Two Wheels and Rationality?

Ying Ying Ooi, Chandrashekar Venkataraman


Robert M. Pirsig (1974), in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , writes “I feel some anxiety about this, which I realize is irrational and try to get rid of by talking about the road. There’s no way to fall off. No danger to the motorcycle. Just a memory of places where you could throw a stone and it would drop thousands of feet before coming to a rest and somehow associating that stone with the (motor)cycle and rider.” The notion of motorcycle riding, or more commonly, motorcycling, being irrational is not new; we would venture that not much has changed in over a century since its invention as far as it being intrinsically irrational is concerned. It was seemingly irrational to Pirsig when he was riding way back in the 50s and 60s, and continues to be irrational even today. We can reaffirm this view based on our personal experiences as motorcycle rider and pillion. However, the economists in us seek a rational explanation to the act of motorcycling, and we explore that perspective in this paper.

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