So you’re thinking of starting The Knowledge and are making a list of essentials:
Map check; Pen and paper check; List of routes across London check; Book of places to find check.
But there is one essential that no self respecting knowledge boy (or girl) can do without: A Honda C90.
Stick a clipboard on the handlebars, affix a map to it and you’re away.
So successful are these bikes that the Honda Cub is the most successful motorcycle model in history, with more than 60 million sold worldwide this little bike has made a huge contribution to Honda’s sales and profit. Honda used the slogan ‘you meet the nicest people on a Honda’ as they broke into the English speaking world (say that to a Knowledge student on a wet Sunday afternoon). It’s hardly surprising so many have been sold, with its simple 4 stroke engine, and only the most basic of controls, Honda have produced a machine that’s cheap, reliable, and easy to repair. As long as you keep the oil topped up (as cabbie.blog learned to his cost) this bike seems to go on forever.
But the beauty for your Knowledge student lies in the bike’s manoeuvrability. Stop anywhere while checking a particular place, you don’t obstruct the traffic. Hey! You don’t even have to worry about the gears, its automatic. With its neat little white box behind the seat for sandwich/thermos (you’ll certainly need that) and other essential paraphernalia.
Believe me, a day spent on The Knowledge you could easily travel 100 miles, all for less than one gallon of petrol.
These machines work everywhere: London in the rain, in Delhi sometimes with 2 or 3 passengers, and in the heat of the African desert.
Knowledge students sometimes put clipboards the size of a kitchen table on the handlebars; I have even seen some with reading lights attached to assist night study.
But these ubiquitous little machines have the road holding of a blancmange balanced on ice, brakes with the efficiency of a child’s tricycle and can go from 0-60 in about 5 minutes with a tailwind. But the worst fault of all is they are invisible to drivers of 4x4s. These cretins of the road think these machines are push bikes and pull out in front of you as you travel at 30mph towards them, and they do not hear you coming, as one courier with a 400cc bike once said to me “you need a bit of noise to wake up those bastards”.
But for all its faults, your humble C90 will be still in production long after other volume car manufacturers have consumed all the Government handouts thrown at them and then gone bust taking their debt with them. Just like DeLorean.
One last tip: Get some warm clothes it’s bloody cold on a C90!