Life on bikes

Passing the test and upgrading to a bigger bike

In her very personal series on becoming a biker Donna Powell, AKA @lonelyTWAT (Two Wheels And That) graduates from her 125cc Honda to something with a bit more get-up-and-go.

I had spent nearly two years commuting on my 125 and my CBT was due to run out. During these years I had faired reasonably well, with only one off at a roundabout.

The bike ‘done good’ too, considering the weather we had gone through, which consisted mostly of rain, wind and little sunshine. The plus side of all of this was my riding confidence had grown hugely, and although feeling nervous, it was about time to put my ‘big girl pants’ on and get my full license.

My theory test was booked in and I sailed through it no problems. I booked my DAS in with Exceptional Rider Training again. Rather embarrassingly I confused the date on my CBT certificate and it only gave me a week to get my license. Luckily, I was able to book my MOD 1 and MOD 2 training together. They also let me do my CBT again on the 1st day in case I had any issues with the training.

The training school were fantastic, parking me on a lowered Kawasaki ER-5, a very easy bike to ride and extremely comfortable, but unfortunately, I had put way too much pressure on myself to get both my modules complete in the timeframe. Following several meltdowns, while trying to ride through cones and dropping the bike on a U-turn, it was time for my MOD 1 test.

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It’s no surprise I failed but funny enough, not on the U-turn. It was the dreaded ‘swerve manoeuvre test’ which isn’t as scary as it sounds. You ride at a set speed and then have to swerve to avoid an obstacle while remaining at that speed, I failed for not maintaining the speed. Very frustrating but I did pass the second time around.

It was a similar story for my MOD 2 where I failed the first time but passed on the second attempt. It was truly one of the happiest days of my life when I passed and, with a Cheshire cat grin, I drove down the motorway with my instructor, back to the training centre.

But with the cost of the training – especially as I had to re-do my tests – now wasn’t the time to get my big bike.

In the last year, I had also met a man (Rob) and fallen in love, very cliché I know. On holiday we found ourselves falling in love with the west country too, and before we knew it, we had packed all our possessions, including my bike, into a van and were on our way to start our new lives in Looe, Cornwall. It was from here that my bike adventures would really take off.

I needed some repair work doing on the bike and was told about a place fairly local to me. I went for a little ride and just so happened to stumble across a motorcycle garage (although not the one I was looking for) run by a gent called Dave. He was a fellow biker and became a mate straight away.

He was the first person I got to know in the bike community down here, and he was just a really nice chap to get along with, quickly becoming my go-to bike guy for many years after.

Upgrading to a bigger bike
©Donna Powell/@LonelyTWAT. Dave – Looks like a nice bloke

A few months later I was ready to get my big bike, so my Honda was put up for sale. In hindsight, had she been sold with the links I now have in the bike community, it may have been a lot easier and I would possibly have received more money. But I found her hard to sell, and because I wanted a quick sale at the time – and was rather clueless on how to do it – I ended up going to a motorbike dealership and got only half of what I had originally paid.

Ed: Should have read our tips on how to sell a bike quickly

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I spotted the Yamaha Fazer 600cc for sale in a local newspaper: a 2003 model with fairly low mileage, lowered and with just one previous owner. The asking price was only a few hundred more than what I was selling my 125cc for, so it would be ideal.

Again, I did my research and reviews rated it as a reliable starter for a ‘proper bike’. The bike was on sale fairly locally, so I rung the owner and agreed to go and look at it. As soon as I pulled up alongside, my immediate thought was the bike is huge and there is no way I would be able to ride something like that, just pure terror!

It wasn’t until the owner walked out that made me think twice, he wasn’t much taller than me and then I understood why the bike had been lowered.

But she (yes, she again) was a very smart looking bike, in excellent condition and had all the service history. The owner’s reason for selling was he just wasn’t able to get out much anymore. I was offered to take her for a test ride but chickened out; I was too scared to go for a ride yet.

Even without riding here as soon as I sat on the seat I knew that she would be mine. It just felt right, very comfortable and manageable for my height. I rung my mechanic friend Dave as he had a trailer and could also check the bike over to make sure she was in good order (something I always recommend when buying second-hand).

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Once he gave the all clear, I haggled the price down and was able to get it down to a similar price as the one I was selling. There you go just like that I had bought a second-hand Yamaha Fazer 600cc 2003.

Upgrading to a bigger bike
©Donna Powell/LonelyTWAT – The Fazer, bought and now used for country-wide trips

It was a good choice for me to get the bike taken back by trailer as I didn’t know the roads well and hadn’t ridden anything bigger than the 125cc. My first stint I wanted to be short and something I could take my time with.

That journey would be from the garage back home. I was a bag of nerves when pulling out of Dave’s garage on my ‘big girl’ bike and could tell he was nervous too…

But it was absolutely awesome, what had I been worried about! The easy bit was done. Gaining confidence not just with my new bike but socially would prove to be the hard part.

Next, Donna finds she needs more biking buddies but also needs a bit of courage to go find them.

You can also follow @LonelyTWAT on her personal blog: https://motorcycletravels.site/

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The Author

Donna Powell

Donna Powell

Donna AKA @LonelyTWAT (from the Two Wheels and That club) has been biking since passing her CBT in 2010. She's pretty obsessed with the biking lifestyle and currently rides a Yamaha Fazer 600. Nowt wrong with that.