We all have passions, hobbies or things that we’re truly crazy about. Well, motorcyclists are really crazy about their bikes and the wide open road. Bikers can easily be identified by their leather jackets, carefree attitude and, of course, their two-wheeled roaring beasts that make heads turn every time. However, it’s pretty hard to understand how bikers feel about their motorbikes and road trips if you’re not one yourself. What are these secrets of the Universe? Well, I’m afraid, only another biker would understand.
1. We dress for battle
Motorcycling in Iceland – Photo credit: Eric Welch
Getting ready for a ride is like putting on armor. We can all agree that superbike riders in their one-piece leathers with elbow, knee, back, shoulder and knuckle protectors look like battle bots.
But what I’m talking about is the leather jacket. The one you’ve had for years, that’s bent and creased to your shape. Or the boots that bear the scars and scuffs of a thousand tarmac kisses that are just as comfortable as an old pair of slippers.
2. A nod is as good as a wink
Photo credit: Ilham Hanifa
Bikers, on the whole, are a sociable lot. Depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, you can drop into a greasy spoon for a cuppa or a bike night for a brew, and within minutes you’ll be chewing the fat with complete strangers about your shared favorite subject.
This brotherhood extends to the road too. See another biker heading towards you and a wave will usually get you one back. This custom does though differ from country to country. French and Spanish riders tend to wave with their leg. If you think about it, this is quite sensible as hands stay on the bars. However, be aware that you may be waving to someone with a cramp.
Incidentally, the whole waving thing was supposedly kicked off by no lesser biking gods than Arthur Davidson and William G. Harley. The story is that when passing each other on the road they would wave to one another and the tradition stuck.
3. Riding a motorcycle makes you a better car driver
Photo credit: Austin Neill
An actual stone cold fact. If bikers want to live through the daily ordeal of suicidal pets, jaywalkers, sleeping truck drivers and texting school run moms, they have to ride defensively.
Defensive riding doesn’t mean learning martial arts or carrying a crossbow. It just involves reading the road at least four cars ahead. Backing off the throttle or covering the brake when approaching junctions etc. It’s not rocket science just basic common sense. When you’re out in the elements on your bike, it also raises your awareness and reaction time. You can see the types of easily made mistakes that car drivers are prone to. And it’s all this information and experience that you take with you when behind the wheel.
4. Road trips rock!
Motorcycle road trip Red River Gorge, US – Photo credit: Rohan Makhecha
Not only do they make you a better rider, but they also make you a better person too. Planning a motorcycle road trip makes you realize the importance of logistics and information. Packing for it encourages you to de-clutter and rationalize your essentials.
What’s harder to equate though is the psychological impact it has on you. A road trip that has led you to foreign lands to explore new cultures and languages will return you a changed person. A solo trip teaches you independence. Take along a pillion, and you’re learning how to consider the needs of others.
5. You don’t sit on someone’s ride without being invited
This may seem an obvious courtesy, but I’ve seen random members of the public sit on a bike and jump up and down on it making engine noises. What is going through their heads? Apparently, they just don’t understand that they could damage paintwork, set off an alarm or even drop your pride and joy. So, it is up to us to politely but firmly educate them.
6. You’ll never ride alone
Photo credit: Rafael Lopes de Lima
Whether you’re commuting to work, or on the road trip of a lifetime, you will never truly ride alone. There’s an unwritten law that states anything with legs or wings, be it animal or insect, will be so enamored of your god-like two-wheeled presence they will be overwhelmed with the need to share your personal space.
With split-second accuracy, cats will sprint across the road in front of your wheels. Dogs believe that front tires are chewing toys and Hornets will navigate straight towards your head and lodge themselves in your riding helmet.
7. You will get the ‘death stare’
It’s a hot day, you look cool, you’ve just polished your bike and you pull up to a stoplight. A car pulls up alongside and the perspiring, harassed occupants give you the stop light stare. This is the type of look usually reserved for mass murderers and politicians. Look straight back at them, adjust your sunglasses and take a deep breath of all that fresh air.
And of course, if you’re first in line, you always could demonstrate the acceleration power of your machine. Bye bye!
8. Motorcycling is good for your health
Motorcycling Australia – Photo credit: Ryan Waring
It’s not a secret; bikes are heavy. And what happens when you move heavy things around on a regular basis? You get stronger. Every time you go for a ride, it’s like a mini workout.
You’re working your neck muscles, shoulders, back and thighs. In fact, you name it and the chances are you’re working it. Riding is good for your mental health too, either acting as a pressure relief valve or increasing your feeling of confidence and self-worth. Hey, who needs a therapist?
9. You will learn about all things mechanical
Motorcycles, in general, are much simpler machines than their four-wheeled counterparts. Nearly every component is just hanging out in the open, ripe for the picking. Being able to inspect, maintain and repair a variety of motorcycle makes and models are some of the benefits that come from repairing general parts on your own. Motorcycles are used by commuters, enthusiasts, and racers. Individuals with experience and knowledge in motorcycles repair and maintenance can make a living by working at a repair shop or by opening a business.
Here are some basic maintenance tasks you can do yourself and from which you can progress to more complex repairs:
- Changing your oil
- Change oil filter
- Check air pressure of tires
- Check brakes
10. A bike gives you bang for your buck
Photo credit: Pedro Henrique Santos
A used Yamaha R1, GSXR1000 or even a Suzuki Hayabusa (I wouldn’t recommend any of these machines though…) will set you back maybe $5,000 and can take you from 0 to 180mph quicker than a Tesla Model S in Ludicrous mode (or other really fast supercars). And what’s more, it will also cost $1.5m less.
*This article was originally published on BikeBrewers.com.
Enjoy the company of other motorcyclists that are just as passionate about their bikes and the road as you on a guided motorcycle tour!