May 24, 2015

Is A Motorcycle “Good for You?”

Whenever possible, I find a good excuse to head for Duluth whenever Aerostich is having an event. This spring, the excuse was the company’s Open House in mid-May. One of the barely-mentioned benefits of the open house would be a collection of speakers, including company founder Andy Goldfine. Near the top of the list of good-to-great things that have happened to me as a result of my sixteen years with MMM has been getting to know Andy. So, with more than enough justification in hand I set off for Duluth last Friday afternoon.

Andy’s talk was about the history of his company, a story I’ve heard more than a couple of times, and the company’s mission. If you’ve been around Andy for any time at all, you know that he believes commuting, traveling, and riding motorcycles for fun is “good for society.” He has studied this idea and promoted it as much as anyone on the planet. In 2008, Andy and Aerostich published a scholarly book on the subject, Bodies in Motion: Evolution and Experience in Motorcycling written by Stephen L. Thompson. During his talk, Andy described how motorcyclists suffer fewer of the usual litany of modern human maladies: obesity, depression, anxiety,

Andy’s description of the benefits of riding made me wonder which way this activity works: does motorcycling make you a better person or do better people ride motorcycles? It could be either, right? Or both. We ride motorcycles because we are people who are more tolerant of risk and we are more driven to seek the sensation of motion. The alternative is that accidentally stumbling into motorcycling has provided us with the benefits of becoming more tolerant of risk, change, and physical stress which makes us healthier.

An article by “naturopathic” practitioner Pamela Reilly titled "How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health" describes how motorcycling burns calories, improves knee stability and strength, etc. Otherwise, I can’t find much on the internet that makes this claim. If anyone has a source or study that argues motorcycling’s health benefits, I’d like to hear about it.

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