Reasons for Not Riding a Bike and Their Rebuttal

Some things will never change, and one of them is the worried looks on the face of certain people when one of their friends mentions that he or she is considering starting to ride a motorbike. A handful of guys, most of which are either currently riding or are older and for one reason or another have stopped riding, will smile and start thinking about how they can help you become a good rider, possibly avoiding some of the mistakes they made. Meanwhile, others will be startled.
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Of course, choosing to become a rider is a very serious thing, and much consideration must go into this before even making the first move. Riding a bike is by far one of the coolest things man has invented, and provides its adepts with exceptionally rewarding experiences. Of course, everything has a price, but looking back to more than a century of motorcycling, it’s not hard to figure out that there are a lot of people who are willing to pay it.

This article was triggered by another piece I read not long ago and which made me smile, because it was laden with panicked ideas, and even worse, offered truncated facts, which were obviously not judged from both perspectives. So, here we go…

Claim 1: No Safety

People usually say that motorcycles are dangerous. The author of the aforementioned article brings seatbelts into discussion, which is exceedingly funny, because bikes and cars are two completely different things, and many of their particular characteristics simply cannot be measured against their counterparts.

Accepting seatbelts as one of the major safety-focused features in transportation works only for cars, and introducing this notion into the motorcycle equation is comparing apples to oranges.
In fact the generic “dangerous” term is the sum of all the bad things which can happen to a guy while riding a bike, and I’d say that many of the things which are usually mentioned as reasons for not riding a motorcycle are sub-included in this generic claim. Those advocating this danger should settle for it or for the other reasons which make it whole.

Riding a motorcycle has no inherent danger about it, but is definitely less forgiving when making errors. A motorcycle by itself is just as dangerous as a car is, nothing more and nothing less. Operate it wisely and have fun – venture beyond your skills or act like a mindless moron, and the bike will be quick to “tax” you. In either case, it’s the rider, not the bike.

Claim 2: No Protection

The lack of sufficient protection around the rider and passenger of a motorcycle is also often quoted as a main reason for never riding a bike. However, people who make such claims are forgetting a very important thing: this is exactly what makes life on two wheels wonderful! Motorcycles have been designed for people who are willing to get wet at times, get dirty when riding on muddy trails, people who don’t mind chewing on one or two bugs which may land on their smiling face.

Indeed, when an idiot runs a red light and hits a bike, or when the very rider is stupid enough to do the same, it’s the two-wheeler who comes off worse. There’s no thick sheet metal around the biker to protect them, but this is the very idea of feeling free. Even though I normally avoid using the term, but does “cagers” ring a bell?

Protection is a relative term, and to feed these guys their own recipe back, it’s the same discussion with people buying huge SUVs, saying that they feel more protected than in their small passenger cars. Following this reason would get all of us driving tanks…

Claim 3: No Comfort

Guys who can’t take an 8-hour ride with the T-shirt dripping with sweat under the merciless summer sun are right – there is not enough comfort for them on a bike. Sorry to say it, but bikes aren’t exactly for everybody, and I don’t want to sound too emphatic or pretentious, but those who ride tend to be a bit tougher than the rest, when it comes to transportation. And those who make long trips on their bikes are even tougher, just like those who ride at night or in the rain. Because that’s how things work.

Bikes were not designed to take comfort to the next step, even though certain models do offer a very high level of it. They were created to provide those riding them with as much pleasure as possible, allow them to move fast, go places which are off-limits for cars, and why not, look sexy. Comfort aboard a motorcycle is, of course, a good plus, but if someone is starting to ride expecting to feel like watching the favorite team win while sitting in a leather pro-shiatsu massage armchair in the cozy warmth of one’s home, then definitely motorcycles are the last thing they should get into.

Claim 4: Never Dry – Rain or Sweat

Even though this could have been included in the claim above, I preferred to make a special mention, as I have heard this complaint more than once. In most cases it’s true that riding a bike may end the day with you sweaty as a workhorse or dripping and cold like a drowned rat, because even the best Gore-Tex gear has its limits.

Still, if this is a major source of discomfort and even fear, it can be avoided by limiting riding to only those times of year when the weather is just perfect. Of course, this hardly makes anyone a rider, and not even a Sunday rider, but could still make ends meet with the pleasure of riding and fair weather comfort.

If you, however, want to enjoy your bike, then you’ll have to gear up properly. Depending on your location, you’ll have to fork out money on various pieces of gear: warmer if you live in colder areas or plan to ride all around the year, with better rain protection in wet areas, better ventilation in warmer climates and so on. There is so much riding gear available in stores around the world that not finding the right one for you is impossible.

And even so, you might run into a storm every now and then even though the ride started under a pleasant sun. It’s called life, and surprises are a big part of it.

Claim 5: You’ll Die

Valar Morghulis, so what’s the big deal? Take a look around and observe how many living riders who are doing just fine you’re surrounded by. Is riding a motorcycle a highway to hell? It could be, just like riding a mountain bike down the hill, eating pasta, driving a passenger car, scuba diving and whatnot. Is there a direct link between the motorcycle and the closed-casket funeral service? Only if you want to find one, but anyone in their right minds will say that you’re exaggerating.

It’s true that motorcycle riders involved in hard crashes die more often than occupants of a car in a similar scenario, but people usually get out for a ride trying to avoid this. Crashes are usually triggered by insufficient training/skills or law-breaking, and a good motorist learns how to spot danger and try to avoid tight situations. When the unexpected happens, it’s usually little we can do, but linking motorcycles and death is definitely not a sane approach.

Claim 6: A Blown Tire Is Deadly

How many of you have heard about motorcycle tires blowing, let alone seeing one blowing or actually being on the bike? I bet there are only a handful of you who have. Under normal circumstances, a blown motorcycle tire is a very uncommon thing, mostly because few bikes are still using tube-type wheels.

A sudden air pressure loss can occur in certain circumstances, but a well-trained rider will have excellent chances of remaining upright and coming to a complete halt safely. While a quick deflation of one of the bike’s tires is a serious problem which COULD lead to a crash, this is an issue which occurs very rarely.

Claim 7: You’ll Get Sick

Don’t we all get sick and perish? It’s true that speeding up the process is not exactly the smartest idea, but it’s better to have lived and paid the price of such “guilty pleasures” than to have never lived at all. Frankly, when it comes to this, I always remember a discussion I had with a really old rider who had come to a rally on his beautifully restored vintage 50cc machine.

He was obviously ridden with all sorts of afflictions, some of which were clearly the result of many hundreds of thousands of miles spent on two wheels in inclement weather. I asked him how it felt to be still riding and how he coped with all the wrist pains. He looked at me, drew another cigarette and after he lit it he told me, “I always knew that if I ever grow old, there will be all sorts of pains and illnesses. At least I know where some of mine come from.

Life could be better without them, but if I had to do it all over, I’d be more than willing to ride even more, because now you’ve got such advanced waterproof clothes, better helmets, warmer boots and gloves. I had none of these back in the day. You’re lucky, if you like riding, go out there and enjoy it. We only get one chance to have fun, make your life as beautiful and meaningful you possibly can.”
Need I say more?

Claim 8: It’s Expensive

This last claim is actually true, but this is a universal truth. Like all real hobbies, motorcycling is expensive. Once I heard some misguided fools saying that riding a motorcycle was a poor man’s choice. Entering a dealership shows nothing of the sort, but in fact quite the opposite: once you’ve skipped past the smallest of them, bikes are really expensive, with more than one or two models selling for prices which can easily rival what cars sell for.

Good riding gear is also an expensive investment. While you can buy a fancy baseball cap for 20 bucks and a pair of casual sneakers for 50 or less and call it a day, helmets tap into the one-grand-territory, and boots are anything but cheap. Dressing up for the ride is definitely not cheap, either, and bike maintenance does leave burning holes in the wallet at times.

But, just like any hobby, getting involved deeper and deeper in motorcycling provides unique experiences and rewards, allows you to meet new people, make new friends, see new places and become a better being. It involves sacrifices and risks, discomfort and hardships at times, and is often looked at with demeaning eyes by those who don’t understand anything about it or worse – don’t even want to.
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