If you’ve ever tried brushing your teeth with your non-dominate hand then you understand how weird it feels. You end up moving your head side to side to compensate for the lack of control and strength you have for this fine-motor skill.

Now, take that toothbrush and put about 110 cc’s behind it, throw in Chiang Mai traffic, dips and hills, dogs and cats, chicken and children and you might get a tang of what it tastes like to operate a motorbike when you are left-handed.

This epiphany occurred just as I was going to sleep. Exhausted from another day of trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the feel of the motorbike. Why was it hard to start the bike? Was I really so weak? If grandmas and 12 year olds could do it, surely could I. Why was it when I started to give it a little gas I felt like I was suddenly on a runaway horse?

And why did I mix up the gears and the break? Why did I run the bike into the other bike when I was barely moving it? Why did I suddenly plow into the row of desks causing the bike to fall on me and sufficiently shake me up? Was I that clumsy? I envisioned killing people because I couldn’t seem to master what seemed terribly easy for everyone else.

Yes, I had had a lesson. And yes, I was fine in traffic. The traffic here is what spooks the pants off most Westerners. Everything is melter-smelter-oh-hell-we’re-going-to-die different. Take all the traffic laws you’ve been trained to do since day one and back up over them because you ain’t gonna need them here. But I had been sitting on the back of motorbikes for about a year so I understood how traffic moves here.

When I realized my handicap I felt the clouds of confusion part, the gods of thunder quiet. I wasn’t an idiot! Not this time! I am left-legged and left-handed, that is to say I kick the ball with my left leg and I write with my left hand. Egats.

This realization came about the same time I saw a friend on FB post how excited she was that one of her son’s was left handed. I restrained myself. Being left-handed is seen, nowadays as something unique and wonderful, but as I have learned it can really suck the handlebars off a horse.

As a child, you don’t really think about why the desk arm is on the other side or why your hand is mashed against the coils of the notebook or why you can’t seem to write without smearing the ink. And it took awhile to understand why your check marks check the other way. Not a big deal, but just a little reminder to let you know that you are a wee bit different and that the world conforms to another type.

My younger brother was left-handed too, but for some reason the teacher he got stuck with made him switch to his right hand. He used to joke about how he was robbed from being his true self. But since his job now is being in the military I think this was a good thing.

Now I’m not saying we should switch all of our children to right-handedness. I’m just saying now that I have recognized this problem and dealt with it, my brain is stronger, better networked and smarter than yours.

8 replies on “The left-handed motorbike

  1. Hi Lani, my son is left-handed so it was interesting to read about your experiences. I never even considered how it must affect people's lives. I'll remember to look out for you on the road the next time I'm in Chiang Mai; I'll keep well out of your way 🙂


  2. Since Tina Fey is left-handed, I want to be left-handed, too. It seems like all the cool people are! Also: did you know that left-handed people die earlier? My nickname is Debbie Downer! 🙂


  3. Yes I did Debbie Downer but I figured I would leave it out of the post. Ah Tina Fey, I want to be her! 😀


  4. I'm impressed you're actually riding around here. I haven't ridden a bike since I was a kid and am dreading getting back on one. Bad enough under normal traffic circumstances, but HERE? I don't think so ;)I'll be happy if I can learn to move the darn thing just a few metres…soon…one day…maybe.


  5. Hello! So I am 22 year old American living in Thailand, and I injured my right shoulder, so I can’t drive a bike with my right hand for the next month and a half. This might be a long shot, but do you know where I could get a left handed bike in Chiang Mai??? The picture above seems to be a left handed one, and I was wondering if you know where it came from?


    1. Uh, sadly, no I do not know about a left-handed motorbike. I was trying to say that I had to learn to use my right hand much more than I ever had when I learned how to drive. Sorry if my post was confusing. Hope you heal up quick.


  6. Okay thanks anyways! Yeah, I thought that was what you were saying, but just thought I’d try 🙂


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