They weave in and out of traffic, drive past lines of cars and zoom ahead faster than the four-wheelers waiting behind them. While motorcycles may not be the most popular mode of transportation among college students, these vehicles are still dear to some Troy students, who describe them as almost addicting.
Jonathan Wynn, a junior psychology major from Skipperville, has been riding motorcycles for 11 years. “My dad rode all his life, and he taught me how to ride when I was 10,” he said. “I rode it every day when I got home from school, out in the fields, however far my dad would let me.”
Wynn describes riding a motorcycle as “as close as you can get to flying.” According to him, driving a car shields one from the actual environment. On a motorcycle, however, you can feel the wind, every movement of your vehicle and even everything you are riding over. The adrenaline from it all, he said, makes it hard to quit. “And the ladies like it,” he added.
“I had one of my best friends who had a motorcycle, and I knew he rode around and he taught me how to ride,” said Tucker Carl, a senior sport and fitness management major from Cusseta, who has been riding motorcycles for a year now.
“It’s a lot of fun, and there is a lot of freedom involved.”
According to both Carl and Wynn, motorcycles are also cheaper than cars. Both said that they can get between 45 and 60 miles to the gallon on their bikes, insurance is only around $30 per month, and the cost of maintenance is less than a car’s. “A lot of stuff, it’s easy to do it yourself,” Carl said, regarding maintenance.
Despite all the fun and the freedom felt in riding two-wheelers, safety is a major concern for riders, who always need to stay cautious. According to Wynn, other drivers — who may be texting, drunk or simply not paying attention — increase the risk of motorcycle accidents.
”It’s not so much that motorcycles are dangerous as much as it’s other drivers who don’t see you,” Carl said. “If people don’t see you, most of the time, it’s your reaction that saves you. You have to stay alert.” He describes it as defensive driving.
Although Carl and Wynn have immense passion for their bikes, the weather limits the time they spend on them. “You definitely can’t just have a motorcycle,” Wynn said. “You have to have a car or a truck, as the weather is crazy here.” The rain and the cold, the biggest foes of motorcycle riders, make riding a seasonal activity. But when they can, they make the most out of their time.
Carl, in fact, took a road trip all the way to California on his motorcycle last spring break. “It took me four days to get to the Grand Canyon, and then two days going north through Las Vegas and then Sacramento.” Carl said that the road trip may have been physically exhausting from long hours of driving alone, without any back support like you may get in a car, but the experience was still an amazing one for him.
With other students constantly fretting about parking spots for their cars, motorcycle riders find having a motorbike convenient in terms of getting to park almost anywhere with enough area. “Parking is more lenient with bikes because you don’t take up so much space,” Carl said. He said that he usually parks next to the Trojan Center between two lamp posts, which is not technically a parking spot, but works for him.
Wynn, however, said that he feels there needs to be more parking space allocated specifically for motorcycles, as he sometimes finds people moving his vehicle to the front of the parking space to make room for their car to be parked in the same spot.
Despite their problems, the cost, ease, swiftness and fun of motorbikes make it an unparalleled must-have for Wynn and Carl.
“Be safe. Don’t ride outside of your confidence or skill level. Don’t be cocky, but it is OK to show off” is Wynn’s advice to other motorcycle enthusiasts looking to hone their biker skills.
“It’s a lot more fun and easier to park on campus,” Carl said. “And it saves money.”