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In a word: Experience

Even this CHP officer prefers to ride a bike rather than opt for the safety of a Crown Vic.
Even this CHP officer prefers to ride a bike rather than opt for the safety of a Crown Vic.
Jack Martin

Considering the inherent dangers of riding a motorcycle, why do we still have them? Open air motoring, you say. What’s wrong with a convertible? Riding off road, you say. Ever notice that ATV’s, especially the 4wd variant, are better in nearly all low-traction situations? Speed and racing, you say. Newsflash – a Formula 1 race car is 25% to 35% faster around any racetrack than any MotoGP bike. So why do we still have motorcycles? Why do we still have cruisers, crotch rockets, standards, super motards, motocrossers, tourers, and dual sports? In a word: Experience.

Experience in the sense that a rider is not content to merely go here or go there, but wants to experience going here or going there. A rider takes pleasure in being far more intricately involved in the vehicle’s position, speed and direction. A rider takes pleasure in being in the wind, the sound and the weather. A rider takes pleasure in knowing that he/she must put a foot down when the vehicle comes to a stop, or else the vehicle falls over. The experience, in essence, is that the rider is not only a part of what is happening, but that he/she makes it happen, and is not merely a passenger in a cocoon.

Who are these people, these riders? Why do they need this experience? Why do they not drive convertibles to experience the open air, ATV’s to experience the wilderness, and Formula 1’s to experience the sheer ragged edge of speed? Speaking for myself and those with whom I’ve discussed the topic, the experience cannot be found in a shelter. A convertible is a shelter in the sense that the driver is surrounded by steel and isolated from the road. An ATV is a shelter in the sense that it doesn’t typically have to be balanced and traction is usually abundant. Even a Formula 1 race car is a shelter in the sense that it goes around curves merely by turning a wheel – no body English required.

Modern life is a sanitized and anesthetized experience – risk mitigation is everywhere. All emphasis is placed on safety and convenience. Even in the motorcycle realm, kick starters are becoming a novelty. But breakthroughs and advances are done by those who dare to risk. Merely being able to risk is in itself an outlet these days and in my opinion, an outlet that ought not to be stifled. Risk takers are, by definition, more creative than average. What do we have without them? Gray sedans and rectangular apartment buildings – hardly the stuff of life. Motorcycle riders, on balance, are people who enjoy the experience of going somewhere more than merely going there. Think about that the next time you see an object or artifact that makes you smile or grabs your attention for its creativity – it may have been designed by a rider.