Riding is Complete and Utter Freedom | @mt_lillie | Rider Stories
- What do you currently ride and what have you rode?
I currently ride a 2017 Yamaha MT09 in tech black. This was my dream bike for such a long time; I had it as my work computer screen saver for ages! I can't quite believe that I have one now and am constantly checking on it and looking at it when I get the chance. Before that, I rode an MT125 for about 1.5 years which I also loved. I highly recommend this bike for beginners, especially beginners in London or larger cities as the riding position is really comfortable if you are stuck in traffic for ages and it's light enough to handle with ease. I took it up to Shropshire/mid-Wales from London and back about a month after I first got it so I can safely say it's tried and tested for longer journeys as well - as long as you don't mind taking a while to get there!
- Why did you start riding?
I always seem to have been around bikes since I was a child. I used to look out of the car window in anticipation any time I heard a loud exhaust coming up behind us to see what bike it was and I secretly wanted so badly to be a part of the exclusive club of bikers that nod/wave at each other when they pass on the roads; I could think of nothing cooler. I took every opportunity I could to be pillion with family friends, university friends and eventually my boyfriend, but after 8 years of being subject to London's public transport and being stuck in endless traffic queues I decided enough was enough and that it was my time to get my own set of two wheels. I booked my CBT on a manual 125 and bought my MT125 a week later!
- Why do you enjoy riding?
Riding to me is complete and utter freedom. I can go anywhere I want, whenever I want. Of course, you can do this in a car as well but I think the difference with a bike is that you are so exposed; to the elements, the smells of the city, the country, the sounds of life, of the road and of the wind. You have to be so alert and concentrated on the road and your surroundings at all times because obviously the stakes are higher for us, but this means that it's the perfect remedy for clearing your head or getting some mental peace when you need it most. If you're angry you can take the bike out and have a scream and a shout over your exhaust noise and no-one will know. Happy? Take the bike out and revel in the freedom it gives you. Sad? The ride will instantly bring some relief.
I think the community is also a large part of why I enjoy riding. Since starting my bike instagram page I've met a large group of really awesome girls who all ride 'big bikes' - BikerChicksUK - we go for rides and constantly offer advice about breakdowns, track days or gear and everything in-between. The bike community is incredibly friendly, it doesn't matter where you come from or what you ride, you will be welcome. It's also great that now I can ride toe to toe with my boyfriend on his sportsbike; we've been on loads of rides to explore new places or sometimes just to get a coffee - any excuse really!
In turn, riding my 125 and now my 09 has helped with low self esteem and confidence that i've battled with for a long time.
- What’s your go-to outfit? (helmet, top, bottoms)
I have two outfits that I alternate depending on the ride and the weather. My first essential item is my Shoei X-Spirit III helmet. I recently upgraded from a Scorpion EXO 510 Air and I absolutely love it. It's very light, very comfy and the shape is exquisite. Usually then I have an Alpinestars leather jacket, gloves and boots and i'm hoping to invest in some Bull-It Jeans or Motogirl leggings for the summer.
I also have the HELD leather one-piece which I absolutely love. The leather is incredibly soft and the shape is very well made and fits perfectly for those with a curvier shape.
- What clothing or equipment can you not live without and why?
I think it would be my Shoei helmet because of comfort and my intercom headset; just for directional purposes - I get lost so easily.
In general, all protective clothing should be essential - dress for the slide, not for the ride!
- What’s your best piece of advice to new riders?
I think my best advice for new riders is to just get out there and ride and trust your own gut in all matters. A lot of people told me that the MT09 would be way too powerful for me, that it won't be practical in London traffic, that I don't have enough experience for such a high cc bike etc etc and I say screw them! The only person that knows your ability and how confident you are is you, so go with your gut. Along those lines, make sure you ride for you and for no-one else. Group rides are a wonderful way to meet people and see new places but don't get carried away if the pace is not comfortable for you. Ride your own ride always, be courteous and have fun!
Follow Lillie's story on her Instagram @mt_lillie