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Kawasaki ZRX1200R


(from the Travels with Guido series #344, September 2020)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Commuting by motorcycle beats everything, and the Kawasaki ZRX1200R is King of the home fleet at that little game

By some weird mix of circumstances, my meal ticket these days is running a classic car mag, aka Unique Cars magazine. Okay, so now I feel as though I’ve ‘outed’ myself.

In truth, these things are not mutually exclusive. There are six cars in the yard at Chateau Desperation and 20-ish bikes. And both fleets are a weird mix: Australian, American, Japanese and Euro for the cars; or English, German, Japanese and Italian for the bikes. Okay, I’m a tart – if it has an engine and wheels, I’m up for it.

Just as an aside, it’s probably just as well my two-decade-long passion for flying light aircraft has cooled off. It’s hard to imagine where we’d store the perishers. Planes take up an appalling amount of room. It’s the wings that are the problem. (Oh, and when you consider the running costs, they make motorcycling look like bargain of the century.)

So where were we? Right, running a mag. One of the consequences of doing this is I have a 20-ish kilometer commute across town. Some numbat once suggested I should consider using public transport. There are two problems with that.

First, I don’t do public transport. The last time I deliberately used it was, I think, back in the early 1980s. It was very ordinary. People who do use it have said nothing to convince me it has improved.

Furthermore, I’m told you need some sort of electronic pass and have to tap on and tap off. Apparently you can buy one at the local 24-7 convenience store. I live in an area where such a thing is a mystery and, if you found one, what do you ask for? “I’d like one of those electrickery public transport passes, please.”

Then a whole bunch of questions will be asked: “How long for, love?” Then, “How many parsecs do you plan to travel?” Or, “Would that be peak or off-peak and are there any concessions?” What the feck, I just need to get on a bus/tram/train, or some other giant moving wardrobe of despair. Like I said, I don’t do this. No.

So then we get down to the alternatives. If it’s raining cattle grids, I will default to a car. Only because you feel like a complete idiot threading the motorcycle past a fleet of tintops, only to get soaked before you reach the letterbox. There’s a fine line between determination and stupidity and, some days, this crosses it.

But there is a penalty. About a decade ago, when I started that commute (in a very different role, for the same publishing company), the drive took 45 minutes and the ride 30. Now, the numbers are more like 75 and 35.

Call me cranky or impatient, but I can no longer live with the drive unless I have to carry lots of gear or the weather is so foul it makes sense to live with the delay. And when I do, I get resentful. All you can do is sit with the herd and lumber along with it.

Threading through the traffic has its own joys – quick and at times just a little challenging. You have to be on your proverbial toes, be precise, and make decisions on the run. Sometimes it's a matter of firing through an available gap with no hesitation and praying you didn’t miscalculate.

When there’s a bit of clear air, you can nail it briefly, listen to the howl of the engine and play. Wonderful.

It doesn’t matter what the bike is. Sometimes it’s a demo, or the block-o-flats BMW K1100LT, or Hannibal the Hayabusa, or the 916, or the SR500, or – perhaps the best in our garage at the game – the big green ZRX1200R.

The ride isn’t just about time and convenience, it’s about feeling alive. Those instant decisions, each of them potentially life-changing, wake up the nerves and deliver a very real sense of satisfaction.



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