With the price of petrol passing the 5 Turkish liras (1.5 USD) per liter the small tank of my 600 cc single cylinder is now well above 18 US dollars or 16 Euros and it does not take me for more than 200 Km.
To cover the distance from home to Istanbul it will cost me around 80 Euros for petrol only plus maintenance, oil, insurance and personal expenses.
Let say 110 Euros if one can survive 800 K on solo sandwiches and water.
For half of this price I can fly from home (15 K from regional airport) to Istanbul SAW. I agree not as funny as riding but it makes one think.
And thinking I was in one of the first “spring” outing this March when I stopped at a road side quite capacious restaurant and I contemplated the 20 or more bikes parked outside: the total amount of capital represented by these vehicles would have bought the whole establishment and, in the words of one biker, maybe the petrol station attached to it.
Surely, the waiter serving us should have saved the entire salary for a period of three years to buy the cheapest of the bikes present.
25.000 Euros (at March 2017 equal to almost 100.000 Turkish lira with Gross Minimum Wage at 1.800 TL) will buy you in BMW Istanbul a new BMW GS Adventure. In theory and in practice a family of three with father as only worker must live four and half year on the same amount. It makes you think as it makes you think the contrast between the news from countries at war and the misery for families and children coming in the same TV program five minutes before the showing of costly and futile event as the Milano Moda fashion show. It makes one think and it hurts.
Still, buying the bike is not all: one can always put two and half years of the same father’s salary and buy (51.000 Tl) a more “modest” Suzuki V Strom 650XT.
Unfortunately, it looks like very few bikers today have a minimalist or parsimonious attitude when coming to accessory or “farkling”.
Without going to the excess of Iron Butt rider, who put (Summer 2014) in excess of 9.000 US dollars on top a brand new Honda ST1300A (just to “meet needs”) costly modifications are very popular: exhaust system, luggage system, communication system, GPS and entertainment system, saddle, lights, screen, protectors and carbon fiber (or titanium) parts are as frequent as Dolce Gabbana shirt in Portofino cafes.
The society of consumption, the “I have and I want more” showing attitude push the rider to buy the “perfect and ultimate” bike and then to change all changeable just for marketing pressure reasons.
A new exhaust can offer on improvement of 5/7 HP and the same result can be obtained with a dieting program cutting approx.10 kilos from the rider fat surplus.
Finally, “ride is coming and I have nothing to wear…” Riding gear is another great source of inequality where the song of the sirens takes the wear to new sublime levels of technology. The siren sings “more protection requires more money” and “higher price better protection”; it sounds familiar to people that must show a credit card, with funds in it, before being admitted to the emergency room of any hospital (survival of the richest as new natural selection).
With this attractive (and fallacious) song riders turn into medieval knights needing a lift to mount the saddle for the weight of the protections gear. After the air-bag I am waiting for safety belt on two wheels (and why not… the old idea of leg protector’s mandatory on frame). Inexpensive gear is now relegated to “entry level” and the competence is associated with great amount of money spent for dressing.
Inequality is the main source of conflicts, violence and instability. Frugality and sharing are out of fashion and flaunting wealth is now a major sport: biking was a simple and open-to-all sport where the brand of the helmet was not important and definitely not discriminating. Today we, the bikers, are protagonist of a subtle but not less evident discrimination, creating a social class of privileged people wasting for vanity.
“Charity rides” are not a solution but they are very rare in Turkey: maybe it is time for all groups to start thinking of giving back some of the joys we take from riding. Ideas?