Riding a motorcycle is more than just a convenient way to get from point A to point B. It's an all-consuming activity that comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. In that regard, hopping on a bike can open you up to physical and mental benefits unlike anything else.
Beginner and expert riders alike can enjoy the many advantages that motorcycles bring, so let's explore all the ways riding can change you for the better.
Motorcycle riding is an inherently physical activity. You use your entire body to become one with your bike as you travel to destinations near and far. So, it's no surprise why riding comes with a host of desirable physical benefits.
- Increased strength — Most motorcycles are heavy pieces of machinery. Unless you're on a relatively lightweight scooter like the Vespa S 125 i-get, you'll generally find that riding requires a certain level of strength. Getting on a cruiser bike like the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special demands a powerful physicality, as it weighs in at close to 376 kg or 830 lbs. when fully topped up. That said, you don't have to be the strongest person in the world to ride a motorcycle. If you start with a bike that you can ride comfortably and work your way up to heavier models, you may find yourself getting stronger each time you get on the saddle. While you won't be adding muscle as you would in the gym, you'll be gaining functional strength to help you become a better all-around rider.
- Improved coordination — Riding is unique in that you use all four of your limbs to do it. Controlling the clutch, applying the throttle, and managing the brakes all need a high level of coordination. With enough practice, riders can eventually get to a level where these small actions become second nature. Gaining confidence is crucial, as it allows you to divert your focus out of the controls and into the road ahead of you.
- Enhanced reflexes — Any good motorcyclist must gain the ability to recognize and react to potential road hazards in the blink of an eye. Whether it's swerving out of the way of an errant vehicle or regaining traction on a slippery surface, these are skills born out of great reflexes. The more you expose yourself to different riding situations, the more you'll develop actions that can save your life.
We're still learning a lot more about motorcycle riding and how it affects our brains. The physical side is well-known, but the mental part is only now beginning to pique the interest of researchers around the world.
- Reduced stress — A recent scientific study published in Brain Research showed that riding a motorcycle decreased hormonal biomarkers of stress by 25 percent. That makes sense, as many riders claim they experience a sense of calm and peace during and after they ride their motorcycles. This discovery could be significant for people looking to get into motorcycling to ease their stress levels.
- Improved focus — The same study from March 2021 indicated that riding a motorcycle altered brain activity and increased alertness, similar to having a cup of coffee. Riders also experienced enhanced sensory focus versus car drivers, which is a phenomenon observed in experienced meditators versus non-meditators.
It only confirms what many riders have always known, but it's nice to hear it from published scientists. So, the next time you go out for a ride, keep in mind that you're not just moving your body, but you're also improving physically and mentally.