How does riding affect you?

How does riding affect you?

Posted by Ben Baker on Dec 31st 2016

Ask anyone who rides a bike why they ride and a top 10 answer is going to be “clears my mind.”

But does it really? How does riding a bike affect a person? Science does have some answers.


A study in Japan looked at riding and brains. It was done by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima at the Laboratory of the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University.

Dr. Kawashima is a noted brain researcher in Japan. His study is “The relationship between motorcycle riding and the human mind.”

He found three key items:

1) When riding a motorcycle, the brain of the rider is stimulated.

2) Differences in brain use and level of brain stimulation can be observed in motorcyclists who ride regularly and in motorcyclists who have not ridden for extended periods (at least 10 years).

3) Incorporating motorcycle riding into daily life improves various cognitive functions (particularly prefrontal cortex functions) and has positive effects on mental and emotional health such as stress reduction.

(Source, Yamaha Global)


A study in Europe looked at bikers and their legs. Not surprisingly, a survey of riders shows leg cramps are pretty common. “Of the 767 respondents, 332 (43%) reported experiencing leg cramps during or immediately after motorcycling,” the report states.

The researchers said the way a rider sits has a lot to do with cramps and other leg problems.

The problem is sitting in the saddle means a rider’s legs are bent at “acute” angles and stay that way. It’s just like sitting in a chair for a long time. Muscles get stiff. It takes a few minutes of walking to get the stiffness out.

Medically, the stiffness is caused by poor blood flow. When your legs stay bent in a certain position for a long time, it’s hard to get the blood circulating properly.

Riders make this even worse. Sitting on a motorcycle seat, “combined with tight-fitting protective clothing on the lower limbs, increases the risk of” poor blood flow, the study authors say.

So what can you do? Stop more often. Walk around more often. Get looser leathers. Get floorboards and freeway bars so you can move your legs around while riding.


The positive effects are probably from being with friends on a long journey, but at least one study shows some good results for women who ride and have breast cancer. “Motorcycles and breast cancer: The influence of peer support and challenge on distress and post traumatic growth” was done in the US and Australia.

The ladies rode with a group for more than 1,000 miles. The researchers checked the women before and after the ride.

“Cancer-related distress significantly decreased after the ride,” they said.