I write here about my ambition to own a Zero electric motorcycle.
Well, having spent a considerable amount of time recently assessing insurance options, I think I need to give up, defeated...
I don't mind a large premium: in fact, I expect it. And I'm not averse to a substantial excess.
And the only insurance quotes I've been able to get - From Lexham Insurance - fulfil those expectations: a fully comprehensive quote is £1067, with £1500 excess.
Big numbers, but I can live with them.
So what's the problem?
Mainly it's that - presumably because (although the bike would be locked up out of sight on private property) I don't have a garage - I can only get one quote.
What happens if something changes in the rules the insurer applies, and I'm suddenly unable to insure the bike?
It can happen - I've read several posts on motorcycle forums where people have ended up in that exact situation - and I'd be left with a £13k paperweight.
Another issue is that while I'm more than happy to have an approved metal bike shed installed for security - and I've already included some serious physical security measures in the particulars of the quote - I can't get a straight answer about whether the insurer who has provided the quote (Lexham is just a broker - I'm not speaking directly to the insurer) will accept the shed as a garage, making me a more tempting proposition for insurers.
On top of which, I've read that some insurers insist that to be a "garage", a structure has to be fixed down: completely impractical in my case, and completely missing the point - these metal bike sheds (which have built-in structural steel floors) weigh up to 600lbs without the bike, so nobody's walking off with it or kicking it over.
I'd probably get one anyway - regardless of their effect on premiums, their security benefits are undeniable - but it's a significant additional outlay if I can't be confident that my insurance will last from one year to the next.
The bottom line is that there's just too much "up in the air" about my plan. And this isn't helped by the fact that the indicative quote also specifies that the insurer "might require additional security measures".
I've got no qualms about that in terms of additional physical security like disc locks, chains, ground anchors (as I say, they'd be in my future anyway, as is a tracker and security marking) but what if I need to fit an approved alarm or immobiliser?
There are no approved aftermarket alarms or immobilisers for Zeros, because Zeros don't have a 12v battery to power aftermarket alarms and immobilisers..!
It's a mad situation: a Zero is all battery, but there's no way (no way that wouldn't kill the warranty, anyway) of rigging up an always-on power supply to power aftermarket security.
I'm very disillusioned if I'm honest. I knew there would be hoops to jump through, but this feels like too much, and I can't work out how best to tie all the loose ends together.
One thing I'm thinking about is getting in touch directly with Zero UK.
I've already been talking to Zero's "UK Country Manager" - based just up the road from me, in Morpeth (he got in touch with me out of the blue to offer local bike demo testing) - to see if he can bring his/Zero's influence to bear on the mess that is insurance for Zeros in the UK. He seems keen to help in general terms, and I doubt this situation is unknown to him, so I might run my plight past him. I'm sure he wants the sale!
It's ironic that a key reason for my interest in a Zero in the first place is that - on the face of it - it would be by far the quickest, easiest way for me to end my dependency on public transport: pass my CBT, buy an 11kw Zero, slap on some L plates, and ride off into the sunset.
But this is becoming such a shitshow that I'm struggling to shake the notion that it'd probably be easier, all told, to go for a car. Yes, I'd need to pass my driving and theory tests, but - once done - I'd just be able to park in front of the house like everybody else does; and getting insurance would be no problem, relatively speaking.
It's not like I'd be buying an Aston Martin, and I won't need to spend thousands on bike sheds, massive (and monstrously expensive) bike chains/locks, trackers, tagging tools, beefed-up property security, and so on. Not to mention the bike-specific clothing and helmet(s) I'd want to upgrade to if I actually got as far as getting a bike, which would easily amount to another four figures.
At a conservative estimate, including the bike, I'm looking at a £16k outlay. I can get a lot of car for £16k, and a trip out wouldn't involve half an hour of getting dressed up and unlocking interminable amounts of locks before a wheel turned...
A car is starting to feel like a quicker, less complicated option.
Much as I prefer the idea of owning something with two wheels, there's no denying the practical advantages of four wheels, especially from a fishing point of view. Yes, I'm set up to bike to a day's fishing, but I'm limited as to the kind of fishing I'd be able to do. This isn't me, but he's a typical carp angler: have you seen how much kit is involved in a multi-night carp fishing session?
That ain't fitting on the back of a motorbike.
Plus - I won't lie - I'm so pissed-off with my next-door neighbour's habit of parking his car in front of my house even though there's plenty of room in front of his, that I want a car of my own just to stop him from doing it...
But for all that, I'm still going to ring Lexham closer to the time, and talk through my concerns at length: if I can get the right reassurances from them (I figure that once Covid-19 is behind us, everyone will be desperate for any business they can get), on balance I'm still favouring the bike option. I just won't fish many overnight carp sessions...