Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Ride?

I was having a meal outside on the street trying to think of what to write everyone today.  I've had a post on safety and the mechanics of motorcycles but nothing on what actually drives us to ride them. The very second I was finishing this thought a group of motorcyclists roared up to the street light I was closest to. Without missing a beat I noticed that two were on newer model GSXR 600's, another on a Kawasaki and the other on a Ducati.  The GSXR's had some kind of aftermarket exhausts and the rider on the Kawaskai was wearing a mohawk on his helmet. Nothing special but there's something I can't ignore, the fact that riding a motorcycle isn't for the faint hearted.  Motorcycles are dangerous by nature, but why is this appealing? What is it about the ride that fuels our need for adrenaline? Is it: Danger? Thrill? Sounds? Smells? Looks?


I already assessed in my last post what it takes to be physically safe but I never talked about exterior dangers of being on a bike.  Of course I'm talking about our good old friends the Police. Whenever the boys in blue get behind me, my heart sinks because all I can think about is that this going to cost me hundreds of dollars.    While this deters many people from riding fast there's always going to be the few that decide stopping isn't an option.  The following link is a Youtube video that may get your heart moving. Cop fails to pull over bikes.  As you can see from the video, riding in a pack of people isn't the safest to begin with especially when there's a guy trying to "stunt" his bike down the freeway.  But then a policeman gets involved and all of a sudden I start to feel sorrow for this guy. Here he's having fun and entertaining a group of people and then we see a cop try and pull them over but one thing shines through, the remark-ability in riding with a group of people and the anonymity it can provide.  They can't pull us all over, so forget it and keep moving.  It's obviously not the safest of conditions but this is the danger that some people strive for.

Whats inviting about riding around the track 130 mph?  Is it the fact that I'm setting new goals to beat my fastest lap time? Possibly but how about the fact that my knees are willingly being slid along the pavement like antennae feeling how close the ground is.  Pictured above is my favorite Moto-GP rider Ben "Elbowz" Spies.  Ben has an extremely distinct style where he rides to the point where his elbows are dragging on the ground.  Forget about the knee, getting an elbow down means your close enough to kiss the pavement but at the same time you have to have enough control to bring the bike back to it's next turning position.  To many of us seeking speed this is the ultimate goal: To control my bikes speed in the corners to actually allow me to perform a maneuver such as this without having an accident.

 I love the sounds motorcycles make, every time I hear one I have to see what kind of bike it is thats responsible for that type of noise.  Most sportbikes are inline 4 cylinders with the exception of Ducati's and Harley Davidson's which have two very large pistons that form a V hence the name, V-Twin.  The Ducati's are always very distinct with their V-twin engines and dry clutch,  I can hear the Ducati's clutch above the other bikes "Clack Clack Clack Clack Clack Clack" is the sound the dry clutch makes free spinning at a stoplight.  Here's a video to show the sound of a "dry clutch" free-spinning and engauged.  It's invigorating to hear these sounds, something about them gets my heart to go pitter-patter.

Below are a few videos that I comprised that show differences between different types of engines.
Inline 4 cyclinder exhaust 05 Yamaha R1- stock inline 4 cylinder

Yamaha recently took their technology from the track and brought it to the street.  All inline 4 cylinder engines fire two at a time, but with Yamaha's "Crossplane technology" each piston fires in sequential order giving the power band a much more linear curve when plotted on a graph.  The following link is a video to show an example of Yamaha's Crossplane technology  09 R1 crossplane.

Everyone know's when a Harley is coming down the street, their extremely loud with their V-Twin engines and straight pipes.  The following link is a Harley with a screaming eagle exhaust.  Loud Pipes Save Lives

Some people like the smell of gasoline, but I personally love the smell of racing gasoline.  Walking up to the track you can smell the difference in exhaust.  The high octane that they use gives off a very distinct smell when flying by on the track, and to people like me, this is like the cologne of motorycycles.  The higher the  octane rating the more compression the gas can withstand before combusting.  Ergo the piston inside the engine recieves more of a push rather then an explosion blowing the piston backwards.

Bikes all have their own Genre, sportbikes look sleek while Harleys take on the rugged look.   Bikes in general all have their own personality's, whether it's a bad-ass blacked out Harley or a sleek looking Ducati they each have their own characteristics that are appealing to different kinds of riders.

Whether it's the danger, speed, sounds, smells or looks we all ride for a reason these are just a few of my own personal interests.

Johnny 5-


  1. I enjoyed the part about the danger of police and the attitude that when you're in a pack you won't get pulled over, hence riding more dangerously. Wondering if more accidents happen when people are riding with others or solo? racing gasoline, the cologne of motorcycles. that is pretty funny.

  2. I feel like you can better answer the question you ask in the title: why ride. You name the reasons and give examples of their manifestations but don't talk about how those elements of riding fit into the desire to ride.

    you can draw out each of these paragraphs and maybe even make them separate posts that follow each other... there's so much to be said-- What is it about getting your elbows to ground level that is exciting? People like riding because they like danger-- but why? This question can be a post of its own.

    What is the thrill about? Is it the thrill of being so close to danger but surviving? What is a thrill? What does your thrill feel like to you personally?

    Noise-- what is that about? Why do bikers want a loud vehicle???? I never got that-- It's always annoyed me and I don't get what it is about this need to deafen every other commuter?

    I like your smell bit because it's personal as well as informative but you can linger on the description of that sensory pleasure-- for example when I used to ride horses, I used to love the smell of horses because 1) it made me feel part of a unique group of people who have acquired a taste (the smell) as a result of loving riding-- pride. 2) In the smell, I smelled what I was about to embark on, the excitement of being on a horse and galloping away... 3)It's comforting and I could go on but you get the idea...

    1. I see what your saying, I feel like that's the most difficult part to describe. I'm going to take your advice and make a post simply about the thrill of riding.

      As for the loudness part of things I totally understand your point. In fact Southpark has an entire episode on people the ride load harley davidsons. check here-->

      But the fact is loud noise can be associated with power, something riders seek, not to mention it lets people know that were around them possibly keeping a driver from clipping a rider in their blind spot.