Be a better human being, live a better life. Ride a motorcycle.
1. Riding A Motorcycle Makes You Cool
Generally, we like to hide this fact. But, in many ways, it’s at the heart of all other reasons: In some way or another motorcycling will make you cooler than everyone else. And deep in their hearts, everyone else will know it.
No, it’s not very cool to admit such a thing—indeed, part of coolness comes from respectfulness toward those who lack the good fortune of being you— but, that makes it no less true. You don’t have to look like Beckham on a Bonneville to achieve this coolness. It happens naturally with all motorized two-wheeled conveyances. As my wife once told me: “When you see someone on a motorcycle, it doesn’t matter what kind, you think: ‘Oh, that person is on an adventure! I wonder where they’re going.'”
“You don’t think that about someone in a car,” she said. “You just think: ‘That person is stuck in traffic.'”
Part of being cool as a motorcyclist comes when you stop worrying about “embarrassing” things like helmet hair or walking into restaurants wearing base layers; you don’t get upset when it’s hot or cold or raining or windy. Ride regularly (and intelligently) for long enough and you’ll even be less enraged by other road users’ negligence. Because you know centering your anger on one person or thing only results in lost awareness.
On the road, the constant monitoring of your situation—speed, angle, body posture, road condition, lane position, possible hazards, etc.—serves as a meditation that clears your mind of the unnecessary. I have never once thought about the Kardashians while riding. On a bike you find mindfulness and inner peace, some of which will stay with you off the bike.
2. Commuting is Easier and More Fun
It seems a lot of people suffer a mental block when it comes to honestly considering motorcycles as viable everyday transportation, but the fact is, they make a lot of sense.
If you live in one of the majority of places in the world that allow lane splitting, riding a motorcycle means you will get to work sooner and with less frustration. If you don’t live in one of those places, you should be writing your representatives and throwing eggs at ABATE members in an effort to get things changed. But there’s still plenty of advantage to getting to work on two wheels.M
There’s the nominal financial benefit: Bikes can be pretty fuel efficient. A good 250cc machine will give you upward of 85 mpg. And since doing basic maintenance (e.g., oil changes) is easier with a motorcycle, you can save some cash there too. It’s not unheard of for motorcyclists to encounter lower costs at toll booths and parking lots, but even if your area isn’t that progressive, finding a place to park is still generally easier.
I used the word “nominal” in the above paragraph because often when someone evangelizes the financial benefits of motorcycling he or she conveniently overlooks the cost of gear. Good gear is important for happy commuting and it doesn’t come cheap. But I’m still willing to bet that the motorcyclist comes out slightly ahead at the end of the year.
3. Your Health Will Improve
When motorcycle proponents are scraping the barrel they drag out the claim that motorcycles help you lose weight. Ostensibly this is true: A 180-pound man will burn 40 more calories in an hour riding a motorcycle than he will driving a car. If he sings the whole time he’ll scorch an additional 100 calories. But take a gander at those attending Sturgis or Daytona rallies and it’s clear riding a bike isn’t a miracle weight-loss technique.
It is, however, incredibly good for your brain. The aforementioned zen state mixes with the endorphins that come from spirited riding, or simply being outside does wonders for your mental health. It pains me to give ammunition to trolls here, but I’m someone who has struggled a lot with mental health over the years. Since returning to riding, however, I’ve found things gradually improving. I’m calmer, more confident, kinder, and generally happier.
And it’s a simple truth that improved mental health leads to improved physical health, if not simply because it gives you the right attitude.
4. You Meet the Nicest People
Using terms like “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” in applying the connection between motorcyclists quickly sends one down the rabbit hole of self-aggrandizing BS. The idea of there being a special bond between the purchasers of a mass-produced item is silly. I am no more spiritually linked to other motorcyclists than I am other consumers of Kraft macaroni and cheese. And yet, and yet… there is something.
Depending on the country, you’ll be greeted by waves or nods or extended feet when you pass other riders. Motorcycling induces a small town friendliness among its participants, no matter where they are in the world. Showing up somewhere on a bike means people will go out of their way to talk to you, to share stories. If you’re open to this, you’ll find yourself meeting people with whom you might otherwise never have had an opportunity to interact—people from outside your socioeconomic/religious/racial circles. And you will be better for it.
“Freedom” is such an overused word I sometimes question whether anyone really knows what it means. But I can’t think of a better one to use in describing the sense of self-sufficiency and independence that comes from the simple act of getting on a bike and twisting the throttle.
We live in a jittery world; there are so many demands for our attention. If you are a person in a relationship with kids, a family, a job and ambitions, it may at times feel that everything you do is at the service of someone or something else; that every action you take is directed by something external.
On a motorcycle, it’s just your little head inside that helmet. You are in control of you, totally and completely. You feel the immediacy of your actions and decisions. The zen state pushes away anxiety about deadlines and bills to pay, and whether that girl at Starbucks was flirting when she told you to have a nice day.
It’s not selfishness, but simply the realization of the fullness of yourself. On a bike you feel like a complete human being, not an insignificant part of something else. And with this knowledge you’ll find your interactions with your partner, kids, family, job, ambitions and so on, will improve.