Name: Chris Blofield
Commute: 40 miles a day
Machine: Kawasaki ZX6R
My wife passed her driving test in 2005 and she wanted a car. I mentioned to her about me getting a bike for commuting and she loved the idea. Only two tyres to replace, cheap tax and insurance…
I passed my CBT and bought myself a Honda CG 125. What can I say, a bulletproof bike and 200 plus miles to a tank of gas. But during the winter I found the bike lacking in power to pull through the winds. I decided to take my big bike test, I passed first time – although I thought I’d failed because during the controlled stop I locked the rear wheel, released the brake pressure and re-applied the brake. The examiner asked how I thought I got on and I explained that I thought I’d failed due to the controlled stop. Thankfully he was a good examiner and explained that it was still a controlled stop as I had full awareness and control of the bike and he passed me.
Next on the list a big bike. Kawasaki GPZ500S. Not the best bike to look at but with it being a parallel twin it wasn’t too powerful, so was a great bike to learn on (and fall off). Cheap to repair all the little dings as well. Then I bought a Suzuki SV650 Sport. Wow what a bike I loved this one. 72bhp, not the most powerful but being a V-twin engine the grunt was awesome. I changed the sprockets, one tooth less on the front and two more on the rear, removed the restriction in the first three gears and boy did the bike punch out of corners. For a budget bike small changes made a massive difference. I took this bike on my first venture into track riding. I wanted to understand the bike and myself without having to worry about traffic, manholes etc. What I learned on track I could directly apply to my road riding, things like counter steering, body positioning, relaxation, smooth braking and throttle work. Alas I did say I loved that bike but I was involved in a road collision with a BMW X5, guess who won? The bike was written off. I had bumps and bruising but was otherwise ok.
To replace it I bought a Kawasaki ZX6R Ninja, wow again. An inline-4 this time but where the SV had bottom end grunt this felt flat but take it up past 10k on the rev counter and the bike comes alive and makes your eyes water. I still have this bike now, the only problem I’ve really had with the bike is the front brake callipers crud up badly and if not kept clean you will score your disks and warp them. I do go through a set of pads every three months but I am very heavy on the front brakes. This photo was taken on a track day where I got one to one tuition from Niall Mackenzie.
Get the best you can afford and always wear your safety gear regardless of the weather. Nothing bugs me more than seeing riders in shorts and flip-flops. I remember how much it hurt falling off my BMX as a child and the gravel rash I got at 10mph, never mind 30mph or more. My solicitors advised me to buy a SHARP rated helmet of 5 stars. He said if I get injured and suffer a brain injury the amount of compensation might be reduced if I used a lower rated helmet. I also use Oxford Hot Hands in winter and bar muffs when it’s really cold. I ride every day, except in snow and cover around 9,000 miles a year.
Many commuters use a scooter for their trip to work and back but Chris prefers a bike for the road and a highly tuned Piaggio Zip for the racetrack. He competes in the British Scooter Sport Organisation (BSSO) championships at tracks around the country. Chris has been busy perfecting his Zip for the last three years and said “I started scooter racing when a friend said I should try it, I said ‘you can’t race them’. So he showed me some YouTube videos from the BSSO, I never laughed so hard. I instantly thought that looks like a Buzz and it started from there. I bought a standard Piaggio Zip 50cc and went to a test day at Mallory. How embarrassing it was being lapped three to four times a session, standard they are not! That’s when my race Zip build started. Three years in the making and I think I can finally say it’s down to my skills holding me back now, not the scoot”.
If you want more info on racing a scooter have a look at: http://www.scooterracing.org.uk