Choosing a bike as you motor through the pandemic

Choosing a bike as you motor through the pandemic

If an automobile proves too expensive a purchase during this time but you still really want your own ride to work and, most importantly, you can balance yourself over two wheels, a motorcycle is your best option.

Andrew de Castro

We ask 104.3 FM2 announcer Andrew de Castro, who’s been riding since 1987 and has a BMW R-Nine-T and a Vespa scooter, what you need to know before buying your first motorcycle. 

Motorcycle, scooter or underbone?

Each has its benefits, says De Castro. For city types, a scooter should be the number-one option because it’s “light and easy to maneuver” and it uses an automatic transmission so shifting will be the least of your worries.

Motorcycles and underbones are more stable at higher speeds because of the longer wheelbase and larger wheels but some use a manual gearbox so consider that when you’re buying.

He recommends motorcycles and underbones if you’re taking EDSA a lot but if you can get by using side streets, a scooter is the ticket.

Engine size

Engine displacement of 150cc is going to be more than adequate for the city and can even go “really fast if the roads are clear.” Units with this engine size or lower are lightweight and will be easy to “weave around traffic," says De Castro.

Andrew de Castro 2

A rough fuel consumption estimate of a 150cc engine used purely in the city is some 40 kilometers per liter.

Find your fit

Go to a store, hop on one and get a feel for the bike’s dimensions and weight.

Immediately determine if the weight is something you can handle on your own.

Next, check the seat height. Make sure you can get a foot down on the ground comfortably because unless you have mad Cirque du Soleil-skills, you’ll need to step on the pavement when you come to a full stop in traffic.

Reach for the handlebars and make sure they aren’t too wide for your body frame. Aside from making it hard to wiggle through traffic, it’ll put a strain on your back during long rides.

Squeeze the brake and clutch levers to see if your grip and forearm muscles can handle the pressure it requires.

Get the gear

Invest in a really good helmet (and other protective gear, actually). According to De Castro, “good gear costs money, and it is money well spent because it is there to save your life in case of an accident.”

Don’t settle for a “mountain bike helmet, construction hard hat, not a military helmet, not a helmet sold in the toy section of a department store — a real helmet for motorcycles, preferably a full face one.”

Helmets

His advice is, “buy the most expensive helmet you can afford, because pricier helmets are usually safer.”

Maintenance and security

Most bikes are easy to maintain. Follow your owner’s manual and try not to miss a service schedule.

Try to keep it clean all the time also as this makes it easy to “spot leaks and damage.”

Get a strong bike lock or simply engage the steering lock after parking. Andrew says a thief will be hassled by a bike with bars that cannot be turned and will most likely choose another bike to steal.

Rules for rookies

To avoid looking like a noob on a bike, “find a safe environment and practice, practice, practice.” Andrew suggests taking a class if you can afford one.

If most of your riding will be in the city, work on slow speed moves that will help you navigate bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Also, always wear your safety gear even if it’s just a quick ride to the neighborhood store because a lot of accidents happen when drivers let their guard down.

Ride with the headlight on even in the daytime so other vehicles can see you and remember to never ride in cars' blindspots.

Andrew de Castro 3

Wear your helmet properly. Don’t just pull it halfway over your head because it’s just a short ride or it’s hot or worse, you’re claustrophobic. It makes you look silly and balancing it will make driving harder, plus, your helmet might fall off. Don’t forget to fasten the strap too, as the helmet may fly off before your head even hits the ground in a high-speed collision.

Finally, “you will also need a jacket, preferably with armor underneath— not for porma, but to protect your skin when you slide. Wear closed shoes that are securely fastened to your feet — no slippers or sandals, please. Using gloves will also help you grip the bars better and also protect your hands when you fall,” said De Castro.

Final tips

You’re not Marc Marquez (six-time MotoGP champion); nobody’s racing against you so don’t try to overtake anything with wheels.

Always stay in the right lane and please don’t mod your bike for a louder exhaust. Believe me, it only sounds good to you!

Lastly, have fun and please don’t turn into a kamote rider.

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