FAQ

Record Number of Women Own Motorcycles

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According to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) more women are not only riding motorcycles today but Owning them as well! 

More Female Riders Than Ever According to Latest Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey

IRVINE, Calif. Dec. 16, 2015 –Female motorcycle ownership is at an all-time high, according to the latest data from the Motorcycle Industry Council. The MIC’s latest Motorcycle Owner Survey found that women account for 14 percent of all U.S. motorcycle owners, well up from the 8 percent reported in 1998.

“Women continue to embrace motorcycling like never before,” said Sarah Schilke, national marketing manager of BMW Motorrad USA and chair of PowerLily, a group consisting of female motorcycle industry professionals. “Of the 9.2 million owners, more are women than we’ve ever recorded. And, among the more than 30 million Americans who swung a leg over a motorcycle and rode at least once in 2014, a quarter (25%) of these riders were women (riders aren't all necessarily owners).”

Among younger generations of owners, the percentage of women is even higher. More than 17 percent of Gen X and Gen Y owners are women (I definitely see younger and younger women riding these days). Among Boomer owners, women make up 9 percent.

“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing more women among the riders who are coming up,” Schilke said. “Motorcycling is for everyone, and that’s being recognized by younger generations.”

gearchic_sarah_schilke_bmw_motorrad

The Owner Survey also revealed what type of bikes women prefer. Cruisers are the choice of 34 percent of female riders. Scooters rank a close second at 33 percent, followed by sportbikes at 10 percent (we still have work to do, fellow sporties!).

In the survey of some 48,000 American households, women were asked to share their top three reasons for riding motorcycles. They answered “fun and recreation,” followed by “sense of freedom” and “enjoy outdoors/nature.” When it comes to purchasing a motorcycle, women rate “Fuel Economy” and “Test Rides” as the most important factors.

The study revealed that female riders are safety-conscious (Hell Yeah!). While 60 percent of women took a motorcycle safety course, only 42 of men had any formal training (are boys letting their egos in the way?). In some state motorcycle safety training programs, women make up 30 percent of the student population.

Other key survey results:

  • The median age for female motorcyclists is 39 versus 48 for males
  • More than 49 percent of women motorcyclists perform their own maintenance or have a friend or relative do it, instead of taking their bikes to a shop
  • New bikes are preferred over used by 57 percent of female riders (I guess I'm in the minority, used all the way!) 49 percent of female motorcyclists are married 47 percent of female motorcyclists have a college or post-graduate degree

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The MIC Motorcycle Owner Survey is free to MIC members, but can be purchased by non-members for $12,500. 

The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at mic.org.

Suspension Shops in WVA, VA, MD?

I'm heading to Deals Gap in September for the Women's Sportbike Rally! I hope you will join me, as I will be sponsoring the bike night event on Saturday. Here's the route I'm trying to take (although it's not set in stone).

If you can recommend any shops along the way that do suspension work, please post a comment with your referral. What I need is someone to help adjust my suspension as much as possible for my weight.

Thanks!

Smaller Motorcycle Boots for Men?

alpinestars_mono_fuse_gtx_motorcycle_boots_smallfeet Reader Jason needs help finding a pair of boots! :-) 

Hello there, I have just recently started riding and had a question about boots. I have very small feet for a guy and would need to look at women's boots and was wondering what I could get away with without them being too girly looking. I wear size 7.5 in women's.

-Jason

Dear Jason,

This is no problem! TCX is one of my favorite brands, as they offer many boots in Euro 38 which I think is the size you're looking for. The TCX Infinity Evo GTX dual sports above are a prime example, if you're looking for a Gore-Tex adventure style boots:

tcx_infinityevo_dualsport_boots

 

They also have a couple of good city sneakers like the X-Street WP (available in waterproof, non waterproof and air versions) and S-Sporttour EVO if you need a good sport touring boot. But take a look through all the TCX boots, because many are offered in Euro 38.

tcx_s-sporttour_evo

 

Alpinestars is another company that offers many boots in Euro 38 as well! If you need a sporty boot, many of their race and sport boots are offered in 38 including the SMX-6's below (which I wear).

alpinestars_stella_smx6_womens

On the touring side of things, in addition to the Monofuse boots I linked above, they offer the Web GTX boots in 38:

alpinestars_web_gtx

 

And of course if you're looking for city sneakers, they have quite a few in 38 too. I think you'll find plenty of options in both these brands in your size in various styles!

 

QnA: Finding a Motorcycle to Lower?

2006 Triumph Speed Triple Reader Susan asks me what kind of sportbike should she get in order to lower and learn to ride. 

I am trying to find a bike that is safe to lower... I have a 27 inch inseam... all of the sport bikes are too tall and I dont want a cruiser or rebel.... wanted a ducati 696 but thats too tall and too much power... any suggestions ? - Susan ( love your page too )

Dear Susan,

First, thank you for reading GearChic.com!

A Ducati Monster 696 can be a terrific bike to start on. But it's not for everyone. And it certainly wouldn't have been for me. If you've read about me, then you know I started on a lightweight scooter. No, you don't have to start on a scooter. However, it's MUCH easier to start on something LIGHTER AND TALLER than heavier and taller. My scooter weighed ~250lbs but had a 30" seat height! But it didn't matter since the weight was really low (below my butt) and I could easily pick it up when I dropped it. :D

If the Ducati Monster 696 is the sportbike if your dreams, then I really recommend starting with something smaller and spend the time you need to learn how to ride! Just because you start on something like a Ninja 250 doesn't mean you are going to be married to that bike forever. We can't grow taller, so what can we do? We can hone our riding techniques and skills so balancing a bike with 4-5" of extra seat height doesn't matter!

suzuki drz 400 sm

By the time I started riding a Ninja, it was an easy transition. I was already used to using my left foot first and keeping my right foot on the brakes to keep the bike from falling over. I was already used to something almost 300lbs, so jumping up to ~350lbs was easy.

The other thing to know is that with a 27" inseam, you will probably never flat foot anything if your dream is to ride a taller bike like a Ducati. Also keep in mind that lowering sportbikes means losing ground clearance, meaning when you lean you will be limited to how much you will be able to! Something that you don't understand know, but trust me you will learn to love especially when you ride a sportbike.

A Ninja 250/300 might have a 30" seat height but that doesn't mean you can't ride them. Keep in mind that when you buy a proper pair of motorcycle boots like these you will automatically be 1.5-2" off the ground from the heel to the arches of your feet. You're now close to 29". And when you take your motorcycle safety class, you will learn the proper techniques to brake and use your controls so you don't drop you bike.

2003 Kawasaki Ninja 250

The key to all of this is being willing to learn, grow and make mistakes. It's not easy, it's not quick and it's going to take time. But trust me, when you put the time into a smaller, lightweight bike the payoff is amazing!

But that's what worked for me, and I feel I'm a MUCH better rider because of it. There's absolutely NO WAY I'd be able to ride bikes like these without having invested the time and making mistakes.

Whatever you decide, just know that motorcycling is something you work at, constantly. Even after 12 years, I still struggle every time I ride to do it better and safer each time.

 

QnA: Can a short woman ride sportbikes?

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Reader Farhana emailed me asking if it's ever going to be possible for her to ride a sportbike at 4'11". 

The short answer is YES. Here's her original question and my slightly longer answer :D

I'm currently in the riding course, and needed input from women rider. I am 4'11, and I need input for bikes. I really want a sport bike, but since I have never maneuvered a bike before, everyone is telling me to start on a Rebel. Do you even think it's possible for me to ever ride a sport bike? I appreciate your time.

-Farhana

Dear Farhana,

Everyone is correct!

To ride the SportBikes of your dreams you have to start somewhere. Motorcycling is a constant learning experience and you have to build skills to jump to the next bike! I started on a rebel in my safety course and also started on a scooter. You won't ride a rebel forever, but you'll learn so much so you can ride a SportBike someday.

Never flat foot, even with  fancy Daytonas . 

Never flat foot, even with fancy Daytonas

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

I have learned that because I'm shorter, starting out on smaller motorcycles was the only way I could get enough experience to manage bigger, heavier bikes. If you try to attack a larger bike that's beyond your experience level, it's going to be a much harder learning curve. Gaining confidence and learning to ride something smaller and lighter is one of the best ways to adapt quickly to taller bikes. Since we'll never grow taller, all we can do is master our skills and learn to ride better than someone taller.

That being said, since I don't know your inseam, I'm going to assume it's ~26-27"? Personally, I've been able to ride bikes with 2" higher inseams than my own. Mine is 28.5" and I'm very comfortable on 30-31" bikes. There's a chance you won't be able to physically ride anything larger than maybe a bike with a 29" inseam. It's totally dependent on the individual, really. I think if you can get close to flat foot on your left, then there's no reason why you can't ride something. Of course, building enough confidence to ride something that tall without dropping or falling constantly is going to take a while.

And for inspiration, watch this video:

 

Before you start, check out my post about riding motorcycles when you're short. It'll give you some tips to get started.

Good luck!

New Article in Motorcyclist Magazine

Thanks to twitter follower @eimken for snapping this pic of my very first article in Motorcyclist Magazine this month!

Just my $0.02 on how to shop for gear and why it's so damn hard for women to find what they're looking for. It's available on the digital edition for your iPad or iPhone, as well as newsstands of course.

Why Doesn't This Motorcycle Jacket Fit Me?

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There's a very good chance ya just need to bend forward a bit, bring your shoulders in and your tummy back.

Then voila! Your jacket zips up perfectly. Remember that proper fit is always in riding position; never standing up!