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Who should not ride a motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience. However, it does come with risks. Motorcycles require a high degree of coordination, balance, and quick reflexes to operate safely. Because of this, there are some people who should avoid riding a motorcycle altogether.

People with Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can make riding a motorcycle more dangerous. People who have conditions that affect their balance, reflexes, vision, or judgment should not get on a motorcycle.

Balance Issues

Good balance and coordination are essential for motorcycle riding. Conditions like vertigo, seizures, or neuropathy can throw off a rider’s balance and make them more likely to be involved in a crash. If someone has frequent issues with dizziness or loss of balance, riding a motorcycle is not recommended.

Slowed Reflexes

Motorcycle riding requires quick reflexes to respond to hazards and make adjustments while operating the bike. Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis can slow reflexes. People with significantly slowed reflexes should avoid motorcycles.

Vision Problems

Clear vision is critical when riding a motorcycle. Even minor vision issues can become major problems when operating a bike at high speeds. Conditions like poor night vision, depth perception problems, color blindness, glaucoma, or cataracts increase the risk of motorcycle crashes. Anyone with vision deficits should not ride.

Cognitive Impairments

Riding a motorcycle takes strong cognitive skills like concentration, alertness, coordination, and quick decision making. Medical issues that affect cognition like dementia, seizures, concussions, or effects of stroke or brain injury can impair motorcycle riding abilities. Those with cognitive deficits should avoid riding.

People Taking Certain Medications

Some types of medications can negatively impact motorcycle riding safety. Medicines with side effects that slow reaction time, impair coordination, or cause drowsiness should be avoided when operating a motorcycle.

Opioid Pain Medications

Opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone are commonly prescribed for pain but have side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and slowed reflexes. These effects can be dangerous when riding a motorcycle. People taking opioid medications should not get on a bike.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Many anti-anxiety medicines like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium can cause sedation, impaired coordination, and slowed reaction times. These effects make motorcycle riding very hazardous. Anyone taking these types of psychiatric medications should avoid riding.

Sleep Aids

Both prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications can cause significant drowsiness and slow reflexes for hours after ingestion. Riding a motorcycle while under the influence of sleep aids would be extremely unsafe. It should always be avoided.


While antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro do not cause sedation, they can sometimes impair coordination or concentration when first starting treatment or changing dosages. People starting on antidepressants should wait until side effects subside before riding again.

People With Alcohol or Drug Dependence

Riding a motorcycle while impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or other recreational drugs is incredibly dangerous. People with alcohol or drug dependence issues should not ride motorcycles until achieving sobriety.


Even small amounts of alcohol can negatively affect concentration, reflexes, and coordination required for safely operating a motorcycle. People with alcoholism who are actively drinking or newly sober are at very high risk if they choose to ride.


Marijuana use causes slowed reaction times and impaired coordination, both of which are hazardous when riding a motorcycle. People who use marijuana regularly or are under the influence while riding have a much higher risk of crashing.


Illegal stimulant drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine often cause aggressiveness, impulsivity, and loss of concentration for the user. These effects can lead to reckless behavior and poor decision making when riding a motorcycle.

People With No Motor Vehicle Experience

Riding a motorcycle is very different from driving a car. People who have never operated any motor vehicle before should gain experience and skills in a car first before attempting to ride a motorcycle.

Lack of Road Rules Knowledge

Those without any experience following road laws and safety rules in a car will not have the knowledge needed to apply them properly on a motorcycle. This can lead to dangerous errors.

No Experience Judging Speeds

It takes practice to learn how to gauge speeds and distances between vehicles. Inexperienced riders will struggle with this on a motorcycle where speeds and distances change rapidly.

Unfamiliar with Traffic Patterns

Understanding the flow of traffic, changing lanes, and merging with vehicles is a learned skill. Attempting these maneuvers for the first time on a motorcycle greatly raises crash risks.

Before riding a motorcycle, beginners should spend time driving a car to gain critical experience in traffic operations, safety habits, judging speed and distance, and applying road rules.

Children and Teenagers

Children and teenagers lack both the physical capability and mental maturity to safely operate a motorcycle. Motorcycle riding requires coordination, strength, focus, and good judgment that younger people have not yet fully developed.

Insufficient Strength

Motorcycles can be heavy, powerful machines. Younger children lack the strength and height to properly control, balance, and maneuver a motorcycle, especially in emergency situations.

Undeveloped Coordination

Smoothly operating the clutch, throttle, brakes, and other controls on a motorcycle requires a high degree of coordination. Children and pre-teens generally will not have developed this yet.

Poor Risk Assessment

Teenagers are still developing critical thinking and risk assessment skills. As a result, teens are more likely to take dangerous risks and lack appropriate caution when riding motorcycles.

To stay safe, children under 16 should never ride a motorcycle. Older teens should take training courses and gain experience under adult supervision first.

Inexperienced Riders

No one should attempt to ride a motorcycle on public roads without proper instruction and training. Beginning riders need to develop critical skills in an educational setting before getting on highways.

Lack of Formal Instruction

Attempting to learn how to ride a motorcycle informally without taking a structured training course is dangerous. Formal instruction provides critical skills and safety knowledge.

No Hands-On Practice

Simply reading about how to ride is not enough. Beginning riders need hours of hands-on practice under expert supervision to learn how to properly operate and control a motorcycle.

Unfamiliar with Safety Gear

Without taking a motorcycle safety course, many beginning riders fail to learn the proper use of protective gear like helmets, jackets, gloves, and boots.

All new riders should enroll in a motorcycle safety foundation training course before hitting the open road on a bike.

Drivers Without a Motorcycle License

In most areas, a motorcycle license or endorsement is required to legally ride a motorcycle on public roads. Anyone operating a motorcycle without a valid license faces safety risks and legal penalties if stopped.

No Motorcycle Skill Assessment

Passing an exam or skills test for a motorcycle license provides proof of basic riding competency. Unlicensed riders lack this validated skill assessment.

Unfamiliar with Motorcycle Laws

The knowledge test for a motorcycle license covers traffic laws and rules specific to motorcycles. Riding without a license indicates a lack of this required legal knowledge.

No Insurance Coverage

Most policies require a valid motorcycle license to provide injury or damage coverage in the event of a crash. Unlicensed riders likely have no insurance protections.

Attempting to ride a motorcycle on public roads without the appropriate license is both unsafe and illegal. All riders should pass their state’s licensing requirements first.

People in Poor Physical Shape

Riding a motorcycle requires strength, stamina, and flexibility to properly operate the machine and hold up in the riding position. People who are severely out of shape face increased safety risks.

Insufficient Leg Strength

Having strong legs to grip the motorcycle helps maintain stability and balance. Weak leg muscles increase risk of losing control of the bike.

Poor Core Strength

Strong abdominal muscles allow riders to properly support themselves against the force of braking and acceleration. Weak cores lead to fatigue and poor bike control.

Tight Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings hamper assuming proper riding posture and ability to stand on pegs to absorb bumps. Inflexible riders experience more discomfort and bike instability.

Improving overall conditioning with strength training and flexibility exercises can help compensate for some of these deficiencies and make motorcycle riding safer for novice riders.

Very Short or Tall Riders

Motorcycles come in a range of seat heights, but some people fall outside the dimensions of most production bikes. Very short and very tall riders can face added safety challenges.

Difficulty Reaching Controls

Riders who cannot easily and comfortably reach hand and foot controls may struggle to operate the motorcycle effectively, especially in emergency maneuvers.

Lack of Flat Foot Support

Being able to plant both feet flat on the ground at stops provides stability. Riders who cannot do this can lose control when balancing at stops.

Strained Posture

Constant straining to reach controls or having no clearance between seat and inseam increases rider discomfort and fatigue.

While extender accessories and customizations help, motorcycles outside normal size ranges remain challenging for those at the height extremes. They require diligent control adjustments and posture awareness to ride safely.

People Prone to Reckless Behavior

Motorcycles provide more speed and performance capabilities than cars. Some riders are tempted to test limits and show off on powerful bikes. Those prone to reckless behaviors should avoid motorcycles altogether.

Need for Speed

Many motorcycles can easily reach speeds over 100 mph. Riders who feel compelled to push speeds this high are a danger to themselves and others.

Showing Off

Some riders try to impress others with stunts like wheelies or weaving through traffic. This type of showing off belongs on closed courses only, not public roads.

Ignoring Safety Gear

For riders obsessed with image, wearing protective jackets, pants, boots, and a full-face helmet may not seem “cool enough”. Lack of gear greatly increases injury risk.

People drawn to risky behaviors may find responsible motorcycle riding a challenge. Mature, conservative riding habits require dismissing temptation to show off or test limits.

Drivers Unable to Commit Focus

Safely operating a motorcycle demands full mental attention and concentration from the rider. People who struggle with focus should think twice before riding.

Easily Distracted

Some people are easily distracted by thoughts, daydreams, or things going on around them. Mental distractions divert attention away from the task of riding.

Multitasking Mentality

In a car, many people engage in other activities like talking, eating, or checking phones while driving. This divided attention is extremely hazardous on a motorcycle.

Impatient Personality

Impatient people can find it challenging to maintain vigilance for extended periods of time as motorcycle riding requires. Boredom leads to lack of focus.

Every motorcycle rider must make a serious commitment to minimizing distractions, avoiding multitasking, and riding with patience. Anything less risks drifting attention and crashing.

People Who Do Not Accept the Risks

Riding a motorcycle does involve higher risks than driving a car. People who cannot truly accept these increased risks should not get on a bike.

Unwilling to Wear Safety Gear

Helmets, jackets, boots, pants, and gloves can feel cumbersome. But they provide critical protection. Unwillingness to use gear consistently reveals under-appreciation of risk.

Uncomfortable Exceeding Speed Limits

Most motorcycles need to maintain highway speeds to operate safely with traffic flow. Under-appreciating the importance of speed shows poor risk understanding.

No Emergency Skills Training

All riders should practice braking, swerving, cornering, and low speed handling skills to react correctly in emergencies. Not seeing the need for training reflects inaccurate risk perception.

Without accepting the inherent risks and learning to manage them responsibly, motorcycle operation becomes hazardous. An unwillingness to take risk seriously has no place on motorcycles.


Motorcycle riding provides freedom, excitement, and exhilaration. But it does require physical capability, mental acuity, developed skills, and mature judgment to manage the increased risks safely. For those unable or unwilling to do this, avoiding motorcycles altogether will be the wisest choice.