"Ride a bike", for every vehicle the word 'drive' is used.For example drive car, drive a bus etc.But for a particular vehicle 'bike' why is the word drive not used,and instead of drive the word ride is used in sentences.

  • 1
    When you in a car, but not the driver, you are riding.
    – Zhang
    Dec 7 '18 at 2:15
  • It's somewhat idiomatic. There is no logical explanation why we don't say drive a bike. (At least not that I'm aware of.) Dec 7 '18 at 2:26
  • See this answer on ELU for a good explanation.
    – Laurel
    Dec 7 '18 at 5:01

"Drive" seems to be idiomatic for most motorized vehicles, while ride is idiomatic for unpowered or self-powered vehicles. As you say, you "drive" a car, bus, train, boat, motorcycle, scooter, truck, tractor, carriage, taxi, limousine, or hearse ... but you "ride" a bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, skateboard, toboggan, or surfboard.

You also ride a horse, camel, elephant, donkey, pony, mule, yak, ox, reindeer, ostrich, or any other animal that can be ridden.

There is at least one exception: Because a hoverboard is so much like a skateboard, most people seem to prefer "ride" for this, even though it has an electric motor. In the same way small electric scooters are "ridden" -- unless you sit down on them, in which case either "ride" or "drive" might be fine.


There's not a technical reason why this is incorrect (you would be understood), but anything that is not powered by a motor (bicycle, scooter, horse, etc.) is ridden.

  • The other day, I was riding a motorbike.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 7 '18 at 3:31

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