Harley-Davidson steps up to educate and support the rising trend of women riding motorcycles
LadyMoto Content Editor
Women that ride and buy motorcycles have been on a steady rise in the last decade. According to the 2008 Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey, female ownership of motorcycles crossed the 10-percent mark, increasing from 9.6 percent in 2003 up to 12.3 percent in 2008. One manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, is stepping up more to support and educate this rising demographic.
Leslie Prevish was just what The Motor Company needed to head this initiative. Prevish, a 20-year riding veteran, had been a strong advocate for women riders since she began riding. She became Harley-Davidson’s Women's Outreach Manager and was soon joined by Laura Scherr. Together, these two women create women-specific rides and events, hold classes geared toward new riders, and publish educational and marketing materials targeted at attracting this ever-growing sector of female motorcycle customers.
H-D designated an entire section on their website to women which includes riding and safety tutorials, readers’ stories and the history of women riders. H-D published a We Ride pamphlet, a Harley-Davidson Guide for Women that is available online and in print, and covers many subjects such as learning to ride, finding gear and covers women related events and organizations. “Share Your Spark” is an online Harley-Davidson mentoring program and a tool for current and aspiring riders on how to be a resource and support system to others during their motorcycling journey.
To connect women riders with each other, H-D declared May as Women Riders Month to celebrate “the millions of women who have already grabbed life by the throttle, while inspiring even more women to take control and experience the freedom of the open road.” Throughout May, rides and events are held at various dealerships to encourage women to come together and share their passion for motorcycles.
This year, H-D held a Women's Day at Sturgis complete with women-specific classes and educational events. They are also a presenting sponsor at 2009 AMA International Women & Motorcycling Conference with Leslie Prevish conducting both opening and closing ceremonies. For smaller events, H-D created a group of women riders dubbed the “Harley Girls” to help promote female ridership for The Motor Company through the attendance of rallies, benefit rides and parades.
To educate current women riders and encourage new ones, dealerships hold “Garage Party” events aimed at educating women in different aspects of the motorcycle-riding lifestyle. Women are split up into four groups and circulate between four stations: Motorcycle Orientation, MotorClothes Merchandise, Motorcycle Fit and Function and How to Pick Up a Motorcycle.
Participating dealerships also hold The Rider's Edge New Rider Courses and many women participate in these classes. Motorcycles are provided to participants and the class includes 25 hours of instruction, both in the classroom and on a controlled practice range. This class uses the same curriculum as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Beginner RiderCourse, and upon completion, graduates receive the MSF card which may exempt them from having to take the written and/or riding portion of the motorcycle license test depending on the state they live in.
Laura Scherr is also helping to align strategy for ergonomic customization with H-D's Fit Shop program, which will show ladies that they can ride almost any Harley. “Whatever your body type or bike size, Fit Shop can adjust any Harley-Davidson motorcycle for maximum comfort, control, style and confidence.”
The numbers of women riding and buying motorcycles will continue to rise and Harley- Davidson is working hard to stake their claim in this growing market. Their efforts, although directed toward women buying and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, benefit women regardless of what motorcycle they ride.