The thoughts and opinions of a woman who's always on the go...riding two wheels!
It’s spreading like wildfire. Even though it's generally considered a male endeavor, more and more women are taking an interest in two-wheels.
And it makes sense that women are becoming keen to motorcycles: riding one equals freedom, adventure and inner peace. It’s something that women have always sought, and still seek. Even though women are still the minority—we comprise 12 percent of motorcyclists— it looks like we’re growing at a steady rate, with no signs of rolling off the throttle. We are also making great strides in the actual sport as more women are on the grid, competing on two wheels.
But, unfortunately, there are still challenges that women riders must face. I wish there were always rainbows, butterflies and sunshine being a female motorcyclist. Don’t get me wrong, that happens once you get going and ignore the bullshit; however, there will always be a few minor obstacles to overcome.
The Cons of being a Woman Rider
1. Constantly trying to prove you belong on a motorcycle
For some reason, a lot of motorcyclists consider the ability to go fast on a motorcycle a requirement. I’m sure men at times feel the same pressures. However, I always hear more women than men say, “I’m so slow...” I know I’ve said it many times! Why do we think that going fast on a motorcycle proves something? I think it’s because we feel like we have to prove like we belong—like we can hang with the guys.
There are definitely women who do go fast, and are thrust into the spotlight immediately, which I personally think is great. But being able to ride your own ride is the most important thing. And luckily, despite feeling like the slowest in the pack, most women do just that. Speed comes eventually, with time, and we also eventually realize that. I mean, for goodness sake, we’re constantly pressured in today’s society to be skinnier, healthier, younger, etc. Motorcycling doesn’t need to bring pressure, just enjoyment. So enjoy it!
Riding topless in the great outdoors is on my bucket list for sure. Photo by Lanakila MacNaughton, Women's Moto Exhibit.
2. Need to pack more stuff
I want to emphasize here that this isn’t applicable to all women riders (well, technically not all of these pros and cons are). But for a lot of us gals on two wheels, traveling means we need to pack what we feel is necessary...which can be a lot!
I recall the days when I would ride to my boyfriend’s place, which at that time was 50 miles away from my home base. It’s no secret that traffic is horrendous in the Bay Area, so instead of sitting in it, you just split in between it. Need to go to a fancy dinner that night? I better pack my makeup (to touch up), brush, hairspray, heels, etc. It was a pain, but you make do and just embrace it.
I packed a backpack and threw another packed backpack on top of my backpack to make it work!
3. Limited bike selection
I actually don’t have a problem with this yet. I’m on the taller end (almost 5’7"), so I’ve never really encountered the issue of a bike being too tall for me to ride.
Again, this isn’t applicable to all women—I’m sure there are women out there who start out riding on a tall bike. However, I tend to meet ladies who prefer something that’s suitable to them height-wise. I also find that most women prefer lower bikes (whether they lower it themselves or pick a bike with a lower seat height). To fix the problem, a lot of bikes are usually lowered using a longer dog bone.
Fortunately, we don’t have to set these limitations. If you’re a seasoned rider starting to feel comfortable on two-wheels and are debating whether you should purchase that tall bike your heart desires, do it! The good news is that there are plenty of short women riders who make tall bikes work. Check out this article on womenridersnow.com that provides tips and tricks on how to maneuver a tall bike. As you can see, this con could become a pro in no time at all!
4. Limited gear selection
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know I have a gripe with women’s gear. We have a decent selection online, but then we run into issues with sizing. It’s frustrating to walk into a store and see this great selection of gear for guys, and then there’s little to nothing for women. I get it—we still aren’t the majority and there are a lot more men to cater to than women (for now).
But I must say that if you’re a moto shop owner carrying women’s gear, you limit our selection even more when you put pink anything on the floor. The same can be said to those companies who actually manufacturer the pink gear. Don’t get me wrong, I love the color, but that doesn’t mean that I want it all over my helmet, jackets, gloves and boots. Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean I need to scream that I’m one by sporting pink. Actually, I feel like I have yet to really meet a woman rider who absolutely loves pink gear. But hey, to each her own, right, ladies?
Pink isn't for me, but go on and rock it if you like it!
5. Feeling like a lamb in the lion’s den
I know I’ve felt like a little lamb, particularly when I first started riding. At times, I was the only woman in a group of men. I started riding in the South, and, at that time, it was incredibly difficult to find women riders. So what do you do? Well you grow a bit of chest hair and hang out with the guys! Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but, as a woman, you have to be careful because, unfortunately, there are bad apples out there that try to take advantage. Here’s a quick story about that:
The lamb on this book cover is like, "Oh hey Mr. Lion! You look a bit crazy so I'm just going to run away from your ass..."
I wanted to go to a track day (had never been to one; I also did not have a truck), so I went on a moto forum to see if anyone who was also going could bring me along. This guy said he had a spot and we exchanged numbers to get the details squared away. When we stopped at the hotel for the night, he tried to convince me to come into his room to “hang out.”
I said no, and at the track day he was a jerk to me. When it was finally time to leave, he didn’t help me load my bike (I never had experience loading a bike at that time, and he knew this), so of course I dropped the damn thing and scratched up my shiny street fairings. Thankfully, this is the worst that came out of the experience, and he didn't even turn out to be a true psycho. The moral of the story, ladies: You have got to be careful who you ride with, especially if you just meet someone and go about it alone. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in.
Now that we got the cons out of the way, let’s get to the pros (woo hoo)!
Click on to Page 2 to continue reading about the pros to being a woman rider.
Pros to being a Woman Rider
1. Women’s-only events and activities
Because we are still the minority, we have specific activities and events catered to us to encourage current riders and to recruit more. For example, when I moved out to California, I was excited to find that not only were there all-women’s rides, but also all-women’s riding clubs, similar to the Dahlias.
Additionally, there are all-women’s track days, which are fantastic because you feel like a VIP attending these, so I make it a point to go every year. There are also women’s only dirt days, which are amazing since they’re put on by respected names in the moto industry like Brok McAllister and Shelina Moreda.
Love going to these all-women's moto events!
2. Awesome presents
When it comes to bringing you gifts, your significant other immediately thinks, “Why flowers? That won’t gain her any horsepower!” Now don’t get us wrong, we’ll still accept that kind gesture—after all, flowers remind of us nature, which reminds us of being outside...on our bike.
I don’t know about you, but my main squeeze has never purchased (or made) me anything that didn’t have to do with wheels and a motor. I’m not going to lie, I feel spoiled to bits! (He knows me so well.) His moto presents are always unique, and it’s definitely not what the average gal gets. Just recently, he bought me a brake rotor for my birthday!
Look at this awesome brake rotor from Braking (the company).
3. Gear selection is slowly starting to get better
I’m trying to look on the bright side of things here, and I’m convinced that this con will become a pro in no tim. I’m hopeful because of all the things that I’m seeing, which is gear made by women riders for women riders. I’ve written various stories about female entrepreneurs whose goal is to make something that’s exclusive to women on two-wheels. They know the struggle, so it’s refreshing to see.
Motochic Gear bags convert from a backpack to a purse in seconds. How cool is that?
4. Being a role model
You, dear female two-wheeled goddess, are the driving force to get more women to ride. The fact that you ride a motorcycle means you inspire other women—plain and simple. Whenever I tell another woman (say, that I’ve just met) that I ride a motorcycle, she doesn’t say something along the lines of, “That’s so cool” or “That’s so badass.” She'll usually respond with, “I wish I could do that.” I always make it clear that she totally can! After we have that conversation, I see her mind stirring. I can’t help but think that she’s seriously considering it.
Ladies, I can't stress this enough: We are 12 percent of motorcyclists. In order for us to grow, not only do we need to keep riding, but we also need to help inspire those considering it, to let loose and just do it!
5. Those Sweet Apples—The Guys!
There is a pro to being part of a male-dominated activity. I must admit that it’s good to be around them, inevitable as it is. For me, it’s exciting to have some testosterone in the mix. And no, nothing sexual. I genuinely think that guys plus bikes can equal a whole lot of fun!
Went on an awesome trip with my friends Armin and Mark through Norther California back in 2013. It was definitely quite memorable.
The majority of guys (except for those silly bad apples—just throw those out) are a hoot to ride and just hang out with. Think about it: Who’s you’re best moto friend? It’s most likely a guy because, as we’ve discussed, men are more common on motos than women. I also like how they look at you as just one of the guys, especially when you race along side of them. So, to all my rad guys on bike: Keep doing what you’re doing.
And the lamb eventually found a lion that wasn't a creep. The end. Painting by Jay Schmetz, which is for sale here.
As I mentioned earlier, these are pros and cons I’ve come up with based on my personal experiences. What about the rest of my two-wheeled gals? What are your personal pros and cons to being a woman rider? Please comment below!
Learn more about Laura and the rest of RideApart's excellent staff here: The RideApart Team
Cover photo: Beryl Swain, first woman to ever ride the Isle of Man TT Tourist Trophy course (1962).