Why car enthusiasts love motorbikes, too

It was engineered to be only as big as it needed to be. Ariel’s Simon Saunders has designed lightweight bikes and cars. He knows the Atom doesn’t have much spare room, but said that finding “2mm in the battery box” of the Ace bike “was a cause for great celebration”. If you love engineering purity, you’ll love the idea of a bike.

And you’ll know what it feels like to interact with even if you haven’t ridden a motorbike, but have ridden a bicycle. In a car, your body movements change levers and wheels that move other components that turn other things that adjust speed or direction while you’re effectively static.

There’s still motive power on a bike too, but your body movements, particularly leaning, have a wonderfully direct influence on the direction you’re going.

It’s a bit of a cliché to say the bike feels like an extension of the person, that human and machine are as one, that it expands your mind. And it’s dreadfully pretentious too. But there’s something in it. And there is science behind it. 

A Tokyo university study showed that riders in their forties increased cognitive function by riding to work for two months. A 2021 study in the journal Brain Research showed riding a bike decreased stress biomarkers by 25%.

“No lab experiment can duplicate the feelings that a motorcyclist would have on the open road,” said one of the professors behind it.

So it’s official. Bikes make you too cold, too hot, wet, they cost you time, cost you money, and make you more vulnerable. And they leave you far, far happier. I’ll be doing it as long as my legs will let me.

Steve Cropley on riding bikes

What I can never get over with bike travel is how much more directly you interact with the elements on a bike than in any car. You notice temperature drops at the bottom of valleys. You smell silage and harvested hay especially keenly. You’re very aware of road surface changes – for safety’s sake – and especially wary of damp patches under trees.

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