Long-term update: life on a scooter
Johannesburg - It’s been three months since I introduced myself as a motorcycle (learner) licence newbie, along with high hopes of making at least one week’s worth of office commutes on my newly acquired scooter.
Actually, I vowed commitment to a week of nothing but scootering, but a never-ending flow of test cars has so far prevented me from making good on the promise. I lie ... it’s just been too cold. And with that my big plan of converting all of South Africa’s taxi passengers into microbikers has met its first hurdle.
While it’s certainly possible to bundle up and head out into traffic on a crisp winter’s day, it can also be very hard to resist the warmth of a car’s (or taxi’s) cabin if the option is there. I have, however, managed to make at least one trip when the temperature was in single digits, and I must say it wasn’t all that bad.
A full-face helmet, proper biking jacket, and steely concentration needed when lane splitting helped to keep my mind off the fact that my fingers were frozen in handlebar grip position.
Luckily Joburg winters are blessed with the odd warm spell, and on these days I’ve longed to get out on the little Honda PCX 150. On one particularly sunny Sunday I fired up the scoot to fetch breakfast, lunch and dinner takeaways, and even managed a trip to the hardware store in between – four separate excuses for four separate trips on the bike. It’s that much fun.
It’s also just so incredibly convenient. In the time it takes to three-point turn a car out of my driveway, I could already be out the gate and well on my way to the grocery store, for what was once a hassle of a milk run.
“Honey, we need milk!”
“No problem baby, let me shoot out and get some. It would be my pleasure.”
And it is quite literally a pleasure. As long as whatever goods my wife might require will fit underneath the PCX’s under-seat storage nook, I’m happy to tootle on down the road to pick them up.
This lockable nook is intended as a place to stash your helmet when it’s parked, but with helmet on head I can confirm there’s space in there for a two-litre milk bottle, a box of ProNutro, four Cadbury slabs, a newspaper, and a wallet. There’s also a small compartment inside which holds my iPhone like it was designed to, and another just in front of your left knee perfect for stashing house keys, gate remotes and other items which you might need access to while on the fly.
NIPPY AND FRUGAL
For a guy more familiar with a car’s higher engine outputs the 10kW and 14Nm outputs of this 150cc engine seem a little comical in comparison, but then it only weighs around 200kg with me on board. Even with partial throttle I can zip away from most traffic at robots after lane-splitting through to the front of the queue.
And if the road’s straight, long and quiet enough it tops out at 110km/h with taps wide open.
There’s also only a single cylinder to feed petrol to, and it’s not a very thirsty one. So far this little scooter, which also has an auto start-stop function like many full-size cars, has returned an impressive average of 2.4 litres per 100km; meaning it’ll do around 250km on a full 5.9-litre tank. With my weekly home-office-home routine, I’d only need to fill up once every two and a half weeks at a cost of around 70 bucks on each occasion.
Now, if only Mother Nature would put some spring in her step (get it?), I could verify those numbers with a full week’s worth of scooter commutes. This time, I promise.Star Motoring