
So, let’s say I lived in Essendon, commuted to South Melbourne five days a week. If you just count the tolls, petrol and parking, I’m going to be something like $20 a day better off. Over a typical working year of 220 days I’ve saved $4,400!
Unfortunately, I don’t have the readership of the Royalauto, so I doubt the truth will leak out and convert many car drivers any time soon – especially in the depths of winter as we are! Maybe the ‘journalist‘, David Morley, will read this, realise his mistake and take appropriate steps to rectify it in the next issue… maybe!