The Smell of Riding a Motorcycle

One advantage to riding a motorcycle is being able to smell the air. In a car you're always smelling the same smell, except in extreme ...

Riding motorcycle flowers and treesOne advantage to riding a motorcycle is being able to smell the air.

In a car you're always smelling the same smell, except in extreme cases when you drive through something really smelly. But on the bike, you get it all.

Summertime is a great time to ride through Southern California, because there are still places where there are orange groves. And when the orange trees are in bloom, riding through them hits you with a wall of sweet scent.

I also like hitting the mountain roads in the Summer and breathing in the smell of pine trees. You can also take a ride through the wheat fields of inland California, particularly in the early morning while there is still some dew on the ground, and get an intense scent of wheat. A few days ago I rode up Pacific Coast Highway through Orange County, and the salty smell of the ocean was in the air.

Just last week a buddy and I were riding motorcycles through the city of San Marcos looking for a place to have lunch. We rode past a barbecue joint, and would have probably kept going if not for the aroma of barbecue sauce burning on an open fire. We turned around and ate lunch there. Burger joints and doughnut shops always seem to spew out heavenly smells.

Sometimes the smell of riding a motorcycle is not so great. Like when you get whiff of diesel exhaust bellowing out of an old Mercedes sedan, while stopped at an intersection. If you ride in a group, someone is usually running rich, and you can get a whiff of unspent fuel blowing out of the exhaust pipe. If you happen to be coming up to a livestock farm, get ready to smell some poop.

Some smells are not necessarily sweet, but not that bad either. Like when rain just starts to fall, and you can smell that strange scent of road grime getting wet. Or like when you're riding down a long stretch of downgrade, and you can pick up the smell of burning brake pads. Ever ride through an area that just recently experienced a fire? Sometimes you can smell the charcoal.

But mostly, the smell of riding is a pleasant experience. It's a dynamic you don't get in a car. If you happen to ride your motorcycle into the country, and you can't smell anything, take heart. You're smelling clean air!


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  1. Have you tried scent tires? The item in the New York Times this week about scented tires made me think that they should be developing other nicely-scented automotive products as well.

    Since vehicles running on biodiesel can smell a little like French fries, or Chinese food, maybe we could have tires that smell like ketchup or soy sauce to go along with them. A little essence patchouli in the motor oil of an old broken-down VW minibus might be in keeping with the esthetic, and maybe one might appreciate it when having to follow behind a diesel truck if it smelled like, well, Diesel. Save the spring flowers for the rubber in the windshield wipers I say, as they have to fend off the March showers.

    More infor on



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