Why We Ride: The Joy of Motorcycling - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-30-2002, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Why We Ride: The Joy of Motorcycling

Why We Ride:
The Joy of Motorcycling
By Stephen M. John

What is the allure of motorcycling? One lifelong devotee attempts to explain the inexplicable . . .

What attracts people to motorcycling? When faced with the numerous personalities of both riders and motorcycles, there may not be a single answer. Despite the differences between touring rider and hill climber, chrome-encrusted cruiser and nimble Grand Prix race bike, there are some universal attributes that get under the skin of the motorcyclist and feed the desire to ride.

Freedom is often cited as an attraction, but what does this mean? Compared to driving a car, riding a motorcycle offers freedom from the constraints of four-wheeled physics. When a car negotiates a turn, it leans to the outside of a corner, struggling to maintain its former direction of travel. A motorcycle leans into a corner.

This may not sound like much, but until you've experienced both you can't understand the superior grace and simplicity of this mode of travel. Cornering becomes a symphony of precise movements instead of an awkward wallow, working in harmony with the road instead of fighting it tooth and nail.

The Sense(s) of Freedom
Once freed of your steel cage you are thrust into the world to experience a broader existence unfettered by HEPA filters and climate control. Your nose will get a vivid introduction to skunk roadkill and diesel exhaust, but will also revel in bread baking and plants blooming. Your body will feel the thousand tiny impacts of raindrops and absorb the buffeting of the wind. Your skin will feel the gently warming temperature as you crest a hill and drop to the valley floor below. You are no longer huddled behind a wheel disconnected from nature. It's Lawrence of Arabia in Cinerama versus a daguerreotype of a camel.

Wrap all of this freedom in a lovely ribbon of performance, and you get what experts call fun. Not the fake hood scoop, chrome wheels and racing stripe school of performance. Picture instead a carrier launch and you'll be in the right neighborhood, and you don't even have to pledge seven years of service. Best of all, this astounding performance is dirt cheap. For less than half the cost of most commuter pods you can buy a stock motorcycle capable of 9-second quarter miles.

Don't bother figuring the cost for a production car with matching performance, because you won't find one. AMG teamed with Mercedes to make the CLK-GTR capable of a 9.4 second quarter mile, and it's a steal at a measly $1,000,000. Performance cars do have the edge in aerodynamics and top speed, but to use them you'll need lottery winnings and the Autobahn.

All of this freedom and fun doesn't come without a price. First of all, you have to learn how to ride. Given the right training and the right attitude, the skills can be acquired by just about anyone. Want proof? One of my first forays was on my dad's 1975 Honda CB125S, a ride so mild it's hard to believe it could burn gasoline. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't remember how to stop, and ended up using a conveniently located pickup to do the job. Fortunately the Motorcycle Safety Foundation ( http://www.msf-usa.org ) runs well-organized classes where you can safely learn motorcycling in a pickup-free environment.

Motorcycles? Practical?
What about practicality? Over the years I've carried a turkey, two-by-fours, a dozen roses, crutches and a bookcase on a motorcycle, but even I haven't tried transporting an infant or a major appliance. But how often do you really use the cargo capacity of a four-wheeler? Not often, judging by the throngs of single-occupant vehicles choking the roadway, wasting gas and time hauling around a sluggish, three-quarter-empty steel box.

Finally, there's the favorite of mothers and fathers everywhere: danger. On a motorcycle you are more vulnerable and you'd better accept that fact and ride accordingly. I always ride as if I am invisible to the sea of cars around me, because all too often it's true. I wear a helmet, jacket, boots and gloves regardless of the temperature or length of the ride. You might think it's a hassle just to reach the corner store, and it does take more time than slipping on a seat belt. For me it is an important ritual, a reminder I am about to engage in an activity with a fair amount of personal risk. Donning my helmet triggers a pre-recorded message telling me I better be alert if I don't want to end up as a hood ornament.

Risk is inherent in motorcycling, but it can be managed and turned into an advantage, one that I think is the real long-term attraction of riding. A new rider must first gain experience, since at first everything you have is spent just keeping upright. Gradually shifting gears and scanning for Dozy Joe Auto blowing through a stop sign takes less effort, as your brain adjusts to a new sensory plateau.

Engaging the World Around You
While motorcycling you are still fully engaged with the outside world, but the rest of your brain is free to explore paths otherwise unavailable. With your mind free of rigid supervision and self-awareness, all sorts of problems get solved in the background and tension evaporates. Exactly the opposite happens in an automobile. Driving makes so few demands on our minds and bodies we go on autopilot. How many times have you driven to a familiar location, and arrived only to realize you don't remember large parts of the journey?

Need another rationalization regarding the two-wheeled wonder? Motorcycling is a resounding social plus: reduced traffic and parking congestion, better fuel economy and fewer noxious emissions. Motorcycle ownership should be a Green party litmus test. Sadly, these benefits are lost on the majority of Americans, whose opinion of motorcycles seems to have been forged solely by watching Marlon Brando tear up a small town in The Wild One. This shared sense of being outcast and knowledge of how much fun we're having leads to a sense of community among riders. Have you ever seen two automobile drivers wave to each other because they were driving? For me, waving to a fellow rider is nearly a daily occurrence. The horror, the horror.

Freedom. Fun. A clear mind and a clear conscience. These are all powerful reasons for staying in the saddle. But an even simpler truth about motorcycling keeps me coming back for more: I always feel better after a ride than I did before.

Robert Basil
SportbikeWorld.com Founder
PocketbikePlanet.com Founder

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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-04-2002, 07:28 PM
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I think the element of danger is also attractive, doing something that is inherently risky makes you appreciate you are alive. It isn't just motorcycling..look at the growth of skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving. We are so protected and coseted (sp?) in our world with warning labels telling us our coffee is hot, our cold medication will make us drowsy..we need to break away from all this "mothering".
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-20-2002, 05:05 AM
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Freedom is often cited as an attraction, but what does this mean?
This mean's to me. When I ride my ZX12R down the road in my county. I know for a fact that the cop's can't touch me or any other car, bike, helicopter, small aircraft, can stay with me.

The feeling going down the road and knowing your sitting on the fastest street legal 9sec 1/4 mile bike in the county.

It make's you feel like Superman. But without the cape.

WOT in frist and the front wheel lift's off ever so gently slam 2nd and the wind buffet's your helmet the tach is climbing faster than you can shift. You hit third glance at speedo and triple digit's are there.

You decide today I'm going though all 6 gear's at redline, You hit 4th and redline and the buffeting of your helmet make's it hard to read tach. Then you glance at speedo going to 5th and 180mph, But you realize your probably doing 170, Speedo error.

Then you hit 6th and you hang on for all you have and hope like hell there's no groundhog's going to run in front of you. you hit rev limiter in 6th and come back down to earth gently coasting and taking a deep breath. And think of how great it is to be Superman for less than a minute. And also realize that if caught your freedom is gone and maybe your job, bike, and way of life.

Is it worth it. Damm stright pilgram. As John Wayne would have said"

I say" It's the closest I'll ever come to being launced from a pad at the Cape

Last edited by ZX12ROutLaw; 09-20-2002 at 05:15 AM.
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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-20-2002, 05:24 AM
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Maybe this doesn't belong in the "daily rider" forum, but the title caught my eye...

The reason I ride is to beat my other friends who ride. Unfortunately, my friends usually beat me, as they are some of the fastest in the U.S., and I'm...well...not NEARLY the fastest in the U.S! But it's still really fun to try! My main goal is not to get lapped by my buddies. Sometimes they slap the back of my helmet as they pass me...I think this is encouragement. Am I right?

(Vincent-thanks for the "encouragement" at Mid-Ohio. I really appreciated that...YOU BASTARD! I'll get you back on Halloween, bitch!)
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-20-2002, 06:29 AM
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I think part of the attraction comes from doing something that requires a greater level of mental, physical and emotional committment than cars.

It takes a special kind of person to ride. Just about anyone can be taught to drive a car, especially with automatic transmissions, ABS and electronic stability control systems. But we all know people who are perfectly good drivers who cannot get the hang of riding a motorcycle.

It's the lazy man's zen. It takes Buddhist monks years of meditation and training to achieve the level of focus a sportbike rider gets when the tach needle swings past 8,000.
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-20-2002, 09:36 AM
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It's what makes me smile.
Plain and simple.
Before a ride, after a ride, during a ride.
With my friends or alone.
Even when sitting indoors staring at a computer screen.
I can still hear the sweet sounds and remember the sights & smells.

I'm not a proctologist, but I know an a$$hole when I see one.

Life is too LONG not to have fun!!!!

"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-01-2002, 03:18 PM
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Good post! because sometimes it's really hard to express how you feel before, during and after the ride like someone pointed out. For me, I can describe it this way:

(Before my ride)
It's the Super Bowl, 10 minutes before the kick off, and I'm in the locker room with all my team mates, pre games focus.

(During my ride)
Time run out. Their quarterback throws the ball for the final touch down pass, but at their 1 yard line I get an interception, and I'm running the other way for the touch down. Chasing behind me is the meanest, biggest and the scariest dudes, trying to kill me. I'm not a fast runner so they are within their arm reach, but Iím just fast enough that they can't really tackle me, however, I do feel someone pulling on my jersey but I manage to pull away, I can even hear and feel these animals falling right behind my foot. I run almost a full 100 yards. When Iím within 4 yard line, I dive for the end zone, (Matrix style in slow motion) and we win the Super Bowl!

(After the ride)
I just lay there in the end zone motionless, I ran out of breath and I can't talk. My eyes water and my heart rate is 180 over 120. Someone throws oxygen mask over my face. Ahhhhhh! feels good. They throw me unto the stretcher and proceed to carry me out of the field. The whole stadium is up in roar and chant my name. " Coolaid! Coolaid! Walking next to my stretcher is two of the finest looking babes, holding my hands one on each side. One babe leans down and whisper something in my ear " wait till we get you home Coolaid" I smile.

Reality check! Wishful thinking Dude! but that is how I describe what riding is like for me.
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-07-2002, 09:02 AM
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thanks for the article....

it's nice to hear the feeling described in words.......
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-24-2002, 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by SloBrit
I think the element of danger is also attractive, doing something that is inherently risky makes you appreciate you are alive. It isn't just motorcycling..look at the growth of skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving. We are so protected and coseted (sp?) in our world with warning labels telling us our coffee is hot, our cold medication will make us drowsy..we need to break away from all this "mothering".
How true. Hence the reason I went skdyiving and why I'm planning so many things for next summer. Those things make you want to live to do more of them.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-04-2002, 08:11 AM
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Riding make me forget about my miserable job

Steve Sallberg
Anderson, SC
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