Living Without a Car: The Motorcycle Elitist's Conundrum

Is owning a four-wheeled cage really neccessary?

living without a car
For most, running out to the grocery store is mundane at best, but for motorcyclists, it’s a test of necessity.Jeff Allen

We’re an inherently stubborn bunch, we motorcyclists. When others ask us why we continue to plant ourselves atop our seemingly inadequate vehicles that lack amenities such as storage space, protection from traffic accidents, and cover from the worst weather nature can throw at us, we laugh. At least, I laugh, but I feel it’s a collective laughter in a sense.

Having made it through life so far without a car, I can’t tell you it’s always been easy, but what I have observed are the unique benefits of a motorcycle as primary transportation: good gas mileage, increased maneuverability in traffic, heightened situational awareness, and usually pretty good parking options. And, of course, the unique sense of freedom that only comes from a twist-grip throttle—as if someone has granted you a get-out-of-class-free pass, and you’re now looking back at the rest of your metaphorical classmates stuck in traffic.

The rest of the Motorcyclist staff tends to share the same sentiments, and the general outlook remains the same: While sometimes deficient, the benefits of choosing a motorcycle over a car continue to shine through. For those of us who have never owned a car and rely solely on a motorcycle, it starts to feel like we just don’t know any better. We’ve simply adapted in an attempt to overcome the social norms.

For most, running out to the grocery store is mundane at best, but for motorcyclists, it’s a test of necessity. Some riders feel not owning a car has altered their ideology in favor of a minimalist method and have gone as far as to plan life around what they can carry on the bike. It’s not uncommon to walk away from a shopping trip and have to shove that extra box of Cheerios up the front of your jacket at the expense of feeling uncomfortable and even juvenile.

Yes, juvenile can go too far. For example, there’s absolutely no need to transport an office chair home from college on a Honda Nighthawk, but I’ve managed it. When the chair was safely home, my satisfaction wasn’t in the fact that I now had a place to sit but instead the fact that someone in class had said it couldn’t be done, and I had proved them wrong.

While this specific example deserves to be filed deep in the “stupid” folder, I’ve noticed a trend among my audiences when recounting this story: Fellow motorcyclists, in particular, find it not only believable but honorable.

While the inherent lack of storage space and other creature comforts can lead to varying degrees of frustration, I’ve learned how the negatives evolve into positives.

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