Study says biking is in the blood

Motorcycling runs in the family

Posted: 5 September 2012
by Visordown News

ACCORDING to a study by bike insurer Bennetts the desire to ride motorcycles is in your DNA.

With input from a psychologist, the study has theorised that motorcyclists have a genetic predisposition in the form a of a 'novelty-seeking' (NS) gene, which brings out a tendency for impulsive, exploratory and risk-taking behaviour.

The research from Bennetts found that the majority of bikers, 85%, were introduced to two wheels by a family member, with 11% saying a friend and 4% responding that it was a non-relative, including a partner or colleague.

The findings also discovered that bikers had the matching personality traits associated with the NS gene, with risk-taking (72%), low boredom threshold (71%) and spontaneity (69%) amongst the responses.

It was also found that 68% of bikers were introduced by an immediate family member, 9% by an aunt, uncle or cousin and 8% by a grandparent.

Motorcycling often defines a person, and this was shown by nearly three-quarters (73%) admitting that their bike defines who they are. As many as 62% said they couldn’t live without their bike and others even revealed that they consider their bike a family member (61%) or an extension of their personality (70%).

Psychologist Donna Dawson said of the findings: “Psychologists know from studies on twins that up to 60% of personality traits are inherited; however, environment, in the form of upbringing and opportunity, also has a role to play.

"Our research tells us that most bikers were introduced to biking through a family member and that all questions related to the ‘NS’ gene personality traits (such as being a risk-taker) and the biker’s emotional attachment to his or her bike resulted in very high scores.

"This reveals that the majority of biking families will be passing on an ‘NS’ gene, which in turn is also being reinforced by an environment in which bikers are setting an example and sharing their love of biking - it’s certainly ‘in the blood’ from what I can see!”

How did you get in biking?

Previous article
Troy Corser Masterclass at Wheeldon Off-Road Centre
Next article
Car drivers don't hate bikes

motorcycle dna, motorcycle family, study, research, bennetts

Discuss this story

I was adopted when i was 4 months old, bought my first bike when i was 18 with no input from anyone else. Then when i was 23 i found out that my biological father was a biker and had been killed on his bike the same year i bought my first 125... true story.

So yeah, its definatly in the blood.

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 13:42

Started riding at 16. Both father and elder brother had bikes and I did fall off a lot during my first year due to taking risks.
Still riding at 61, no longer purposely take risks (well not very often!)so yeah, biking's in the blood, I agree.
Love anything with two wheels, have two pushbikes as well.
I suppose we must like taking risks as almost every time you go out you get cut up or almost knocked off by some wanker in a car who isn't looking where they're going.

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 16:09

I, too, was adopted and purchased my first street bike against the wishes of my adoptive family. Years later I found my biological mother and learned she had purchased her first street bike in her late teens... against the wishes of her adoptive family. It's in the genes.

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 16:12

I was introduced by a school mate. However, before I was born, my Dad rode. He died before I began and never incouraged me.

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 16:28

I'll go along with that! my Dad always loved bikes my mother told me but was too poor to buy one and he died when I was quite young so no 'brainwashing.
' I was always interested in them ever since can remember. Bought my friends bike as a first one (suzuki 200cc twin called an Invader -uyd67g where are you!) Yes it's in the blood alright and no cure is possible!

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 16:42

When I was 4 my parents bought me a tricycle, I was hooked. From there it was bicycles, dirt bikes, minibikes, mopeds, and little Hondas. Today it's a Hyabusa, but I will always be the boy on the bicycle.

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 18:02

No-one introduced me to bikes. I just thought I'd give it a go and a bought a cheapo 125 out of the local paper. That was 24 years ago and I've never owned a car since. No-one in my family rides either. Maybe the milkman does.... ;-)

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 18:54

My parents meet at the Ace Cafe in the 50s......nuff said

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 19:23

I met my wife at the T.T. races on the Isle Of Man. Nuff said!!!

Posted: 05/09/2012 at 22:51

No input from anyone else, originally was into cars and wanted to race them but thought it too expensive, so thought bikes would be cheaper and got my first, a Yamaha RZ350, at age 21 against wishes of parents (hid the bike for a few weeks at a friend's house before telling them). No other family members had or have bikes that I know of. Basically I just wanted to do it.

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 00:20

Family: When I was a young lad my uncle used to let me sit on his z1000... it was the biggest, coolest, scariest behemoth of a machine and was scaled up 3 sizes as I was a kid. It was AWESOME.. It gave me 'butterflies' just to even sit on it.

Since those days i have been chasing those 'butterfly' feelings. Mainly through bikes; superbikes, motard racing, hard enduro but also extreme sports, my working life, solo travel, multiple partner-philandering and leaving England and moving around the world to keep on doing all this stuff in places where they still let you have fun.

The bikes still give me the 'butterflies' and 'fizzy willy'... long after everything else has lost its lustre.

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 06:58

Blummin in my family has any interest in bikes... till i got in with the 'wrong' crowd (yes, you Jeff ;)- lol! And its been fun from there on in :)

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 09:23

My Uncle on my dad's side rode Indians starting in the 1950s, he lives in the Midwest of the USA though and I hardly ever see him. Uncle on my mom's side used to race with Kenny Roberts Sr. in flat track back in the 60s in Modesto, but he never talked much about it.

I'm from California, but my real introduction to two wheels came the first time I traveled abroad; I spent a month in Italy when I was 14 in the summer of 2001, right in the middle of Rossi's first premier class title year. Saw him in tons of commercials, liked his personality. Then I saw a beautiful woman on a 996 on a fairy going across Lake Como from Varenna to Bellagio and I was hooked. By the summer of 2002 I attended my first race, the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca that started off Edwards' comeback that season, and there was finally no turning back. Got an SV650 a year later when I came of age.

Nobody really introduced me to it, it was just the thing I identified with when I was in high school, but I suppose some extended family members were rather involved in biking!

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 09:27

I got my first bike at 16, Mum worked for ROSPA you Dad has no clue about bikes, I’m the one in the family is into bike’s.

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 10:11

I remember my Dad sitting me on the tank of his Norton and taking me for a ride down a country lane when I was about 4.
He bought me a licence when I was 16 and insured me to ride his Triumph Tina (yes I am that old ).
A lifetime of riding and racing bikes followed, an experience I treasure and would change nothing.

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 10:52

from about 4-5 i was playing on my couzin's monkey bike + had a honda cub, went pillion on my dad's GPz 900R when i was about 6 or so, then there was a gap untill i was 20 when i bought a yam r125, did my das at 21 and bought a daytona 675 brand spanking :)

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 12:15

Not sure I agree with this entirely. 85% introduced by family members? Myself and all my biking friends all started biking because that’s what our peers were into and some are completely adverse to risk (and therefore slow).

I believe that your not born with any preposition do be or do anything. People are 'made not born'. Check out the story of the 'Polgar Sisters'. As a psychologist their father wanted to prove this theory by making them world class at something which the family had no genetic ties. He chose chess (not very exciting maybe). 20 odd years later and Three Grand chess master daughters went some way to proving his theory.

Posted: 06/09/2012 at 12:27

It's not about being world class... it is about the urge to ride.
For sure this is something that people either have, or they dont.
Most bikers have it.

I too had a bunch of teenage friends that rode bikes... not because bikes were their choice, but it was the only choice, until passing a car test and trading the 2 wheeler for a 4 wheeler.
Those that like the thrill seem to still have a bike somewhere in their collection.

I guess the easiest way to separate the 2 human groups.
Some answer "why" to risk.
The others "why not".

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 06:32

Sorry, but I'm dubious about this. If biking is in the blood, how come the average age of a rider in the UK is now about 45? Are bikey couples not having kids anymore? Course they are, so where are the youngsters? Usually if they're on two wheels at all, it seems they'll be on scooters for the minimum possible time and then straight to a modified (read dangerously knackered) Corsa or Golf or whatever.
I think there's truth in the fact that bikers will generally like life on the edge more than most and I guess this is genetically based but as a few above have pointed out, WRT to the family connection angle (i.e. genetic inheritance) they had no bike riding family and still got into it. In other words it's a genetic thing that will be more likely to be true if your parents are the same but needn't necessarily be the case.

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 18:16

Interesting theory,it"s said that alchie"s are born with that afliction,they may be quite late in life taking that first drink, but then its all or nothing.

My dad rode Ariel vb"s (thats a six hundred side valve singe for you young un"s) My uncle rode M20"s during WW11as a dispach ride in the "Royal Signals" ,he covered about a quarter of a million miles during the war and wore out three bikes.Me, i"ve been at it for about fifty years and still love it,first bike bought for three quid BSA A7 with a broken front brake lever ,what a feild bike(wish i still had it and many more that have passed through my hands )Biking"s not an afliction it"s an addiction .Yeah defo in the blood!!!! 

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 21:58

In the blood? Possibly. From my experience it was a question of affordability, at sixteen no one could afford a car so we all bought either a bike scooter or moped anything to get us mobile and give us a bit of independance.
Those that didn't like it soon gave up and saved for driving lessons and a car those that did like it progressed to bigger and better bikes. So no, I wouldn't say its in the blood for most of us just a case of experiencing a part of life and enjoying it and then making the most of it.

Posted: 08/09/2012 at 12:42

I'm adopted too, but don't know if any biological family rides since I've never met any of them. My brother rode and is 10 years older than me. I wanted to do everything he did, so I bought his bike when I was 18. I'm a chick, 57 yrs old, and I LOVE to ride.

Got my former boyfriend in to it, who originally said "du eh... I don't think I can date somebody that's a motorcycle rider. All you are is an organ donor." I said, "Yeah, what ever," he got a bike 4 days later, and rides more than I do now. Hah!

I can't imagine ever NOT being able to ride.

Posted: 09/09/2012 at 02:12

Well my Dad hated bikes (his best mate was killed on one) so I doubt very much I'd have gotten into bikes had my Dad not died of Cancer, when he was just 38 and I was just 12. If anything it was his death that spurred me on to do as many things as possible. Now I'm 40 and biking is probably one of the least risky things I've done.

Posted: 11/09/2012 at 12:59

My Grandad owned one of the first bike shops in London in the 1930's
My Mum grew up around bikes and dated bikers in 1940's and 50's - occasionally passengering side-car racers.
When I was born my Mum held me during the trip home from the hospital in a side-car attached to my Grandad's Matchless.
My first scar was a burn from a hot Ariel exhaust at 7 or 8
I crashed my first BSA at 12

I'm now 55 and still riding . . . . so I guess 'Yes' it IS in the blood!

Posted: 13/09/2012 at 11:49

Talkback: Study says biking is in the blood

Busiest motorcycle review conversations