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THE RISE OF WOMEN RIDERS
With motorcycle riders traditionally being men, women are quickly carving out their space in the lifestyle. In 1998, 8 percent of all motorcycle owners were women, but in 2018 that number grew to 19 percent and that number seems to be increasing year after year. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), 22 percent of Gen X riders were women and with Millennials that number is even higher at 26 percent. With more and more Boomers and mature motorcyclists leaving motorcycle ownership behind due to age related issues, we will likely see one in four motorcycle owners being female.
Women enjoy riding for the same reason’s men do freedom, independence, a sense of adventure, and community. They feel a sense of empowerment and view riding as a form of therapy viewing the open road as a get away from the everyday pressures of life. Riding allows them to face their fears. They build confidence, learn assertiveness, and become more skilled with each ride.
With more women riding than ever before what challenges do women riders come across? A big one is perception. When you do not know anyone who rides, finding someone to ride with or having a supportive partner that rides will surely make it easier to take up riding and a positive view from family and friends goes a long way. One in five riders now is a woman, and many are supportive of other women who ride or are getting into riding, which was hard to find in the past.
Skills are another challenge. Operating a clutch, cornering at slow speeds, and picking the bike up after it has been dropped are all skills that take time to develop for any rider.
Many motorcycle clothing brand’s that produce women’s protective gear are designed by men, and the ones who do have women designers generally design for more petit women and the gear does not fit women well. So, with women riders making up a larger portion of the total riders, there is a huge opportunity for those brands who recognize this and make women’s riding gear for.
Bike height and weight can also be a challenge, try balancing a bike when you can only put your tip toes down. The good news is that many motorcycle manufacturers are producing more powerful bikes that accommodate a woman’s body better.
When women become riders, they slightly prefer cruisers (34%) to scooters (33%) with only 10 percent preferring sport bikes. With most scooters being under 250cc they are often easier to manage and get experience riding. Women also attend certified motorcycle safety courses (60%) more than men do (42%), and 49 percent of women would rather do their own bike maintenance than to take it to a shop.
What are the benefits of riding for women? To start with 37 percent say they always feel happy compared to just 16 percent for non-riders. 35 percent of women riders say they feel more confident compared to 18 percent for non-riders. 60 percent report better communication with their spouse compared to 38 percent for non-riders. 33 percent say they feel less stress and 74 percent say riding has improved their quality of life.
So, what does this mean for women who ride? Women aren’t just “biker babes” anymore, they are “bikers” too.