Dear Motorcycle Industry

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Dear Motorcycle Industry

I know you are sweet on me, and you really want me to spend time with you, but your flowers and pink stuff and naked babies aren’t going to get you to first base, OK? A model holding a naked baby? What were you thinking?

2013 EICMA Poster
2013 EICMA Poster

I know, pink really is my favorite color, but that’s for lipstick, not motorcycle gear.  Notice my lipstick isn’t the same color as my coat. Or my car. Jammies and iPhones, yes; motorcycle stuff, no.

And yes, there are times when I do like flowers, but not on my motorcycle tank. Or fairings. Or track suit. Nothing says, “Pretty fast for a girl” like flowers, and nothing says, “I don’t identify with traditional gender roles” like being a girl who really rides a motorcycle. Please, 86 the botanicals, OK?

Speaking of fast women at the track, why aren’t you making a bigger deal out of women racers? They are a big deal! Besides bringing serious female competition to a typically all-male grid – we love that. Ask any NASCAR fan…better yet, Google ‘Danica Effect’. Then ask yourself if more T&A at the track is really the best way to boost attendance. The only thing separating the Danica Effect from the Elena Effect is two wheels and a league that embraces new market research.

AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike racer Elena Myers
AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike racer Elena Myers

Also, why do you insist on selling-down to me? What makes you think I want anything to do with “a great bike for the ladies.” You know what’s a great bike for the ladies? The one you rode in on.  And that dirt bike over there, and that dual sport, that cruiser, and that super-fast, super-hot, superbike in the corner over there.

What I’m trying to tell you is, that the female riding population wants nothing more than, well, more. More gear, more options, more opportunities for inclusion in a sport we find every bit as exciting and addictive as you do. And I guess by ‘more’, what I really mean is ‘the same’. If I spend the same as the average male rider, you double your profits and I double my fun. Everyone goes home happy.

  • Sac Chin Chump

    In first before the flame war!

  • grindz145

    My wife laments the small flower and pink (albeit on the inside liner) of her jacket since it was the least garbagey jacket she could find that was made to fit a women. This is the analog to tribal flames on men’s jackets. Completely irrelevant to a huge proportion of motorcyclists.

    • augustdaysong

      I’d love to have a jacket with flowery tattoo graphics like the ones commonly found on women’s gear. The only one I’ve seen is the Dainese YKZ and that’s a $2700 suit. What gives

      • Guy Simmonds

        I’m genuinely considering get big floral designs and butterfly silhouettes painted onto my next bike – in part so it’ll match the massive tattoos I already have all over my arms. Such stuff isn’t just for girls…

        • grindz145

          My point is that it shouldn’t be for anyone… ;)

          • Jack Meoph

            The first pic of the woman and child I think is a riff on the TIME’s nursing cover.
            I want this on a jacket:

            • Davidabl2

              in the day (50-60-70 yrs. ago) it was not uncommon to have oil-painted murals on the back of MC jackets…so it’d be doable today.
              Please post a pic if you do:-)

            • Jessica Dally

              Awesome. I’m going for Hello Kitty but I think you’ll have me beat in pure awesomeness.

            • Literdude

              See? Batman has gray and black gear, even when he’s riding a Unicorn Dazzler!

          • Jessica Dally

            Hmm… rev’it makes lots of women’s kit without any flowery stuff. That said if they made a light pink kit I’d have it in a second. Already have a pink helmet!

            • grindz145

              I’m not saying variety is bad… :)

      • Mitchel Durnell

        Suomy helmets have some beautiful floral designs that aren’t gender targeted. I know it’s not a jacket, but at least something is out there.

      • Lourens Smak

        after Googling that suit, I now assume YKZ stands for “Yakuza”…

  • HoldenL

    Introducing my wife into motorcycling, I’ve found this stuff embarrassing. She doesn’t need gear with pink flowers and stuff like that.

    Most retailers don’t seem to get it. My favorite retailer does — the store employs a woman who races, and she works in the clothing department. And the men who work in the department aren’t condescending — probably because that female employee has taught them to be cool.

  • Sarah Hager

    I think a lot comes from the old school mentality so some women riders feel the need to overcompensate to look feminine (rhinestones, pink, flowers, etc) since it was such a man’s world. that’s changed now as more women are riding, and retail needs to reflect that status quo change

  • Bruce Steever

    Perfect.

  • http://andrew.mohebbi.com/ Andrew Mohebbi

    My friend was at a track day and had a female instructor pass him on a SV650, holding out one hand to point out the line he should be taking. He genuinely appreciated the help. That’s the kind of ad I want to see.

    • Piglet2010

      I followed Angie Loy around the track at Star.

  • Sac Chin Chump

    There is plenty of women’s gear out there with no pink or flowers. It’s easy to focus on the ‘loud stuff’ because it’s just that – loud. It’s no different with men’s gear. “I don’t want to be a billboard.” “I want something all black”. Cool. Go buy it. There are others who like colors. There’s a lot of options out there.

    As for the racing – until that women is sitting atop the MotoGP podium she’s not going to get much love. Even then – who really cares?

    As for the industry – there are bigger issues at hand. All in due time.

    • Richard Gozinya

      So then do you consider every male racer who’s not atop the MotoGP podium to be as irrelevant?

      • Stuki

        As far as mass marketing; pretty much. Motorcycle racing is already niche. Not room for many name brands riders at any given time.

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    This is great. I’ve sold motorcycle apparel and think the stuff that gets designed and market towards women is mostly crap. Flowers and butterflies and pink and bows. It’s just stupid. It usually is not as great quality as the guys gear, looks stupid and is embarrassing to show to someone. I really like the Alpinestars Vika gear. Simple, quality, and very attractive. Hopefully the motorcycle industry realizes that making this overly ‘girly’ stuff isn’t working and provide our female riding friends with real gear.

  • Chris Davis

    Hang in there.

  • IRS4

    Motorcyclists have changed, but they still wear gold metal flake helmets from the 70s!

  • NOCHnoch

    Fantastic article, but some women DO want pink and glitter and sparkles. Everyone should be able to choose what kind of gear they want to wear.

  • E Brown

    I remember a scene on Law and Order when Jill Hennessy was questioning a store owner about a murder, then started browsing his motorcycle gear, picking up a jacket she liked. “Black? No other colors?” The guy scowls and says “It’s a motorcycle jacket – they don’t come in pink.”

  • zedro

    I have a feeling the ‘girly-girl’ kit is pandering to the reluctant passenger who otherwise might have nothing to do with the sport, where garbage fashion trumps technical needs.

  • Scott Otte

    My wife went out and got a flowery helmet. She found that when lane splitting in San Francisco she was treated nicer when people realized that the person they were trying to cut off was a woman.
    Made me think long and hard about getting one for myself.
    Sadly I’m not that comfortable with my image apparently.

    • Zanpa

      I am not into flowers, but I would wear a bright pink helmet… Of course, it would make for interesting moments when taking it off.

    • mms

      Interesting.. I had a number of personal experiments with jacket and bike color and how cars reacted to me in traffic over the course of several years in LA (have since moved). I was treated the nicest while wearing white and riding a red bike, and by a very wide margin cars were the most homicidal and aggressive towards me while I was wearing pink and riding a blue bike. Wearing white on a white bike was amusing, people would make a lot of room for me– but when i passed and they saw i was not a police officer, they would often attempt to sideswipe me. I’m female but I look like Standard Gender Neutral Motorcyclist with my gear on, the same as many or most people.

      • Scott Otte

        Maybe SF drivers like flowers more than most?

        • mms

          Mmmm, hippies ;) I wonder what would work best on the East Coast.

          • stever

            hero sandwiches

            • mms

              Tacked to my shoulders like epaulets? Or a sandwich-themed suit, with a helmet that looks like an olive on a toothpick? Because that could be pretty epic.

    • Karen

      wear a gopro on the top of your helmet and people will treat you really nice too. No pink flowers necessary.

      • Scott Otte

        I just got one for xmas! I’ll have to see how that works. =)

  • Lee Scuppers

    In STEM fields, people are upset that we’re scaring girls away by NOT feminizing our fields. They get ya coming and going, I guess.

    • Richard Gozinya

      Since when are the STEM fields inherently masculine? On the plus side, every female EOD tech, cop and firefighter who ever read your comment will get a laugh.

      • Lee Scuppers

        I’m not the one claiming women are put off by the hard sciences being too male. The people writing those articles are generally women. I just judge people by what they contribute to the team.

        But since you mention it, men and women on average have identical personalities, interests, and upper body strength. And they’re equally tall.

    • Guy Simmonds

      There’s a difference between feminising and infantilising – no-one’s suggesting that STEM textbooks be covered in pictures of unicorns and plastered with glitter, but the complaint seems to be that women’s motorcycle gear is dominated by a very narrow view of what women might be interested in.

      • Lee Scuppers

        Yeah, I’m happy to see not everybody likes pink. Revzilla seems to have some womens’ stuff that looks more normal. It’s nice to see somebody responding to that demand.

  • TechGuy5489

    Women will get more attention from manufacturers and the industry overall when women account for more revenue. Bottom line. What you have here is a chicken and egg problem. Solution? Bring friends into the fold. Stop riding on the back of a boyfriend/husband’s bike and get your own.

    As for selling down there is something to be said for plain old physics. The latest and greatest sport bike isn’t particularly inviting to a person that’s only 5’3 with its 32 inch seat height and I’d imagine that 200hp and 90lb/ft of torque might be pretty scary if you only weigh around 100lbs.

    • mikki sixx

      Women are off “their man’s” bikes. This article is communicating the tipping points to the public.

      The egg’s are hatched.

      • TechGuy5489

        I’ve been around a lot of riders in the past eight years and very few of them have been women… Anecdotal, I know. Maybe I just hang out in the wrong places.

        I’d be curious to see the statistics on male vs female motorcycle ownership in the U.S.

        • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

          Last I heard was that women make up around 10% of all riders, and around 40% of women ride cruiser-style bikes. Moto magazine readership though is overwhelmingly male, something like 97%. Online it is different. I don’t know about RA/HFL, but over 20% of Bike EXIF’s readership is female.

          • Lourens Smak

            A (Dutch) touring-website I am on has 6354 members currently, and 1150 of those are women. (>18%).

        • Chris Davis

          Ownership stood at 10% as of 2009 according to the 2012 MIC report. Numbers skew heavily toward the relatively younger set as Gens X & Y are at 15%. But that is just ownership. Of the Americans who have ridden in the last year, nearly 25% are women.

  • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

    The EICMA poster is not a particularly great example of advertising, but like many ads, it’s playing on contrast for effect.

    It’s a biker dressed in (what currently passes for) stylish moto gear + a woman holding a baby. Two contrasting stereotypes rolled into one image to get attention.

    Also seems a bit odd for one woman to tell others what colors and styles they should wear. And there’s no shortage of gear choices either — just check the Icon catalog, for starters.

    In Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France and the UK I’ve seen plenty of women riders, on bikes of every description, wearing the whole gamut of clothing, from race-rep leathers to pink helmets. Maybe things are a little harder for women in the USA, I don’t know.

    • Mitchel Durnell

      The EICMA poster… isn’t an ad. EICMA is a motorcycle show, it’s official art for the show. EICMA don’t really sell anything themselves (maybe you can get a t-shirt?)

      • http://www.bikeexif.com/ Chris Hunter

        The show is the product. EICMA sells tickets to the show. I got an email from EICMA with this image, advertising the show.

        • Mitchel Durnell

          Yeah, I should have been more clear that I wasn’t necessarily responding to you as to the article writer; and that EICMA is less of a brand and more of an event. In Europe at that, where fashion photography is way more prevalent way to promote things.

    • Jessica Dally

      “Also seems a bit odd for one woman to tell others what colors and styles they should wear.” Amen! There are plenty of non pink choices. Frankly I’d like to be able to find high end textile kit in pink. I’ll skip the flowers but put Hello Kitty on it and I’d have it already. I love pink on and off the bike. But I really love it when little boys and little girls get all wide eyed because it’s a female on a huge bike. I love that my pink helmet makes little girls wide eyed -and maybe corrupts them into the idea of riding motorcycles one day!!!

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      You can interpret that poster however you want. I personally see it representing the final frontier for motorcycle marketing: the family. But just like in an art gallery, you can always read the plaque next to the picture— Straight from the press release:

      “The creative content and the implementation of the EICMA 2013 campaign has been entrusted to the Grey agency, in which we renew our trust after three years of collaboration. The Associate Creative Directors, Francesco Fallisi and Simona Angioni, have interpreted in an original matter the needs arising from this particular period. The image, clearly evoking classical iconography, is powerful and stunning, and, at the same time, delicate and straightforward. The choice of a female subject was prompted by many considerations. First of all, the fact that women use two-wheel vehicles and are an integral part of the motorcycle world. Secondarily, a desire to get across a reassuring association with our vehicles. Safety, sense of responsibility, awareness and attention: these are the pillars underpinning the photograph. The presence of a child also concretises a twofold message: i.e., nowadays, motorcycles are people who are able to assume responsibility, on the road, for different users; and the intention to attract the very young through projects and concrete actions which come under the heading of promoting the “culture of two-wheel vehicles”. As a whole, the image deliberately includes elements and accessories that evoke the latest fashion trends: safety may be given pride of place alongside with suitable apparel, without overlooking charm and personality.”

      Nothing in this picture is meant to portray women in motorcycling, or how female motorcyclists look. It’s a visual representation of the motorcycle industry, dealing with safety concerns while meeting the needs of the old motorcycling generation, as well as the needs of the very different up and coming one.

  • Guy Simmonds

    One of the best things about the Honda, KTM, and Royal Enfield showings at Motorcycle Live (Birmingham, UK) last month was the lack of booth babes. Go to the Harley, Kawasaki, Yamaha stands, and there were girls in the most ridiculous outfits rubbing themselves all over the bikes… Honda especially had very enthusiastic staff, men and women, dressed very sensibly – who were both passionate and knowledgeable about the bikes. Definitely earns them a thumbs-up from me.

    • Davidabl2

      I would not like to imagine what the real-life RE booth babes would look like..unless they were from the subcontinent. In Saris, or riding gear.

  • Gonfern

    My girls helmet has a subdued butterfly/flower pattern but is much warmer than my Arai and doesn’t fog so I wear it at night occasionally and besides the occasional misguided “yo baby” comment out of a car window at a red light (which quickly turns to horror when I turn) I do notice that people are way more curtious, cops don’t even look twice.

  • Stuki

    In general, what is a “great bike for the ladies”, would be smaller (dimensions) and lighter than a bike aiming at the same riding role for guys. 5’10″, 140lb Dutch women and ditto Thai guys (and 5’8″” Spanish GP aliens) may perhaps render that a bit less universal. But outside the sport bike area, the bigger is better mantra that sells to a rather testosterone laden male culture, isn’t going to do the average woman any favors.

    Just like Georgena Terry did with Bicycles, chances are most bike categories where the ideal bike for guys roll on 17s, would be better suited for women by fitting 16s. And similarly downsizing the entire machine. Even including the engine, despite screams from the shrillest corners of the feminist luniverse.

    The problem is, motos are much pricier to develop and build than bicycles, and until the female fraction of the market is larger; the gain from purpose building is more than outweighed by the pain from not being able to piggy back on mass manufacturing and development budgets spent on guys’ bikes.

    On a sidenote; does anyone make bikes for riding sidesaddle these days? If nothing else, that would look sick splitting down the 405 in a skirt………

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    I think you missed it entirely. Women who are into going fast, taking unnecessary risks, and doing boy-stuff don’t need or want to be marketed to any differently than men. This is clearly motorcycling reaching out to the final frontier: mom.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    Seems like you missed the mark on this one. What’s interesting is not that it’s a woman in the photograph. What’s interesting is it’s a mom, representing the the final frontier of motorcycling demographics: the family. How can an industry selling more bikes to self-endangering recluses than anything else, now get mom dad back in the saddle as well? These are men and women so hopped up on oxytocin they’re unable to cross a sidewalk without thinking of the children.

  • Piglet2010

    What could be less appealing than a naked baby? Surinam Toad? Lamprey? Pile of dog poo?

    • Reid

      Lampreys are the creepiest living things on earth.

    • Rich

      Ooooh! Baby lampreys!

  • Campisi

    I’d love a high-quality male-cut leather jacket in a tasteful rose or magenta hue. Colours don’t care what gender wears them.

    • atomicalex

      Contact the German made to measure guys. They can outfit you. Pricey, though. erbo, Schwabenleder, etc.

  • Davidabl2

    On it’s own merits that “motorcyclists have changed’ pic is a pretty good pic. And it gets the point across.. about the same point that you seem to be making, I think.

    • Guy Simmonds

      Interesting stereotype, hard to say if true or not – I seem to notice more women wearing open-face helmets out on the road than men wearing the same, but that’s completely anecdotal…

      • Davidabl2

        It’s different where you live and where I live, apparently.
        For example,It’s really quite common here to see the female passenger wearing a more serious helmet than the rider.

        • Jessica Dally

          Agreed… I think the only time I see a difference is when the helmet is something the guy purchased for whomever gets on the back (it’s usually fairly obvious… guy in full kit, person on the back in nothing other than a cheap helmet)… then it’s often the cheapest thing he can find that’s theoretically legal. And I agree with Atomicalex… wind on the skin does some horrible damage and I’d think most of us would try to avoid it. Combine that with some of the gnarly bugs that have smacked into my helmet and I’d really rather not have a welt on my face tyvm!!

      • atomicalex

        We have pretty faces to protect. I say that with tongue only partially in cheek, I am way more sensitive to potential face damage than any guy I know, and refuse to consider anything other than an integral or modular helmet. The wind damage alone is a killer.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I think the image works well – somewhat. It makes a statement – that person you see on a motorcycle may be a mother with a infant. Interesting. It could be more realistic, though, and that takes away from it. The leathers and helmet look more like a costume than real. (The tag-line isn’t accurate, either. Women have been owning and riding motorcycles for decades. Nothing has actually changed.)

    A stronger tag line could have been “This is a motorcyclist.” Then there could be a series of more realistic images, maybe with real riders – men, women, families, grandparents and so on.

  • Heather McCoy

    It’s very difficult for women to account for more revenue when there isn’t anything for us to buy. Literally. You know, we actually LIKE to buy stuff. No excuses. Retail is a b’jillion dollar industry fueled by females. Figure it out.
    As for the EICMA poster, I read the press release (issued by the ad agency that created it). Thier take on the thing is hardly relevant. The dialoge I’ve had with women riders generally starts with something like “well, at least she’s fully-clothed” and ends with something like “so, women are either sex-kittens or mommies?” Guys, we…just…want…to…be…riders.
    Lastly, regarding the whole pink/flower thing, reference the last paragraph; I’m not suggesting we banish the stuff.

    • Jessica Dally

      I love the ad. I love that they’re portraying women as something real. It may not suit your tastes but you don’t get to have everything in every ad and to be honest, we’re not really the intended market… we already know that real women ride motorcycles. As you said, it’s some of the guys that need to be reminded that we’re riders, and humans!

    • Kitty Fone

      Yeah Heather!!!

  • Zachary Laughrey

    I went with my daughter to a dealership to look at the new Panigale when it was first released. The dealership had bikini clad woman running a bike wash. Audrey wanted to know where the cute boys in speedos where to wash her bike. I think general MC culture has a long way to go before we can approach gender equality. The clothes/fashion part may be the easiest.

  • Randy Singer

    I’ve been riding for 44 years. In the ’70′s, the huge boom years for motorcycling in the U.S., it looked like women riders were a huge untapped market. Lots of women expressed interest, so Honda did a lot of research into what it would take to bring more women into motorcycling. Women said that they wanted a four cylinder bike, like the hugely popular CB750K, but they wanted a version that was much lighter and with a lower seat height. So Honda introduced the CB350F in 1972…and it barely sold.

    Women said that they would ride a motorcycle if they didn’t have to deal with a clutch. So first Honda introduced the CB750A automatic in 1976, which was a really poor seller. (I can count the number of them that I’ve ever seen on the road in California on one hand.) In the late ’70′s Honda introduced a version of their then-popular 450cc twin with an automatic transmission. It too was a poor seller.

    In the late ’70′s to early ’80′s mopeds enjoyed a huge surge in popularity. Women bought mopeds in droves. Unfortunately interest in mopeds disappeared almost overnight. They seemed to disappear from the streets. Sadly, very few of the women who rode mopeds traded up to a motorcycle after the moped craze was over.

    Honda has had a couple of disastrous attempts at melding the best features of a scooter (low center of gravity, extra storage, protection from the elements) with those of a motorcycle (more power, more range, more comfort). (e.g. the Pacific Coast) I don’t know if those were attempts to attract women riders, but they didn’t succeed in attracting just about anybody. Many of them languished on dealer showroom floors until they were sold at below cost.

    By now I would expect Honda, in particular, and the Japanese motorcycle industry as a whole, to be gun-shy about the female rider market. I see that they are going down what appears to be a familiar path with their latest 700 and 500cc twins, both available with automatic transmissions and the 700 has some scooter features. I’m not sure if these are (at least partially) aimed at women, or if Honda’s latest research shows that a younger demographic is moving away from wanting higher performance, more challenging to ride motorcycles. It should be interesting to see how well these sell. It may be that Honda has been encouraged by Harley-Davidson’s success in selling Sportster 883′s to women.

    My point is that I think that the motorcycle industry today, as a whole, is not at all misogynistic. (It certainly was in the mid-’60′s and earlier. And it can appear that way today if you look at ads in motorcycle magazines from small accessory suppliers, but they are outliers.) It seems to me that both motorcycle manufacturers and accessory manufacturers are still wondering how to best serve female motorcyclists, as even a half century of experience has not given them a good handle on what products women as a whole will purchase consistently and in large amounts. I’m sure that much will change when a motorcycle is finally released that hoards of women rush out and purchase. (By that I don’t mean the anecdotal “I’ve seen lots of women riding X brand” but rather a product that will bring the percentage of women in motorcycling as a whole up to 20 or 30%.) But what that product will be still is far from clear.

    • Heather McCoy

      Randy, how can you possibly extrapolate a marketing failure from a time in US history when girls could not even wear pants to school as being even remotely relevant today? The seventies, even the early 80s, when women were expected to persue careers only up until marraige and childbirth, were hardly a time when women were empowered enough to go out and buy motorcycles in any kind of statistically significant numbers. The thought that any manufacturer would be “gun shy” today from failures based on female buying habits 40 years ago just makes me think of an industry that doesn’t deserve success.

      • Randy Singer

        I’m not sure how old you are Heather, but women’s rights started taking off in the ’60′s. some schools may not have allowed girls to wear pants, but no one was keeping women from raiding motorcycles if they wanted to. in fact, even married women in conservative areas of the country had husbands who loved motorcycles and who were supportive of their wives who wanted to ride their own bike. it wasn’t the dark ages.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I get your points, Heather. I often wonder who they’re making motorcycles and gear for, and who they are marketing too. This is a marketing shot apparently aimed at non-riders.

    I’m an older gent who has been riding for decades. I don’t fit any of the images that are out there of riders either. Apparently the magical combination of silver hair and being compact in size means I’m supposed to be riding a cruiser on the way to a bingo tournament at the rest home.

    Men have to deal with seat height issues, too. I’m “compact”, built more like a moto3 rider than anything else. Trying to find a sports motorcycle isn’t easy for me either. I may be old, but I still have a pulse and I’m at my best on mountain roads. I may just get an all original (but creaky) knee down.

    • atomicalex

      *like*

  • TraderJoesSecrets

    If the motorcycle *industry* is behind the curve when it comes to women, motorcycle *retail* is on the wrong track altogether. The talking-down misogynist bullshit at dealerships is a complete mind-fuck. “The industry” is still blaming the 2008 recession for all kinds of problems that it’s really brought on itself.

  • atomicalex

    I don’t mind the pink. I have pink and white leathers, my German riding buddies love them. I don’t even mind the flowers, some chicks dig that stuff. What I do mind is the lack of gloves and boots that fit. I mind the lack of ADV bikes with seats that I can get my leg over. I don’t need little boy or little girl bikes and gear. I need bikes and gear that are shaped to fit a woman. If that means a bike is a bit shorter (it does), then make it happen. But don’t make it less of a bike because of that. Make it a bike that I genuinely want to ride first.

    • Jessica Dally

      BMW G650GS should fit you I’m guessing… comes with a low seat option and it’s a super fun bike.

      • atomicalex

        I have an F650GS that I love to death already. :-) Actually, I need to unlower it. It’s probably the single perfect example of a bike that was designed with women in mind but no compromises made in the design process specifically due to females. But, I want a proper dirt bike now. Also, an F800GS. But rumor has it that I can get a lowered one of those, too. One foot down will have to do.

        • Jessica Dally

          Yup, you can get an F800GS with multiple options for lowering… low seat and/or lowered suspension. It doesn’t go quite as low as the G650 does when it is lowered but should be workable I’m guessing if you’re going to raise up the 650. My favorite instructor was a guy who was super short and would tell students “I won’t tell you to get a bike you can flat foot because if I did that I’d have about 2 bikes that I could buy and I don’t want either of them!” My bike I couldn’t flat foot and when I lowered the suspension (HATED IT… raising it back up too!) I found that it didn’t really do anything for me other than making it easier to back up over stuff on pavement… but I can just get off to push it back or park better! R100GS…. even in the dirt I don’t find the tip toes to be a problem… if anything it keeps me from trying to put my foot down in places I shouldn’t -aka where I could wind up riding over my ankle with a hard bag that I should have taken off!

          Dirt bike may be harder but we have a bunch of gals here with all sorts of inseams that ride smaller dirt bikes (most to become better riders of their bigger dual sport bikes) and so I’m sure they’ve figured something out. You could ask here: https://www.facebook.com/DirtyGirlsMotoAdventures

        • mms

          My last dirt bike I couldn’t get either foot down and slid halfway off the seat to one side when i stopped, to be able to touch one boot toe. That said, don’t get a bike that needs to be kickstarted if you are too short to kickstart it. Speaking from first-hand experience, this leads to embarrassing, awkward, irritating situations. The rest, you can get used to.

  • Roadtrash Byrd

    Would you rather be ignored altogether? Motorcyclists come in all shapes, sizes, genders, etc. Most motorcycle organizations and manufacturers are bending over backwards to be inclusive. Personally, I ride with all kinds and don’t put up with whiners.

  • Jessica Dally

    Dear motorcycle industry, Some of us love pink and would appreciate you continuing to make gear in it. I love my pink Schuberth and considering how many have been sold so do a lot of other ladies and since Schuberth makes a lot of other colors in the same helmet it’s not as though it’s the only choice. Yeah, start making more women’s kit, stop making it fashionable at the cost of function (though that tends to be cheaper kit anyway) and do what Schuberth did and do some research on actual women’s bodies so you’re not just making smaller men’s sizes cause we can already buy that and while it works for many of us it doesn’t work for everyone. But please please please don’t stop making stuff in pink too!

  • Jessica Dally

    Love how many guys are speaking up about the models and nonsense. As one of my guy friends says it’s actually pretty offensive to guys… “what are we so dumb that you just put some TnA in front of your product and now we don’t pay any attention to it’s actual quality?”

    Really looking forward to the end of that so we can all geek out on the important stuff… the bikes, the kit and the farkles… and then get the heck out of these places and ride!

    • LS650

      Er, it might be offensive but it actually works at getting our attention… 8-)

    • Slacker

      That’s certainly the way I feel… I just wanna talk about the bikes. But on the other hand I know some ladies who only like being on bikes in bikinis and, well… I don’t like associating with them at all. I prefer the girls (like my girlfriend) who either want to legitimately learn to ride, or do legitimately ride.

    • RyYYZ

      I like T&A as much as the next guy, but I feel kind of embarrassed for the booth babes, just being there as eye candy. And no, some random T&A is not going to make me pay more attention to their products, or overlook its shortcomings.

  • atomicalex

    I would like to point out that living in Europe, I have access to a ton of gear that doesn’t exist in the US, and my Hein Gericke textile stuff is perfect – it fits great, it’s very neutral in color (tan or grey or blue and black), and has just the right amount of decor elements to make it work. I am very lucky. I imagine that when I return to the US, I will be still buying my gear over here in Germany, simply because there are enough female riders to make a market over here and there are tons of great options. Same with bikes – no dealer would say “that’s not for girls” – they say “we can lower it” or “your legs might be a bit short” or “will you be comfortable with the weight?” or such.

    I have the feeling that if I’d started riding somewhere other than Germany, I’d have a less positive outlook.

    • atomicalex

      A pic…. Sorry about the vest. It’s a habit.

  • Justin McClintock

    This is kinda a “chicken or the egg” deal. Sure, they’d love to sell more gear to women and get more women out there. But they need the women out there to buy the gear. Wes posted some numbers a week or so ago about registered bikes. Something like 8 million in the US. Anybody got any numbers on how many of those are registered to women? I’ll honestly be surprised if it’s over 1 million.

  • Justin McClintock

    Also, for what it’s worth, I have the same issue when trying to find gear that doesn’t make me look like a billboard. It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s just the way they screw your gear up is different.

  • Heather McCoy

    Counting the number of bikes registered to women is no kind of accurate. Raise your hand if you’ve ever ridden a bike registered under someone else’s name. Spouse, parent, etc.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      I know.. one of my dearest riding buddies Kate has finally shed herself down to owning only five motorcycles. She’s wrecking the curve.

      I do get your point, though.

  • imprezive

    You might not like booth babes but they are effective at getting people to your booth and getting tons of pictures of your product online. They also keep the booth busy, nothing is sadder than an empty booth at a car show.

    • http://e6group.com CCComboBreaker

      That’s an extremely poor argument. Basically, the product is so poor that the only way you can attract people is by distracting them with shiny things that have no relevance and create a false image. RIiight.. If the company wants to trick and get the lowest common denominator, eg, wheel and car stereo manufacturers, fine. Beyond the squids, admittedly there a bunch of them, any self-respecting motorcyclist is at a show to see the bikes first and foremost.

      I’m pretty sure if Erik Buell had a booth with his two bikes, people would flock to see him and the bikes, not some random chick…

    • Zhanne

      My Ducati Diavel got my attention without a 25 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger posing in front of it. Amazing, that. Now do you think men really would not look at good machines if there weren’t bikini models posed in front of the bikes? And if they’re just looking at the T&A, does that translate into sales, or just a full booth?

  • wbizzle

    I wholeheartedly agree with your disappointment, but apparently stating “I hate pink flowered-ladened gear because of xyz,” sounds modern and progressive. From some it comes off as phony.

    If people want to buy “feminine” gear with pink flowers, nothing wrong with that, as long as it is of a similar quality with regards to mens offerings at the same price. As you say, people buy this gear. The author may not and has voiced her dislike for the genre of gear, but other female commenters seem to disagree.

  • Heather McCoy

    Lordy, you guys are sensitive about the pink gear, aren’t you? I’m sorry that I did not make my intent more clear in the final paragraph, but what I’m getting at is we would BUY MORE STUFF if there WERE MORE STUFF, or if the only stuff we could find wasn’t so distinctly limiting in it’s style. I find it curious that other forms of women’s outerwear doesn’t persue this esthetic; why motorcycle gear? Knee high leather boots are all the rage with all kinds of women right now…seen any with flowerers scrolled into the leather? Walk down the street and count the number of winter coats you see festooned with flowers. I’m all for variety, and if you look, you’ll find pictures of me on this site riding with said girly gear…even I have my moments.
    I’d hoped there’d be more discussion on the issue of what women bring to professional racing. Or COULD bring, that is. Anyone want to comment on that?

    • stever

      1. There are also boatloads of women’s apparel for all other sports. The North Face isn’t just selling pink. Women buy all colors. So, if REI is stocked with all colors of women’s wear, why aren’t motorcycle stores? These boring trolls have probably never talked to women. I mean, here they are, telling you, a woman, what you want to wear. Whatever.

      2. At the Polini Cup, the rider to beat was an 8 year old on a pocket bike named Valentine. A lot of drunk mopedders joined her fanclub at those races. Valentine… Valentino!? Great naming, parents.

  • 1destroyed_student1

    A friend (who shall remain nameless) works for Easton Bell and he said the running joke about women’s gear is “shrink it and pink it”. At 5’9″ and with an hourglass shape, I’ve struggled to find women’s gear that come anywhere close to fitting me. If pink is your thing, more power to you. I however, would really like to have OPTIONS. Almost every female rider I’ve ever talked to says they would be willing to drop silly amounts of money on great, well fitting gear that is meant for women that do more than just sit on a motorcycle. Until the industry catches up, I’ll be spending lots of money with indie companies that are willing to design for women.

  • Zhanne

    If motorcyclists have changed, why is she dressed like Evel friggin Kneivel? Is she barefoot, too? ;P

  • Heather McCoy

    Busted. I am not a “real woman rider”, have never been to “where the market actually rides”, have no idea “what women actually buy”, and am just overflowing with “vehement hatred” for said pink gear. You got me. I’m going to go out and spend some “actual money” right now, and bedazzle the crap out of it.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    The number of female riders is small – you need better recruitment if you want better gear. Much love Heather – two good articles, keep em coming.

  • ridehappy

    I have a Ducati Monster 1100. Many people thought 696 is plenty for me but I’m glad the dealer thought not. :-) Flowers, butterflies and most things pink are
    not my thing. I am forever looking for women’s gears that don’t make me look like a quarterback, are not black (no need to look like Darth Vader in gloomy Northwest winter) and free of flowers, butterflies and all things pink. The poster may signal a small change in industry long time coming but it’s still a stereotype.

  • cassidy

    Totally agreed. I am a 27 yo female that wears mens gloves, mens boots, “mens” helmet but a female jacket because I finally found one that’s JUST black. We need more gear, more clothes and everything. Please stop making everything pink! I hate pink. I want kawi green to go with my zx10r!