Being a new father changes things. (yes, you may have noticed a slight lack of posts over the last 9+ months) Your attitude to risk changes, and you do things you might not otherwise have considered. Some folks give up motorcycling all together, in favour of a nice little car.
Well I've not quite done that, but almost...
What I'm trying to tell you is, I've bought a scooter. But not just any scooter, a 1989 Honda Helix to be exact. (Well, you don't want a boring bike, do you?) After living in the capital for 10 years, I've finally realised that for stop start traffic, an automatic is a boon. The comfy seat is a bonus when you're stuck in traffic. And did I mention the giant boot too?
And I've only got a few months left to enjoy it in Central London, before doing so gets very very expensive as TFL, in their infinite wisdom have decided that motorcycles that don't meet the Euro 3 emissions standard will also have to pay the new ULEZ charge. And at the car rate too... :(
£12.50 every day... ouch
So best to enjoy it whilst I can.
I wasn't planning on buying a Helix at all. It's all Peter Henshaw's fault. I remember reading his review, and then long term test of the Yamaha Majesty 250 back in the late 90s. He was adamant that although only a 250, the Majesty was an excellent every day motorcycle - especially if, like him, you didn't run a car.
I'd spotted a tidy Majesty 250 on eBay, that went for a reasonable price. But the Yamaha was far too sensible. The more reading I did, the more it became clear that the daddy of all these feet forward super scooters was the the Honda CN250 (the Helix).
The Helix is so ugly it almost goes back to beautiful, and it has the most amazingly retro-futuristic digital dash - and the more I read, the more convinced I became...
...so then I just had to find one. They never sold very well in the UK, as they were pretty expensive new. But one bike appeared on eBay - and whilst the mileage was high, it had a nice new stainless exhaust, a fresh MOT, and most crucially was within the M25, which made going to collect it relatively straightforward.
With heart in mouth, I watched it on eBay - and watched it get bid up - only for those bids to be retracted with just a few hours to go. I almost popped a cheeky bid on, but as I have too many cars and bikes, couldn't really justify any more toys.
Then it was listed again. Fate. With just one bid (no-one else wants a Helix clearly) it was all mine.
It was dark and cold and clear when I went to pick the bike up. On that first run, the scoot was flat out at 67 mph - which didn't seem too impressive for a 250cc single, but that was up a hill in the dark. What was impressive was the comfort. It's like riding an armchair. Between the leg shields and the giant tinted screen, I wafted back into Central London in lazy comfort.
Back in 2001 when I bought my first "big" bike, a Yamaha 600 Diversion - a friend told me "nice bike Steve, but what are you going to do when you have your midlife crisis?"
Clearly buying a boat of a 1980s scooter is the answer.
Of course, this means I have a scooter as a winter bike, to protect my more valuable classic MZs from the ravages of the winter, and not just 'cos I've gone soft.
That's the plan anyway. However, a 1989 scooter with 72000 miles on the clock will probably still need some fettling. (the main beam light came on when I hit a bump on the way home - and it won't turn off - and I don't think the temperature gauge is working either...) We will see.
Here's to more Helix adventures in 2019...