COMMUTING Special Feature

This entry is part 6 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#26

A casual glance at Facebook will reveal in this commuting special feature and will have any number of cheerful calls aimed at capturing the essence of the joy of riding. These all evoke the true spirit of riding and draw our minds to the open road, making us want to throw off the shackles of something as necessary as work and just ride off into the sunset.

But what about when our minds are brought back down to the shackles of reality and forced to look into such mundane pursuits as commuting?

Yes, it can feel as if commuting is a kind of sentence that you have to serve on the road twice a day. But it need not be so…

Let’s not just look at buying a bike for this purpose alone. Few of us can afford to do that, and have another one for ‘fun’ riding. Can we perhaps hope to buy a bike which will serve us on the daily grind, and also when we want to really enjoy ourselves?

Most of us don’t really have a choice anyway, it’s one bike that is going to have to do everything – our finances usually dictate that restriction.

It isn’t hard to see how manufacturers have jumped onto this by producing bikes which are designed to be up to four bikes in one.

But this often comes at a price and again, the fi nance department usually puts an end to pursuing such exotica. Nevertheless I have put together some bikes that will happily serve more than one purpose, and that will nevertheless not break the bank (see further on).

COMMUTING Special Feature

So getting our minds back to reality (terrible place, isn’t it?) what and how are we going to ride to commute and still have something we can ride with our mates when the shackles are loosed?

The commute these days can involve riding long distances in heavy traffic; strictly city work; a mix of both; and even some sections where we have our favourite corner (invariably restricted to 30km/h below the speed limit by some caffeine starved driver just when we have our only chance of getting some satisfaction on the ride).

So, is there a perfect bike to cope with this? And when you’re looking for it, what do you look for?

When we start any search for a bike, it will invariably first come down to a couple of criteria then expand to fi t what is available and what we can afford.


First consideration is usually: Do I like the style or look of it? You aren’t going to buy something that makes you feel like a giant riding a tricycle, or a child riding a full dress brewery horse! It has to look and feel right for you. So now it comes to a selection from ‘styles’ like cruiser, sports, learner approved (LAMS), tourer, naked, sports tourer, etc.

(I could be bold enough to say at this point that the LAMS bikes generally epitomise what makes a good commuter, but they will fall down slightly in some other areas). You can obviously commute on anything, but will you be happy on a BMW 1600 when you aren’t likely to get over 50km/h? We can leave the big tourers and sports tourers out of contention, then. A scooter might not appeal, either, if you weigh over 100kg and want to have some self-respect amongst your work mates (This is not a shot at scooters, but writing as a very tall person it is too funny seeing how silly some of us look on them!).

Without consciously thinking about it, we often choose something at this point that has both the engine capacity that we think will suit our needs and riding style, and that matches our size preference. Not everyone needs a 400kg bike to feel king of the road, and not everyone wants a 250cc screamer. Deep within our decision making process the engine capacity does come into it.

That’s not necessarily appropriate; look at the Triumph Street Triple.

Here is a bike that’s the equal of many larger bikes, and will get the better of them in some situations. Bigger isn’t always better.

So there’s the second consideration: What am I going to do with this bike (assuming it is more than just


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Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.

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