Remember Steve Bond? So do we. He wrote for CMG for years and then, last year, vanished from his home in Oshawa. Spontaneous human combustion, we thought, but rumoured sightings suggested he went west to live with the sasquatches and hippies somewhere near the Pacific.
Now, suddenly, he’s reappeared and seems to be alive and well and riding a KLR650 around the Vancouver area. We thought we’d fired him for gross neglect of duty and disregard for authority, but he told us to stuff that somewhere we don’t want to mention, so he’s back writing again as a regular columnist for Canada Moto Guide. – Ed.
Last summer, after living most of our lives in Ontario, my significant other and I pulled the plug and moved to British Columbia. Cherie and I were sick of shoveling snow and how winter seemed to drag on well into May most years.
Southern Ontario gets three months of good motorcycling weather, book ended by a month of “decent” and anything else is “sketchy” or “no way, Jose.” BC’s milder temperatures mean a longer riding season and after almost a year on the West Coast, I’ve discovered motorcycling in BC is definitely different than Ontario. And it’s awful – just awful.
These are the straight facts about southern British Columbia:
Fact: Speed limits on most two lane roads here are 90 km/h but many are 100 km/h. Freeways are 110 with some highways posted as 120. This is foolhardy and dangerous. Advantage Ontario, with the much saner absolute maximum of 100 km/h and 80 on two-lane roads.
Fact: In BC and the rest of the world, motorcyclists riding solo can use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, but only one person on the bike is hardly a high occupancy of it. Ontario requires us to carry a passenger; it’s the only jurisdiction anywhere to get this right and hopefully others will follow suit.
Fact: In BC’s lower mainland where I live, you can pretty much ride all year long as the winter season is mild and wet – the “wet” ranging from a light drizzle to a mop in the face. The coldest temp we saw last winter in Maple Ridge was minus two and there were several days in December and January (the two coldest months) that warmed into double digits, which means the term “winter storage” has been struck from my vocabulary. Advantage Ontario then, as the longer riding season here incurs extra costs due to increased tire wear, more frequent oil changes and more fossil fuel use. With no winter storage, the fuel stabilizer and battery tender industry is non-existent here – more lost jobs.
Fact: With no freezing and thawing, BC’s roads are mostly very smooth, resulting in a degradation of skills as riders here have no reason to practice evasive maneuvers dodging potholes, bumps or frost heaves.
Fact: All liability insurance in BC is through ICBC, a provincial agency, and you pay when you get your plate. I registered my bike here in September of 2015 and the yearly liability was about $150 more than Ontario, including cost of the plate. Advantage Ontario, although if you amortize the cost over the longer riding season…
Fact: In Ontario, insurance coverage for the full year is mandatory, so you’re paying for four or five months of sitting. In BC, you can opt for six month’s coverage, three months or whatever term you’d like. Advantage Ontario – less paperwork.
Fact: Back east, collision and comprehensive coverage for my KLR was exorbitant, with a $1,000 deductible. I only paid for liability insurance. Here, I pay an extra $150 a year for collision and comprehensive, and on top of that, I get the replacement cost of the bike AND accessories with $500 deductible, a $1,000 allowance for riding gear with $250 deductible, emergency roadside assistance, lock re-keying of up to $1,000, travel protection including $750 to get the bike back home and $1,500 for additional living expenses with zero deductible. Advantage Ontario – BC is sucking an extra $150 out of my wallet that I wasn’t paying before.
Fact: BC is mostly mountainous, and with that come roads with curves. Lots of curves. From my home in Oshawa, it was a two-hour ride to an area with any kind of twisties. Here, there are so many corners, it’s exhausting just to go out for an afternoon and a day trip requires having the paramedics on speed dial. Ontario has so many nice straight sections where a rider can unwind and relax after a 15 minute up-and-back through the favourite corners.
Fact: In the ten months we’ve lived here, I’ve only seen police radar traps seven or eight times, which proves the roads are unsafe. Contrast this with Ontario where there are provincial, municipal and regional police agencies hiding behind every mailbox, bridge abutment and bush, serving and collecting, keeping the roads safe. Advantage Ontario.
Fact: There are fewer bugs here. Summer rides in Ontario require frequent stops and an ice scraper to clear your visor and windscreen. Every coffee stop turned into a “let’s gross out the other patrons” show as visors are spat upon and wiped off to remove accumulated entomology. On a ride through the Okanagan a few weeks ago, at each gas stop, it took a while but I managed to find and then clean off both bugs. Less bug cleaning equals more riding which, as we’ve seen before, just wears out tires and uses more gas. Advantage Ontario.
Fact: In BC, every off-road venture is a potential X-Ray situation that can ruin a perfectly good femur. Slide off the trail and it could be a 200-metre terminal drop into a creek bottom and the only way you’re coming out is wearing a toe tag. If you take a casual approach, a day trip can quickly turn ugly and pretty soon, your picture is on milk cartons or stapled to telephone poles with, “Have you seen this rider?” notations.
So, for motorcyclists, BC roads have way too many corners and irresponsible speed limits, riders have flexible insurance options, and the riding season wears out motorcycles and uses fuel. As well, government regulations give us a false sense of being treated as something other than an ATM or second-class citizens.
If I’m allowed one subjective comment, I’d say BC’s scenery might be nice if you get those damn snow-capped mountains out of the way. Advantage Ontario as I really like cornfields, urban sprawl and pine trees.