Saturday, 12 September 2015

Why Do You Like Bikes So Much?

Part of the pleasure is in the simplicity of the experience.
It's analogue, immediate and visceral, yet still mentally
stimulating, meditative even! Mark Webber knows.
Asked by a grade 9 this week upon seeing my wall of motorbike photos ranging from Coventry Eagles to Kawasaki H2s.  My answer:

"Bikes are faster than cars in every way that matters.  They cost a fraction as much, insurance is less, they barely use any gasoline and when you go around a corner you feel like you're flying."  The kid nodded and then said, "I'm gonna get a bike."

Beyond all of those excellent reasons there is also the involvement.  Cars have you sitting in a box, watching the world go by from behind a screen.  On a bike you're out in the world.  You see more, smell more, hear more, feel more, and you're expected to do more.  When you ride you're using both hands, both feet and your entire body to interact with the machine.

In a car you spin a wheel and it goes around a corner.  On a bike you counter-steer out of the turn to drop the bike toward the corner and then lean into it.  Once you get the hang of it, it feels like dancing.  The first time they had us weaving through cones at the introduction motorcycle course I said to the instructor, "I could do this all day!"  Bike acceleration is astonishing, but the cornering is magical.  If you want proof, find any twisty road on a sunny summer day and see how many bikes you see.

Bike cornering is magical.
In the hands of a genius it's ballet.

I've driven some pretty involving cars.  The best get you about 40% of the way to what a bike feels like, and I'm comparing sports cars that cost as much as a house to regular road bikes - I've never ridden a supersport or track bike.

There are lots of other reasons why you should ride a bike (the camaraderie and sense of belonging to a group that recognizes their own, the exercise it provides, the ability to go places a car couldn't, the rich history, the technological know-how), and only one reason why you shouldn't.  Yes, riding a motorcycle is dangerous (mainly because of all the people in boxes), and it demands attention and skill, but the benefits are epic.