The motorcycle culture is a mainstream society sub-culture that covers both a social community and a mode of transportation. The stereotype biker is a rebel who doesn't live by society's laws and norms, but instead has chosen to dedicate his life either to the club or to be an independent lone wolf.
That's the main difference between car culture and motorcycle culture - this perceived degree of freedom. Whereas someone who owns a railroad is portrayed as a hardworking, blue-collar guy who saves his money to build the car of his dreams part by part, the biker seems to be this happy-go-lucky dude who wakes up hungover at a campsite and moves on to the next destination for some more partying.
In reality, very few motorcyclists have the opportunity to live life by the road's unwritten rules, but we do throw a leg over the bike every chance we get... even if it's just a ride to work. Yes, it's true that motorcycles offer more freedom than a car, but not in the sense that we no longer have to adhere to society's rules. It's more like a temporary escape, letting us calm down and enjoy ourselves before having to go back to a rather mundane everyday life with all its sometimes pointless battles.
Since it's winter and riding isn't an option, let's spend the next couple of minutes escaping the rat-race by exploring the motorcycle culture.
25 Riding Makes Us Better At Driving Cars
If you want to get home in one piece when riding a bike, you'll have to be constantly vigilant. Always scanning the road for any dangers, reading the surrounding traffic, positioning yourself to see and be seen... there's a lot going on at all times.
We take these things with us when we drive cars as well. And that's when we realize how bad some other drivers are. Situations we have spotted several seconds ago seem to go unnoticed to most other drivers - until it's too late.
24 Everyday Fashion Is Often Inspired By Bikers
Bikers have to some degree influenced fashion for decades with their cool leather jackets, boots, and worn-in jeans, just think of the coolness of Brando, McQueen, and The Fonz.
Lately, the world of high fashion has become influenced by bikers as well as they've taken notice of the alternative fabrics and styles, bringing the biker influence onto the wider culture. The black leather jacket, often associated with cruiser and custom bike riders has been popular for years, but not there are more racing and motocross derived items available to those who don't ride.
23 We Practically Have Our Own Language
Spend some time around a group of bikers, and you're bound to hear some biker slang, and it's not given that the average cager will understand what it all means.
You might know that an ol' lady is a wife or longterm girlfriend, but if she's just an acquaintance or friend riding pillion on the bike, the term back warmer or backpack is used. OMG does not mean 'Oh My God,' 'apehangers' are not found in a zoo, 'church' is not where you go on Sundays, 'squids' are not found in the ocean, and 'weekend warriors' are not true bikers.
22 Most Clubs Aren't Gangs
A lot of outsiders think that all groups of leather-wearing motorcyclists are a gang, and most likely up to no good, this is as far from the truth as you can get. Yes, there are biker clubs that have a certain reputation, known as 1 percenters. This came about years ago after a gathering where it was said 99% of bikers behaved themselves, so the bad boys called themselves the other 1%... considering how many people ride, way less than 1% are part of these clubs.
21 Riding Is Healthy
Not only does riding a motorcycle burn calories, but it also gives the majority of our muscles a workout. It might seem like we're just sitting on the seat, but in reality, we're using our arms, legs, hips, lower back, and entire upper body in order to maintain the bike's balance and counterbalance the weight.
Add all the tiny movements we do, and it turns out an hour of riding a bike will burn anywhere from 170 to 600 calories per hour. This will, of course, vary between riders, bikes, and speed, but no matter how you look at it it's much more fun than going to the gym.
20 Bikers Do A Lot Of Charity Work
There are countless biker charities out there. Everything from getting war veterans back on their feet, raising awareness for issues and diseases, to help fight bullying and making children's lives safer. And there's a perfectly good reason for this.
While many people see bikers as big scary people covered in tattoos and leathers, they are actually normal people with families of their own. And just like normal people, they have been in the military, they've experienced illness, and they want people to feel safe. Next time you see hundreds of bikes riding in a convoy, it's more likely that they're on a charity ride rather than a bunch of hooligans out to cause havoc.
19 Female Riders Are Welcome
It used to be a time when almost everyone who rode a bike was a man, but luckily times are changing. After being stuck on the back of a bike for a while, some women decided it was time to start doing the steering themselves, and the motorcycle community is better off because of it. Today there are plenty of female riders who've never been riding pillion, they just followed their heart and started riding.
This means there will be more people with more diverse backgrounds at festivals and meetings. But there's another positive side; sales of new bikes have been dropping for years, so more recruitment means more sales.
18 The Information You're Fed By The Media Is Wrong
The media has always portrayed motorcyclists in a rather bad way. Movies, tv shows, and news coverage focus mainly on the 1% clubs and those who ride recklessly on public roads. Mainly because it sells.
When was the last time you saw coverage of bikers doing a charity run for war veterans? Or how about bikers giving toys to children at hospitals? Or what about making a story about someone who has decided to commute by motorcycle to save time and money? These things happen a lot more often than the things the media focus on, yet receive little to no mention anywhere.
17 It Has Nothing To Do With Being A Badboy Or Rebel
Ok, for some it has everything to do with being those things - or at least being perceived that way, like middle-aged bankers trying to look like outlaws. But for most riders, that's not part of why we ride at all. If I had a dollar every time someone asked me what I'm rebelling against, I'd probably have at least a few hundred bucks by now.
The reason some people think this way about bikers is probably down to the belief that riding motorcycles is a dangerous activity, and because a few riders really don't use their brains when riding, making us all look bad.
16 There Are Different Subcultures In The Motorcycle Subculture
People have different interests and prefer different aspects of riding a motorcycle.
Some like to cruise along on their big V-twin engined bikes, while others get their kicks from scraping their knee-sliders on the road through every corner.
Even within the same niche, there are different sub-categories. Let's use Harley riders as an example; the standard Harley models cater for a range of different riders, and then there are countless ways of modifying these bikes, from old-school bobbers and bar hoppers to club-style bikes or full-on tourers.
15 Respect Is Key
For any outsider stumbling into one of the many motorcycle forums or social media groups, the motorcycle scene can seem like a war zone at times.
This might not seem very respectful, but there's a huge difference between what's going on online and what's going on in the real world. Don't let the beard, leathers, and skull rings fool you, bikers really are some of the nicest people you'll ever come across. Just realize that in order to get respect you'll also have to give it.
14 Don't Ever Touch Another Man's Bike
You'd think this one was kind of obvious, but no. I've seen random members of the public grab the handlebars on a stranger's bike, even throwing their leg over it and taking a seat. Even worse are those who place their kid on a bike without asking. What's going through these people's minds?
There's the risk of damaging the paint, the alarm could go off, or they could even drop the bike - causing damage worth thousands. And they would most likely be long gone by the time the owner gets back. There's an unwritten rule amongst motorcyclists - you don't ask to try someone's bike, ever! If someone offers you to try it, then it's ok, otherwise, stay off.
13 It's Freedom
So if it's not about being a rebellious bad boy, what is motorcycling all about then? Easy, it's about the freedom it provides. Pure and simple. You know that line in Fast & Furious when Dom says "For those ten seconds or less I'm free"? Instead of ten seconds, we're free the entire time we spend on the bike.
Nothing but yourself, the bike, and the road ahead exist - every worry or problem disappears in the rearview mirror as you twist the throttle and spend some time on your favorite road.
12 Riding Forces You To Live In The Moment
This is where the freedom when riding actually comes from. A lot of people say they live in the moment, but very few actually do. People spend too much time worrying about various aspects of their lives, but if you want to get home safe when riding you have to focus on what's going on right now.
It's a bit like meditation, but a form of meditation where you involve your body in order to get one of the most rewarding experiences you've ever had - just by doing something as simple as linking a few corners together.
11 Every Ride Is An Adventure
Even something as mundane as commuting to work in the morning can become an adventure when you ride a bike. There are so many aspects to riding that makes it an incredible experience compared to just getting behind the wheel of a car and sipping your latté while listening to the radio.
When driving somewhere, most people will opt for the quickest route from point A to point B, but on a bike there's almost an unwritten rule that every sideroad has to be explored just to see if it has some nice twisty parts.
10 We Will Always Take The Long Way Home
When you know that every ride is an adventure, you also know why we're gone for hours when we were just supposed to ride to the store for some milk. In a rider's mind, it makes perfect sense to do a two-hour detour to get home from the shop if the weather is nice.
Given the option of taking the short and straight road home from work, or wherever, or take the longer, curvier, scenic route, there should be no doubt which option we'll go for.
9 Motorcycling Is A Lifestyle
When you buy a car, that's exactly what you buy. A car. Even if you buy a Ferrari it doesn't make you a racecar driver. There might be certain aspects to it that refer to your lifestyle, but for most people, it's just a means of transport.
The motorcycle lifestyle offers something more, something that's difficult to put into words. Owning a bike is not enough to qualify, it has to be ridden as well. And there's a mindset that needs to be in place. When all these things come together, a person will transcend normal everyday life and live the "biker lifestyle."
8 Most Riders Don't Like Squids
Argh! The squids! These are some of the guys that ruin motorcyclists' reputation. They are easily recognized by riding around at unsafe speed, doing mile-long wheelies on public roads, and not wearing any protective gear other than what's required by law. Crashing at 100mph while wearing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts is gonna hurt.
As accepting as the biker community is, the selfishness and ridiculous behavior by these riders makes them looked down upon by pretty much every real motorcyclist out there.
Some of them eventually grow up and adjust their behavior, others are those involved in accidents you hear about on the news.
7 You're Never Done Learning
Riding a bike means you'll learn something new every season. At least if you do it right and use your brain. Anyone who does a decent amount of riding will experience new situations that all require different ways of dealing with them.
In addition to constantly learning new things, we also have to deal with unlearning bad habits that can sneak up on us and go unnoticed for years... until we all of a sudden get it really wrong. Doing rider training courses even after years of riding is the best way to ensure a long "career" as a motorcyclist.
6 We Wave To Strangers
Have you ever seen motorcyclists greeting each other with a wave or a nod in traffic?
It's not because they know each other, it's basically just to show some solidarity with other bikers.
There are different ways of doing the "biker wave", none of them involve enthusiastic waving like a dork. The most common way is to just put your arm slightly out and point at the oncoming bike with two fingers. In countries where they drive on the right side of the road, a nod is more commonly used, and in some southern European countries they stick out a leg to say hello.
5 Riding A Motorcycle Can Be More Economical Than Driving
Using a bike to commute or just go for a ride is much more economical than driving a car. Fuel consumption is considerably less than your average car, and some places bikes are exempt from paying at toll roads. As an added bonus we won't be stuck in traffic for hours, and we all know time is money.
However, if you develop a full-blown bike addiction things don't make sense economically anymore. A garage full of bikes with aftermarket parts and a wardrobe full of riding gear is pretty much as far from economical as you can get.
4 We Already Know It's "Dangerous"
"There are two types of riders, those who've crashed and those who will crash." It seems that everyone who doesn't ride has to point out the dangers of motorcycling to us. I've talked to skydivers who were shocked that I could do something as dangerous as riding a bike. They jump out of airplanes!
Yes, riding can be dangerous, but there are lots of ways to make it safer. Always wear protective gear, assume that no one sees you, always scan the road for any hazards, adjust the speed to the conditions, stay away from alcohol, and take lots of breaks. Having ridden my entire adult life, in several countries - including some of the deadliest roads in the world, I've never had an accident on the road.
3 You Are The Biggest Threat To Our Safety
We've already told you that we're better at driving because we ride, and that we're perfectly aware riding is dangerous - we're the ones on the bike, after all. Do you want to know what's the biggest threat to our lives? It's you! The person intent on explaining how dangerous it is to ride.
After a collision, the almost universal response from a car driver is "I didn't see him." That's because you weren't really looking! People change lanes without checking mirrors or blindspots, they cross intersections without checking if anyone is approaching, and they constantly misjudge the distance to approaching bikes.
2 We Position Ourselves Certain Places For A Reason
In a car, there's very little you can do regarding where you position yourself on the road, other than dropping back a bit from the car in front so you can get a better view ahead.
On a bike, that's not the case at all. We have lots of room to maneuver, and we do it to be safer and have a smoother ride.
If the bike in front of you is positioned on the left, don't assume it will turn left - most likely it will actually turn right or go straight. The leftward positioning is to better see what's up ahead. No matter where we place ourselves in the lane, there's most likely a reason for it.
1 You'll Never Understand It Until You Try
It doesn't matter how much I, or anyone else, try to convince you that riding a bike is the greatest thing since... the invention of great things. Until you try it out for yourself you'll never understand it anyway. But do it the right way; get some lessons and find out what bike is right for you. Sure, lessons cost money, but it's a lot cheaper than crashing.
Or, you could just choose to live in ignorance and never experience the thrills, freedom, and happiness of owning a bike. Just ask yourself one question; When was the last time you saw a bike parked outside a psychologist's office?
Sources: Axleaddict, Biker and bike, GQ