Trying to understand UK PCP deals on motorcycles from a Canadian perspective

I’ve been trying to understand this since reading the
advertising, um, I mean buyer’s guide in BIKE last year.

I’m trying to get a handle on PCP financing that seems to be popular in the UK right now. If you’re going to buy a Kawasaki Z1000 with ABS in the UK, you’re looking at a price of £10,389 ($17,453CAN). The on the road price in Canada is about $16,000, so you’re already almost $1500 ahead, but cost of borrowing is where I get really confused.

If you PCP (personal contract purchase) you’re paying a £2500 ($4200CAN) downpayment and then £147 ($247CAN) per month for 36 months. At the end of that time you’ve got nothing, all while paying 5.9% interest and having to ride the bike under mileage and keep it pristine to keep your investment intact.  You’re also hit up for financing paperwork fees.  If you go over mileage or the bike is in any way less than mint when you return it you suffer additional costs. I imagine the same goes with any farkling you might want to do – don’t. When you hand it back you’ve paid $13,092 Canadian dollars in interest and what basically resolves itself as rental costs; you own nothing. That’s when they ask you if you want to do it again with another bike or now pay a balloon payment equal to the current value of the bike (assuming it’s in perfect shape).

If you buy the same bike in Canada and put the same amount down, you’re looking at a monthly payment of $348 Canadian (£207), and at the end of the 36 months you own the thing. There are no mileage restrictions, no worries about keeping it stock and perfect and if it is in good shape you’ll have spent about $550 in interest and have a vehicle that UK Kawasaki says is worth £3628 ($6095CAN).

The pure costs of borrowing in the UK would be the down payment plus the monthly interest costs. That’ll be £2500 down payment + £465 in monthly interest, all for the favour of giving you this great deal. The pure costs of interest on the PCP deal is £2965 ($4981CAN). The amount of interest you’re paying to own (rather than borrow) the same bike in Canada is $460.

The context of borrowing in the two countries is quite different. The UK happily followed the US down the rabbit hole that caused the 2008 financial crisis by deregulating banks. That never happened in Canada where interest rates and the cost of borrowing has always been held to reasonable standards. Canadian banks still make huge profits (they now own a number of US banks that crashed in 2008), but they don’t break the financial system in the process and people who live here aren’t subject to the ridiculous costs of borrowing that British people seem to think reasonable.  I frequently see ads on UK TV for credit cards with interest rates that would be illegal in Canada.

With that in mind, maybe throwing nearly five grand Canadian to borrow a bike for three years (that’s $139 a month just in borrowing and rental costs!) makes sense, but it sure doesn’t from this side of the Atlantic.

I’m also left wondering what a flood of lightly used bikes will do to the marketplace in the next few years.  In classic short term financial thinking it looks like PCP will flood the market place with short term ownership and then flood the market again with bikes people couldn’t afford in the first place.  Won’t this eventually hurt new bike sales as dealers become swamped in returned PCP bikes?  Maybe the idea is to return the bike and the go looking to get a massive discount on it when you show up a week later and they don’t have enough room on their lot to hold all the PCP returns.

I’m starting to see why the UK found keeping up with the EU too difficult to continue.  They seem to have a very loose grasp on how marketplaces work and seem determined to ignore anything like sustainability.  I’m heading over there in a couple of weeks and enjoying a great Canada/UK exchange rate thanks to their wobbly economic choices.  I’m curious to see if I can get a first hand look at what this approach to bike selling is doing.

UK Kawasaki’s PCP calculator

Canadian Kawasaki’s offer on the same bike…

Cost of borrowing on Canada Kawasaki’s 36 month financing offer…

from Blogger

But we’re all much happier now…

The stats back up that officer’s anecdotal experience.

I’ve had a number of conversations in the past few weeks that shed some light on a difficult subject. This all began at my men’s yoga class.  One of the other guys there is a detective from the city south of us. He has been working on homicides for the past nine years and is starting to feel the weight of being around that much death all the time. He said the hardest part of is job is seeing his own demographic so prevalent in the suicides he covers. When I asked what he meant he said the suicides always seem to be guys in their forties and fifties. That was a heavy way to start a yoga class full of guys in their forties and fifties and not the kind of thing you soon forget.

From that I went into Christmas. The last couple of years have been good with trips away to warmer places. These adventures have been a great alternative to having how dysfunctional my family is rubbed in my face for two weeks. After a long bout of mental illness, a divorce and a suicide the local family members aren’t very good at getting together and all the rest are an ocean away. I feel remarkably isolated during the holidays and getting generic presents from in-laws only serves to emphasize how peripheral I am to the festivities. I can see why some people struggle with the season while the rest are manically happy.

With that all behind me I attended a lodge meeting this week that developed into a very insightful discussion by a group of sharp men on the steady deterioration of social interaction between our gender in the past two decades. Evidently I’m not the only man who feels socially isolated. Many older members lamented the lack of time and the means to enjoy that social time together. My sardonic reply was, ‘yeah, but we’re all much happier nowadays.’ Attendance in masonry is an ongoing concern. Twenty years ago the social aspects of the craft were central to a meeting with brothers often socializing long after the meeting was done. Back then we had time for each other, nowadays our commutes are longer, our work expectations more stringent and our family commitments more involved. We have less time for each other in the Twenty First Century.

We’re feeling time squeezed at a time when our debt levels are going through the roof in a desperate attempt to maintain that standard of living we enjoyed two decades ago. One of the first things you try to curtail when you see debt spiraling out of control are optional social events. The economics of Twenty First Century life is just another force acting to tear us apart. As Axl so aptly once said, ‘as our arms get shorter our pockets get deeper.’

Running the desperate treadmill of modern life has us feeling like we have no time to make connections with each other. To fix this problem we cunningly invented social media to fill that gap. You can stay in touch without sitting in traffic in crumbling infrastructure while burning ever more expensive gasoline to see people, but you’re not really seeing them. Having the time and means to actually meet your fellows and spend time with them without feeling like you need to be virtually or physically elsewhere is a basic human need many men have forgotten. I’m willing to bet many of those suicides my yoga buddy attended were lonely men feeling socially isolated.

The health considerations of poorly socialized, less active men are bad for everyone. I keep getting told to be active. I’d love to play hockey or soccer as I once did, but there is no access to the local cliques who do it. Men tend to be remarkably tribal and don’t like taking in outsiders. That makes it difficult to play team sports if you’re not living where you grew up with the people you grew up with (that’s most of us).

I’m going to make a concerted effort to try and cultivate the time and space to find the social discourse I seem to have grown out of as a middle-aged man. My family and my work are important, but so is finding the time and means to experience meaningful relationships with other men. It might even lead to exercise and a chance to expand my social network into something beyond words on a screen.

Dancing In The Clouds

This guy really seems to know what he’s talking about:


Working The Cloud With Mobile Edtech

I got a couple of android tablets for the department… $99 each at Factory Direct!  You could pick up a class set of twenty-four of these for about $2500, or about the cost of a single Macbook Pro… crazy.
What could you do with them?  Well, my grade 9 intro to computers class are doing a review of information technology.  We’re using to build shared notes for review.  What’s so good about shared notes?  You can’t trust them, so instead of reading something and blindly accepting it, students are reading it critically because their peer might have done it wrong; a much better review process.
wikispace live assessment/engagement tool
If you get a wikispace up and running check out the assessment button in the top right corner – it shows you a live feed of student activity on the wiki.  I threw this on the projector and it turned into a race to see who could get the most material down (the engagement graph updates every ten seconds or so, so it’s almost live).
I set up the tablets with their own gmail and then linked a dropboxaccount to it.  As students take pictures and make video using the tablet it is automatically shared to the dropbox account, so they can pull the media out of the cloud and include it in their wiki-pages easily.  Automating this process is fairly easy, and means that only seconds after taking a photo with the tablet, students are able to easily access it online for use.
Every android tablet I get now can be signed in to that single gmail address and then auto-linked to a shared dropbox account.  Any media generated from the tablets is immediately available online.
The rules for the wiki were specific:  all notes had to be in your own words.  Students got acknowledged for:
  • media: using original photos and video to explain their focus
  • media: using the snip tool in Windows 7 to snip screen shots of various parts of our etext
  • content: explaining their focus in their own words
  • links: to other material online that support understanding of their focus (all links had to include an explanation of the site and why it was useful.
The benefits are many.  Students get to use a new device and recognize its uses in a learning context – this often led to more effective use of their own devices.  A number of them have since set up their own dropbox backups on their own devices.  Because media is easy to create and access students are able to focus on the material at hand instead of worrying about their spelling and grammar in a google doc.
Being open Android tablets, the apps available are many, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what they could do.  Next semester in introduction to coding I’m thinking we’ll use them to run the flash games we design and build.
TEJ wikispace: students learning about information technology through an etext shared on UGcloud.
Notes are created in wikispaces and dropbox is used to quickly and automatically share student-made media.
All told this set up uses three cloud services (ugcloud, wikispaces and dropbox) and some open, accessible and shockingly cheap mobile tablets to offer students a media rich way to tackle note taking.  If we can set up a fluid, information sharing environment like this now, imagine where we’ll be in five years.

The Determined Luddite

They showed this at the Google Summit a couple of weeks ago:

A metaphor for users of technology?

It’s a special kind of learned helplessness, and I see it every day when trying to get people moving on their computers again.  There is nothing magical about computers, though many people like to think there is (it gives them an excuse not to engage in learning about them).  If we’re going to make digital skills a foundational skill set in the twenty first century (and we certainly seem to be moving in that direction), then we need to integrate digiracy into curriculum in the same way we integrate literacy and numeracy, and we need teachers to be able to demonstrate competence in digital skill in the same way that we expect them to display proficiency in traditional literacies; acting helpless does nothing to move this forward.

Our board is about to take steps toward a BYOD/multi-platform approach to #edtech.  This can’t happen until people get off the escalator and figure out how to open a book.

Helplessness, learned or otherwise, isn’t going to lead to the effective integration of technology in the classroom.  How we train teachers to become digitally competent is a vital piece to this puzzle.  The mini-lab approach with digital coaches assigned to their own tech-cloud is a way to encourage the tech-curious to develop better skills.  It also (through collegial interaction with peers) lets the tech-curious spread their enthusiasm and know-how to the less keen.

Build digeracy through scaffolded, objective learning with diverse technology. Opting out is no longer an option. It was an embarrassing approach ten years ago, it’s quickly becoming untenable now.

That people seem to rewind well past where you think reasonable caution may lie in trouble shooting computers is frustrating from a tech’s point of view.  If a user has a genuine issue with their computer, or something has actually broken, then we’re generally happy to be of assistance, but when a teacher says a printer is broken when it is simply unplugged, this points to a willful kind of ignorance.  When that teacher is also one of the schools computer teachers I want to move to the arctic and give up.

A minimum expectation of digital fluency should be a willingness to address basic, operational issues before evoking support.  If schools want to develop digital fluency, an expectation of honest engagement has to be where that starts.  If the internet is really becoming that important, then it becomes incumbent upon the user to make that connection as stable and effective as possible.  I’d say that 80% of the tech calls I deal with are people unplugging things they shouldn’t be touching in the first place, and then everyone else being too helpless to plug it back in again.

One of my grade 9s shared this as a video to help them out with an introduction to computers (the editing is hilarious):  Komputer Kindergarten.  MSDOS and the beige 1990s are the reason this sounds so antiquated (and funny).  That so many people twenty years down the road still don’t “do that stuff'” is getting to be equally ridiculous.  I’m not saying everyone has to be a technician, but everyone should be able to change their own tire, otherwise they shouldn’t be driving.  You can’t be expected to operate the equipment effectively if you’re determined to know nothing about it and want nothing to do with it.

Effective teaching with digital tools begins with teachers, and I find so many of them not just reluctant but downright contrary to the idea of learning even the basics of how a computer or network functions.  Some of that lies at the feet of teacher unions and school boards who have taught teachers to be helpless through locked, fear driven educational I.T. regimes.  Educators who have bypassed these restrictions and developed digital fluency in spite of their union and board’s best efforts are the ones we need to bring back in from the cold now that the school technology cold war is over.  Their fluency as digital coaches could create momentum to inflect enough colleagues to adopt a more open approach to learning technology.

The idiotic idea that technology is the realm of the young and if you want to know anything about it, just ask your students, needs to die.  Students are the rocket scientists who unplug an ethernet cable to plug into their infected laptop so they can have faster internet.  They then leave it unplugged and the next student comes along and instead of plugging the end back into the computer, plugs it into the wall, creating havoc as the network loops itself.  Then everyone complains at how slow and unreliable the internet is; it’s not the internet that is slow and unreliable.

As school systems stumble along years behind business and society, they have finally gotten the idea that being online is just a new medium of communication (not bad, only a decade after the rest of us did).   As education evolves into a more diverse, open technological environment, perhaps the hardest people to convince will be teachers who have bought into the fear and panic of their unions and employers and have been forced out of step with social expectation as a result.

Hostage Situation

I’m being held hostage by an authoritarian government.  These fascists (they certainly don’t believe in democracy) have demanded that I surrender my rights and work under their terms.  In this impossible environment the people who speak for me have begun a legal battle on this government’s attack on my fundamental Charter freedoms.  The process of overturning that legislation will take time, but it will eventually be overturned and will result in the end of this nasty, self-serving government and their illegal legislation.

My rep has also tried to bargain a deal to protect me in the meantime.  The bargain was made with a Bill 115 Magnum aimed at our heads, so a fair deal wasn’t exactly the result of the process.  

There was no negotiation, it was more like begging for our lives.  This government was happy to turn the public against us in order to further their agenda.

If you’re held hostage you look for the basics, you don’t start asking for more than you had. It’s a moment of desperation.

If we don’t take the deal our rep has scraped together for us, this authoritarian regime will put us in an even worse situation because it has legislated our rights away.  In either case we will no longer have anything like we had.  We either lose a lot and keep a bit because our rep got some concessions out of the regime, or we end up in their even worse MoU prison, either way, we lose.

When someone has a gun to your head, do you start moralizing with them?

So do we vote for a contract that strips us of years of concessions because this government would rather flush money down poorly managed ehealth experiments, semi-privatized air ambulances, quarrelsomeness wind power and on again/off again power plants, or do we go to the wall and burn it all down because this is just wrong?  

If we don’t vote for this, something even worse is imposed on us anyway.  This is divisive no matter how you play it.  Junior teachers lose their grid increases, senior teachers (who are the majority) don’t lose their retirement sick-day payouts.  Some boards may OK this, others may not.  This isn’t going to create labour peace, it’s going to create an uneven mess across the province.

In the meantime that fight to overturn the regime continues.  In a year and a half, we could very well be standing over the ruins of Bill115 (and the Ontario Liberal dream of being the government) and be able to bargain a fair deal under Canadian law; we can’t do that right now.  Whether we vote for this or not, our agreements will be in tatters because the Ontario Liberals and their Tea-party-Hudak lapdogs have pushed through this ridiculous, undemocratic legislation.

Do you go along with what you know is wrong hoping to protect you and your family as best you can or do you say, “NO, this is wrong, I will not be a party to it”?  This isn’t an easy decision.

The lack of clarity, both moral and professional in this makes this a very uncertain, difficult decision to make.  Unfortunately I’m a bloody minded kind of fellow; I fear I’ll vote for what’s right, whatever the cost, politics be damned.


The Seat of my Bike

After the ride to Indy I have a much stronger opinion about the Concours’ stock seat.  It’s soft and comfy on short rides, but on long rides it turns into a kind of torture device.  There are options for Concours seats that I can’t justify on an $800 bike, but the cheaper option arrived, so yesterday during the rain I gave it a go.

It’s tedious, but loosening the staples with a screwdriver makes
for clean removal with needle nose pliers.

The process took about an hour and a half to swap out the seat cover.  The seat fabric is held down by industrial staples.  I loosened them with a small flat-head screwdriver and then pulled them out with needle nose pliers.  It’s time consuming because there are a couple of hundred of them holding the seat to the plastic base.

The cover peeled off relatively easy, only sticking where the Gorilla tape I’d used on the torn seam was touching the foam (that stuff is mega).

With the foam exposed I tried fitting the new seat skin and found that it had much more extra material on it.  I was looking to firm up the seat a bit any way, so I took the gel pad I got on the Indy trip and found it would fit under the new cover.  It would also raise the seat slightly, which would do my knees some favours.

Attaching a new seat cover is a tricky business.  The vast majority of swearing happened while doing this.  Rotating the seat so you can put weight on the staple as you squeeze the handle of the stapler helps seat it properly, but it’s a pretty muscley process.  Getting the edges tight requires some practice.  This one came pretty close, but future ones I’ll be pickier about and get even snugger.

In the meantime I’ve got a seat that feels firmer, sits a touch higher and isn’t covered in tape.  I think the end result looks pretty good, and for thirty bucks plus shipping, it’s a good cheap alternative to those sweet Corbin seats.

I found this seat cover maker on ebay.  The seat arrived quickly and is as advertised.  I can’t speak for its toughness yet, but installing it I found that it was made of thick vinyl and the sewing was very strong.  It’s a cool sunny day today, I’m going to give it a whirl and see how it does.

The stock seat tore on the stitching, Gorilla tape did the business until I could find a better solution.

Sense of Accomplishment!

It’s alive…. ALIVE!!!

After fiddling with the speedometer gear housing I was told to make sure I have the line on the back of the suspension and the housing lined up.  I put it back together that way and still didn’t get anything, so I took it apart again and tried putting it on 180° from before and bingo, the speedo began to spin.  If you’re having trouble with speedo gear housings, try putting it on the other way and turning it to line up with the fork housing mark.

Love that red – the Connie will be getting panels refinished
over the cold months…

All the gauges on the Connie work now, so I’m going to begin to reassemble it after changing out the oil and filter.  I’m hoping to have it back together in the next week or so and then I can take an honest run at a safety and see how it does.  Everything else seems to be in good form.  It starts at a touch of the button and idles steadily after a moment on choke.  The throttle is clear, sharp and very responsive now.  The
brakes feel strong and sure.  After reassembly and a final cleanup, hopefully it’ll fly through safety and then I’ll have to make some hard decisions about the Ninja.  

It would be nice to get some miles on the Connie before the snows fall.

New speedo cable runs in behind the bottom of the front shock from the right.  It reads accurately and runs quietly.

Hard not to love that big one litre engine… it burst to life with a growl and revs with surprising eagerness.  Smooth as butter too…

Everything comes to life and reads accurately now…

Summer 2018: Things to do list: Horizons Unlimited Ontario Meeting

HU Ontario 2018Horizons Unlimited is having a big meeting in central Ontario in May and it’d be nice to go.  It’s a three hour ride from home but only about an hour and a half from the inlaw’s cottage.  I looked into staying over but it’s a pretty penny.  Staying at the resort it’s at is north of eight hundred bucks for the cheapest condo type place available.  Even assuming I could find some people to divide the cost with, that’s more than I’m willing to pay.

Heading up Friday I could do a loop around the Kawartha Highlands on some twisty, Canadian Shield roads before landing at the cottage.  The whole thing would be about 850kms over a long weekend.  A day of riding up there, a day at Horizons and then a ride home on Sunday – entirely doable.

The ride around Kawartha

They structure the pricing to get you there for the whole weekend, so even if I just went for the day it’s still seventy five bucks, but then I guess I could always go back Sunday if it really did the business.  I’ve had friends attend before and really enjoy it.  If there were wild camping opportunities in a less resorty location, I’d be more willing to commit, but refugee camping (in rows, on a site) isn’t my cup of tea, and the alternative staying in a building ends up being money I’d rather spend elsewhere.

Still, for seventy five bucks, it might be a good way to get a sense of the overlander adventure club, I just wish they offered a first time taster’s package.  They say ‘come to an HU event and find your tribe’ – but I tend toward a tribe of one.  I want to believe, and I want to go, but I don’t want to end up spending a mint on something that ends up not being a fit.  The aspie in me wants me to just go for a long ride in the Haliburton Highlands – I’m trying to use that to convince him to go and meet people… something he really isn’t fond of.

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Performance and Practicality

I’m finding myself suddenly reading Practical Sportsbikes because the winter subscription I get to Performance Bike Magazine has migrated over as PB ends a three decade run and merges with their more practical (and I’m assuming more popular) child publication.  

I’m enjoying Practical Sportsbikes (they offered me a couple of back issues during the transition), though I miss some of the best bits from Performance Bikes like the Rutter comparison tests and the general focus on riding.  There is a rawness to Performance Bikes that sometimes reduces itself to the juvenile, but you can’t deny their love of riding.  If the new combined publication can keep Performance Bike’s active, athletic and obsessive focus on riding then I think I’ll enjoy the new combination.

I’ve tried Practical Sportsbikes a few times but find it gets a bit lost in nostalgia driven mechanical minutia.  I’ve never been much of one for nostalgia, it’s never as good as you remember.  Mechanics and practicality are all well and good too, but for me, for now at least, it’s the visceral act of riding that should take centre stage.  If practicality was the primary motivation, I wouldn’t ride a motorbike in the first place.

Here’s hoping…

PB has always tapped racers and performance focused riders to shine a light on the act of riding, something they obviously love obsessively.  If the new magazine can combine that love with the mechanical sympathy needed to enable it, then I might be in for a whole year subscription instead of just using PB to get me through the neverending Canadian winter.

I usually look to BIKE Magazine for my joy of riding buzz.  This new publication might be able to give them a run for their money by offering a wider range of performance focused riding while still scratching that mechanical itch.

Here’s hoping they find a way to balance the two into a monthly ode to the visceral art of motorcycle riding and graft of mechanical sympathy that enables it.

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