“What do you mean, you don’t own a car?” The tall man in the cowboy hat asked, looking at me like I’d just landed from Mars or New York. He may have admired my sheer chutzpah, but I doubt it.
Asking why I don’t currently own a car is a question I get often. I have a Triumph Sprint ST and Suzuki GSX-R as my main means of transportation. After getting rid of my Nissan Sentra I just... didn’t replace it. At least, not with something on four wheels.
But I did still need to get around efficiently and I wasn’t ready to be transported in another soul-sucking appliance. Despite some people thinking the answer is always Miata, it isn’t. The answer is motorcycle.
I’m a strong advocate for wearing full gear as much as possible. Yes, you might have heard this philosophy called ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) because, frankly, it’s a damn good idea. In typical Dallas summer weather, I wear an Alpinestars T-GP Plus R Air Jacket, which breathes really well, except for the lower part of the arms which are not mesh.
My main helmet is a Bell RS-1 with a Transitions shield. The Bell is a big step up from my previous Icon helmet. I wear TCX X-Tour EVO Gore-Tex boots and usually regular jeans. If I’m out for a fun ride, I’ll throw on Resurgence moto jeans, or mesh motorcycle pants. There is nothing quite like having the wind in your trousers.
If it’s cold, I still ride. My record is 28 degrees Fahrenheit on a ride to work with clear roads, and no precipitation or snow. Literally “freezing my arse” weather. I just wear my Icon Device Jacket which is leather and non-perforated. I put Dainese glove liners in my short-cuff RS Taichi gloves to keep my hands warm. I also have thick motorcycle jeans with kevlar in them. I do own a pair of Fieldsheer motorcycle pants that are very warm, but make me look like I’m catching for the Texas Rangers.
Yes, sometimes, I could be considered “stranded.” But if we get snow or ice, which happens a couple of times a year, I can work from home, bum a ride with a coworker, or ride the train. If a typhoon or a yeti is on the loose, I stay inside, make s’mores and sing Kumbaya until it passes.
I work for a Dallas marketing agency for my day job. I ride to the office and do creative swearing in traffic, just like everyone else. I normally wear moto boots, regular jeans, a button-down shirt, and then my moto jacket, helmet, and gloves. Despite the Mad Men idea everyone has, we dress pretty casually unless we have client meetings.
If I really have to be presentable I’ll throw on slacks, dress shoes, and a jacket in an attempt to appear professional. I will occasionally take a Lyft to client meeting where I have to wear a jacket and tie, but I have ridden to a meeting in a suit before. I just stow the gloves and helmet in the hardbags on the bike, and walk on in. This only works if the weather is decent, though.
If it’s too hot, which is often, I’ll just Lyft or hitch a ride with a coworker, as we usually go together anyway. I just don’t want to be “the sweaty guy” in a meeting with new clients.
What I’m saying is: It is possible to go to work on two wheels and walk into a meeting without looking like you’re playing superhero.
Dressing appropriate for the office setting or important pow-wows always requires some compromises. There are not really any true motorcycle items that can pass for a suit and tie. I’d love there to be a different answer here, but it doesn’t exist. Motorcycle gear pretty much looks like motorcycle gear, always. If you’re in a more casual workplace, motorcycle commuting is totally possible.
For luggage, my Triumph Sprint ST has great hard saddlebags which swallow a full-face helmet or even my work laptop. The hardbags do affect the bike’s handling a bit, so I leave them off unless I need them. Without the hard bags on the bike, I just use a backpack like you see a lot of people doing on motorcycles or bicycles. The backpack gives me a serious case of the back sweats due to its lack venting, though. So I avoid the backpack if the weather is hot.
I also go grocery shopping on the bike and stuff whatever into the backpack or hardbags. The big side cases on the Triumph will hold over a gallon of milk and a few other small items in each one. My normal backpack would hold a couple quart jugs, a loaf of bread and a few other items.
When I shop on the bike, I’ll shop for two to three days at a time. Since I live near a supermarket, a few after-work trips to the store a week are fine. I admit that I sometimes cheat by taking my significant other’s car, though. Which, yeah, it’s easier.
I have yet to figure out how to get dry cleaning done while only using the bike though. I’m open to ideas if you have any!
Honestly, for 90 percent of the things you’d want to transport or do on a daily basis, a motorcycle is just fine.
Instead of going out in the morning for work, and starting up the car, I put on my moto gear, and start up the motorbike. If I go to lunch or wherever, I just take the bike. No one cares. You’re just a guy who rides a motorbike instead of taking a car. Since Lyft is now a thing, if I don’t want to ride I just use the app.
Living in Dallas-Fort Worth, with an area population upwards of 10 million, parking is an issue if you’re driving a car. With a bike, it’s fantastic.
I can park the bike in places cars won’t fit. This includes those half-spaces where someone parked their vehicle way over the line and you’d have to shoehorn a Miata in there. Bikes also can park on sidewalks, and often get charged less when we have to pay to park. It’s like unlocking a cheat code for big city parking. There’s been more than once my girlfriend and I went to an event, we took her car, and I wished we took the motorcycle instead.
A motorcycle can do things in traffic you simply can’t in a regular size car. Bikes are fast and maneuverable. I can hit gaps in traffic no car can. One of the best things about a sport-touring, or sport bike is the “sport” part. Light and fast. This makes lane splitting very easy as well. I’ve allegedly done it a time or two.
The overall point I’m trying to make is the idea of a motorcycle as legitimate transportation. In many countries around the world, it’s very common and seems to get overlooked here in the United States. I would really love to see that perception start to change.