Paul has been passionate about travelling for over 35 years. He has been on many flights, rail, and road journeys in the US and Europe.
I owned and rode a motorcycle for more than 10 years. I look back on that period with great fondness and certainly haven't ruled out buying another. Motorcycles are fun, you feel much more connected with your environment than driving a car, which is essentially just sitting in a metal box.
Riding a motorcycle is also generally more affordable than car travel, they are cheaper to run and you can often fix them yourself when they go wrong. Plus they are easier to park in urban areas and, lets face it, there's just something cool about riding one.
However, it also has to be said that there are negatives associated with motorcycle riding. This article lists and looks at the downsides of traveling by motorcycle.
10 Downsides of Motorcycle Travel
Here are my 10 negatives of traveling by motorcycle.
- Exposure to the Elements
- Safety Concerns
- Risk of Theft
- Lack of Physical Comfort
- Limited Storage and Luggage
- One Passenger at Most
- Need to Be Extra Attentive
- Need Another License
- No Chatting
- Need for Physical Strength
I examine each disadvantage that's listed in detail below.
1. Exposure to the Elements
When you ride a motorcycle, you are exposed to rain, snow, hail, heat, wind and other weather types in a far more substantial way than with most other road vehicles. This can make life difficult at times, especially if the motorcycle is your only form of transport. You can end up going places in conditions that are physically uncomfortable. It can be a test of endurance, or even potentially unsafe.
2. Safety Concerns
There is no way of getting around the fact that motorcycle travel is way more dangerous than going by car. If you get into an accident, there are no doors or roof to protect you. When driving, you are less visible to other road users and you learn to fear bad drivers. Even relatively minor road hazards such as branches, gravel, or potholes can cause problems, especially if you are turning.
3. Prone to Theft
Motorcycles are more likely to be stolen than cars. That's because they are easier to access (you don't have to break into them) and they are lighter, making them a more appealing target for thieves. There are ways to secure motorcycles, but it's difficult to make them completely theft-proof, especially when you park in a public place. There is also the disadvantage that you can't lock all your possessions inside them, like with a car.
4. Lack of Physical Comfort
While it depends to some degree on the specific motorcycle, riding is generally less comfortable than traveling in a car, or most other road vehicles. Long journeys can be particularly physically tiring. There is typically less back support and you have very little wiggle room when it comes to adjusting your sitting position. Things like A/C, radio and audio access, as well as protection from things like bugs are all limited or non-existent.
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5. Limited Storage and Luggage
While motorcycles are maybe fine for transporting one or two humans, they are less good at moving luggage and equipment. While traveling in a car means that you can take a whole host of clothes, personal effects, and other possessions, road trips that involve motorcycles mean traveling light and require careful planning. Even just using a motorcycle for going grocery shopping presents limitations.
6. One Passenger at Most
It goes without saying that motorcycles have a limited capability when it comes to transporting people. On a standard two-wheeler, you are going solo, or it's you and a pillion passenger. That can be a real limitation at times. Motorcycles are generally not suited to families with children and there will be times when you want to help out friends with rides, but can't.
7. Need to Be Extra Attentive
Motorcycle driving requires an extra degree of attentiveness, in my experience. If you make a mistake, you risk serious injury or even death. Therefore you have to pay full and constant attention to other road users, as well as potential hazards, such as debris in the road.
Judging things like taking corners also requires more mental energy. There is less opportunity to just switch off your brain and chill, like there is in a car.
8. Need Another License
Riding a motorcycle often requires an additional license to the one you need for driving cars. This usually means more money, time and energy spent on taking classes and tests. It's another bunch of red tape that you don't need. If you are riding a motorcycle in addition to a car, it can get expensive.
9. No Chatting
Motorcycling is essentially a solitary pursuit when you're on the road. You are typically on your own, and even if you do have a passenger, your opportunities for conversation are minimal. That's a pity, as talking can be a great way to ease the tedium of an extended journey.
10. Need for Some Physical Strength
While technique is important and can be learned, there's no getting around the fact that motorcycle are more physically demanding than most other forms of road transport. This is especially true if you have a big, heavy bike. Parking up the bike and maneuvering it in a confined space, such as a garage, requires effort.
Motorcycle vs Motorbike: Which Term is Correct?
I've seen a lot of discussion on the internet about the differences between motorcycles and motorbikes, with some people giving detailed explanations. The truth is that the terms are essentially interchangeable.
In the USA, where I live nowadays, the term "motorcycle" is often the one used. In Britain, where I was born and raised, the term "motorbike" is common. They are just two different words for the same thing.
© 2021 Paul Goodman