Why Do You Ride?

Why do you ride? "If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand." That's the all too often non response given by some riders in an effort to sound profound or philosophical, but it doesn't answer the question, does it? Maybe it's a question best left unanswered because it's really an emotion without any reason behind it, trying to analyze your attraction to motorcycles, the words don't come out right and it begins to sound silly.

The answers might be phrased a lot of different ways, depending on whether you're young or old, new rider or seasoned pro, fair weather rider or all weather biker, racer or recreational rider, sport biker or touring couple, hands on technical type or non techie rider only, but something brought you in to the sport, and if you're a long time rider, something kept you there.

As a child, we learn to ride a bicycle and experience the freedom of a machine that amplifies our muscular efforts into speed and distance we couldn't dream of attaining from our own two feet. When we first ride a motorcycle, the simple twist of the throttle does what our legs used to do and, if the motorcycle is more than a moped or mini bike, we're now able to summon speed and acceleration we previously only imagined. It can be quite exhilarating, looking for that stretch of open road to see just how fast we can go, then finding the fun in some curves and looking at the horizon and thinking it may not be as far away as before.

Sometimes what brings us in is a passing urge to look cool or do what someone else is doing, maybe it's as practical as cheap transportation, abandoned as soon as we get a little more money. How many guys ride to attract the girls or to join a club?

Do you ride because you love it no matter who else is riding, even if no one else is riding? Do you ride because your friends ride and riding alone leaves you bored and uninspired? Do you ride to relax and unwind or to experience the thrill of speed and twisty back roads?

Have your reasons changed? Is the reason you started the same as why you stayed or has your riding evolved over time?

Personally, my strong technical attraction to motorcycles holds true for many types of motor vehicles, no matter how many wheels are involved or even if they float or fly. Engines are fascinating and the many ways of transforming the potential energy contained in fuel into the heat, motion and sound we get to experience is endlessly satisfying, but motorcycles are more basic than many of those other machines, closer to the source with less to hide the mechanical bits. But beyond all of the mechanical fascination, I remember times when the weather was right, the road just so with curves one after the other and I fell into a flow where everything just became quiet. It doesn't happen often, but those moments are precious and you know they're out there waiting, maybe today, maybe next week, maybe not until next year and you can't force it, you just keep riding, you'll find them again.

So how about you? What got you started? What kept you going? Could you give it up and not miss it or will they bury you with your bike? Why do you ride?


  1. Mule says

    A steelshoe skimming the dirt, engine screaming, front wheel an inch off the ground, a roostertail out the back, arms stretched, eyeballs bugged out, gut tensed, a straightaway approaching and no freaking rules that have to be obeyed! Surfing without an ocean.

    Need I say more?

  2. mark says

    I ride because it’s fun. And because it’s absolutely the best way to see the world around me, whether that’s a short day ride through familiar countryside or a multi-thousand-mile adventure to remote places I’ve never been.

  3. David says

    Great article, I’m 17 and just started riding about a year ago. Nothing big, a Suzuki GN125. I am in love with motorcycles. Each time I pass a motorcycle shop I just HAVE to look inside. I love the way engines sound and how some bikes are beautifully crafted. The thrill of riding even when I have no destination. I ride alone since there aren’t many riders here but that’s cool with me. I love going on open roads with little to no cars and just open the throttle. I only go about 75 KM/H but to me that’s pretty fast already since the rest of traffic only goes about 45 average.

    I don’t think I would ever give up riding. It’s so much fun and I learn a lot from things breaking, repairing my own bike, and maintaining.

  4. Mark L. says

    I ride because I can. i have a 34 mile ride each way, and when I get to work, I’m in a great mood from the ride, and when I get home, I’m out of my work induced funk because of the great ride.

    It’s like any intense activity in that it takes all of your concentration and brainpower to safely accomplish. (or it should)

    No cell phone, no radio, no conversation, just you, the road, and your bike. You are a part of the environment, not in a bubble passing through it. I can’t think of a better way to go.

    Mark L.

  5. Sanders says

    Motorcycles is a fun hobby that I could give up, but it would have to be replaced with something else. I am more of a mechanic than a rider. I used to work on VW’s, my thoughts have drifted back to that now that I’m older and would like to start dragging the family around with me.

  6. jeff_williams says

    I ride bike because it’s the closest thing to snowmobiling I can get in the summer. I ride sled because it can take me anywhere I want to go. I could ride from here to Alaska if I wanted to and blaze my own trail. Roads are so confining to me.

  7. nortley says

    I think you mentioned an important step in the process, the bicycle. No matter if our childhood dreams were to pilot a jet, captain a battleship or simply to cruise in a big shiny car like dad’s, the first real freedom machine most of us knew was a bicycle. Now we could slip the parental bonds, go see the other side of the hill and be home for supper, and probably gain a few well earned lumps. As we put aside the things of childhood (ignoring for this blather the adult bicyclist, and I’ve been one) the things that come into our lives seem to less and less resemble bicyles, both physically and emotionally. The freedom machine has been replaced by mundane transportation. The motorcycle is probably the closest of our adult things to the bicycle, again both physically and emotionally. I started off with a bicycle, then got a small motorcycle, the, mid sized, then big, and while each has been its unique experience, there’s still the two wheeled commonality among them. Then I took a step down in size, and added a mid sized classic to the fleet, and this classic brought together all of the above. I was six years old when the Velo was built, I think thats also about the age I started my wobbling way on a bicycle. Compared to the more modern, wrench free, faster, better handling, better stopping, brighter colored,and heavier machines the light, nimble Velocette is like riding a bicycle that can keep up with cars. Maybe that’s not exactly why I ride, but it explains the bugs in my teeth.

  8. Marcel says

    As a little 4 year old, I sat in front of my uncle, on the tank, grabbing the handles bars of his Honda 305 Dream, wind blowing in my face – I knew I was made to ride.

    “I’d rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about God than sitting in church thinking about riding.”

  9. Hammerspur says

    Max :
    ” to slip the surly bonds…”

    Ah, yes!
    To get out of one’s own head… or is it into it?!
    To experience self-empowering, self-affirming synergy with power and motion.
    To light up those neural pathways rendered irrelevant and left dormant throughout the rest of life’s ho-hum.
    To fly like a bird inches above the Earth.
    To shed the soul crushing, encrusted burden of ennui and anhedonia.

  10. Oldyeller8 says

    After 34 years I think I have had almost every emotional experience in regards to riding;
    This is fun
    Not the rain again
    Damn P.O.S.
    How much farther
    Nice, new suspension
    If it ain’t a sport bike (insert preferred style here) it’s…
    Ouch! Hey my bike is broken!!!
    Ahh, a new motorcycle
    and another
    and another
    I got to stop crashing so much
    I love racing
    Where do you want to ride to this summer
    Seasonal? Whatever Dude!!!
    I think most of you have felt some of these!

    I am at the point where I don’t even think about why, what type or where.
    I used to think “If I had a car…” But (north of the 49th p.) when it rains, I think of a scooter with a roof. When it snows, I think of either a Ural w/ sidecar or a Can-Am Spyder. So I don’t even think of cars anymore.

    What does amaze me is, after all this time, that almost every day I ride I have that wonderful warm bitchin’ feeling when I am on my bike.

    And I don’t necessarily have to ride in a certain style or manner. I just want to be on a bike. When I visit friends in foreign countries they think we need to do some touring. Nope, not me. I am happy on two wheels riding in any environment. I want the experiences and joys of riding.

  11. Denis says

    Great response, David. That’s just how I felt when I was 17. I’m 62 now, and I still feel that way. I’ve had friends who are twenty or more years older than me, who give every indication they love it the same way. How they do it has changed, but the feeling is the same. Therefore I intend and expect to keep riding, and keep enjoying it for as many years as I have left. Maybe I’ll meet David sometime in a bike shop somewhere, or on the open road. More likely I’ll meet someone just like him (I already have hundreds of times, so that’s a safe bet). I’ll be the old guy on the old bike, or maybe a new bike. It might be a single, a twin, or a four. It might be American, European, or Japanese. It might be large or small. It might be a motorcycle, a scooter, or a trike. Whatever it is, I’ll be having a good time because I’ll be doing what I really want to do.

  12. JR says

    So what does Paul Crowe ride?

    I ride because motorcycles are simple. You can see and reach all their parts. I’ve rebuilt one car… it was frustrating and harder on the body (unless you’ve got a lift). A motorcycle is small… simple… within reach. I’m on my second rebuild and I rarely get frustrated with them like I did with the car.

    All the machine a person needs.

  13. says

    Fun. I have never gotten on a motorbike and not had fun. No matter that I’m just going to work, or if it’s rain/sleet/hail/snow -ing. Or if I’m going somewhere I don’t want to go to do something I don’t want to do I still have fun on the way and the promise of fun on the way home.
    Richness of experience. I get to feel the temperature and texture of the air, to smell whatever that smell was a mile or so back. A motorcyclist passes through an environment while an automobilist generally passes by watching (we hope) through a screen.
    Mental health. Motorcycling pretty much takes place entirely in the now and requires the entire body, requiring and promoting focus and mental discipline. If it weren’t for the therapeutic properties of the occasional decreasing radius downhill right-hander I’d almost certainly go completely sane.

  14. Azzy says

    Its fun
    Its economical
    I learn things by upkeeping, fixing and modifying my bike to make it better for me
    I keep myself alert and focused
    It releases some stress
    I can do it just about anywhere, which isnt the case with my other hobby, shooting.

  15. KC says

    I started riding because everyone was doing it. 10 years later some still do occasionally, but its my best escape from the everyday BS, so I try to everyday. I ride a big power cruiser, but have had enduro’s, a thruxton, a standard, and a sport bike. It took me a while to find the machine I really love, but i’ve enjoyed all of them. It’s the sensation of just being out there, doing something more dangerous, more free, and looking damn good while doing it. Its that nervous energy and settling into a quiet, smooth series of curves with perfect apexes, or just jamming down a poker straight blacktop into the horizon… Most of all, its the down to earth good people you meet and are interested and interesting. I honestly feel if you’ve and had that perfect run, there is no way you can go back and forget about it… It’s just too good to not try and catch it again…

  16. gbknox says

    My dad told me stories about his riding in the early 50s on Indian and BSA machines. I knew I wanted that back then (when I was 10 or 11 yrs old). Finally got 1st bike in ’74. Been riding ever since ’cause it’s one of my passions in life.

  17. CantRideEnough says

    I wasn’t going to check in again till next weekend due to my hectic schedule as a self-important and unrelenting jerk with nothing better to do than ride from here to there. Rain checked me out.

    Do I perceive a bold new difference in the postings??? Are there “rants” about the feelings of grabbing onto steel bars instead of watching Craig Ferguson? Bodacious!

    To the first poster and a few others that may or may not understand the reference to Zen (an overly introspective book written by Prisig long before blogs and filled with both insight and crap) it is rewarding that there are well read riders herein.

    I offer my own answer…. It makes me feel like nothing else …. Not better than sex, but a hell of a lot longer than anything else in my life. Riding shirt sleeve to a 50,000 Lb semi that I will not relent to in right-of-way affirms by belief in cajones before lobster thermador caught offshore and paid for by wages dedicated to the risks of others. Screaming into a corner is a matter of considered thought that if a deer may cross my path, the inevitable result will be worth the thrill of a two wheeled drift and nothing more than a hope of my own skill even if the deer never appears. Cruising down the interstate among texters and sec’s combing their hair on the way to work I am jacked beyond steroids to be looking for that bitch just to show her I can avoid that unannounced lane change.

    Knowing that today, against all odds, I will get from point A to point B against the obvious odds; and even if I don’t, it was a good ride. In fact, with over 1.2 million documented miles on many different machines and a 9 month vacation in traction, it was still a good ride.

    Maybe I’ll Zen out today after the return home and check the fluid levels and start jerking unseen gremlins before the suggested routine maintenance schedule, or maybe I’ll just go inside and anticipate the next time I screw on the throttle to make sure all cylinders are firing evenly by applying WOT in the driveway.

    But I sure as hell won’t wonder “what if”.

    When I grab those bars and tickle the hot button, my life starts and the rumble beneath is not the technology of an inanimate machine, but the reflection of my soul.

    Rant on, ride on, because you’re not of the same stuff of mediocrity.

  18. jeff from va says

    Three modes:


    mildly-aggressive…just to make sure the synapses still fire

    ESP….taking in the sights, the smells, dodging deer & means to a specific destination

  19. Yeti says

    An Ode To My Buell On A 3am Ride
    A poem by Yeti

    This one simple pleasure has me smiling wide,
    Here’s an ode to my Buell on a 3am ride.

    A twist of the wrist and the big V twin rumbles,
    An adrenaline rush meant to melt away grumbles.

    Without clogs on the road you reach ludicrous speeds,
    And there’s no cops in sight out to ticket your deeds.

    As I tap dance through gears I feel so alive,
    ‘Round a sweeping left hander at a buck twenty five.

    At 140 through high beams the scenery’s blurry,
    As I pierce the night air with a head free of worry.

    Just a rhyme that came to me as I motored away
    On a crotch rocket made in the good ‘ole USA.

  20. Seth says

    Riding provides a sense of balance, like flying an airplane. You crank through the corners, leaning the correct way with the g-forces going straight down your spine (assuming you’re not hanging off the seat or twisting your body). Cars lean the wrong way. Also there is less of a feeling of resistance. Cars weigh too much, resisting acceleration, braking and turning.

  21. Emmet says

    It really is a question best left unanswered. A fascination with motorcycle technology stands near the top of the list for me. Throwing the bike over at extreme lean angles to maneuver through turns at intimidating speeds, with every part of your body connected to motorcycle and road… nothing feels greater.

  22. todd says

    Everyone said it so well so far. For me it’s:

    love of the mechanical
    love of simplicity
    no traffic problems
    I’m not in a controlled environment
    no more back problems
    more alert when I get to work and when I get home
    driving is tiring
    variety. I can have 9 motorcycles in the space of two small cars


  23. Kenny says

    Why do I ride?
    Perhaps I simply like the challenge of it. No other earthbound transport has the same degree of difficulty to operate well.
    Perhaps I like being different, the distinct divide between us and them, the “outlaw” image that is forever associated with the motorcycle.
    Perhaps I like the cheap thrills, £1000 can get you a bike that can only topped by a supercar.
    Perhaps I like the freedom, the feel of the road on the palms of my hands and on the balls of my feet, the sound of the wind whistling by my helmet, the smell of the grass. Flitting through traffic, dashing down roads.
    Perhaps it is any other of a number of reasons.
    The only thing that matters is that I do and I enjoy it.
    If that is not enough, then there is a bike. Go find out.

  24. YamaHead says

    Been Riding Everyday year-round for the past 24 years……
    Puts an ear to ear grin on my face as I laugh all the way to the bank!

    Yep….I’m definitely 1 of those who’ll have to be buried with my Bike.

    Bottom Line: there’s just…….NO FEELIN’ LIKE 2-WHEELIN’!!

  25. Random says

    It’s funny many of us like to ride even if we’re on traffic, even if we’re going not so fast. Hard to believe someone in a cage thinks the same way.

  26. says

    I started riding because I love to drive. I love to drive long distance.
    Sadly gas prices have taken a lot of the pleasure out of just going out for a drive.
    Picked up a 150cc scooter for my girlfriend and all of a sudden we were out again for no reason at all just riding around. My logical thinking went something like:
    Scooter = Fun, Motorcycle = More Fun.
    A used Triumph Thruxton and lots of little work getting it back from nearly 4 years of sitting later and I was in love. My only regret? I didn’t buy a bike sooner. Day or night, rain or shine I’m in love.
    The car you get in and go. The radio is nice and on a good day everything can come together well in the car but it’s not very active.
    The bike though is work and participation.
    I’m thinking about it before I ever even get on. I’m strapping on my helmet listening to the engine warm up, thinking about the road ahead, if everything sounds right. There is no choice but to, the ritual involved in getting ready just demands it, at least a little bit. The feel, the motion, the pull as you give it some throttle, the lines of the road vanishing behind you. Every bump it felt, you are working with it, you are feeling the corners and the cracks and the seams in the road. You are realizing just how crappy the paving job was. It demands your attention and concentration.
    You just can’t the same thing from a car, especially one in an affordable range. And there is something about it being on the edge the entire time. 80mph and if any of several dozen parts were to break it could easily all be over. You appreciate the manufacturing that went into it. You don’t get that in a car. A something breaking on the car while dangerous isn’t the same deal breaker can be on a bike. It becomes an inconvenience. A part you never thought about or appreciated.
    There it all is on display though, a gas tank hung over an engine running 160+ degrees and nothing but two wheels between you and the road. To someone who had never seen one it must sound a lot like riding a time bomb. But it works, works well, it works everyday. And once you stop you just feel good and want to keep going. You might be tired and a bit broken, but the road just keeps calling. Everything just falling behind you for while you ride. It’s immediate importance lost. For that time there is only the road.

    Yes I’m still fairly new to riding and so maybe I’m still in the honeymoon period. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve been riding a lot longer than the calendar seems to suggest. Some 22,000+ miles in 10.5 months. I did 100 mile loop once just to go out to buy a soda at the convenient store because everything just felt so right about the bike at that moment. Never once did it cross my mind to do that in a car. Wish I had bought a bike sooner…though I could be a risk taking stupid driver bent on speed/time/distance back in the old days…so maybe it’s for the best I waited so long.

  27. mikesundrop says

    Growing up I loved tinkering with anything mechanical. I accumulated old lawnmowers, golf carts, whatever was laying around. One day one of my dad’s coworkers told him he had “a piece of a minibike or something” and he asked if I wanted it. I’ll take anything free so I went to pick it up. “It” was a 1974 RD350. The first twist of the throttle changed my mind about what fast was and I was hooked.

    Nothing smaller than a motorcycle gives the operator the capabilities of a bike.
    Nothing larger than a motorcycle can feel as connected tot he operator as a bike.

  28. says

    Riding atop a 2-wheeled machine & controlling its entry speed, lean angle, apex line, & exit speed ‘just so’ is a gratifying expression back to the designers, engineers, & laborers who brought it to life.

  29. Jim says

    I wanted a motorcycle when I was five years old because I hadn’t yet learned to ride a bicycle — my child’s logic told me that a motorcycle, with its bigger tires, wouldn’t fall over so easily. When my older sister taught me to ride a bicycle, I realized I loved being on two wheels and waited for the day I could get a motorcycle. I always was thrilled to see the big guys riding their BSAs, Harleys, Matchlesses, Triumphs, AJS’s etc. I did the usual sequence of bicycles, then a mini-bike, then learned to ride on a friend’s Bridgestone 175. I finally bought my first bike, a 1972 BSA B50, after reading a report in Hot Rod magazine, of all places. A friend of a co-worker had one for sale and I bought it in the late summer of 1974 for $750 after riding it once. I knew nothing about the bike but got my license and two weeks later I took that thumper on the highway for a 180-mile jaunt to my parents’ farm in Michigan. The muffler had a fist-sized hole in the back, and my ears rang like a fire bell when I arrived. I managed to crash in a field, spraining my right shoulder and breaking a front fender stay. A local welding shop fixed the fender and my shoulder healed enough to ride home. After that I was hooked.

    I’ve had that BSA ever since then and have spent many happy hours tinkering and fixing; only during the past two or three years have I really understood that old machine, and a set of Boyer electronic ignition has finally made it run the way God intended.

    So why do I ride? Because I’ve loved motorcycles since I was a kid. My English mother liked them and told me of the times in her younger days when she rode on the back of friends’ bikes. When I first told her I bought that B50 she asked for a ride rather than disapprove. I’ve ridden cross-country and traveled all over the Southwest on an XS650 Yamaha. Riding simply felt right the first day I swung a leg over my AMF bicycle, it felt right on that friend’s Bridgestone, and feels right now.

  30. Don H says

    Why do I ride? I loved my bicycle as a kid. With the help of the local blacksmith we instaled a Briggs & Straten motor. I have since owned more motorcycles than I can remember to count. Now I am approching 80 years old, and still riding. Why do I ride – it is a part of who I am.

  31. Beale says

    I ride for a heightened sense of awareness. When I ride, I go deeper inside my head and further outside of it, simultaneously. I can be canyon blasting, trail riding, slabbing it, it all sends me into that zone. Working on my bike late at night in the garage has the same effect.

  32. LittleMissMotorcycleGirl says

    I like to say it was “CHiPs” that got me into it, but, the real motivation for learning (finally learned 18ys ago) was because motorcycling appeared more natural: to be part of the elements, part of the machine (I had no idea of how this singularity with elements and machine could be so incredibly stimulating and spiritual). I continued riding because I fell passionately in love with all aspects of riding. A few yrs ago succumbed the thrill of sport bikes & track riding (again…no idea of the level of intimacy and discipline that sport riding entails-talk about i.n.t.e.n.s.e love affair(s). I will ride until I am physically unable to.

    Re: Todd’s: no more back problems…true that…but…wuw/t? –you’d think the opposite would be the case.

  33. Shane says

    Why do I ride? Its fun. its a way of life been doing it for 30 years and still love going for a ride. I don’t own and never have owned a car and when i do drive it doesn’t do anything for me and only 5 bikes in all that time.stay upright

  34. Ramadancer says

    Paul…you really got us going on this one w/42 comments on 1st day. Technical attraction is a very great part of the facination with these machines.
    So much rotary and reciprocal motion occuring “really close to home” beneath the tank and seat…reported almost magically through sight, sound, and movement…all delivered in an experience unlike no other….via a simple, anti-clockwise twist of the right wrist.

  35. david says

    there was always a joke I liked to use when people ask me this question: “I ride because I’d like to leave this world the same way I entered it; crying, screaming, and covered in blood.” it usually goes over well enough that I don’t have to offer a real reason.

  36. Jonathan says

    After 5 cars and one major accident by the time I was 18, I could no longer afford 4 wheeled transportation (mostly due to insurance post-accident). An 83 Shadow 500 served me faithfully for nearly 2 years after the cars. 4 months ago I upgraded to a 99 Shadow ACE 750. I have always been able to carry what I needed, afford gas, repairs, insurance, find parking and don’t need aircare (none of which I could say for car 3 with the exception of parking). I’ll ride in a monsoon. I even have a windshield now! Plus, parking at college is cheaper. And those are just the economic reasons! Already my pegs are worn over halfway up the sides :)

  37. menormeh says

    I was maybe 5 or 6 when a friends older brother got an old BSA single. It rattled and clanked and never seem to run very well but when it did I was hooked. I got my first bike when I was 14 for $17.00, a 1937 Francis Barnett with a 49 cc Villiers engine. I couldn’t get enough. A year later I upgraded to a $30.00 ’39 BSA C10 250 single. Next a 49 Pan, then a 71 Norton……..and so on and so on. Today I ride a 2008 Goldwing, my 20th bike. After more than 50 years I am just as enamoured as ever……maybe even more so. I have been through the outlaw phase when I was still in my teens. That particular club has now folded into an Angels Chapter. Later, when I had a BMW and considerably more respectable, I was prompted to join a local BMW club. The clubs were fun for the most part but I never really needed them. Hot or cold, sunshine, rain or snow, light or dark, it was always and still is about the ride. I figure I’ve got maybe another 20 years or so and then will be relagated to a scooter. Maybe a Bergman. All I know is that it is the only thing that has remained with me for my entire life and I will die with the urge. Something about the going of winter and the total freedom of riding will always be in my heart and will always welcome it……….

  38. Motorod says

    Long ago I stepped up from a Schwinn Corvette to an ancient BSA Catalina, and that was that. Satori. Still at it all these decades later. It’s a sickness, and salvation. The Thing That Makes Life Bearable.

  39. Terry Gerweck says

    So many words, all are true but somehow there doesn’t seem to be the right combination to define the answer. I ride because I need to!

  40. woolyhead says

    Ahhhh……the tales I could tell ! I had no idea that a 305 Honda Dream could be so much fun in 1964……the world is lucky I didn’t get a Superhawk……and it’s better than ever at age 62.

  41. Hawk says

    I fell in lust for motor cycles as a child seeing a older teen ride down the street on this cool old bike… Cushman, many, many years ago and could see the enjoyment and tranquil look on his face. I knew then I would ride some day.

    My parents would not hear of it and we were to poor to enable me to have one anyway. I started working a prper route at 11 to save money so one day I could have one of those machines. I was hook even deeper when a young friend got a Honda cl90 and scrambled all over the woods and town on the thing and the mind set locked in me so far through the yeas and more at 57 still love them.

    I was able to get my own at 17, a 350 Honda cl350 and man it was so cool. wheels of freedom to go street or trail. I rode, jumped, raced and loved that old bike. Memories of fun times and great friends all include motorcycles. The girls that like bikes were the best and I did not have time or interest in those that did not. That old bike carried me to school, college and hated to sell it when I messed up and married a false woman, not interested in bikes, bad mistake. That lasted to long and when free it was bike time again.

    Back on bikes it was time to try as many as possible; dirt, street, trail, crusier and sportbike. All great and offer different enjoyment as they are and filled a need within me. Discovery of self ability, society, environment and life; travels, camping, speed breaking fun. Again memories made on the wheel.

    People who ride bikes are quite varied but most seem to share a small core bond even though those social clicks still seem to divide. Humans egos.

    Me at 57 I still ride sportbikes almost entirely. Love them and what they offer. Speed, exhilaration, rebellion, challenge, danger, precision, technology and of course that feeling of that drifting treasure… youth. I have experience the pleasure of excellence of riding and the pain of the mistake. Broken but healed and lost friends in tragedy, I still have that lust for them I had as a youth..but I have that enjoyment and tranquil look on my face, hopefully for a year to come.

  42. Derek X says

    When I wrote this 11/04/84, I only had my motorcycle as transportation (Honda CB 750F Super Sport), and I was living in my old Santa Fe travel trailer deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains while I was too slowly rebuilding the engine for my ’72 Honda Civic in a friends garage in the Cupertino hills. This is a composite of many of my rides, and I suppose it qualifies in some way.
    The Ride

    Sunday morning, six o’clock, the alarm wakes me. I put on my black leathers, boots, and helmet. I climb onto my bike and fire it up, I’m ready to roll.
    Through Boulder Creek, and up the Nine to skyline. Twisting, turning, hairpin turns, the morning sun filters through the redwoods.
    The only sound is my bike screaming as it nears red-line. A deep growl exits the exhaust, a beast is loose on the highway.
    A straight-away, I accelerate up to speed, a left hander, I brake hard then enter it on the pipe, I exit hard. I fly down Skyline, too early for the law. I’m smooth and in the groove, today luck is my passenger.
    Finally, with adrenalin pulsing through my arteries I pull up at Alice’s (Restaurant) and start to relax. Bikes everywhere, must be a hundred of ’em. They’ll wait… time for breakfast first. I sit on the porch eating, and looking at everybody and their machines.
    A couple of friends see me and join me for breakfast, we talk bikes, and nothing else.
    The CHP is out now, they cruise slowly by, as does the sheriff, in a show of force. We finish eating and walk amongst the machinery.
    Sun on chrome, the smell of hot tires, and two stroke oil, and the sweet sound of bikes starting up. A squid does wheelies in the street, another does a burner as he jets up Skyline. Now it’s time for a change of scene, too many people here.
    Now I’m solo again, heading down La Honda Road toward the coast, more twisties and impressive redwoods till the beach. I hang out for an hour or so, watching the waves and the gulls. Smelling the pure salty air, and listening to the surf break on the rocks below.
    Now I’m off down Highway One, to Santa Cruz and home. As I head back towards Scotts Valley over Highway 17, I see all the beach traffic getting an early start at 10am. Bumper to bumper, hot sun, loud stereos, hot tempers…
    They can have it, all I need is my bike and an empty mountain road.

  43. Derek Larsen says

    So I know how to disassemble and reassemble a carburetor. It’s like a flower or some other reproductive organ, only made of metal and drenched in gasoline.

  44. says

    I ride because I love everything about the sound, the visual, the technical, the challenge, and the success of cleaning section or choosing the best line. I ride because I should have gone pro instead of chasing girls and building hotrods. I ride because it is the dangerous diversion I need as I don’t have the maturity yet to stay out of “trouble”. I ride because it feels right, good, fulfilling. I ride because my kids now ride with me. I ride because it is that kind of fun that only comes from hard, sweaty, impossible effort. I ride because I want to race again some day when I have enough money. I ride because my wife loves to go wine tasting by motorcycle. I ride to prove I still have it. I ride because the Lord has blessed be with the health, the bike, the support, the location and the opportunity.

  45. f0ul says

    Such a simple question – such a difficult answer!

    Is it just the purest fun, or are you not allowed to have fun after the age of ten?

  46. woodco100 says

    Simply to get away from it all. I build my own bikes as a hobby from wrecks and abandoned projects. Learning to lace a wheel, properly jet a carb or making you own seat cover is as important to me as the actual ride. Which is the reward for hard work and learning experience.

    The new bike, push button, trade up techno crowd is fine, they keep the dealers open. But I build/ride mostly to be alone for a few hours in this crazy world. There is nothing like the sound of an air cooled, carbed V twin singing its simple song on lonely back road. When you have installed every bolt on that bike it sounds all the sweeter. Last night I rode an 82 GS650G I pulled out of a barn a month ago. Carbs/calipers/battery/tires, no suprises. Fired right up. Every UJM I rode in the 70s/80s came rushing back into my head.

    In “High Plains Drifter” Clint Eastwood rides into town and orders a beer and a bottle. Then requests “A quiet hour to drink it in”. I ride for that quiet hour.

    Of course he does shoot 3 guys in the next scene!!

  47. woodco100 says

    …and of course you had to show me the pic of the Honda Mugen MRV1000! A buddy just gave me an 80s Maxim XJ750 frame for free, If I could shoehorn in an early sporty motor and that XS650 frontend…”Honey, I’ll be in the shop…”

  48. filthy919 says

    to crush your enemies,
    see them driven before you,
    and to hear the lamentations of the women.

  49. Claymore says

    That was a nicely written article, Paul.

    I ride for the fun of it. I like the sound of the engine, the feel of the road, and the raw wind. There is a stretch of road near my house where I can ride for twenty minutes straight without seeing another vehicle. Sometimes if I haven’t been able to ride for a while I’ll just hop on the bike and go for 20 minutes, turn around, and come home again.

  50. Paulinator says

    Nortley…you nailed it (for me). Well put. The world was a vast adventure when I explored it on my metalic gold CCM chopper.

  51. says

    riding fills so many senses, to be keen and clear, and in control of your safety. with a thrill …as we get older riding is great for us as well your still that kid riding your first enduro but with the respect of what a machine can do to u if u let it. in traffic it’s a bit of a combat safety mission all at the same time…. clear roads and twist the throttle and ride that baby, it NEVER gets old just knowing your a part of a ridding community that gets it. we are a culture. and proud of it and seeing so many changes these last ten years makes me proud our sport has been so widly reconized…it proves we we’rent wrong when we were growing up and the other side sneered’ especilly my freinds parents when you show off that shiny new bike to your freinds not to mention my girlfreinds parents yeah those along with these are the good old days if you ride!
    i’ll end this post and go for a little ride………it’s what we do for all the reasons everyone has mentioned….chow

  52. Oldyeller8 says

    coho said
    “A motorcyclist passes through an environment while an automobilist generally passes by watching (we hope) through a screen.”

    I am a motorcycle instructor. I remember one fine and damp spring day taking the student on their first road ride. One of them says on a break “Wow! You can smell everything.”
    That is part of riding – a complete sensory experience.

  53. woodco100 says

    I remember back in the late 70s riding a Yamaha XS750 Special triple. I used to ride to Daytona almost every morning to sleep on the beach as I worked the graveyard. Everytime I took the offramp from 95N to Speedway you would feel the temp drop about 10 degrees at the bottom as it was still shaded from the sun.
    Wow, was that really 30+ years ago!

  54. Bob Nedoma says

    Because I feel the magic, even after some 48 years on motorbikes;… and: I DO NOT OWN a [road-legal] CAR. I love this planet.

  55. Steve says

    Out of economic necessity.

    In my mid-30s left my career to be a Stay At Home Dad. It cratered my “earning potential”. I’m now clawing my way into the workforce working as a $13/hr contractor doing a job I used to make $70k a year doing.

    I bought my ’97 Bandit 600 for $500, after a good carb clean and new tires it’s run like a champ. A couple hundred more dollars invested in repair classes at the local Community College and it keeps running like a champ.

    Once a week I spend about $7.00 to fill it up…

    So for 4 years now, my family of four has gotten by on one car and one bike. My wife rides as well, so on my days off I take the kids to school in the car and she rides..

  56. Joanna says

    I rode in college – I once took my BMW R-27 from LA to Carmel via Highway 1 and loved it. I stopped riding when I grew up and became a chicken. Then my kids grew up and left the house, and I started thinking I didn’t want to wake up in another 30 years still wishing I had gone back to riding. I took the safety course, bought a bike, and haven’t looked back. I ride more slowly these days (I’m 60), but I still love the feel of being one with the open road, the fresh smells of the forests and the farms as I ride by, and the great people I meet.

    Besides, when else is this ex-hippie chick going to have the chance to feel like Marlon Brando or Steve McQueen? :-)

  57. David says

    I ride because it demands a degree of focus that driving a car does not, and offers a feeling of unmatched freedom and solitude. I ride for the rush of adrenalin that comes when I let out the clutch and open the throttle. I am adicted to the smell of hot oil and aluminum. I have never owned a new bike. Instead, I revive old bikes that others have given up on, and there is nothing more satisfying than that first ride on a newly finished project.

  58. fast eddie says

    Grate question Paul . Wonderful reply’s from everyone . I ride to prove to my self
    that I don’t have ADHD. cool calm and collected that’s how I feel when riding
    It all started on a bicycle at age 6 , freedom very liberating on and on it went
    If a doctor wants to drug your kid get a bike , let him or her ride .
    join the AMA the good one blessings to all of “US” FE

  59. Cameron Nicol says

    Freedom. I can go just about anywhere. I seldom ride with others. When I see a road/ path/ trail I follow it. I ride a Honda CRF230L because it will follow my gaze and take me there. I take a GPS transponder so my wife can find me if I end up in a ditch or worse.

  60. Scott S says

    What a wonderful article Paul. I could go on forever… but in answer to your questions….What got me started was my Dad.He was a blacksmith and a farmer. Going to the races on the back of his CL72, BSA, BMW, or whatever he had at the time was just the most fun I had ever had. What kept me going was the fascination with the machine and racing in general. I spent a long time trying to make a living in the industry and have a lot of friends from that time. Will the bury me with my bike.? My wife would have something to say about that I think. The fact of the matter is that I have passed this passion down to my two sons who both love to ride and one of them loves to wrench as much as I do.

  61. Ramadancer says

    Here ya go Paul Crowe/Readers/Contribuitors/Kneeslider…… I ride ’cause I can read!…When I ain’t rid’in…I’m read’in!….. And when I’m read’in…the imagination serves up the ride, and of course, the photos/links add fuel to the fires of that known experience.

    Thanks for providing the stimulus to keep us all “pumped”. Look out Cycle World and all others….Kneeslider’s ‘rid’in up yur ‘tail!

    Need read’in fuel?….Check Paul’s coverage on the V-rod powered custom that follows this post.

    WFO when ya can,

  62. Ralph Verbouw says

    At 12 I watched a group of motorcycles in the south of France pass by. Beemers, Nortons and whatselse. Me and my dad just looked at each other and we understood. Without saying a word.
    At 25 I bought my first bike out of sheer rebellion. The same day came the first sense of freedom when riding. A bit later came the sensation of leaning into a turn or riding, a lonely stretch of highway or a twisty mountain road. It’s the nomadic part in you. You take off and a while later you are somewhere you haven’t been before. Who knows what life brings after the next turn. ????
    The smell, the feel, the vibration, the noise, the wind, the cold, the heat, the rain, the dust, the bugs, the looks other people give you.
    Some start riding, keep it up for a while and after that never touch a bike again. Some start riding and are hooked for life.
    I am 54 now and througout the years the riding in itself became more important then the chrome, paint or noise. No matter what happens next, each mile I put under my bike is a mile they can’t take away.

  63. Bjorn says

    I started riding motorcycles at 19, because I needed to cover distance quicker than on the bicycle. I had got my car licence for work earlier that year and intensely disliked being in a car, so a mate took me out and taught me the basics before I did the government course.
    I bought my first bike from that friend, and bought fuel instead of food. I rode to work each day; would visit friends and family in distant locations at night or on the weekends. I was never off my bike for longer than I had to be. Rebuilding my engines in rooms of cheap rental houses; I had nothing but a bike, a dog, books, bicycles and my tools.
    After the kids were born and we moved into town I walked to work and had no registered bike. I told myself that I had the same adrenaline fix; the same meditative, narrow focus from riding and racing mountain bikes. Occasionally I’d look at my bike under a sheet or glance at a racing photo and feel the urge deep within.
    We moved out of town and I needed a vehicle; my wife, who rode a motorcycle for years before she learned to drive, told me, if her desires went unsatisfied, so too would other desires of mine. I bought another motorcycle. As soon as I started to ride again, it felt like a homecoming and I knew that part of me had just been sleeping.

    At risk of being long winded, I thought I’d put in this piece of prose I wrote a couple of years ago that sums it all up for me.

    There is nothing like the sheer anarchistic joy of a high speed night run.
    A world defined by white and red; white lines, white posts, red reflectors and the red needles sweeping across the dials. The narrow corridor of white light that becomes the totality of the universe as caution is washed away by an imperial pint of bravery that rises with the irresistible force of a tidal surge from the depths of the adrenal glands.
    Animal eyes glow blue or red from the darkness as they search for the source of danger, to flee the terrifying howl before lights can freeze them in abject terror.
    I bite my lip and forget to breathe as familiar corners rush toward me at unfamiliar speeds. I’m not cruising home in top after eight hours of grind, I’m dancing on the pegs, working through the gears to keep the motor crying havoc as it propels me through each successive arc. I sing inside my head, the rhythm informs my movements, the tune keeps my mind centred on the task at hand while the words defy the fear of failure.
    Every line I’ve honed over time is strung together in one continuous, sinuous motion. I flow across the landscape like water, anticipating the way the bike will react to the road surface, each bump well known and allowed for in advance, each corner perfectly set up and executed.
    I am dancing with the gods tonight as I travel the entirety of the open road section in splendid isolation. I approach the town limits and begin to slow. Shedding velocity I pass the town sign at a pace that once again welcomes me among the decent. The run through town allows the engine to run at lower rpm before I shut down and coast into the drive way so as not to disturb my sleeping family.
    The bike ticks as it cools while I look at the stars.

    I ride because there is a place in me that is empty without a motorcycle underneath me.

    Ciao, Bjorn.

  64. SteveD says

    A motorcycle is naturally more exciting than a car simply because you’re not enclosed and protected, not to mention only dynamically stable. For this reason I don’t go looking for thrills. The mechanical feel of the bike alone is enough for me, so i just like to get on long roads and wander along. For this reason, comfort is more important to me than absolute HP. I love the feeling of travelling. On a bike, you’re just “in” the world and not separated like a car.

  65. Oldtimer says

    An excellent article, posing an excellent question engendering many, many excellent answers.
    I agree with most, but yet there is still something unsaid. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said. I can identify with most of the reasons given here. But there is still something…..just can’t put it into words…..maybe that’s just my communicative deficiency. I suspect though, that “it” is the reason I ride.

  66. Michael says

    My reasons have evolved over the 27 years I’ve been riding. When I rode my first street bike, it was a combination of fear, excitement at doing something new, and freedom. These still apply but have become like a runners high; something I need to do daily because I need my “fix”. A healthy fear keeps me on my toes, the excitement has not waned one bit, and the feeling of freedom I experience each time I ride is my psychotherapy. Of course, all of these are directly proportional to the RPM reading on my tach!

  67. ryde4ever says

    Fun and freedom. At 5 I learned to ride a bicycle. It was fun. At 6 I rode on the back of my dad’s motorcycle. It was fun. At 8 I started riding minibikes. It was fun. At 12 I had my first motorcycle. It was fun. At 18 I rode my motorcycle to work. It was fun. Skip a few years with out a motorcycle. Then Ninja, fun. Vulcan 500 (cruiser) not so fun to me, but at least I found out I am not a cruiser guy. Got my son a dirt bike. Hey this is fun!. Bought a small dual-sport. Fun. Bought a big dual-sport 37 years after my first ride on a motorcycle and this was the most fun yet.
    And of course Freedom. I just pick a direction and go. It is fun by myself or with friends.
    Did I mention fun?

  68. Siju Mathew says

    Because when I ride I be myself, forgetting everything else, forgetting all my limitations, being one with the machine, concentrating ….

  69. thedragonrides says

    I have only been riding since Oct 2009 and I have been compelled to write 15 pages about about my rides, read them at http://thedragonrides.blogspot.com/ which says it all. Only once have I wrote about traveling by 4 wheels, that was for a school essay when I was 15! Allbeit a bit special as it was an overland trip from UK to India.

    I will turn 59 in September 2010. And if I was to talk about a car journey in India it would go like this….

    The driver closes the door after I get into the seat belt. He turns on the cd player and AC, I fall asleep. I arrive at my destination.

    Enough said?

  70. says

    “I remember times when the weather was right, the road just so with curves one after the other and I fell into a flow where everything just became quiet. It doesn’t happen often, but those moments are precious and you know they’re out there waiting, maybe today, maybe next week, maybe not until next year and you can’t force it, you just keep riding, you’ll find them again.”

    …that’s the stuff right there.

  71. says

    all of the above……..
    You can join a club if your into guns, archery, stamps, etc…. but when you buy, own, ride a M/cycle you join an ultimate club.

  72. says

    BMW – From WWII Aircraft to F-1 racing. Always loved the White and Blue. Can’t afford a F-1 car so get the next best thing. Freedom, if only for a few moments at a time. Have haven’t seen the Rockies or the High Plains of Texas unless you were on a bike. It hits all the senses – even number 6. Ride safe.

  73. Cowpieapex says

    In what other place could one find 89 comments all completely true and in perfected agreement?
    I had not been riding for long when, watching that maudlin epic ‘Love Story’, I was struck by the realization that the leading man would feel better if he could just wind back the throttle and feel the wind in his face.
    40 years later and I still believe that no trouble in this life cannot be alleviated, if not ultimately solved, by a motorcycle.

  74. Bjorn says

    Your claim, “no trouble in this life cannot be alleviated, if not ultimately solved, by a motorcycle.” is most definitely correct; although some problems require a faster motorcycle than others.

  75. Core says

    I don’t ride yet. But for some reason for awhile I have had an continued interest in motorcycles. My first reason was fuel economy, but fuel prices have went back down from record highs and I am still interested.

    I guess I am doing what one would call research right now.

    Ive rode Dirt Bikes. Crashed said dirtbikes. But that’s what you get when you ride something with little too no brakes. So my first experiences with two wheeled vehicles is not so good. And that was when I was a kid. Now 25. The Kawasaki KLR 650 has my attention.

    Anyways after reading this… like three pages worth of comments I definitely want to ride now. I am thinking maybe even getting into this for a career. Motorcycle Tech.

    I think what I may do though is buy a used bike, repair it and see how things go from there.

  76. Core says

    Oh I forgot to mention, my interest in motorcycles lead me to this website, Which I guess is .. obvious.

  77. nateridesbikes says

    I got my first bike in 05 when i was 20 years old (00 Yamaha R6) because my friends had bikes and i thought it was cool. Once i started putting miles on i fell in love. I had to sell that bike about a year and a half later due to financial problems and it stood, at the point, as the worst day of my life. I promised myself i would get another and thats just what i did. In July i picked up an 05 R6 and the whole ride home i couldnt belive i was finally on 2 wheels again. i had a stupid grin on my face the whole way. That may have been the best point of my life. I love nothing more than just getting out and cruising around with the wind in my face and disconecting from the world. Motorcycles make my life better thats why i ride.