->"It should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles, either."
--> '''Bob Pirsig''', Author
It's a book about a lot of things, but the narrative that gives it structure follows a father and son's cross-country motorcycle trip in 1968. The story is semi-autobiographical and presented strictly from the father's point of view as they travel. It is the nature of traveling by motorcycle for there to be long periods of time in which conversation is impossible and so the reader is privy to the musings, observations, and memories of the father between stops in conveniently chapter-length essays he calls "Chautauquas."
* AllBikersAreHellsAngels - Completely averted. The Narrator is a writer for industrial manuals who's traveling with his young son and family friends the Sutherlands, who are Minneapolis artists.
* EverythingsBetterWithMotorcycles - A truism.
* HorribleCampingTrip - The Narrator's son Chris declares.
* IntelligenceEqualsIsolation - The Narrator is very intelligent, but has difficulty relating to people including his wife.
* OldFriend - The Narrator staying with old friends in Bozeman, Montana.
* MeaningfulName - Phaedrus
* RoadMovie - Lost in DevelopmentHell, so we'll probably never see it filmed, but the spirit is there.
* ScienceIsBad - The Sutherlands' worldview.
* SplitPersonalityTakeover - [[spoiler:The Narrator vs Phaedrus and vice-versa]]
* ThePhilosopher - The Narrator
* UnreliableNarrator - The Narrator
* [[TheJoyOfX Zen and the Art of X]] - Trope Namer