Class ‘M’ License

Back in June I took a three-day Apex Cycle Education Basic RiderCourse to learn to ride a motorcycle. I figured that it would be a fun and interesting way to spend a weekend, if nothing else. It most-certainly was.

The course was an evening classroom session, followed by two afternoons on ~250cc trainer bikes (a Honda Rebel in my case) learning progressively difficult rider techniques. Assuming you pass the written exam and on-bike skills test, you finish the class with a certificate that serves as a temporary 30-day motorcycle license. This certificate, after a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), becomes a permanent license. I passed, and my license now has a “Class M” indication on it. In fact, I passed with the highest score in my class of twelve students (one-hundred percent on the written exam, and -2 [up to -20 is 'passing'] on the skills test).

I didn’t realize until today that I had never mentioned this on Off on a Tangent. As Facebook has become more and more of an outlet for ‘personal’ blatherings, this site has become more and more of a (dare I say it?) ‘journalistic’ outlet. There’s been less and less about my day-to-day life here. In some ways that’s a good thing, and I’m really proud of how this site has developed and grown over the years. But I probably need to do a better job of striking a balance. My lengthy diatribes on politics and religion aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but maybe I should be spending a bit more time on the other random esoterica of my life.

Anyway, I’ve been a licensed motorcyclist for nearly five months now . . . but I don’t yet have a bike. Hopefully that will be changing some time soon. Slowly-but-surely I have been putting some money aside. Melissa has been helping by enlisting my technical assistance with some of her freelance web design work, and putting my portion of those revenues into a motorcycle fund. I’ve also been setting aside the bulk of monetary gifts I’ve received (for birthdays and other holidays) for this purpose. As of right now, the bike fund is floating somewhere around $1,500—which is probably enough for a serious down payment on one of the $7,000 or $8,000 bikes I’m looking at (e.g., the Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom or the Honda Shadow Spirit 750). By next spring—based on our expected tax refunds, annual bonuses, and additional freelance work—I expect this fund to have doubled.

Of course, as a new motorcyclist I would have to worry about a lot of additional expenses beyond the bike itself. Helmets, jackets, gloves, and boots are necessary safety equipment, and they don’t always come cheap. There is also the recurring expense of motorcycle insurance, though I expect this to be quite affordable (and I expect it to be largely offset by fuel cost savings, as bikes get ~50mpg compared to my Subaru’s average of ~23mpg). All-in-all, we’re not quite in a position to buy just yet . . . but it is definitely on the horizon. In fact, I’m told that the best time to buy is in the dead of winter . . . because nobody wants to buy a motorcycle when it’s freezing cold, and the dealers are desperate to sell. It’s starting to get cold, so stay tuned ;-).

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.