Saturday, June 30, 2018

Interview With A Biker - Timothy Bowker By Caroline Fisette

Nina The Ninja - Kawasaki 400
In today’s world, most people use the same method of transportation, cars. Did they ever think about using something smaller and more efficient, like motorcycles? Probably. Then why isn’t there many people on those bikes? The real problem is the image that people have about motorcycling; dangerous. Truth is, bikes may be dangerous depending on the biker but also the method of protection being used. Like cars, some drivers may be dangerous, at that point, there is no difference except 2 wheels and the body of the vehicle. My interview is with Timothy Bowker, a young biker who is studying at Bishop’s University. I hope this interview will help others get a better understanding on the advantages of motorcycle despite its few disadvantages.

RIP Nina The Ninja :(

Me: What motivated you to start riding a motorcycle? 

Tim: I wanted to start riding motorcycles because it seemed like a fun way to get from one place to another.  Since I also did a lot of driving for my summer job at the time, I also liked the idea that it was a more fuel-efficient way of getting around.  The savings in gas didn’t recuperate the additional licensing and insurance costs but that didn’t matter as much to me.

Me: What criteria did you use to purchase your first motorcycle?

Tim: Since I started saving up for the motorcycle about a year before I actually took the necessary courses, it gave me a lot of time to properly research what type of bike I wanted to ride.  Since I am 6’1, the main factor that I had to use was whether or not I could comfortably fit on the bike.  As a tall rider, your safest bet is to pick a bike from one of three categories: Adventure bike, Dual Sport, or Cruiser.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel drawn towards any of the bikes in these categories.  So I found a niche bike that had only been produced for 2 years in Canada; the Kawasaki Ninja 400.  Most people have preconceived notions about ninjas, even if they have never actually been on one.  They are seen as really fast bikes with an aggressive riding position that all come in the typical Kawasaki green.  This bike couldn’t have been further from that, and it met all of my requirements.  It was relatively comfortable for taller riders, fuel efficient, and had a very relaxed riding position.  Since it checked all of the boxes, I started looking for one, and very shortly after found one for a very good deal.

Me: Did your family support you when you first started riding a motorcycle? How about now?

Tim: My parents absolutely opposed the idea of me getting a motorcycle.  They saw it as an expensive and very dangerous hobby.  This is despite the fact that my father has 2 siblings that have also ridden motorcycles for decades.

Me: Did you ever have a motorcycle accident? 
If so, can you briefly describe what happen?

Tim: On my first day with my full motorcycle license, I totalled my bike driving home from work in the dark at about 9pm.  I was on a stretch of unlit highway going 90km/h when a deer jumped out of the ditch and into the middle of my lane about 15 feet in front of me.  In the fraction of a second that it took to get to the deer there was no time to react. I hit the deer right in the middle of its torso and went down into what is called a high-side crash.  This means that instead of the bike being on its side with me behind it, I was in front of the bike sliding head first down the highway.  This is a really bad situation to be in most of the time because it means that you can’t see what you are sliding into, like oncoming traffic.  Luckily there was no traffic.  After sliding close to 60 yards (thanks to the slight downhill that I was on) I came to a stop with no broken bones or any real injuries to speak of.  The bike was totalled, and I killed the deer, almost ripping it into 2 pieces because of how fast I was going when I made contact, but I was somehow fine.  This is a good time to emphasize the importance of always wearing motorcycle gear, since I would have had severe road rash on the entire left side of my body if I hadn’t been wearing any.

Me: Did the event change your mind set on motorcycling? Explain!

Tim: The event in no way changed my mindset about riding motorcycle, since it was a once in a lifetime event.  I would say that the only thing that changed is that in the future I will be more cautious about driving on unlit roads at night.   

Me: Are there any measures you can take to prepare yourself for an accident?

Tim: Yes, avoid them.  Most accidents, although not all, can be avoided with proper preparation.  This involved knowing how to handle the motorcycle, as well as being aware of how other people drive on the road.  Carefully watching your surroundings at all times can easily save you by allowing you to predict certain things.  Aside from that, as I already said, always wear your motorcycle gear.  If an accident is unavoidable, its always preferable to walk away from it with as little damage to yourself as possible.

Me:  What do you think about the stereotypes that people have on you, bikers?

Tim: That depends on the type of stereotypes that they have, and on what type of bikers they have them.  At the end of the day, some of the stereotypes are fully warranted, and some aren’t.  But either way there is very little that I can do to change peoples’ mind about bikers, so really the only thing to do is ride your bike responsibly and be aware that you share the road with others.  I couldn’t be further from the stereotypical Harley rider even if I wanted to be, so those ones don’t apply to me anyways.  The stereotypical sport bike rider also doesn’t resemble me very much since I have never had a desire to go really fast on a bike, and even if I wanted to I drove a bike with a very underwhelming engine capacity.

Me: What does motorcycling brings to you? What is so empowering about it?

Tim: Motorcycling doesn’t really bring me anything in particular.   I decided to get into it because it seemed like a fun and convenient way to get around.  Because of this, I don’t really find anything empowering about it either.  That being said, it is nice to get a look into the tight knit community of riders. When you encounter other riders on the road, there is an instant connection, one which manifests itself in various ways.  Even if you are simply sitting at a red light waiting to go, if there is a biker beside you they will never fail to start up a quick conversation with you about your bike.  The instant sense of community is something that is really interesting to see and be a part of.

Me: In the future, is there a trip you would like to do along with your motorcycle?

Tim: Most of my relatives on one of the sides of my family are from Ontario, including a couple that ride motorcycles.  So, I plan on riding to Ontario several times each summer to visit.

Me: If you had an advice or something to say to bikers or future bikers, what would you want to tell them?

Tim: I would say that its important to wait until you have the money available to start riding a bike.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wait until you have a full-time job, it just means that you should plan ahead so that you can fully enjoy the experience.  The mandatory course alone will cost a little over $1,000, and that’s before you have to pay for any of the tests at the SAAQ.  Then you will have to buy, license, and insure a bike.  Last but not least, motorcycle gear is not cheap, so planning ahead allows you to find some really good deals on helmets, jackets, etc.
If someone is still interested in buying a bike after being aware of the expenses, I can attest to the fact that it is well worth the money.  I even heard that there may be a prof that teaches at Champlain that offers to take his bike out with “newbies” that have just bought their first bike and teach them some stuff that will help keep them alive. In conclusion, bikes are an interesting mode of transportation. Although it may be initially expensive to get a bike, there is always an alternative to save up money and find deals. Motorcycles also allow bikers to create connections within themselves. An accident can happen to anyone, the method of protection for a bike is what is important. Lastly, people often criticize bikes easily and forget about all the good sides. There are some bad sides, but not enough to take away the joy of all the good sides!


I would like to say a big thank you to Timothy Bowker for letting me share his story, interview him, giving me a lot of content, his time and help. It was a pleasure to cooperate with him and to get more knowledge on bikers.

About Caroline Fisette

Caroline Fisette studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With a Biker - Timothy Bowker was written as part of a class activity for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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