Most of the phenomena of the 21st century—texting, emojis, social media and streaming video, for example—are the consequences of 21st-century technology. There is one trend, however, that harkens far back into the last century: people in mid-to-later life choosing to take up motorbike riding. For so long seen as a passion of the young and rebellious, this form of recreation is now finding favor with the older generation. “Motorcycles give you a really good feeling similar to downhill skiing, effortlessly moving through the fresh air,” a 60-plus newbie told the Wall Street Journal in 2014. Yet the expansion of the motorcycle demographic begs the question: Is motorbike riding a suitable outlet for everyone?
Discipline and Temperament
The prospect of injury or premature death is a frightening one, and is nost just rooted in emotion if statistics are to be believed. Even experts in motorbike navigation urge extreme caution when riding—what would constitute a minor fender-bender in a car could mean death on a motorcycle. Absolute focus is the key, they advise. So, for safety’s sake, prospective cyclists should ask themselves how prone they are to distraction, offering a brutally honest answer in reply.
Temperament also counts and frequent risk-takers may not be the best fit for motorbikes from a safety standpoint. The thrill of velocity has a narcotic effect on risk-takers, who may seek to increase the rush by abandoning caution. Those who tend toward exceeding the speed limit and ignoring traffic signs while driving automobiles put themselves at greater risk on a motorbike.
Motor Skills and Vision
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation gives the public a good rule of thumb before taking a motorbike to the streets: make sure you are comfortable riding a bicycle. The acquisition of balance and coordination gained when riding a bike is absolutely essential for the motorcyclist. Core stability, bilateral coordination (i.e. both sides of the body working in tandem) and strength are all developed when operating a bicycle. Other sensory-motor skills are trained when driving a car with manual transmission. If these tasks come easily, then a motorbike might be accommodating, at least from a neurological perspective.
Likewise, good vision is necessary to see into the distance. With or without corrective lenses, eyesight should in no way be impaired for those considering a motorcycle. In fact, it is best to have an eye exam before making such a momentous decision. Focus and physical control will not serve a rider if he or she can not see in vivid detail.
Expense and Respect
A motorbike is a complex piece of machinery, and should be treated as such. This requires both knowledge of the vehicle and the financial resources to provide for its upkeep. Balding tires, eroded connections and obstructed fuel lines can all leave the rider dangerously exposed at the wrong time. Regular maintenance—by the owner or a professional mechanic—should be accounted for when making the decision to ride a motorbike.