The numbers don’t lie -- women ride motorcycles. There were 7.2 million women motorcycle riders in the United States in 2009, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) trade group. There are 27 million riders overall and women account for one of every 10 bike owners in the country, according to the MIC statistics.
More Female Motorcyclists
The numbers for the year 2009 are the most recent available, although there currently is an MIC field study underway, said Cam Arnold, a vice president for the trade group and a women rider herself.
“There’s definitely been an increase in the numbers of riders, both men and women, but women ride for a variety of reasons,” Arnold said. “Some ride as it’s a different mode of transportation than a car, some ride for recreation or off-road riding and motorcycles get better gas mileage. Then there’s the whole idea of traveling on a motorcycle -- it’s sort of an adventure on two wheels.”
In 1998, 17 percent of riders, 3,223,000 million, were women. That figure has more than doubled.
The Gender Neutral Appeal of Motorcycles
“It more accessible to people,” Arnold said. “It doesn’t have the outlaw connotation of the Hells Angles, that sort of thing is gone. Motorcycles are a real viable option for people. It’s a fun thing to do in the morning. Your commute takes on a whole new dimension when you ride. If your sleepy starting out, you’ll be wide awake by the time you get to work.”
Family time is often accommodated on motorcycles, Arnold said.
“Mom and dad will ride with the kids and when the kids grow up, they do a different kind of riding, like street riding,” Arnold said. “It’s really nice way to get out into the wild.”
Women and Motorcycles
Women’s-sized gear -- from helmets to jackets and more -- have become significant factor in the motorcycle marketplace, Arnold said.
“There is a lot of gear for women and it’s really cool stuff,” Arnold said. “It’s like rock-climbing gear -- it will keep you comfortable when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold – there are heated jackets that you plug into your bike.”
“There’s quite a few options today. I ride and I’m finding more options today than ever before.”
Sara Liberte, a visual artist from Pittsburgh and a rider, feels that women are experiencing the same primal rushes men do when it comes to riding.
“There are barriers being broken down in all avenues of life: women are doing more, from the jobs we hold to women being the sole provider in a household,” said Liberte, who expressed her love of motorcycles in the portrait series titled “Women and Machine.”
“What’s not to love about it?” Liberte said. “It’s the way you discovered movement as a kid and you couldn’t sit still, you wanted to sit and spin. You can hold onto the youthful feelings and keep that movement. A person riding a motorcycle, whether it be male or female, is feeling that simple raw desire for movement.”