I’d like to see the price of fuel increase

Posted on September 26th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Australia is much too cheap. In fact, it wouldn’t worry me unduly if it doubled in price tomorrow.

I’ve always been puzzled why as a society we place such a poor premium on the value of fuel. Not only is it so low-cost that much use is frivolous (and that’s fine: I get lots of enjoyment from driving), but pricing it cheaply also sends the wrong messages to car manufacturers and consumers.

In fact, the major pressure on car manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency isn’t coming from fuel consumption per se, but from emissions legislation – the easiest way of reducing emissions is to burn less fuel. Consumers? Well, from where I stand, they don’t seem to care about fuel consumption at all.

Here in Australia the market for SUVs is booming; by and large these cars use more fuel than the equivalent conventional car. Cars are also getting heavier at an incredible rate and to provide adequate performance, manufacturers are fitting more and more powerful engines – which, typically, use a lot of fuel.

I am aware of the reduction in fuel consumption that’s been achieved over the years by most manufacturers (for example, compare the government fuel figures for a 1990 Holden Commodore versus the current model) but to offset this, just look at cars like the Holden Adventra – it achieves what can only be described as appalling fuel consumption.

Why are motorbikes so slow around corners?

Posted on September 12th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Over the years I have become increasingly confused. Why do motorcyclists think that their bikes are so fast? Sure, I know that they’re fast in a straight line – I have been to the street drags often enough to see the quickest factory stock standard bikes running in the Tens and Elevens over the standing quarter. That’s mind-bogglingly fast. But it’s not straightline performance that I am referring to. It’s real-world, on-road performance. Over the sort of country road that has tight corners, bumps, surfaces that vary, dips and humps.

On those roads, it seems to me that bikes are pathetically slow.

While I am happy writing provocative material, in this case it’s not my intention to create a flamewar of the sort that you often see between bike riders and car drivers in discussion groups and forums. Instead, it’s a genuine confusion.

I remember perhaps 12 years ago when I was pedalling my then newly bought Subaru Liberty RS down the old Adelaide Hills main road. The dual lane road was sinuous and tight – an ideal road for driving fast. Or, I thought, riding quickly. I was in the fast (ie righthand) lane and ahead of me was a bike. He must have thought he was quick, because although the slow lane was at times empty, he resolutely stuck to the right. Despite the fact that he was impeding my progress.

This went on for several kilometres as I – doing what I would have done with any vehicle hogging the fast lane – drew closer. Finally, he pulled over and I went sprinting past. Further down the hill the speed limit slowed and since by then the fun part of the road was over, I dropped back to a more conservative pace. The bike had been left hundreds of metres behind but took this opportunity to catch up. In fact the rider drew alongside me, turned his head and waved his fist.