Women Riders: No Barbie Doll Industry

Story by www.motorgirl.com//
July 1 2008

The bicycle revolutionized personal travel. The internal combustion engine revolutionized industry. The two combined introduced mobility, speed and independence to the Everyman and Everywoman. It was after I wrote this last epiphany that I realized I was celebrating ten years here in this industry, writing and photographing the machines that have created this immense love/lust for motorcycling and the people who create the biker world. Now, obviously it goes beyond the nuts and bolts that hold the steel together–it’s the riders, creators, enthusiasts and artists who make up the diverse community surrounding motorcycles. I personally understand the poetry of the machine obeying the body language of its operator–where the motorcycle and its rider become a single entity. For the rider it is joy, it is excitement, it is vitality and it is therapy. For non-riders, the motorcycle is a captivating object, charismatic and emblematic of danger, beauty and excitement. And even though the average rider is male, women have always had a presence in this sport. And that’s why I jumped on this biker bandwagon…I couldn’t help myself.

Ride hard…wear a bra.

As the popularity of motorcycling grows, more women are jumping beyond typical gender limitations into the cockpit and blasting off to their own forms of personal expression and power as riders. The last statistic I read quoted women as the fastest growing demographic of first time motorcycle buyers – this probably explains why big league names like BMW and Honda are jumping on the trend and creating female savvy accessories and female minded test rides showcasing the wide varieties of motorcycles out there. Including my own personal favourite, high performance machines with lowered seat heights.

Yes, finally! Vroooooom! Even Barbie can come out and play…

Size has nothing to do with it.

If I had a loonie for every time a MALE biker said to me, “how can a little ‘ol girl like you ride a big ‘ol bike like that!” Man, I’d have my own fleet of motorcycles. With this career choice of mine, I’ve had the luxury of test riding many different types of motorcycles from dirt bikes to copycat two-stroke superbike machines to big ass choppers. And the one thing I can honestly say – it requires balance. I mean, let’s face it, half the time I’m riding on one foot and a tip-toe (but don’t tell the dealer that.) And in the end it all comes down to skill, balance and thinking ahead – like where am I going to park so that I don’t have to perform a one-footed Fred Flintstone back push.

Seriously. Motorcycles don’t have reverse and pushing a motorcycle backwards with one foot is a challenge on the old leg muscles…but I digress.

If Barbie was a biker, her boobs would have popped all over the pavement…

I’m proud to say, I’ve ridden probably a couple of hundred different motorcycles over the last ten years and I loved every second of it. I’m also proud to say that I’m not ‘one of those women’ who leans up against a motorcycle in a string bikini and doesn’t know what a wrench looks like or what hand pulls in the clutch. I’m even more thrilled to observe that most of the women out there that I’ve been riding with hold similar cards – they can ride and ride well. They can wrench almost as good as their daddy, if not better, and they have this kick-ass positive attitude that at this point in my life, I admire wholeheartedly. And guess what? The men who ride with them are equally as stellar.

Girls ride ‘em like a champ…

This last weekend, I attended BMW Motorad’s All Women’s Test Ride here in Vancouver, BC. I usually dislike riding in packs–my pack brain just doesn’t work, and even worse, getting assigned as the “tail” to most of the test rides put me in a situation where I get stuck behind inferior riders, thus making for a generally crappy ride. But surprisingly enough, every group of riders that went out were super tight. Like seriously. Tight! I was totally impressed. Everyone stayed in formation, everyone moved over when it was time–the bottom line was they were skilled motorcyclists. It was incredible. I was totally smitten with my Vancouver posse of girls–with at least ten rides going out over the day and not one incident or bike falling over. It was truly an impressive group of riders. And that made me wonder, is it simply because we need to be better riders due to our size and our strength so we usually find our power in technical skill? I wondered. Anyway, it was a great weekend and a wonderful way to start off the riding season.

I ain’t a girl! I’m a rider…

And I think that’s just it. Looking briefly back at my history as a motorcyclist, the common denominator is–we are ALL just riders. We all share a similar thump thump in our chest when we get close to our motorcycle. I am proud to say that I have known riders from far and wide, from every nationality and socio/economic status that have gone beyond their own limitations and succeeded in breaking the barriers for the ultimate ride.

And I’m even more proud to say that I’m one of them.

Ride Hard, girls and boys. Thank you all for an amazing ten years – here’s to at least ten more! Vroooooooooom!



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