Shifting the Power Balance
Why Are There More Women Riding Motorcycles, and How Is This Affecting Change?
Women are riding motorbikes in greater numbers for various reasons, including freedom, adventure, spiritual experience, confidence, independence, and community.
Debra Teplitz, 44, vowed three years ago to silence the voice in her head that stated, “Nice Jewish girls from Chicago’s North Shore don’t ride bikes.” Teplitz, like many other women in their 30s and beyond who are learning to ride, has overcome personal obstacles, societal stereotypes, and cultural expectations to embrace the freedom and independence of motorcycling. Learning to ride a motorcycle has sparked other long-awaited life changes for many female riders. Women on motorbikes are nothing new, even though their popularity is at an all-time high. We’ve been riding for a longer period than we’ve been voting. Despite this, there are now a lot more of us. In the Powersports business, women represent one of the fastest increasing populations.
Women Motorcyclists are Increasing in NumberEmbed Image
The Faces of Female Motorcycle Freedom: Why Women Ride
In her early 50s, Wendy Lamparelli was ready to purchase a bicycle. After her divorce in 2007. It had been a longstanding goal of hers. Lampanelli’s mother and children pleaded with her not to, so she settled for a convertible instead. The dream, on the other hand, did not vanish. She realized her dream in June of 2012. What is her favorite pastime? “As soon as I’m in charge of such a magnificent vehicle, I feel a sense of freedom and pure adrenaline rush,” she says.
Teplitz, who works for a global publishing business as an editorial operations manager, enjoyed going on rides with her father. She felt free even as a child, and she treasured her time with him. Years later, she was bitten by the bug while watching her husband learn to ride. Teplitz signed up as well, despite her fear of her clumsiness. Her body ached for two days after class because she was so stressed. On the first try, she passed her exam despite her anxiety about learning to shift, drop the bike, and pick up speed.
Diane Norton, a 55-year-old Idaho tourist manager, began riding 14 years ago because she wanted more independence and a greater view than she could get from the back of a helmet. She enjoys traveling across Idaho’s picturesque back roads with her spouse. Norton explains, “It’s my Zen.” “I’m entirely immersed in the present. I can’t be distracted from my Zen by a cell phone, music, or email.”
Kelly Geissler, 46, an adventure account manager, has always wanted to bike but never imagined her husband would be interested. For each of them, that day eventually arrived four years ago. We put riding on the back burner due to children’s demands and careers. Except to check her mirrors, Geissler hasn’t looked back since.
To Overcome Fears
Christine Watson, 46, learned to ride three years ago when her new husband decided to ride solo again. It was either learn to ride or stop seeing him. She overcame her dread, which was almost paralyzing, and now she wonders why it took her so long. “I started on a Honda CBR 250, then a 600, and now a Ninja 1000,” she explains. “Riding has been the catalyst for life transformations. I now know that I am capable of accomplishing everything I set my mind to.”
Her zeal and determination have not gone unnoticed. Christine’s 20-year-old daughter thinks it’s nice that her mother is brave enough to attempt new things and overcome concerns. “I think it’s essential for people to realize that no matter your age, you can do anything,” Watson says.
While riding is frequently associated with independence, riders also value the social component. Watson says, “It’s given me a kinship with a group of women that has revolutionized my life.”
Women who ride motorcycles have a higher level of happiness.
Embed Image Speed Bump and Traffic Cones: Riding Challenges
Most of us feel invincible and immortal at the age of 16 (when I first learned to bike), so it’s simple to pick up. There’s no need to be afraid. On the other hand, learning as an adult is a very different ballgame. There is a pre-existing stigma. Before you can know, you must first dispel the following myths:
Physical requirements are necessary.
The fear of failing
Fear of achieving success
She can overcome other fear-based fears with training and practice:
Switching on the clutch
Increasing the pace
Getting rid of it
“Why are you doing this?” was Geissler’s most difficult battle to overcome.
It’s perilous!” Her confidence grew as she spent more time in the saddle, and that little voice was no longer a whisper. “It’s cliché to say it’s independence,” she admits, “but that’s as close as I can get.” “It’s the spirit of ‘don’t cage me in.'” It’s so lovely that I can’t help but say a small prayer of thanks. “I usually have a grin on my face.”
A Riders’ Sisterhood
Genevieve Schmitt, owner and editor of Female Riders Now, the greatest and most comprehensive resource for female motorcyclists, says, “It’s only reasonable that these riders like to interact with one another.”
As a result, she claims, “there are hundreds of women’s motorcycle riding clubs across the United States and Canada.” These clubs give women a place to get together regularly and share their love of motorcycles. “It’s also a chance for novice cyclists to join a community of like-minded bikers,” Schmitt explains.
Women On Wheels is one of these organizations (WOW). WOW, president Cris Baldwin works as an assistant dean and registrar at Washington University in St. Louis’ Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. However, she devotes most of her nights and weekends to the non-profit organization. WOW has around 1,500 members globally and 75 chapters in the United States. “This has already given me a network of females that I didn’t have access to before WOW,” Baldwin adds.
Women Are Taking Over the Industry Stormy Weather
The introduction of women into top positions in the Powersports business is the most significant indicator of their impact on a still male-dominated profession.
Maggie McNally-Bradshaw, a New York State IT Specialist, was unanimously elected head of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) board of directors in February 2013. In the AMA’s 89-year existence, she is the first woman to lead the board of directors.
McNally-Bradshaw is no stranger to overcoming adversity. At 19, she could ride because of her tenacity and sheer resolve. She was discussing dream vehicles with a bunch of buddies. “You can’t,” one of the lads told 5’1″ McNally-Bradshaw when she claimed she wanted to buy a motorcycle. Motorcycles are not for girls.” She received her permit in less than a week and now works part-time as a teacher.
Sarah Schilke, Head of Marketing and Public Relations for Schuberth North America and Held USA, was elected to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) Board of Directors for the first time in the organization’s 100-year history. Schilke has been riding bikes for 20 years and working in the motorcycle industry for almost as long. He is an ardent street rider and amateur off-road racer.
Cam Arnold, MIC’s VP of Communications, learned to ride from her undergraduate boyfriend, as many women do. She bought a bike, which she used as her primary mode of transportation for many years. She was frightened by close misses and sold her bike to a friend, who eventually married. She had reclaimed her bicycle! She and her husband resumed riding once their children had grown up, and they had no plans to stop anytime soon. Arnold took a break to focus on his family and work, common in many women’s stories.
The Motorcycle Industry’s Reaction to the Growing Number of Female RidersEmbed Image
Powderly, a private LinkedIn group for women in the Powersports industry (with more than 300 active members), recently became a member of the MIC, which is a huge win for female riders. Arnold will be the program’s leader, and he’ll work closely with the group’s members to incorporate MIC resources. “All areas of the industry will support us,” she says.
For years, industry leader Harley-Davidson has been pursuing female riders with programs like the Garage Party, which are aimed to remove the fear element of coming into a motorcycle store. Their strategy paid off. In 2013, Harley-Davidson sold more new on-road motorcycles to women than all other brands combined in the United States. Perhaps more women are becoming aware of the advantages of riding that can be applied to their daily lives off the road. “Riding Harley-Davidson motorcycle for thousands of women to tap into their strength, independence, and confidence with whole new level,” said Claudia Garber, Harley-Director Davidson’s of Market Outreach.
Honda has more than doubled its female rider market share in the last five years by focusing on proper fit. With its lower seat height, lower center of gravity, and available automatic transmission, the CTX700 and CTX700N cruisers have a wide appeal, with more than 30% of sales going to women. Honda has also made sport bike seats lower and thinner, which has helped treble sales to women in that market.
“I’ve also witnessed a movement in more women exploring adventure riding with an eye toward long-distance touring on two wheels,” Schmitt says. The adventure touring motorbike market has exploded in recent years, and all of the new models available provide riders with more traveling options. According to Schmitt, women are drawn to this style of riding because of the benefits of pushing outside of one’s comfort zone and experiencing new vistas.
Women who ride motorbikes have a lot of power. They’re also learning that if they can master their motorcycle, they can master anything. The transformation that starts with one person encourages many others who are ready to make a change, and there is already a community prepared to welcome and assist them.