Judging by the amount of times you see something flashing by you as you try to crawl along in Moscow traffic these days, riding a motorbike has become trendy in Moscow. For trafficjam sitters, bike riders are the object of envy. How do you get to be a biker?
Text by Elena Krivovyaz
Photo Alina Ganenko
If you already know how to ride a moped or a scooter, maybe it’s time to take the next step and buy a motorbike. Prices vary from $2,000 to $25,000 and much more for some professional models. It takes a day to get used to a moped, but you need much longer to learn how to ride a motorbike. Your best choice is to sign up for a driving school (about $400 for a full course). You need to get a category A driving license to drive motorbikes in Russia, which is easier than getting a full driving license. Road rules for motorcycles and for cars are the same, although you wouldn’t know from the way that some of our twowheeled brethren drive. Two wheels provide a lot of maneuverability but double or even triple the probability of having an accident. This is the main reason why biking is catching on in Moscow but you don’t see as many bikers here as in other world capitals. The weather also plays a big part in the decision making process of whether to buy a bike or not.
“Frequent falls are an expensive thing,” said Alexander Borisov, a professional biker and motorbike-club and service “Garage. dj” owner. “But you won’t fall when you’re fully confi dent of your skills. The only thing you shouldn’t do on your bike is to cross the tramways at a steep angle – a fall is inevitable,” warns Alexander.
Find your kind
The right choice of a bike is very important as diff erent models and types have their own merits and demerits. In general, all bikes fall into three types: road bikes, sports bikes, tourist bikes and hybrids.
Road bikes are the classic type of all bikes and the safest by far if you are a beginner. Your first wobbles and blunders won’t be so fatal with a road bike. The main disadvantages are an absence of windbreaks and cowls. One recommended model is the Honda CB 400. When you’re skilled enough you may feel this kind of bike a little boring. Maybe it’s time to move on to a sports bike, whose main merits are perfect controllability and amazing brakes. But seats on such racing horses are not very convenient, and take some time to get used to. The plastic cases on the bodies of such bikes are fragile and expensive to repair. If you’re not a professional rider, you may fall even at a low speed… If a sports bike is you, try the Yamaha R-6.
If you are not planning to become a stunt-rider, live more than a year and do long-distance trips, a touring bike is what you need. They are comfortable, easy to control, dynamic and have good braking; many models being are supplied with ABS. The windbreaks on such bikes are highly developed. But the disadvantages are also serious: they are expensive to repair and heavy. Probably not the best companion to Moscow trafficjams. A recommended model is the Kawasaki ZZR-400.
Hybrids are a universal type of motorbike fit for both city and countryside use. They are not used for sports competitions or acrobatic feats. Hybrids are comfortable and undemanding and not so prone to accidents - that’s why they’ re recommended for novices. But remember, hybrids are not convenient if you are shorter than 5.5 feet.
The most popular bikers’ hangout is Vorobievy Gory, up on the hill by the university, overlooking Moscow. This is where almost all Moscow bike owners, whether they be amateurs or professionals, gather and then proudly ride in two or three lines around Moscow following a fixed route. They start their exotic gatherings usually on the first weekend of April. The second well-known place for all bikers is a motorbike track in Myachkovo Airdrome in suburban Ramenskoye, to the southeast of Moscow. This is also used by professionals for their risky stunts.
Selection of motorbike manufacturers
Panavto (Панавто) – official distributor of Yamaha motorbikes and mopeds
MKAD, 50th km
Active Motors – official dealer of Honda bikes and mopeds
MKAD, 26th km, Bldg. 5/3
Bikeland – official dealer Suzuki bikes and mopeds
They have three huge stores:
- on Mozhaiskoye Shosse, on the way out of Moscow from Kutuzovsky Prospekt
- near metro station Voikovskaya, Kosmonavta Volkova Ulitsa, 10.
- near metro station Schelkovskaya, Schelkovskoye Shosse, 100A.