By: chesshirecat

Nov 05 2009

Category: Uncategorized


I’m going to go back and revisit a post from a few weeks ago.  It seems many people wish to talk about my statement that riding is as easy as driving a car.  

I’m sticking by that statement.  Reason for that?  Not one of the people I’ve had contact with have been able to convince me of anything other.

With each “for instance” I’ve been given as an example of how “hard” it is to ride vs how hard it is to drive a car….is only an example of how hard it is to LEARN to ride…not the act of riding in it’s self.

One person suggests “steering into corners and turns are harder than in a car”  Really? Even now? After a few months, years of riding…you still have to think about it? You still have to force yourself to lean into a turn rather than steer into it?  REALLY?  You mean to tell me that when you come to a blind turn, that you don’t automatically find a track to take into and out of the curve?  I do…it’s ingrained in me…as it should be with you if you’ve been riding for a while. 

He also suggests that pulling the clutch, up-shifting, and down shifting are harder than an automatic car.  Once more, I ask…REALLY?  Do you still today have to PRE THINK the actions of shifting? Or is it pretty much an automatic response to the situation your mind is able to discern? When a car turns suddenly in front of you…do you really have to say to yourself…whoa, I gotta downshift, I gotta pull in the clutch. Man if that was true…YOU WOULD BE DEAD BY NOW.

Now what about braking? Oh oh…the motorcycle has two separately operated braking systems…that MUST be harder right?  WRONG…it’s only harder as your learning to ride or learning a new bike other than the one you’ve been riding.  Learning to brake a motorcycle is difficult…but how many of you remember throwing your mom or dad or your driving mentor into their shoulder harness learning how to brake in your car?  Now tell me, do you STILL HAVE PROBLEMS DECIDING HOW TO BRAKE YOUR BIKE?  I’m betting it’s an automatic response now isn’t it?

Yes, making a mistake on your motorcycle holds dire consequences, yuppers, make a mistake about turning into small pebbles or sand in a corner and your paying the piper…but once a rider has some time under his/her belt…they are unconsciously operating the bike…they are conditioned to shift when they hear the engine pulling at a certain RPM’s… Do you really THINK ABOUT IT?  Do you really think about balance once your past the fear of slow riding?  DO YOU?  I don’t.  It happens naturally, the ride…for the most part.  

I look about me for safety outs, but it’s ingrained into me to look. I don’t say to myself…”Opps, it’s time to look for a way out if someone crowds me…”  It’s just done…before I realize it I have a plan.  It’s ingrained in me, the same way shifting is, balance is, braking is….it’s all ingrained.  I don’t have to think about it…it’s done.

It’s not harder to do…it’s just a different way of “driving”.  

Let me ask you northern drivers….
For approximately five months out of the year, your faced with the possibility of  driving in icy and snow clogged roads.  With less than 1 % of  motorcycle riders faced with the same possibility…what is the percentage of how hard it is to drive a car during these nasty conditions?  It’s harder isn’t it?  It’s harder to remember which way to steer when your car starts to glide off the road in an uncontrolled slide.  Now talk about “counter steering”. RIGHT?  As a four wheel driver…you WILL encounter these problems if you live or drive in the colder northern climes, and you take these  problems, you prepare for them in your mind, you practice what needs to be done, so that when and if the time comes you have to use these different driving strategies they come to you fluidly, easily and without much thought.  It’s no different for you on your motorcycle.  It’s all the same.  It’s no harder to ride your motorcycle than it is to drive your car….now that your looking at the questions and the statements properly. 


12 comments on “”

  1. Go get 'em girl! Very well written!

  2. Its instinctive isnt it gf: be it car or bike…you just do it and you become one with that mode of transport once you learn the ropes… ya 'Valkyrie'

  3. I'm in agreement with you here, there is a different skill set required to ride a bike than drive a car (though I think the standard trans car is closer to bike operation) I think on an ease of operation scale they are very similar. Once of course you've learned. The problem is the car seems more forgiving than a bike than during both the learning phase & once you begin to enter a "trouble" phase because you are open to the elements. Once a person realizes they are most likely to fall off the bike they panic and make errors they might not in the car. I think this leads to more serious or fatal injury's in bike accidents. This leads people who don't or are to to operating bikes to the perception that it's harder to do.

  4. Juan, the statement here… (YOU HAVE CAUGHT AND UNDERSTOOD IT!) is not that motorcycles are less DANGEROUS to operate, but that once the dynamics of operating a motorcycle is understood and practiced…it is NOT HARDER TO OPERATE THAN A CAR…which is what MANY law enforcement agencies are trying to contend…and do so in order to limit your rights as a motorcyclist sharing the road way with a four wheeled vehicle.Making a mistake, or being in a place where a motorist has made a mistake agaisnt you is dangerous while riding a motorcycle. But as long as I don't ride distracted, as long as I'm operating my motorcycle in a well practiced and safe manner, I have cut the dangers of operation down conciderably. I know the operation of my bike is NOT HARDER than the operation of a car…it's just differient.

  5. If you were to carry out the logic of these law enforcement agencies then it would be teenager checklists you'd want to put in place & I think we all know how that would fly in the mind of Joe & Jane public. The fact is there is still a lawless stigma applied to motorcyclist. I mean we must be doing something wrong, right?

  6. Chessie:As with all things in life, difficulty decreases with familiarity. Take something you know nothing about and you can become an expert in the field. Nothing is hard if you know what to do, it's just the consequence of your mistake that adds to the magnitude. A car is more forgiving. Over the years most of my cars were manual shift. My Brother-in-law was an accomplished driver with standard transmissions, but for some reason he could not co-ordinate with the clutch lever and kept stalling. Others cannot balance, then there is the braking where you have to perform your own proportioning from back to front. So, you are right. Riding is as easy as driving but not until you have mastered the fundamentals. And it is during this critical initial phase that you are prone to more catastrophic errors.bobbobskoot: wet coast scootin

  7. Great post. Whether riding or driving experience makes the process automatic and there should never be any "oh dang, where's that clutch thingee gone?"I had a bike licence long before I got my car one and have to say I found learning to drive a manual car harder than riding a bike – but I was used to a bike…Nowadays I do quite a few endurance rides (1,000 mile/24hr and similar type) and by the end of the ride you tend to riding better than when you start. Also, I'd never attempt that in my automatic car – it's too easy to drive and I reckon I'd fall asleep and have a disaster.

  8. "Harder" is a relative term here. It is certainly more involved and more physically demanding. But, as you say, with experience it is second nature so it shouldn't be harder. As a native New Englander, I've been driving on 4 wheels in snow and ice for nearly 30 years now. It is nothing to me, which is why we up here get a kick out of how a few inches of snow wreak so much havoc with traffic in southern states. Driving in snow and ice isn't harder for me, but it is more involved than just cruising down a dry road on a sunny day.What's easier about the cage is you can just hop in and go. There's no gearing up, worrying about did I put my raingear in my bags, do I have clears with me in case I'm out past dark, etc. I notice the biggest difference with my beer goggles on. It is so much easier to take the cage home after drinking than getting on the bike, despite the fact I am well experienced in operating both. BALANCE is the one thing you need on a bike that you don't need in the cage. Does that make the bike harder to operate? Again, depends on the person.Where I will take a side is when it is raining. Then, I think it is absolutely harder to ride a bike then to drive a car. Second nature doesn't grant better visibility. Reduced visibility makes it harder to operate any vehicle. If you get wet/cold, it gets harder still as discomfort is a distraction.But, aside from that, I'd agree that in general, no, I don't think it's any more difficult to ride a bike than to cage it if you're experienced with both.

  9. Joker, Thanks for this reminder RE: rain weather and motorcycle riding. We've all done it…I've been in rain so hard I had to follow the line on the side of the Interstate. Let me tell you…I was praying for the line to take me off and down an exit. ANY EXIT…. I was going so dang slow, all I would need is a car or a truck moving along at normal speed…and I would be DEAD. Yea, that was much harder than being IN a car…I agree with the the type of distractions too. But YOU get it. YOU understand what is being said here…It don't make a lick of differience, what your driving. It has it's pluses and minuses. A car gives a false sense of sercurity, thus giving the the driver "permission" to be a bit more reckless…responcibility is the HARDEST thing a driver takes on. Don't matter if he's in a car or on a bike….THE HARDEST PART OF DRIVING IS TAKING RESPONCIBILITY FOR WHAT GOES ON WHILE YOU ARE BEHIND THE WHEEL OR THE HANDLEBARS. NO EXCUSES…

  10. Andrew said…"I found learning to drive a manual car harder than riding a bike"Gotta agree with this gentleman, for I had much o' the same. And of course I'm gonna agree with you Chess….there's nuthin' "hard" about it. It's just a different type o' vehicle with a different set o' standards. This here pretty much summed it up:"….is only an example of how hard it is to LEARN to ride…not the act of riding in it's self."The Woman hath now set the record straight.

  11. I don't know about this one. Ones mind must be with it also. Some people can bowl some can't. Some get 4.0's some can't. My wife has not the consentration to ride. Oh she tried and 128 miles on her brand new 05 Lowrider she just went off the road. She is fine now. Her mind was not into it. Bad bad habit of looking down. She sold the bike. After the second crash.

  12. Well said Chessie. Leaning into a curve is instinctive if in a car or a bike…Just watch everyone taking a curved off-ramp from the interstate…we all lean into the turn. After riding my own bike, I noticed that I do that in a car ๐Ÿ˜‰ So does everyone else.I drive a manual car and have ever since I was 17-18 years old. That helped me greatly in learning to ride! ๐Ÿ™‚ Same concept, only in the hands instead of the feet. It's all the same to me and I don't find either harder than the other.While I don't have as much time in the seat as you, after reading this, I found that the stuff you talk about being ingrained in you is the same for me. And I never thought twice about it, it's just seems 2nd nature now. I don't even look at my RPMs to shift, I just listen to my bike and now when to shift by the sound of her ๐Ÿ˜‰

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