Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 9

I was chatting to my neighbour Dave recently; we were standing among the carefully arranged confines of my garage, the Kawasaki gleaming and resplendent among the polished tools and orderly kit. Lit from below by some expertly placed spotlights, the Ninja looked for all the world like the Great Speed God himself, returned to hold court in my inner sanctum. Dave said he agreed. He admires the Kawasaki as one might a tame Komodo dragon; respectfully but at a distance. He is not a motorcycle person, not as we know and understand the term anyway. He does not devote hours each day to the necessary admiration of his machine and he knows his children’s names off by heart.

He drives two cars: an eight year-old Saab which I rather like and a big Kia that sits high on its suspension and is just the sought of vehicle I expect will finish me off one day when Dave, or someone very much like him, is busy chatting on his Bluetooth-connected phone, or concentrating hard on the multitude of console options that adjust the interior climate controls. Then, Bang, the Kawasaki and I will get into an ugly dance with Dave’s chassis and he’ll barely notice the green and red smeared across his front end until the next mandatory service interval, when a bemused technician wipes the block clean of bone and gristle and reveals a still recognisable Hapless Biker sticker peering back at him.

Ah, and here we are! THE POINT! I had hoped it would reveal itself earlier when I began banging on this keyboard about Dave and my inner sanctum; no matter, it was worth it. The point of course, is maintenance, or rather the futility of it in this disposable age. Dave’s Kia will never gleam like my Kawasaki, partly because I doubt anyone could ever really give two flying shits about a Kia Sorento, but also because the Kia was built post 2007, that foul year of our lord when the world tinkered on the brink of a greed-induced oblivion.

Few people realise just how close we came to total meltdown in the months that proceeded the collapse of Lehman Brothers; we skirted around the sort of calamity that would have made Sodom and Gomorrah look like a bad game of dominoes; we were that close to watching the entire Western world collapse in an orgy of buck-passing, blame-shirking fear and panic. How did we manage to avoid it? Well, that is a good question and one that more knowledgeable folk than myself have invested a lot of time in trying to answer; but the short answer is, we didn’t – we just delayed it. That biblical shit-storm of credit is still billowing out there on the horizon and the only thing that has prevented it raining down a perverse justice on our grotesque society is the skilful manipulation of some very clever politicians and financiers who have encouraged us to borrow even more - to get deeper into the mire; to take on more debt, sorry, credit (sounds better right?). Think the flood is bad now? Well grab yourself a snorkel my friend or grow some gills because it’s only going to get worse.

Austerity was never about stopping people spending; it was about getting people borrowing. And borrowing is now the creaking, groaning prop that holds up the entire new world. And believe me, it is not a well-made prop. Not the sort of prop we used to make before PCP deals and pay-day loans; in the giddy days of the last century and into the early 2000s, when Honda over-engineered the SP1s and 2s with such fastidious quality that they lost money on every sale and were justifiably proud of doing do. No, the prop that holds up today’s world is more like the prop that drives the wheels on Dave’s Kia; built down to a cost using cheap Chinese steel that is good for maybe three bad winters before the whole machine begins the disentangle itself at a molecular level.