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Motorcycling: Brain Sharpening or Manhood Softening?

With so much talk about motorcycle fatalities being on the rise across the U.S. and Europe, it’s nice to hear about a positive impact on health from motorcycling.

Ryutu Kawashima, the Japanese brain-aging expert and designer of mental-training software “Brain Age”, is also an enthusiastic motorcyclist, and is interested in the impact riding has on mental function. A study he conducted in conjunction with Yamaha and Tokyo University hints at a possible link between riding and higher cognitive function.

The test involved 22 men that had ridden motorcycles earlier in life, but had not ridden for at least a decade. Eleven of the men were asked to resume riding motorcycles, while the other half of the group was told to continue driving automobiles or use other transportation. Improved brain function was found in the group that resumed riding motorcycles after two months. Admittedly, this was a very small sampling, but some of the test results were rather dramatic. When tested on their memory of a set of numbers recited in reverse order, the group of motorcycle riders improved their scores by more than 50% after the two-months of riding, while the non-riders scores actually deteriorated, according to the study. Of course, we all need to take this study with a grain of salt: Yamaha’s involvement casts doubt on its impartiality and the teeny sample size affects reliability. Still, it backs up what I’ve always found to be true: people who ride seem a little sharper than the sheep-like masses, and also supports some of the ideas in Steven L. Thompson’s fascinating book “Bodies in Motion,” which tries to discover why some people are predisposed to riding motorcycles and some are not.

But even if riding sharpens up your brain, it may have the opposite effect on another part of your anatomy. Another group of Japanese (who else?) researchers published a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research showing a “significant difference in the prevalence of erectile dysfunction” in a control group of motorcyclists.

If that doesn’t put you off of riding, Randall Chipkar’s book “Motorcycle Cancer?” might. Chikpar claims his research reveals that motorcycles shoot cancer-causing electromagnetic radiation straight into your naughty bits. Luckily, he’s invented anti-radiation shielding you can retro-fit to your seat pan. Operators are standing by.