IMAGE BY JON NEWELL
I used to be jealous of people who had grown up riding, who had never known a time before two wheels. And, to be sure, there’s no accounting for the skills you accumulate after years and years of riding.
But even though I do wish I had spent my childhood tearing up the dirt, I’m glad to have experienced life both with and without a motorcycle. It gives me a different perspective on exactly how motorcycles can change your life.
Falling in love with motorcycles as an adult is a funny thing — you’re still the same person you were before. You still have the same job, same family, same responsibilities… but somehow, everything’s different.
A love of motorcycles seeps into the cracks of your life, changing the way you relate to the world, and the way it relates to you. Some of those ways are silly and surface-level, but others are truly meaningful.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time now, as the ways motorcycling changed my life keep piling up around me. I’m sure there’s some that I missed, if you think one of please feel free to share them in the comments below!
1) The weather gods will own your life.
Most people check the weather app at least once each day, barring any dramatic weather occurrence. After all, it’s nice to know if you’ll need a jacket.
But when you ride a motorcycle…. you might as well become a meteorologist.
Sure, there are some people who have the skills (and gear) to ride in all kinds of weather, and more power to them! But after your first ride in crappy weather without the right gear or skills, you rethink your “I’ll just ride anyway!” strategy pretty quick.
2) Your navigation skills will improve 100%.
When you drive a car, it’s easy to use your phone as a GPS to get where you’re going. And yes, some people have fancy GPS/phone mounts to use while riding, but most of us don’t. So, we have to do things the old-fashioned way.
Since learning to ride, I have become much better at using street names and street signs to navigate. My internal compass has improved quite a bit, too, which is useful when one of your favorite things to do is get lost riding
Also, not only will you be better able to follow a route, but you’ll have many more to choose from. I know at least two routes for each of my main destinations. Plus, a mental catalog of side roads for those I’m-not-ready-to-go-home-yet days.
3) You’ll become “the chick/dude with a motorcycle” in all your non-riding circles.
For the first few months after learning to ride, your life will be full of people either telling you how badass it is that you’re learning to ride… or how stupid. Some people will tell you you’re awesome, others will say “You ride a motorcycle now? More like a DONOR-cycle!” and laugh like they invented the joke.
Spoiler alert: they didn’t. But, they’re entitled to their opinion 😉
And then, after everyone gets used to you riding, every time they look at you they will think “rides a motorcycle.”
Case in point: I can’t remember a bad-weather day at my former office when one of my coworkers didn’t ask me, “Oh my god, did you ride today!?!” Uhm… am I cold and wet?
4) Half the clothes in your closet will become useless.
Okay, this one is definitely more for the ladies, but, I mean… skirts? Dresses?? Sandals?!? High heels?!?
Some women trade off dressing up and riding, and that’s great. But, because I work from home and rarely go out as it is, when I have the choice between dressing cute and riding… I choose riding.
Not to mention, sandals-and-sundresses weather conflicts exactly with perfect get-out-and-ride-all-day, weather. So put on some pants and let’s ride!
5) You’ll develop a (rightful) hatred for people who text and drive.
This one was a biggie for me. It’s an awful, awful feeling to pull up next to a car, in full scanning mode, and realize that the person driving that two-ton hunk of metal right beside you is not even looking at the road.
When I first learned to ride, I let my anger get the best of me, honking and motioning for them to put down their phone. Now, I just get the hell away as fast as I can.
PSA: If you ride or you love someone who rides, you have no excuse for texting and driving. Eyes on the road.
6) Your disposable income will disappear.
I’ve heard that some people get into riding because “it’s cheaper than a car.” And sure, the average motorcycle is cheaper than the average car.
But… that’s pretty much where the cheap-ness ends. Sure, parts might be less expensive for bikes on a per-item basis. But, unless you are a real hotrod-head (is that what they call themselves?), you’ll spend more buying parts for your bike than you ever did for your functional sedan.
And yes, some motorcycles get better gas mileage than some cars. But the advent of hybrids is doing a lot to level the playing field.
Then, there’s motorcycle insurance, which can be even more expensive depending on your bike, age, gender and location. And don’t forget about safety gear, which will cost you upwards of $1,000 for a complete kit at least.
Not to mention… yes, one motorcycle is cheaper than one car… but who only wants one motorcycle?
7) You’ll become a master at carrying as much as possible (and then some) on your bike.
Want to ride today but need to bring your gym clothes, your school books, your lunch, and your laptop? No sweat! After you’ve been riding for awhile, you’ll figure out how to pack all your daily necessities on your bike.
But, be careful, you might lose a few items before you get the hang of it! Personally, I stick to backpacks of all shapes and sizes — much less risk of losing something that way.
8) You realize there’s a lot more to motorcycles than meets the eye.
When I first started riding motorcycles, I knew I didn’t know much about them, but I didn’t realize exactly how much there was to know.
First, you’ve got several styles of riding — dirt bikes, motocross, adventure, racing, flat track, street. Then you’ve got all the different categories of bikes made for those types of riding, and the makes and models of those bikes.
And then you have the physics of riding — how and why different bikes perform the way they do, and what you can do to take advantage of those traits.
Not to mention, of course, the mechanics and science of the motorcycle itself… And don’t forget about safety gear and all its technology!
I have no problem calling myself a nerd, so this is one of the things that gets me most excited about motorcycles. I like that there’s always something new to learn, always some new way to appreciate a hobby I already enjoy. It’s the ultimate nerd fantasy.
9) You’ll find yourself in the middle of a vibrant community.
It’s no secret: the motorcycle community has some of the best people around. I have met so many giving, caring, interesting, thriving people in the motorcycle community. It routinely blows me away.
But beyond the actual people, there’s something to be said for simply being part of a community that gathers around a common interest.
I’m not naive enough to think that because two people both like motorcycles that they’ll be best friends. But becoming “best friends” isn’t the point. The best thing about the motorcycle community is that it gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with people who are different from you.
When it comes down to it, a motorcycle is a means of transportation. It can take you anywhere. Some people ride to their law classes, others ride to their jobs as nurse practitioners, and still more ride out to camp in the desert.
Almost anyone can make a motorcycle (or a passion for motorcycles) part of their life, and it’s exactly that diversity that makes the motorcycle community so awesome.
So, what do you think? Did any of these happen for you? Were there any I missed? I always look forward to hearing from you in the comments