A recent LA Times article indicated that California motorcycle riders are mostly old, white, married men with lots of money. Can you say, “Jay Leno”? Statistics show that over 40% of California riders are over the age of 50, compared to only 10% back in 1990. Not only are older males enjoying riding more and more, but more women are also taking up motorcycling.
When one thinks of lady riders, they often picture one riding pillion. But lately, women are moving from the back seat to being in control of their own ride. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, 12% of US motorcycle riders are lady riders. In 2009, that number was only 8%. All totaled, the number of females riding in 2012 reached 6.7 million, whereas in 2003, there were only 4.3 million. The figure has almost doubled.
There are a few Motorcycle Safety Foundation riding programs in the US that have been developed to help women learn how to ride a bike properly and safely. Westside Motorcycle Academy is one such female-owned school that is located in Southern California. Since it opened in 2005, it has trained over 20,000 riders. The riding school has even attracted the likes of Alanis Morissette, Cody Horn and Michelle Rodriguez.
With the increase of females riding, motorcycle clubs that cater to them have sprouted as well. Women on Wheels (http://www.womenonwheels.org) has 69 chapters throughout the US, including five chapters located in California. According to their website, WOW groups were created for “camaraderie, networking and support of women who love the sport.”
Although it is reported that 1.7 million people are licensed to ride a motorcycle in California, only 847,937 motorcycles have been registered… so there are a lot of riders out there without a bike. However, dealerships have begun to tap into the women’s market and have partnered with WOW chapters to offer guidance for its members. In California, a Ventura County BMW dealer and a San Francisco Harley-Davidson dealer are in on promoting riding for ladies by carrying products and motorcycles suited to women.
But, the idea of women riding doesn’t stop at street riding. 17-year-old Madison West has been competing in desert motocross racing all over California. She is determined to show that girls can be just as tough as boys. She doesn’t let issues like hard-to-handle bike weights or male egos deter her. Recently, she started a crowd-funding campaign on Go Fund Me to help her attract more sponsors and raise funds to support her racing. Her ultimate dream is “to be one of the best female off-road competitors out there.”
Similarly, Melissa Paris and Shelina Moreda, both of California, recently competed in the Suzuka endurance race in Japan. In spite of doubts raised as to whether or not the girls could complete the race due to its physical challenges, they succeeded in making history. They completed the race ranking 28th after qualifying 59th out of 69 teams. And, need I mention that very few women ever compete in Suzuka endurance races, let alone as a competitive all-female team? Enough said.