Alexei Sayle: Which is more dangerous: a bomb or a bike?

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

My dedication to the world of motor vehicles extends to my clothing. I don't actually have anything with a car-maker's logo on it, but I've got some nice Harley-Davidson boots. I did have a load of Caterpillar stuff, but I'm boycotting them due to their involvement with Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes.

I wanted to replace the Caterpillar stuff with other garments associated with the building trade - I've got Bosch jeans and a Black and Decker tux - because this kind of clothing makes me feel tough and butch. So I was excited to learn that the wife of the managing director of JCB planned a range of their branded clothing.

But when I got a look at the range, her attempts seemed dilettantish and half-assed. The garments were Marbella-looking leather trousers and brown suede bomber jackets with big shoulders and sleeves that zipped off. I expect they'll be coming up on eBay dead cheap any day now.

There'll also be a load of cheap, high-quality bikes for sale on eBay. Since the Tube and bus bombings in London, there's been a huge rise in the number of cyclists.

As someone who's been riding a bike in the capital for 30 years, I can't help feeling some resentment towards these new cyclists. Those of us braving London's roads on two wheels before the July bombs did it for genuine reasons; we were cheap people (in my case), mad (in my case) and cared about the environment (in my case, a bit), or we were drug dealers who needed to escape quickly from the police. Or we were eccentric establishment types like Boris Johnson. We certainly didn't ride bicycles because we were frightened of being blown up! You didn't cycle in London if you were worried about your personal safety.

Now there are loads of these sissies riding about. They are so fixated on the dangers of terrorism that they don't think of other dangers in the world. The other day, I saw a silly-faced middle-aged man with his child strapped into a kiddie seat that was badly mounted on the back of an expensive new mountain bike, blithely riding through a red light over a busy junction, talking on a mobile. I have never seen such a look of terror as on that kid's face. But his dad obviously thought that as long as they weren't on the Tube, they were indestructible.

However, these nouveau cyclists are realising that they're in for a shock when they swap their car or bus pass for a bicycle. I remember taking a car-driving friend for her first bike ride a few years ago. At the first corner, she stopped, tried to look up into the rear-view mirror and promptly fell off.

And car owners also find that, with a bike, spending more does not get you more comfort, as it does with a car. In fact, the reverse is true. A really expensive two-wheeled machine has a saddle like you're sitting on a trowel, steep tube angles that make your legs ache and titanium pedals that your shoes are fixed into so that you spend the first few weeks clinging on to railings. It's these machines that are now being sold in their hundreds on eBay.

motoring@independent.co.uk

Search for used cars

Comments