People in this country have had enough of experts, said a senior politician the other day, one who is, at the time of writing, unusually, still a senior politician.
It’s okay – I’m not going to get political. It just occurs to me that these could be worrying times if he’s right, because I could be considered ‘an expert’, of sorts. Not about international finance or anything, obviously, but on the merits of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes versus M&S’s version, or on what different cars are like, I can hold my own.
This is because I have – to paraphrase another man off the news – never had a proper job. Most of my working life I’ve spent researching, measuring, driving and testing cars and advising people – perhaps like you, dear reader – where to put their money when it comes to them. There’s little honour in it, because I am but a reviewer. What you might call a rentagob. A critic. A Lidl Chris Harris.
Anyway, as a result of that, I put a reasonable amount of stock into people like me. So I won’t buy a pair of headphones unless What Hi-Fi? has given them five stars. The respective merits of a gas versus induction hob are things I’d deeply research before plumping one way or the other. You can’t know everything about everything, so I like it that there are people out there who know their market equivalent of the things that I know without looking them up: that horsepower and torque are always equal at 5252rpm, or where the bonnet release is on a Ferrari California. So I trust them. I listen to them. I won’t make a decision without them.
Until, that is, I decided that I fancied going on a solo road trip later this year, probably to and around Italy, on a motorbike I don’t yet own.
There are lots of sensible motorcycles for a long trip like that, but the Honda Dominator – a single-cylinder, 650cc ‘dualsport’ (read: ‘off-road’) bike that hasn’t been in production for 16 years – isn’t one of them. It has a short range, its on-road stability and handling are compromised by the fact that it’s a trail bike and the seat is too tall.
There is, then, no sensible justification for choosing a Dominator to travel 2500 miles when there are other bikes that do more than it, better than it and more cheaply than it. It is the motorcycle equivalent, I think, of a Vauxhall Frontera.
At least, that’s what the experts reckon. But I don’t care: I just like them. Now to find a bike, put some boxes on it, make sure it’s mechanically sound and naff off on it. Because experts, eh: what do they know? I suppose we’ll find out.