The Growing Trend of More Women Owning And Riding Motorcycles

The Growing Trend of More Women Owning and Riding MotorcyclesFemale motorcycle riders are changing the two-wheel riding culture in the US. While the traditional brands in motorcycles are going through a downturn, ridership continues to rise – thanks to American women who are now firmly in the driving seat.

According to a 2015 motorcycle owner survey by the MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council), women now account for 14 percent of all motorcycle owners in the US. This is a remarkable jump from eight percent, which was reported in 1998. The survey noted that between 2003 and 2014, the number of female motorcycle owners grew by more than double (from 600,000 to 1.2 million). Out of 30 million Americans who rode a motorcycle at least once in 2014, a quarter of them were women.

Younger Women Prefer Motorcycles

Although female motorcycle riders are still a clear minority, the trend is definitely upwards. The MIC survey also revealed some other interest demographic trends about women motorcyclists. Younger women are increasingly taking to motorcycle riding. A little over 17 percent of motorcyclists in the Gen X as well as Gen Y categories are women. Nine percent are women among the Boomers.

In comparison to the median age of 48 for male riders, the median age for females is 39. It further appears that new female motorcyclists may even be better prepared to ride on the roads than the male counterparts. While only 42 percent of male riders have taken a motorcycle safety course, the figure stands at 60 percent for female riders.

Choice of Motorcycles for Women

At 34 percent, cruisers rank as the top choice among women. It could be that the low seat height of a cruiser is helpful for a lot of women. Scooters follow closely in the second place at 33 percent, and sport bikes rank third at 10 percent. The MIC survey also showed that as many as 57 percent of women prefer buying a new motorcycle over a used one.

Interestingly, 49 percent of the female participants in the survey also said that they prefer to perform their own bike maintenance, or seek help from a friend or family member, rather than getting it done from a mechanic.

Manufacturers Support the Trend

The growing trend of more women owning and riding motorcycles has been welcomed by the industry. With the persistent declining overall sales of new motorcycles over the last few years, women provide a suitable and astute opportunity for motorcycle manufacturers to expand the market. Manufacturers are developing bikes that are more easily accessible for a new rider or a smaller rider.

At the same time, they are promoting an image of women enjoying a motorcycle ride, as part of a consciously crafted marketing strategy. Harley-Davidson, for instance, promotes activities such as all-women ‘Garage Parties’ where women interested in motorcycle riding who seek a less intensive orientation in a friendly setting can participate.

A spokesperson from Suzuki Motor of America said that the company is witnessing marked growth in the participation of women as motorcycle riders. Data from social networks, surveys, special events, feedback from sales personnel and other industry research confirms this growth trend. Manufacturers are providing training resources to sales teams as well as dealers to help them achieve new female customers as well as retain the existing ones.

Although female motorcycle riders generally prefer to be seen as “just another rider,” manufacturers are adopting nuanced methods to sell their bikes to women. According to some analysts, if this art of marketing is mastered, even the sky is not the limit in this demographic of riders. If the dealer is able to connect with women riders, they are not only likely to gain a customer, but will also have brand ambassador who will bring in additional customers.

Why More Women are Choosing Motorcycles?

Women riders surveyed indicate very similar reasons as men to explain why they choose motorcycle riding. The top three reasons include a sense of freedom, fun, and recreation, and a nature and outdoors experience. But there seems to more to this growing trend of female motorcycle riding that these fairly obvious reasons.

Motorcycling provides a sense of affinity to female riders, and as a result, several exclusive communities of female-only motorcycle riders have come up. Women-only riding events, such as the Wild Gypsy Tours, Babes Ride Out, and the Sisters Ride have further reinforced the sisterhood of female riders. Many women seem to enjoy the company of fellow female riders to enhance their experience.

For some women, motorcycle riding serves as a form of meditation. They like to treat their riding experience as their personal ‘me time’. In some cases, women may choose riding out of practical considerations. A motorcycle is usually faster than cars in areas of heavy traffic and serves an ideal vehicle for commuting to work for some women.

Industry Adapts to Women’s Needs

From the mid-1990s, the manufacturers of motorcycles consciously began building bikes that had a lower ride height. They expanded the range of their engines to fill the gaps. Therefore, where a motorcycle range prior to the nineties would have jumped from a 500 cc to a 750 cc model and from a 250 cc to a 500 cc model, now mid-range models such as 300 cc and 600 cc are also available.

Apart from the bike makers, the firms in the aftermarket business also began offering a variety of new ways to modify a motorcycle. With different ways to adjust the suspension, lower the bike, and raise the handlebar to turn it closer, the aftermarket industry matched the women’s expectations to fit the motorcycles according to their needs.

Proliferation of Women’s Riding Clubs

The popularity of female motorcycle riding has led to the emergence of hundreds of clubs catering exclusively to women riders across the US and Canada. The clubs offer a platform for female riders to share their motorcycling hobby, exchange knowledge and ideas, and meet up on a regular basis.

These clubs also allow new riders to get easily integrated into the like-minded rider community. Women On Wheels (WOW) is one such organization, which now has 75 Chapters across the US and about 1,500 members around the world.

Leadership Positions for Women

Women gaining leadership in a still largely male-dominated powersports industry is a telling commentary on how far the trend of female motorcycling has reached.

In early 2013, Maggie McNally-Bradshaw was unanimously chosen chair of the board of directors at the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). She became the first woman in the 89 year history of the association to lead the AMA. Similarly, Sarah Schilke became the first woman in the 100-year history of Motorcycle Industry Councilto serve on the board of directors.

Women Riders Deal Better with Contingencies

The world’s fastest woman motorcycle rider, Leslie Porterfield, says that women riders react better to contingency situations at high speed compared to men. The Guinness World Record holder Porterfield, who is a 41-year old biker and mother from Texas, survived a bike crash 10 years ago, and then went to set the world record next year.

Porterfield says that women certainly have some strong challenges as well as advantages over men. When things go wrong during motorcycling, women have the instinctive power to react better than most men. Some of the best female riders are paving new ways in this segment for all woman and given men a run of their money, according to Porterfield. She recognizes that while many people still view motorcycling as a man’s sport, that has significantly changed over the years.

Motorcycle Safety Tips for Women

New and aspiring female motorcycle riders may keep the following tips in mind when pursuing their passion:

Choose the Right Fit

Try a variety of motorcycles to determine which one feels the best fit for you. One of the easiest places to check out the latest models in person are auto shows. You may also visit dedicated Internet forums to receive useful advice from experienced women riders.

Experts suggest that once you have zeroed in on the model and brand of your choice, check whether you can rent a bike, or visit a dealer event that will give you an opportunity to test ride the bike you are planning to buy. You may discover that as your skills improve, your requirements of the kind of bike you need may change. Some women like to start with smaller models, and then graduate to bigger ones.

You may not want to start off on the fastest bike and if you do, don’t drive too fast in the beginning until you totally understand your limits and how to control the machine.

Seek Professional Training

It is critical for new female motorcycle riders to receive training from certified professionals. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation website lists various instructional resources that can be useful to new riders. Motorcycle riding is a special skill involving a number of nuances that are not applicable to automobiles. Therefore, it becomes important to take classes.

Merely receiving a few lessons from a fellow rider may not be enough. A certified trainer will be able to provide formal instructions and teach you the correct way to ride, right from correct positioning on the seat to actually riding the motorcycle. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the rider must always wear a helmet. Other appropriate bike gear should include gloves, ankle boots, heavy duty jeans, and a leather jacket.

Join a Group

A wide range of groups and clubs are available that focus on serving the needs of female riders. A number of such groups are listed on websites such as A new rider will be able to find other women who share her passion for riding.

A motorcycle empowers a woman. Mastering a motorcycle can boost a woman’s confidence and personality. Riding responsibly and following the road safety rules will make the experience much more fulfilling. As the numbers of female motorcycle riders rise, so does their positive influence across the powersport’s industry.

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