Words: Paul d’Orléans / Photographs: Rita Minissi

She squeezed me, shouting over the freeway wind-roar, “Guess what?” ‘That’ was the latest in a long string of confessions, at which I could marvel but sadly never share: she’d had an orgasm while riding pillion on my vintage Triumph Bonneville, buzzing at a steady 65mph. It’s a heady old cocktail, sex and motorcycles, stretching back to Art Nouveau posters with bloomer’d ladies astride crude motor-trikes: hardly rousing now, but straddling and riding was understood as the sole turf of Victorian sex bombs. Women are the fastest-growing segment of motorcycle sales today, and despite clichés of choppers draped with bikini babes, female riders imagine new scenarios of sexuality and power with bikes.

The motorcycle is the second most intimate of machines: the first being, of course, the vibrator. An older motorcycle combines these intimacies, because they too vibrate. Within the aluminum confines of an engine, hot steel shafts push oily pistons up tightly-bored holes, with explosions every four strokes. A motor is a natural sexual metaphor, but technical progress has engineered vibration out of new machines. Lovers of old bikes embrace vibes as one note in the symphony of flaws adding up to the near-human quality of ‘character’. Before advanced engine balancing systems in the ‘80s, designers could only choose the vibratory and smooth periods for each motor. For example, I own two Velocettes: the touring Venom is dead-smooth at 65mph, while the production-racer Thruxton is glass-table dreamy at 80mph; they’re the same motor, but tuned differently, like instruments. Music works as a metaphor for riding, as we conduct a song of combustion with the wrist, shifter, brakes, and clutch, finding emotional resonance in motion and the exhaust note.

“The motorcycle is the second most intimate of machines: the first being, of course, the vibrator.”

I love this music, it transports me in every sense, and while sex frequently swirls inside my helmet on a ride, its my brain, not the bike switching on the juices. Tragic, compared to the ladies, who respond quite differently to their genitals pressing atop a pleasantly buzzing, 400lb machine. Many passengers in my 37 riding years have admitted unexpected pleasures aboard my various motorbikes, and this recent event inspired an email poll: 1. ‘Have you ever?’ 2. ‘Tell me more.’ A few responses: ‘HAHAHAHA never’; ‘I’ve always wanted to share this – yes I love it’; ‘One time, on the back, holding on tight, doing the ton down a California highway on a perfect day’; ‘No – I’m too busy riding’; ‘Once as a passenger, ’96 Sportster, magic hour, he broke my heart, don’t mention my name’; ‘Last time was on Park Ave in a traffic jam smiling at the cab driver next to me.’

The general trend: passengers have more orgasms, but do they have more fun? Given motorcycling’s eternal dance with lethality, a distracting orgasm at the helm of a fast machine binds eros too tightly with thanatos. But as research fodder, the unsung pleasures of the passenger has potential; the unfathomable variety of women’s sexual response clearly extends to motorcycles, as evidenced in my brief survey. We’ve reached Terra Incognita, a great undiscussed erotic secret, hiding in plain sight. More research is needed: stay tuned – we’re on the case.


Paul d’Orléans is the founder of TheVintagent.com. He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.
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