Try this the next time you drive your automobile. Pretend that both of your feet are confined to a very small space. Essentially, small enough that you cannot change the angle of your knee joints, locking your thigh/lower leg angle in place. Drive your automobile like this for an extended period of time (obviously, you will need to operate the brake and throttle by moving your leg, somewhat, and, particularly your left leg if you have a manual transmission). The end result is a lack of comfort. It is nice being able to move your legs around, a bit, to keep circulation going, avoid cramping, and otherwise just keep life a bit more interesting.
On a typical motorcycle, your feet are locked in essentially the same position the entire ride. This is essential, because your left foot needs to operate the gearbox, and your right foot needs to operate the rear brake (or a portion of a linked braking system). Contrast this situation with a large floorboard area (such as found on many scooters), and you find another advantage for scooters in terms of leg comfort.
We have written about the coming use of automatic transmissions on motorcycles (see our article on November 10, 2002), as well as the merger of scooters and motorcycles (see our report on October 20, 2003). As automatic transmissions find their way on to mainstream motorcycles, expect floorboards to replace traditional footpegs, and, in some instances, the rear brake could move up to one of the two hand levers, leaving both feet free to move fore and aft on their respective board.
Is this a big deal? Only in the sense that it will hasten the merger of motorcycles and large scooters, and also move a large percentage of motorcyclists onto machines featuring automatic transmissions (perhaps, even, expanding the number of motorcyclists to include those individuals fearful of manual transmissions). It will also change the direction of styling for these automatic motorcycles. Take another look at our October 20, 2003 article, and the photos of the concept scooter/motorcycle hybrids.