The first column of 2012 sees two bundles of good news from Those Who Sit In Power Over Us, ongoing bewilderment on How Insurance Works and asks the question "Could Honda have saved a bundle on R&D and just brought back the original CBR600F?"
Good news item one: Transport for London (TfL) announced motorcycles will have access to bus lanes on a permanent basis on the majority of the capital's Red Routes from 23 January, 2012. The two trials showed reduced journey times and environmental benefits with no significant safety issues.
Ben Plowden, TfL's Director of Better Routes and Places, said": "The results of our trials show that the Mayor's policy of providing access to bus lanes in London has delivered strong benefits for motorcyclists and in terms of improving the efficiency of the road network."
An important thing to remember is this applies to TfL red routes. Local authorities still have the choice to allow or refuse access, but this a promising development.
The other good news comes from the Government, who are to remove the annual requirement to re-SORN motorcycles taken off the road.
Currently, Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) declarations are valid for 12 months only. But under the new scheme, motorists could declare their vehicle as SORN "until further notice", simply taxing the vehicle as normal when they wanted to put the vehicle back on the road.
Cut back on the paperwork and remove a needless step. Well done HMG.
New year, time to renew the bike insurance. On the day I decide to call my insurance agent for a renewal quote, they email it to me. Last year; £140. Ths year: £210! Now OK I am now a hardened criminal type (3 points on the licence), but this only saw another Tenner added to my wife's renewal. Now I used to be in the insurance game (click here for my insurance article on Motobke.co.uk - praised by a certain major broker as "The best bike insurance article I have read", and I know the first rule is: always get another quote - leverage is a useful thing.
So I make use of technology and visit a certain Eastern European furry animal (or rather the comparison site he would like you to use), fill in my details and let the internet do the walking. And the results are very interesting. I can knock serious chunks off the price. But the first few are with companies/brokers I've never heard of (and I still know enough about the insurance market to know the bigger players). But I spot a quote from a major player who I know are a good, strong, reputable company that provides excellent service. And it is £50 cheaper. So I call my existing company to give them a chance to match or beat the price.
Me: "Hello, you sent me your renewal price. Seems rather excessive"
Insurance Agent "Well prices have gone up"
Me: "Not by a third. Even with the speeding points, that is a lot"
IA: "That isn't from your existing insurer, they wanted £300!"
So I point out I have an alternative quote and name the broker, but not the insurer (don't make life too easy!) Insurance Agent says she will get more quotes and call me back. When she calls, the best she can get is just under £200 and names the insurer. Given the price, I have to go with the new broker. And find out the insurer they are using is the same one that wants £60 more with my existing broker.
Just how does that work? Same company, who will use the same rating tables. They have the same information, so should come up with the same price. But Hell, I'll take the lower cost.
And I get a free meerkat... ;o)
In 1987, Honda launched a new sportbike, the CBR600F. They knew it was good, but no-one could have predicted just how successful it would be. Two decades later it was still being made, evolving and improving as the years went by.
In 2006, the world had moved on. Being an excellent all-rounder was no longer good enough. In the mid-sized sports category, the demand was now to be totally performance focussed. 600cc bikes were no longer road bikes with a sporting angle, but race-biased machines with a nod towards road use. Honda met the challenge with the CBR600RR.
Sadly, this led to the demise of the CBR600F: 20 years and half a million bikes sold worldwide came to an end.
Five years later,and the world had moved again. Riders were now starting to look more at their bikes being able to do a spot of everything. Sales of the once-dominant sports machines was falling away dramatically. Honda saw this and brought back the CBR600F -but not the bike that they killed off in 2006, but brand-new machine based around the Hornet (which was in itself originally modeled on the CBR600F -loop, anyone?) This made me wonder, could they simply have brought back the original CBR600F, saved all that R&D work and got back to life.
The original CBR is every bit as relevant now as it was in 1987, all the way up to 2006. You could do a lot, lot worse than own one.
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