• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Pedal power

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Riding on a giant motorbike on the highway can be the perfect release valve for busy executives, write FUNKE OSAE-BROWN and OBINNA EMELIKE.

Leye Shonubi is the managing director of a local manufacturing company who loves to ride motorbike on the Lekki/Epe expressway. On a cool Saturday morning in June, he is having such a great fun releasing the valve of the previous week’s hanger over. He had work for more than 18 hours per day that week. He needs rest. The best way he thinks he can achieve that is to take a long ride on his power bike 2012 BMW S1000RR.

Some weekends, he had ridden from Lagos to the Ogere-Remo toll gate on his BMW 650cc Xcountry bike. His latest acquisition is the 2012 S1000RR. This is an adventure he insists he would not exchange for anything.

Shonubi says the trips he has taken on his power bike have sparked a fire in his friend who had long harboured the thoughts of getting out there and really discovering the Lagos and its environs by following its roads less travelled. Shonubi simply prefers the enormous freedom of riding a bike to the enclosed environment of a four-wheeled-drive car. And so, for him, his exposure to the elements, and his breathing in the smell of a motorcycle designed specifically for this kind of job is thrilling. The right way he thinks he can ease off the stress he accumulated during the week.

The S1000RR has been a huge success worldwide and it’s the best-selling 1000cc sportbike currently in the market. The design is exotic. It has a sportier look and tone that has endeared it to lovers of power bikes in the world.

Shonubi, who took an off-road skill course, has embarked on all manner of adventure on his BWM bike.

“Just having a bike and knowing that, if you really want to, you can take off on a trip around the world, acts as a sort of relief valve. Even the ride home from the office on weekends because I work on weekends gives you a chance to dream. It kind of stops you from going crazy,” says Shonubi.

Yet, regardless of whether or not an owner intends to set off on a trip of a lifetime, it soon becomes clear that using these giant machines on the type of terrain for which they are intended is not simply a matter of jumping aboard and getting on with it. And this is where an incisive training on how to ride on a power bike comes in.

When one drives pass-by, the sound it produces alone is enough to alert anyone around of its presence. It glides through even in severe traffic situations, making it easy for the rider to get to his destination before a car owner who obviously has to wait for the car nearby to move before he can move to where he is going.

It is definitely not some toy for practice by those attempting to ride any bike because it takes more than knowing how to ride a bike to be able to ride a power bike, especially for the fact that there are very superior ones with loads of in-built accessories. With the emphasis of a power bike being on speed, acceleration, braking, and manoeuvrability, there are certain elements that most motorcycles of this type will share.

Power bikes have comparatively high-performance engines resting inside a lightweight frame. The combination of these help maintain structural integrity and chassis rigidity. Braking systems combine higher performance brake pads and multi-piston callipers that clamp onto oversized vented rotors.

Suspension systems are advanced in terms of adjustments and materials for increased stability and durability. Front and rear tyres are larger and wider than tyres found on other types of motorcycles to allow higher cornering speeds and greater lean angles.

The result of this alien sport on the Nigerian terrain is that, like what is now obtainable abroad, the sales of the so-called adventure sport bikes have doubled. These are tall machines with soft suspension, long-range fuel tanks, comfortable riding positions and off-road capabilities. These qualities have endeared some executives to these machines, making BMW’s GS and Adventure models best-sellers in the brand’s two-wheeled line-up.

“While I was on campus, I wanted a power bike because I wanted the attention of the ladies, especially because some guy had it and I wanted it too. Years after I graduated, I bought a sport car and the person who sold the sport car to me said I needed to have a power bike also to make it complete! I had always nursed buying one and finally got one, of course I did not know how to ride it but I tried driving it round my area then I started moving out of there and in few days, I became good at it. I sowed the first one I had to a mentor, I got another one, sowed that one out too and after some months, got the third one for the person I bought the first one for, he never used it, he just asked me to keep ridding it because he never really rode it. It’s been a while I have ridden one but will soon do so again, it is fun ridding one but it is important to apply caution while driving one,” says Teju Babyface, a Nigerian comedian.

The love for power bikes cuts across all manner of people. Charles Oputa, popularly called ‘Charley Boy,’ may be considered too fashionable on power bike by some people. But Teju Obembe, a Lagos-based tour operator, rides on his sleek low-slung Harley on weekends when Lagos roads are a bit free of traffic jam.

The passion, satisfaction and exclusivity that come by so doing excite and suit the lifestyle of the tour promoter who sees power bike more as a status symbol and lifestyle product for successful and stylish young people like him.

Alighting from his bike while on his full regalia on one hot Saturday afternoon to have a cold Red Bull energy drink at The Palms, the satisfactory smiles that beam of the faces of the onlookers endorse his trendy lifestyle enhanced by the power bike.

He traces his love for power bike to an experience of the fastest-ever but smooth ride on a Honda Gold Wing 1500 in Hamburg, Germany in 2001 during the ITB Berlin tourism expo. The experience won his passion for power bike, but only acquired a Kawasaki Wonder 7 three years later at N700, 000. He is now trendier and goes on the sleek low-slung Harley which he coughed out a whooping N1.8 million to buy. At least, he enjoys the comfort and leads the stylish life he dreams of.

Besides, the swiftness and convenience of beating the never-ending Lagos traffic jam in the most pleasurable manner from his Lekki Phase One home through Ikoyi-Third Mainland Bridge to Gbagada to see his parents and friends thrills him a lot. Besides, it takes only lion-hearted like him to beat cars that move all most at light speed on the Third Mainland Bridge. But doing so, swerving in the most careful and yet stylish ways, according to him, attracts attention as he gainfully manipulates the bike and makes it serve his purpose. He often drives to Abuja; a town, he notes, enables a skillful rider to unleash the power of his bike at the maximum, relish in the passion of doing so and keep his style alive.

Recalling being once with a couple of bikers in a party of 30 or so, also from Lagos to Abuja and later to Minna and Gurara Falls, he notes that if not for all the pointless roadblocks, they could do Lagos-Abuja in under fours hours. Sure, the riders are lion-hearted and carry death in their pouches for hitting 270kph (167mph) earlier in the day – nearly 170mph on Nigerian roads, on a bike. The speed, he says, is not the matter, but the ability to fly higher than the skies and still land safely on the ground.

“Biking is sports for me, it is fast transport and most importantly, it enhances my lifestyle and nourishes inert passion to dare rare things which I discovered earlier in my life,” he says. He loves to ride through the town on Saturdays but at a reduced speed of 200kph because of the traffic jams, reckless motor drivers and even onlookers.

Precision, smart swerving, great observation and road manipulation skills, Obembe says, are all you need to have a smooth ride on a Lagos road, but he often engages the sleek cars in a race on the smooth and less congested Abuja roads.

To this end, some executives are looking for an alternative in what many people consider dangerous, hence see travel as becoming so easy such that the sense of adventure is not lost riding on power bike. Taking a motorcycle around rough and dirty roads is just one of the few ways executive now ease off stress.