Why I ride

posted: March 5, 2022

tl;dr: If motorcycles weren’t fun, there would be no point...

Here are the primary reasons I ride a motorcycle:


Motorcycles are fun. They are much more fun to ride/drive than a car, which is why motorcyclists willingly accept the greater risk that comes with their preferred mode of transportation. If motorcycles weren’t more fun, there would be a lot fewer of them on the road: they would just be used for inexpensive, basic transportation. Personally, I find it a bit strange that people get really into cars and car culture, when motorcycles are so much more fun.

When I did a cross-country motorcycle trip with a buddy after college graduation, I spent nearly three months on a motorcycle without once getting in a car. When I finally did so, the experience of being in a car felt like watching a movie of the trip on a screen (the windshield) as compared to actually being in the moment and experiencing the trip in person, as one does on a motorcycle. Another analogy will be familiar to downhill skiers. Once you take a chairlift to the top, there are two ways to get down: you can take the chairlift back down, which some tired skiers do at the end of the day, or you can ski down (actually, there is a third way, which is in a stretcher sled steered by the ski patrol after a crash). Taking the chairlift down is like being in a car, whereas skiing down is like being on a motorcycle.

When I am faced with the option of taking a car or a motorcycle on a trip, I’m going to choose the motorcycle. It’s a bit like asking how I’d prefer to get somewhere: by car or by roller coaster?

Clears the mind

Riding is great therapy. You don’t see too many Harleys in the psychiatrist’s parking lot. Motorcycle riding, like downhill skiing, requires focus and being completely in the moment. If your mind starts to wander while you are in a turn, you might be dead a few seconds later. As a result, riding is a great way to shut out all the other things going on in your life, concentrate on the moment at hand, and have fun while doing so. Riding clears the mind as completely as almost anything else you can do in life. It recharges the soul.

A black 2020 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 cruiser motorcycle, viewed from the right side while parked on a sunny street

My 2020 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 as purchased, before customizations


You’ve probably seen us motorcyclists signaling to each other in passing. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among bikers, and many clubs, outings, rallies, and organizations of bikers. Like downhill skiing or fishing, motorcycling provides a common ground among strangers who are all sharing a similar experience. Because bikers are also sometimes outcasts from polite society, it creates an even stronger bond among them.

Get out of here

The best place to ride a motorcycle is away from the city and all its traffic and congestion. The most enjoyable roads for motorcycling feature curves, spectacular scenery, and a minimum of other vehicles. The road many motorcyclists cite as the best in the United States is Pacific Coast Highway-1 (PCH-1) north of Los Angeles up the California Pacific coast to the San Francisco Bay area. I’ve ridden PCH-1 on a motorcycle and would concur with that assessment, although there are many other highly enjoyable roads throughout this huge country. Having a motorcycle encourages the rider to get out and experience the great outdoors.

Motorcycling is also a great way to tour the country, or portions of it. I’ve argued that touring by motorcycle is safer than touring by bicycle. Touring by car or recreational vehicle will also get you to the same destinations, but you won’t have anywhere near as much fun along the way, nor will you be as connected to the land and environment you are traveling through.


Certainly in comparison to cars, motorcycles are inexpensive motor transportation. Would you like to buy a brand new sporty BMW for under $5,000? You can: the base price of the 2022 BMW G 310 R sport bike, as of the date of this post, is $4,995. My Harley gets between 40 and 50 miles per gallon of gas, depending on terrain and conditions. With a 3.3 gallon tank, I tend to buy gas in 2.5 gallon increments, which costs me around $10 today with gas at roughly $4/gallon. That $10 buys an awful lot of fun, miles, and smiles. It’s much cheaper than an equivalent amount of time at an amusement park.

Since the pandemic hit, car prices and gas prices have risen considerably. I believe we’re in the early stages of an inflationary cycle that will last for a decade or more. This may cause more people to consider riding a motorcycle in situations where they would otherwise drive a car. In both their manufacturing and use stages, motorcycles have a lower impact on the environment than cars. This is another reason why more people worldwide may give them a try in the future.

These are the many good reasons, both rational and emotional, for riding a motorcycle.

Related post: Getting back in the saddle after a long break

Related post: Why I got back in the saddle

Related post: Riding a hog