While the majority of the country prepares for winter, we here in Florida are preparing for the best riding season of the year. The temperature is down, reducing the likelihood of spontaneous human combustion at a traffic light. Most of the bugs are bedding down for the winter, which means you can actually complete a ride without burning through a hundred tear-offs. Finally, the snow birds are returning to their winter homes, which adds an element of challenge to your daily ride. Rolling chicane, anyone?
Sure, cars have an advantage over bikes in a lot of areas. Cars keep you dry when it rains, they keep you warm in the cold, they keep you from roasting alive in the summer time, but they also eat a little bit of your soul each and every time you get behind the wheel. Here are five reasons why bikes are better than cars:
Smaller Radar Profile
I was out for an morning ride last weekend, somewhere north of the speed limit, when a Florida State Trooped stepped out of the shadows, pointed at the car behind me, and waved him down. A second trooper motioned to me to slow down, but didn’t wave me over. It was, perhaps, divine intervention, or karmic payback for some past good deed. More likely it was the fact that a bike has a very small radar profile and a car has a very large one. Whatever the reason, the net result was this: in a car, I’d have been waved to the side of the road while the nice officer wrote me up for fifteen over in a construction zone. On a bike, they waved me off with a clear and understood warning to slow down. Motorcycle FTW.
Economy Car Price, Sports Car Performance
Bikes are amazingly affordable, and even the cheapest bikes accelerate, stop and (generally speaking) turn far better than the ordinary car. It was this very economic justification that got me into bikes in the first place. For the price of a ten year old Plymouth Champ, I bought a low mileage Suzuki GS750, which went like stink, attacked canyons with relative competence and didn’t break the bank on insurance.
Bikes Sip Gas
You can look at this from two different perspectives: either bikes are good for the planet because they use less gas than cars, or bikes are good for your bank account because they use less gas than a car. My BMW K1200RS gets around 40 MPG without really trying, but it also makes about 130 horsepower at the crank and gets from zero to sixty in less than three seconds. Every time I whack open the throttle, I feel like I’m doing my part to save the spotted owl or the polar bear, and it makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Or maybe that’s just the thrill of acceleration.
You’re Part Of The Environment, Not Isolated From It
When I lived outside of Boulder, Colorado, there was a hill I needed to cross on the ride home. Cool, dense air settled at the foot of the hill, and the air would warm up and dry out as I climbed the hill. After a long day at work, it was one sign that I was close to home, close to cracking a beer and close to calling it a day. You see things on a bike, smell things on a bike and sense things on a bike that you miss entirely in a car. If life is a journey, isn’t it better to take that journey with your eyes open?
Bikes Fit Places Cars Don’t
No matter how tight parking may be for an event, I’ve never had a problem finding a spot to put a bike. I can’t fit more than two cars in my garage, but I can easily fit a bike or two, without significantly impacting usable space. Even better: if traffic is jammed up bumper to bumper, bikes give you the ability to navigate through or around traffic that you just don’t have in a car. I rode to my college graduation, with my roommate on the back of my bike, in a cap and gown. Traffic parted to let me through like I was Moses and they were the Red Sea; in a car, I’d have been just another lemming.
I’m not going to start spouting “cagers suck” rhetoric on you, so don’t worry. I’ve still got as big of a car jones as I’ve ever had, and that’s not going away anytime soon. Cars are necessary, cars are good and cars can be entertaining as well. They’re just not bikes.