There are many fractions within the motorcycling community. From the trailer happy weekend warriors to the iron butt cross country Goldwing champions. Though separated specifically by bike class, demographics, and geographic features, the passion for open air, two wheel propulsion bonds us all as motorcyclists.
Personally, I identify most with the big bike adventure crowd. I ride a 2005 BMW r1200gs with over 50,000 hard earned miles. I love the adventure crowd. Not the ones who bipp to the coffee shop on $25,000 show pieces in their $2000 pristine looking bike suits, but the ones who enter the wild places on their bikes – Exploring the less traveled road, camping, and enjoying nature and wildlife along the way.
To me the joy of riding is that it is the best way to travel, but make no mistake, the travel is only part of the overall goal. The larger goal is ultimately to explore and seek the adventure of great new places. Simply riding isn’t enough for me. I want to see things and experience new places. Any motorcycle will do. A dual sport bike is in my opinion the best way to enhance these kinds of trips because it will create a greater level of access than a road bike or sport bike. A visit to the Grand Canyon for example is wonderful. But a visit to the Grand Canyon on your motorcycle adds to whole experience.
I find myself trying to dissect the anthropological similarities and differences within the larger crowd. This isn’t a dissertation on the paternal shortcomings of Harley riders or the one foot in / one foot out nature of non-street legal dirt bike riders, but a closer look at the spirit of our kind. Are you really a motorcyclist if you need a truck and trailer to get where you are going? If you grind out the street miles your 250cc to tear up a recreation park, more power to you. You’ve earned it.

Ultimately, the bond we all share comes down to enjoying the process of two wheel travel. The amplification of your senses that comes with piloting a motorcycle. That heightened awareness of sight, sound, smell, touch, and that unmistakable feeling of coming over a hill and absorbing the drastic temperature change. When you ride in a car, you turn on the AC and manage the climate, you turn up the music to change the sounds and alter your mood. You make an effort to remove the variables of the road. On a motorcycle you actually look for the opposite. You embrace the humidity changes, you cherish the new smells around each corner (mostly). The experience of travel is not simply enhanced. It becomes appreciated.

The motorcyclist embraces the experience of the road. These are the same type of people who enjoy the process of life. We are the people who understand the value of our short time here. The value is in learning how to find the answers and not just in having the answer. The motorcyclist pulls more out of life.
We have our cousins. The overland traveler, the #vanlife crowd, the bicycle packer, the portaging canoers, or the through hiker. Each embrace the idea that the goal is where you are headed but the process is the ultimately the goal. This goal is achieved in the grit of the small actions. The ones that make up a ride or a trip. The process of getting there is the reward. This is why we keep coming back. We add the risk. We endure a more difficult version of travel. All because of that sense of fullness after a ride. You have learned more about yourself after riding.
Motorcycles bring this out in people. They are keeping the adventure spirit alive for many people. Locked in suburban lives with cage like jobs – bikes are your freedom and your sense of adventure.
Many people find their way into riding for many reasons. “My dad thought me to ride when I was young”, “I think Steve McQueen looks cool” or “I want to be part of something like the guys in Sons of Anarchy” or “That Ewan guy looks like he’s having fun”. Those of us who stay, we love it. Hitting the road on two wheels will call to you in your dreams and on the wind.
I do not think the answer of why we ride fits neatly into one box, but one thing is clear. The ones who love it are the ones who choose to embrace life as opposed to it.
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