"I ride a bike."
Two subtly different constructions here. norimasu is a verb used for riding on some kind of vehicle - densha, kuruma, jitensha, basu. norimasu takes the particle ni - it follows the vehicle that the person is riding on. However if the speaker was talking about how they travelled as in your example then the vehicle becomes a "tool" or a mode for carrying out the action, in which case the vehicle is followed by de. dou yatte kuukoo made iketa? How did you get to airport? basu de itta - I went by bus By comparison - basu ni notta - I got on a bus (ie. I got on a bus to get to the airport) Hope that makes sense.
Thanks! I've been getting very frustrated with this section and your explain is clear, I think it will help a lot! So if I understand correctly, のります is for when the act of travelling in the vehicle is the important thing, and で行きます when it's secondary to the fact of going to a place? I'm still a little unclear how つかいます fits in though. What makes 'using' a train different from 'riding' a train? (Personally I wouldn't say either of these things so I'm not entirely sure what the distinction is, and 'go on' a train is not accepted.
So glad I could help! :D のります is for a vehicle that you physically board or get on and に indicates that you are getting on or in that vehicle. While で indicates your mode of transport and follows the vehicle that you used to get to a place. I think it's more about the particles and what they are indicating or being used for. But you wouldn't use に with いきます when talking about vehicles unless you wanted to indicate that you were moving towards a vehicle. Hope this makes sense? As for using a train - in English riding and using a train are pretty much the same. But they are different words in Japanese - you could use the word for "use" for instance, to say you were riding on a train or to say you were using a pen to write with - same word. That's the only difference that I can think of. Also, the particle is different again - you wouldn't use に or で with つかいます、you would use を because the thing you use is the direct object of the verb. Hope I've explained this well.
Not necessarily! I think it's the same way that English can use "I rode a bike (or horse)" without implying passivity. My sense is that に乗ります implies an element of self propulsion to the method of travel - yeah, you have to pedal a bike, but it does keep rolling too. Or it could be carried over from "riding a horse", but I'm not sure on that one! If someone knows more, I'm happy to be corrected, but that's how I've been thinking about it!