18th February 2000 at 00:00
This week's guest psychologist is David Chesham, lecturer in behavioural sciences at the University of Sheffield, government adviser on motorcycling safety and self-confessed biker.

"Owning a motorcycle says more about a person than driving a particular car. First, motorcycles have long been associated with the notion of freedom both from the stresses and strains of congested traffic, and from the conventions and standards of normal life. Anyone who rides a motorcycle identifies themselves with rebellion and an unconventional lifestyle.

"Second, motorcycles are dangerous. Motorcyclists are about 20 times more likely to be involved in an injury accident, although one-third of these will be caused by other road users - when you see a motorcyclist riding any machine larger than a moped, you are looking at someone who is willing to risk their life for a personal sense of freedom.

"This is a Honda VFR750, a bike which appeals to people who want their speed tempered with a moderate amount ofcomfort. It's a bike for the30-something who wants a machine that impresses and can still get between A and B without a speeding ticket. The styling is meant to appeal to the affluent young - people who are unimpressed with the 'custom' style (as in a Harley Davidson) favoured by the 40 and50-somethings.

"The covered pillion seat is a fairly novel feature which suggests that style is an important factor in this rider's choice of bike. It also gives the impression that the bike is more of an all-out race replica than the rather sedate mid-range sports tourer that it is. Once again, looks take precedenceover practicality. Having said this, however, the VFR750 is still a far more practical machine than either a mid-range crotch rocket like the Fireblade or a larger capacity full-featured sports tourer like the Honda Blackbird.

"This is the perfect choice for someone on a limited budget who wants a mobile lifestyle statement ('I'm still young and ever-so-slightly dangerous') that can actually be used for commuting and for the odd weekend break with their partner on the pillion."

The bike belongs to Sarah Howes, vice-principal of Sir Jonathan North Community College, Leicester.

"The danger of riding a motorbike lives with me and, as I grow older, I am more and more aware, and scared, of the risks. Consequently my love of speed has died.

"However, the notions of freedom, rebellion and unconventional lifestyle hold true. My family and friends would agree with the suggestion that I am unconventional, and 'still young and ever-so-slightly-dangerous' is a good reflection of the way I like to feel. This is counteracted by the fact that I am 43, have a responsible job and two young daughters.

"I have ridden motorbikes for 20 years and the Honda VFR 750 is the first decent machine I have been able to afford. It is shared with my partner and we do look forward to the future when we will be able to use it for the odd weekend break. However, the practicalities of having a family and carrying marking to and from school mean I also use my other vehicle - a Ford Escort!"


Want to know what your mode of transport says about you? E-mail harvey.mcgavin@tes.co.uk

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