(2017-04-10, 10:59 am)bizarrojosh Wrote: I rent a car when I visit inlaws so I can't really give any advice about motorcycle driving per say, but to be a contrast to what yogert909 said, I found driving in Japan to be quite easy and the switch to the opposite side of the road wasn't difficult to adjust to. However, I've had years of experience driving so the only shifts I had to make were learning how to read the signs quick enough to know where I was going, knowing what the shapes of signs mean (they have different signs which mean different things so look those up before you go), and learning how to navigate very very cramped roads. I would think motorcycle riding would be fantastic and much easier than a car. Traffic in Japan moves much more slow and the drivers (compared to Atlanta where I'm from) are much more courteous and safe.
It's pretty easy most of the time, but it's the times when you get overloaded that you can make mistakes. I've only rented a car in Japan once and most of the time it was smooth sailing. However, there were a few times when I was trying to follow the GPS and find the street I needed to turn on that I made mistakes. Mistakes in this case were driving down the wrong side of the road after making a turn (and turning on the wipers instead of the turn signal). I also made mistakes after getting a little too comfortable thinking I was getting the hang of it, in the middle of a conversation, making a turn without thinking and ending up on the wrong side of the road again. Fortunately this only happened a few times on uncrowded roads in rural Japan and I didn't run into anyone. However if someone was coming the other direction and the timing was right, it could have turned out badly.
I've been riding motorcycles for 20 years, so I can say with confidence that riding a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car. It's still pretty easy most of the time. But it's those times when it gets difficult that make all the difference. If an obstacle suddenly appears on the road in front of you in a car, all you do it swing the wheel left or right and/or hit the brakes. On a motorcycle turns are more complicated because body position matters. You can't just swing the handlebars right or left and turn more than a few feet because you need to get the bike leaning over. In addition, braking is more complicated because you have independent control of front and rear brakes. In a panic stop situation, it's extremely common to use too little input on the front brake and way too much input on the rear brake - causing the rear of the bike to fishtail. Fishtailing a car is not really a big deal. Fishtailing a motorcycle often ends up in a lowside
or a highside
Overall, according to the US department of Transportation
"Per vehicle mile traveled in 2013, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 26 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and motorcyclists were nearly 5 times more likely to be injured...".
Driving overall is pretty easy. Adding a factor like texting while driving is considered dangerous but most of the time it's pretty easy. It's those odd moments when someone is making a blind left in front of you at the same time that you're avoiding a pedestrian and a text comes in that things get dicey. Your senses get overloaded.
This brings me back to OP's situation. Riding a motorcycle is already much more dangerous than driving a car, but you'll be adding multiple factors which will make riding all the more dangerous . You'll be riding a rental bike that's you're not familiar with, on unfamiliar roads, trying to follow directions (gps?, map?), on the opposite side of the street than you're familiar with, and you are new to riding motorcycles. That seems like many orders of magnitude more complicated than riding a motorcycle on familiar streets, which again is pretty simple most of the time. It's those occasional times when you get everything thrown at you at once that it really matters.
Edited: 2017-04-13, 1:36 pm