AdviceLife on bikes

The newest bike category: U-STAB

Marc argues that adventure bikes might just be the answer to Britain’s deteriorating and increasingly embellished road surfaces. He recommends we all invest in an Urban Stealth Tactical Assault Bike. U-STAB, for short.

In 1985 me and my mate Tarquin rode up a country lane and noticed a stile that had rotted away. We managed to get our bikes over the plank-step-thing-part and into a grassy field. The wheelspins on Tarquin’s Z650 and my GS550 were long and terrifying, we fell off a lot, but soft wet mud was pretty forgiving to land in. We nearly died from laughter-induced rib injuries and agreed that if we could find knobbly tyres to fit our road bike sized rims, then this activity wouldn’t be quite as impractical as we initially thought. Bikes were either road or trail bikes back then. There were road tyres or knobblies and nothing in between. By the way, there’s a perfectly good reason we used to do stupid stuff like that. We were stupid. And trespassing on private property is bad, m’kay?

I’ve always said that you can ride any bike anywhere, it’s just a question of how much difficulty you want to face. But people must have followed mine and Tarquin’s aspirations by adding longer suspension and semi knobblies to larger engined bikes and taken them off-road. Because now, in spite of copping a fair bit of hate, Adventure Bikes are quite the fashion.


The hate seems to stem from an idea of credibility. Buying an adventure bike and then not going around the world is regarded as some sort of crime, marking the owner as a pretentious wannabe. Well, fuck that idea. Even if you’re not planning to go round the planet, there are still plenty of good reasons to ride one.

You have to be quite adventurous to take to the wet, oily, potholed roads of this country. Speed bumps, broken manhole covers, traffic calming bollards and those strange bulbous mini-roundabouts are almost as hazardous as a trail through a developing country. Aggressive, gridlocked city traffic in the UK is only slightly more civilised than that of Rome or Mumbai.

All the factors that shaped the evolution of adventure bikes for rough unpredictable terrain make them perfectly suited to our hostile, disintegrating road infrastructure.

This guy shows how adventurous you need to be to hit the mean streets of Somerset.

Maybe a little rebranding might be in order. If we ditch the ‘Adventure’ label and call them Urban Stealth Tactical Assault Bikes, U-STAB for short, then maybe they’ll lose the rep for being an old man’s bike. What self-respecting angsty yoof wouldn’t want to shout ‘fuk da popo’ from the seat of a sexy matt black U-STAB?

Next, Marc takes this really quite seriously and recommends some cheap U-STAB bikes.


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The Author

Marc Ryan

Marc Ryan

A bike nut since he was 17, Marc was forced to lay off the bikes for over 10 years, on doctor's orders. Finally given the nod he thought he'd ease himself back in gently on an XL 250 but promptly bought an SV650 which made him shit his pants for the first month.
He also writes his own random meanderings at his own blog,