A Juxtaposition

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Dean Foster
May 28 2024

It’s funny how when you’re immersed in an industry you may not see just how much something might be wrong; maybe you’re too close to the picture to understand what it looks like. Recently I experienced two situations polarized to one another which got me thinking about the inequality that is still rooted within our industry. I attended two different press launches and quickly saw a strong inconsistency within the industry. These past years, I’ve been excited about more women entering the industry in a professional sense through racing, writing, and working within brands and manufacturers. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.

I recently attended a press launch — I would like to preface by stating that I wasn’t supposed to be at this press launch, but because another journalist became ill, I was called into action. Upon arrival, I was surprised to learn that I was the only woman at the press launch out of 95 journalists from around the world. At first my ego was elated knowing I was good enough to be invited. That feeling quickly became stifled by bewilderment, as I pondered why there were no women invited to the launch.

Even more recently, I attended another press launch where I witnessed a very different situation within our industry. The press launch had 12 journalists and three of us were women; this ratio at least depicted the average demographic of male-to-female riders.

So, what does this mean? I think that many reviews that are indirectly biased toward males (because they are written by males) do not offer a rounded opinion of the machine. Especially when we look at riders that are shorter in stature: (Canadian average male height is 5’10” while the female average is 5’4”) it’s easy to say that any rider that isn’t within the average height and weight of the male journalist will have to read between the lines to determine if the bike would be a good fit or them.

Now, before assumptions start being made: No, I don’t think all reviews should be written by women (although I do revel in the idea of men looking to us for bike advice), but I think there’s value in variety. If everyone attending a launch is above 5’10” and weighs over 160 pounds, that will inherently yield similar results from journalist to journalist. There are different aspects that a rider will consider when reading a review depending on their height and weight.

A taller test rider might consider if their legs are cramped from peg to seat, or if they are hunched over while standing on the bike, while a shorter tester might consider the seat height, and the distance from the seat to the handlebar.

Suspension is a big one. Because of my compact size, I often find suspension can be stiff, while a heavier rider would find it too soft; hence why I begrudgingly state my weight in most reviews to ahttps://motorcyclemojo.com/june-2024-purchase-options/llow the reader to make a judgement on their own.

If I’m testing ADV bikes, I will ask if I can gently lay the bike down to get an idea of how heavy the bike is when it’s dropped. Picking a fallen bike up gives a great sense of the balance points and weight for any rider. I base part of my opinion of a machine on how easily it can be picked up. After all, that’s what matters when you’re in the middle of nowhere and you find your skill running out quicker than the terrain will allow.

So, how do we establish a basis for well-rounded perspectives throughout each facet of motorcycling? I think the first thing to do is change people’s perceptions of what is thought of female riders. I get told that my bike is too big, or that “I’m a good rider…for a girl” so often it’s nauseating. I know you’re all for equality, but I do believe there is a systemic inequality in most sports. I’m guilty of it. When I meet another female rider, I find myself anxious to see if their riding skills are up to, or exceed my expectations. There’s no reason at all to question anyone’s skills, but it’s been such a common narrative in our society. Dissolving the biases that people automatically put on female riders will help to drive more women into motorcycling.

As a reader, look through some of your favourite publications and websites and see if they staff female journalists or employees. Supporting a publication or news outlet that openly supports equality in the industry will inevitably breed more equality within the industry. I’m honoured to be a part of a publication that has more full-time women on staff than men, as well as a fair representation of all types of riders in riding styles, sizes, heights and genders. Mojo, since its inception, was created for the inclusiveness of the motorcycle industry and we will continue to do so until we damn well can’t.

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