Thursday, April 19, 2012

Adrenaline Junkies

Hey there again,
I had some questions about what makes people ride motorcycles?  I thought I had it covered in my post  Titled "Why Ride?" but it seems like I just didn't fill my reader's appetite.  I felt like this was an easy task at first and then as soon as I tried to answer the question exactly I found I didn't know how to respond to it.  So this time I will again attempt to answer the elusive question "Why people ride Motorcycles"

I can speak from personal experience that thoroughly enjoy every aspect of riding and part of these motivations are intrinsic and some are extrinsic motivators.  I would like to point out that most of the reasoning in my post "Why Ride?" were extrinsic motivators including. I would like to start with the extrinsic motivators because I feel these are the smaller part of actually mounting up on a motorcycle.

Extrensic Motivators

From my post titled "Why Ride?"
 I love the sounds motorcycles make, every time I hear one I have to see what kind of bike is responsible for that type of noise.  Most sport bikes 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 engaged.  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 cylinder 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 "Cross-plane 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 Cross-plane 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 motorcycles.  The higher the  octane rating the more compression the gas can withstand before combustion.  Ergo the piston inside the engine receives more of a push rather then an explosion blowing the piston backwards.

Bikes all have their own Genre, sport bikes 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.
Some people use motorcycles as an ends to a need, in this case the need is commuting.

Another blog from a classmate of mine states how she doesn't like motorcycles but somthing was appealing about this particular green Kawasaki Ninja. She says, " It was not until I walked out for my mid morning class that I saw it. She was so beautiful. Her exterior color was so beautiful. Later I found out her name was Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.It was so beautiful and perfect and as I saw the guy drive off with her, the scene was just as beautiful even if the sun was just rising. Now I am not a stalker or anything I just know he parks there as I walk out of class."

There has to be something in the design of these motorcycles that encourages people of all kinds to want them. I'm sure that manufactures are dumping millions of dollars into the design of these mechanical beasts so it would only make sense for them to be appealing to the eye.

Just to quickly reiterate, some people like to ride motorcycles just for all of the extras that come along with it, whether it's that Harley bad-ass look or the decked out racer in leathers we all have some kind of status or desired look to what we find is attractive about motorcycles.  It's simply appealing to many people and this is why there are so many different makes and models, to suit everyone's different needs.  What I would like to get into is the actual intrinsic motivators that push these separate genres of people to ride the way they do.

Intrinsic Motivators

I feel like this is the hardest part of answering the question "Why ride?" I had just briefly touched upon it my post where I labeled it Danger and Thrill.  What drives people to seek out Danger and Thrill?  What drives humans to do dangerous activities?

Do you remember the last time you went on a Roller-Coaster that you were unfamiliar with?  You knew that everything should be okay as long as you didn't freak out right?  This is very much like the first time riding a motorcycle, as long as you follow the rules and don't freak out everything should be okay.  Breaking that first time experience can be very difficult for many people and this can be connected to risk assessment and willingness to encounter danger.

What do we seek about danger? Why are people constantly doing death defying sports and stunts? To please other people and make money or fill that empty hole of adrenaline?

Risk vs. Reward

"Individual Risk Preferences and education are the additional two factors that are of potential
relevance to risk behavior." -Effects of demographics on Risky Decision Making

"Risk perception basically means, as how an investor perceives about a risky situation and how
that situation is controllable (Baird and Thomas, 1985). Whereas, risk propensity is investor’s present
bent to obtain or evade risk. It actually considered as an individuals’ characteristic that can change

I think this boils down to a person's individual perception of how much they think the risk vs. reward is.  To some people this risk is too much and this is why they never set foot near a bike and others that are willing to make this leap.

As my class mate put it in her blog "As a child I thought they looked amazing and so liberating, I had one time thought of riding one when I grew up. Then reality started settling in as I grew up. I am too much of a chicken to ride one " The thought sat in her as a child, when she was young and didn't know the consequences of what might happen on a bike and as she so eloquently puts it reality started setting in and realizes she wasn't the type of person to ride. I feel this is the case for many people, and that the reward of riding a motorcycle is diminished by the fear of physical harm. This can put a huge psychological block in front of a person not to ride.

Harlan Ullman states that " In assessing future danger... Known threats arise from troubles that can arise from trouble spots already known to people. Unknown threats are threats that are completely unknown to people and what they can predict" (Known and Unknown Dangers). While it may seem silly I feel this is another reason why many people never get on a bike. There are simply too many unknowns for them to actually enjoy the ride. if a person is well equipped with knowledge (mabey by reading my blog) then the dangers may seem like less and they would be more willing to get on and ride.

Attraction To Danger or (Bad Boys or Girls for the matter)
People like danger but why?  After long searching on the internet I could only find a bunch of peoples ideas about their addiction to adrenaline hardly any of which seemed credible.  However I did find an article about why girls are attracted to "bad boys" another thing that might get some of our adrenaline going.

So what is it about "bad boys" that makes them so irresistible to some women? "A bad boy offers something that's different," says 31-year-old accounting manager Anese Collins, who recently became involved with a man she considers a "bad boy. There's more excitement associated with somebody who's very different from you," she adds. "Bad boys don't subscribe to societal rules, and they are willing to challenge the norm. They are assertive in their behavior and are very take-charge. They don't take no for an answer" (Why some Women like Bad Boys).

So the attraction may be the fact that riding a motorcycle is different and this can be very appealing to some people.  A lot of people like to go against the grain and hopefully this helps understand why we have this attraction to such a dangerous machine.  


If you ever come across a motorcyclist whats the one thing they usually know how to do?  Assert themselves, this has to do with gaining the right of way in traffic.  I may be wrong here but I do feel that riders know when to take the right of way and this can transfer over into people's personal lives.  It can make a person that was never sure of themselves and give them the confidence they need to make themselves known, in life and on the road.

I've always found with myself that confidence is a huge factor.  If I'm confident that I can make that turn or make it between those cars in time I'm going to take that chance.  Problems arise when a person hesitates and they lose that window of opportunity.

You have to know if your going to get a bike your going to go down sooner or later.  And it takes a confident person to know that this is the truth, or completely naive in that they are never going to fall.  

I'd like to share a small portion of what motorcycles can do for people, this comes from Time Magazine and also a portion from Harvard Medical School.

" All the patients saw their cycles as extensions of their masculine selves. Said one: 'The noise is all you hear. It's masculine and makes me feel strong. I approach a girl on a cycle and I feel confident.' Without their bikes, the students also lacked confidence socially and academically. Passive, apathetic and inactive, the afflicted students spent their non-cycling hours sleeping, talking aimlessly, drinking beer, or escaping reality in TV and drugs. When anxiety threatened to overwhelm them—often in the middle of the night—they took to their cycles for the illusion of "doing something and getting somewhere." (Motorcycle Syndrome)

Bikes have a magical power locked deep down inside them and it takes a person to overcome their own fear to open Pandora's box and let this magic out.  Some people make this leap of faith while others prefer to only look at the box and wonder, or just be plain ignorant and pretend that the box doesn't exist.


The more an individual can be prepared for the ride the safer they can feel.  Whether this is mental preparation to get on the bike or physical training to learn how to balance better.  Any kind of preparation is better then none.  You know how the saying goes, "Practice makes Perfect!" and the only way to get ready to ride is by practicing through mental rehearsals and putting yourself in the shoes of a rider.

I don't mean to beat a dead horse but being prepared also means wearing the safety equipment.  Check my post on Speed and Safety to find the best possible gear for the ride.

I hope this helps with the "Why" in "Why Ride?"

Johnny 5-


Ullman, H. (2006, Spring2006). Known and Unknown Dangers. National Interest. pp. 69-74.

The Motorcycle Syndrome. (1970). Time, 96(23), 75.

Why (Some) Women Like 'BAD BOYS'. (2003). Ebony, 58(6), 73.

No comments:

Post a Comment