In a recent study entitled “The relationship between motorcycle riding and the human mind,” Dr Ryuta Kawashima investigated what riding does to our brains. His results are as encouraging as they are entertaining. Apparently the mental focus, concentration, risk reality and excitement of riding a motorcycle is very good for your brain.
Trial subjects were otherwise healthy people who had not ridden for 10 years or more. Over the course of a couple of months, those riders used a motorcycle for their daily commute and in other everyday situations while Dr Kawashima and his team studied how their brains and mental health changed.
The upshot was that the use of motorcycles in everyday life improved cognitive faculties, particularly those that relate to memory and spatial reasoning capacity. An added benefit? Participants revealed on questionnaires they filled out at the end of the study that their stress levels had been reduced and their mental state changed for the better.
So why motorcycles? Shouldn’t driving a car should have the same effect as riding a motorcycle?
“There were many studies done on driving cars in the past,” Kawashima said. “A car is a comfortable machine which does not activate our brains. It only happens when going across a railway crossing or when a person jumps in front of us. By using motorcycles more in our life, we can have positive effects on our brains and minds”.
The study was supported by Yamaha, who provided bikes for the study participants. What’s curious about these results is that even though the study focused on motorcycles, the activities that had the greatest effect were every-day things like commuting, errands and just general getting around — precisely the things scooters are best at. And being an avid rider of both, I can testify that riding a scooter requires even that much more concentration and focus to ride well. Most motorcycles are big and forgiving, not to mention very powerful as compared to most scooters. Knowing you’re not the fastest thing out there and that there are potholes larger than your whole front wheel definitely sharpens your senses.
Perhaps this explains once and for all why motorcycles and scooters alike have such devoted fans. How many times have you heard someone say “Riding is like therapy for me” or something similar? Turns out, they’re not far off.