I can rise above it.
Me? I’ve long fancied Hanoi bloke bike, the Honda Dream, but my wife has other ideas.
“You’re no good at gears.”
Foreigners being “no good at gears” is something I’ve heard before. “Never buy a bike from a foreigner,” was one piece of advice shared between staff at my wife’s cafe. This was followed by much nodding of heads in agreement.
Then again those classified ads that start, “I’ve just ridden this baby up from Ho Chi Minh City...” always crack me up. So you screwed the arse off it for a fortnight and now you want your money back? That seems fair. Cash?
Automatic for the People
Anyway my wife and the rest of the Fabulous Nguyen Sisters think I should have a bigger, fully automatic bike. Not too big, though, as obviously being such a bad driver I wouldn’t be able to control it.
They might have a point. Last week I watched a foreigner in the gym car park spend 10 minutes getting kitted up to ride his monster. Gloves with grips, padded black jacket, matching helmet. Then he bumped, skidded and stalled his way out onto the road as the security guard and I winced and giggled in his wake.
My wife suggests I buy an Air Blade. A friend of hers has one.
“You could put your shopping under the seat.”
I don’t do any shopping. I’m not trusted to do shopping. I’d apparently only pay too much.
I put my foot down. If we’re talking automatics I definitely don’t want a Honda SH. They’re universally driven by morons. The Honda asSHole: for people with an SUV attitude but not quite the money to back it up. The Honda SHithead. I could go on.
And changing gears is a little manly, no? Going from first to fourth through the Old Quarter leaving some sleeveless, beer-sloganed backpacker in my wake. I imagine they probably think I’m pretty cool.
Sometimes older tourists point me out to their friends.
“Wow,” I bet they’re saying. “There’s a white guy on a motorbike in all this traffic. How does he do it?”
Occasionally, when they are taking pictures of the anarchy, I race into shot doing a peace sign. My wife hates that. If they catch my eye as they try to cross the road I give them a particularly courteous wider berth and a sympathetic “It’s crazy isn’t it?” smile.
This new bike must not have a footwell. Sitting astride a bike, even a fart-engined weakling, gives you an inner cool. Knees together on an automatic — I’d feel like I was trying to stop someone looking up my skirt. My current bike’s battery is knackered again and that’s great. Kick starting a motorbike is just about the most alpha male thing in the world.
Also cool, and you can try this, is stopping to chat with someone on the street and instead of taking off your helmet, just undoing the strap. For some reason it makes you feel like a military general just back from manoeuvres.
All of which suggests that a choice of motorbike has more factors to it than you might first imagine.
It’s probably just as well then that I’ll have no say in it.