McCoy on Watson on Female Riders

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McCoy On: Watson On Female Riders

If you haven’t read Tim Watson’s “Watson on: Female Riders” yet, you should read it now. He raises an excellent question: why?

According to Tim’s article (and the latest figures from the Motorcycle Industry Council), there’s been a 35% increase in the number of women who’ve bought motorcycles between 2003 and 2012. You’d think industry analysts would be all over a statistic like that, but he’s the first person I’ve actually heard ask, what the hell is driving these numbers?

Now, maybe I’m just hanging out with the wrong people. Maybe, like any other $63.5 billion dollar per year global industry, there are people looking into where their money’s coming from and trying to figure out why so many women have been stricken with moto-fever. Hmm. From my perspective, most of the industry is still seems asleep at the wheel when it comes to female riders.

Except for maybe Harley Davidson. Sure, they commissioned that stupid survey Tim referred to (how they managed to get everyone from the Los Angeles Times to every Joe Blow with a blog to publish something about it is the real story), but c’mon…you can’t fault a company for using sex appeal to sell it’s product. You also can’t claim that this particular company hasn’t set the bar when it comes to supporting women riders. They’ve been doing it for decades, with safety education, peer support, a presence in female-focused industry events, women-specific gear, etc. Harley Davidson has long-recognized the power of girl-power in the powersports industry. More power too ‘em.

Now, about that survey. First of all, HD quite publicly commissioned a marketing firm who’s own slogan is, “helping brands navigate change”. You want to change who you’re selling motorcycles to? Call these guys. They know that the sophisticated American consumer is really only interested in two things: statistics and sex. So, they got a bunch of adult women riders and a bunch of non-riding, adult women (who I suspect were either from a nursing home, in jail, or barefoot in a kitchen somewhere) to take the latest Cosmo quiz and compare notes. They found that biker-babes just feel hotter than their pathetic contemporaries who, results suggest, would rather die than do it with the lights on. The LA Times went on to report that the women riders were less inclined to say they “usually felt good” about their sense of humor and intelligence, but hey, they were almost twice as likely to say they “usually felt good” about their sex appeal, so that’s good. Usually.

Americans affinity for pop culture may have more of an impact on women’s attitudes about motorcycles than our tepid, albeit blooming self-confidence. The T-Mobile girl’s transformation from pink polka-dots to a pink and black Ducati, big Hollywood action-flicks like Kill Bill, The Matrix, Tomb Raider, Salt, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…hell, even Disney’s Ratatouille. With a tough-talking, soft-hearted, french-girl-chef who rides not a scooter, but a sportbike. These images sort of sink into our collective psyche, and when we see real-life action heros like AMA Pro Racing’s Melissa Paris, WMX champ Ashley Fiolek, five-time land speed record holder Valerie Thompson or professional stunt rider Leah Peterson (I could go on) doing what they do on motorcycles, well, we tend to get inspired.

Still, I haven’t seen a response from manufacturers or dealers that makes me think they’re dialed-in to what’s going on. Maybe if they’d quit ignoring us at bike shows and demo events, or quit saying things like, “this is a great entry-level bike”, or “it’s a great bike for a girl”. Or, the most deadly of all phrases, the salesman’s kiss of death…“women really like this one”. Maybe if the industry would lose these stereotypical guffaws, their fastest-growing customer base would be more obvious – and spend more willingly rather than calculated. The availability of equipment designed for smaller frames isn’t as big of a problem as simply getting women exposure to the inventory that’s already there. It is a problem, though.

In contrast, gear manufacturers have risen to the challenge, giving women more products with sophisticated style, fewer shades of Hello Kitty, and better safety features than ever before. Producing it in the right size seems to stump many, and getting retailers to stock the stuff is like splitting atoms, but it’s out there. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know just about every other segment of the garment industry has managed to figure it out.

Tim’s question is a good one, and the fact that the responses have been so overwhelmingly positive is exciting.

The fact that those of us who pay attention to this sort of stuff don’t know the answer is…what’s the right corporate lingo?…an opportunity for improvement.

  • William Connor

    Awesome article. I have worked with multiple female riders to get them on two wheels, friends, acquaintances whatever. There is a different mindset to a lot of what they were looking for in a bike, or gear etc. There was one thing that was the same however, the desire for the freedom and feeling a motorcycle gives. Let’s be a little honest about a few things. Women are more fashion conscious overall, there is a looks component to the bike more than outright numbers. There are some major similarities, women like to accessorize, so do men, we have different tastes but the desire is the same. I guess my question is why does it matter why? What should matter is they are riding, that the industry shuold not cater to women but simply make them feel welcome in what already exists. Last time I checked with my wife she doesn’t want special treatment, just to be treated like a woman and an equal. My advice to people wanting to sell to women; Stop treating them like an idiot child.

    • Heather McCoy

      Amen, brother! :)

  • dtrides

    Yep, things have changed in the Moto world. In my extended riding group Ladies make up 50 % . Just like Guys, some ride to be a part of the group but the others are deeply passionate about their ridding. Biggest complaint? Being treated poorly in the show room. Second biggest complaint? Dealers only stocking gear that would fit a 98 lb starving super model. The Moto industry needs to take down the Pin-up calendars and make the move to the new age of riders where women are equal and not just Tarts to play with after the ride.
    DT

    • Heather McCoy

      And we have a winner!

  • HoldenL

    I’m not a Harley guy. I’ve taken my wife to a number of motorcycle dealerships to look at mostly Japanese cycles. Something seemed to be missing, even when she talked to a saleswoman.

    We were driving past a Harley dealership and, on a whim, stopped in. We told the saleswoman that I ride a Kawasaki, and my wife is interested in getting a bike. The difference between this Harley dealership and the Japanese-bike dealerships was stark. My wife felt welcomed. The saleswoman talked to my wife, not to me. Let me repeat: The Harley saleswoman talked to my wife, not to me.

    One more time: She spoke to my wife, not to me.

    The saleswoman asked questioned, listened to the answers, and delivered her smooth spiel. I disagreed with some of what she recommended, but the fact is that she listened to my wife’s questions and she answered the questions. It’s really, really simple.

    The Harley dealership wanted to sell a bike.

    • CaptainPlatypus

      I’m trying to imagine my partner’s reaction if she walked into a dealership and a salesperson tried talking past her to me. I don’t think blood would be shed, but it would be a close call.

      • KC

        We had this happen in a Toyota dealer. We walked out.

      • kent_skinner

        You’ve never been in a dealership, of any kind, with a woman?

        It’s news when it *doesn’t* happen.

        I’ve walked out of many dealerships, and only managed to buy a new vehicle once in 47 years. The guy selling it was gay. I don’t care that he’s gay, but I think he may have had a different perspective that the average macho car salesman.

        • CaptainPlatypus

          I’ve never been in a dealership of any kind with or without a woman – and suddenly I’m grateful for that! I’m young and poor. I buy used.

      • CheezLouise

        In that case, I’d be shocked if there wasn’t blood shed or at least close to it.

        Even the one female salesperson we’ve had spent the majority of time talking to my husband, even after being informed the bike we were looking at was for me, not him.

        • CaptainPlatypus

          That’s…I…but….

          Even if you ignore literally everything about tact and basic human decency, that’s just poor salesmanship. I’m disappointed on so many levels right now.

          • CheezLouise

            Oh yeah. If you thought car dealerships were bad, mc dealerships are far worse. My husband basically started walking away to force them to talk to me. The last one was the worst. We were selling our little 650 and the dealer was trying to push me into a 750 or 800 because “I’d notice the power difference but still be able to handle it easily”. He ignored me when I told him that I also rode a 1700 and wouldn’t be going lower than 1300. Wasn’t til hubby circled back, overheard me repeat it for the 3rd time, and told him the same thing that he relented. Condescending little prat. LOL.

      • NextTurn

        When we went shopping for a bike I made sure the dealer knew that my wife and I are equals, and he was going to have to convince her just as much as me If he wanted us to buy a bike that day. I wish I had popcorn and a beer for the next 15 minutes. He tried talking down to her a bit while gauging her knowledge, and he wasn’t mean about it. He was just doing what everyone else does. She was very sweet about the whole thing, but I could tell she wasn’t happy. Then she let him have it in the nicest way possible. He learned quickly that she knows what she is talking about and has been on bikes her whole life. He adjusted his tact immediately, and we ended up buying the bike that day. For some reason, we got a rather large discount on that bike… I love that woman.

    • Andrea Fuentes

      I posted above, but wanted to add that Harley does a great job with female riders… lots of well made, well fitting gear (OK it’s pricey) in a variety of sizes, lots of females working there… I’ve never owned a Harley but my husband has. I love sportbikes but got to give Harley credit!! I even bought a really cute shirt there recently, who cares the brand… it’s all about bikes :)

      • Heather McCoy

        Agreed. HD has been way ahead of the curve on this issue. I believe I gave them the credit they deserve in my article.

    • Piglet2010

      “Months later, she bought a used Burgman 400.”

      I too would rather have the Burgman.

  • Davidabl2

    The real solution for women’s gear would be (relatively) affordable made-to-order riding gear. Examples would be Aerostitch,and Gimoto (http://www.motostrano.com/Gimoto-s/2073.htm)…but the stuff they make isn’t specifically FOR women. Who don’t want either “snowmobile suits” or racetrack “power ranger’ suits ;-)
    As to bikes, bikes should be more adjustable for everybody. You’d go in to the dealership, get fitted, and the most appropriate seat, risers, bars,pegs would be added to a bike.Which they’d then sell to you.
    Since women so often have better sense than men any changes to make the sport woman-friendly would probably be good for all
    riders, both male and female…

  • Jack Meoph

    I can’t get over that GoPro hanging off the side of the helmet. How can that NOT be a problem when riding at speed? Wind buffeting of the helmet is enough of a drag (I did that on purpose) with a clean surface, to go and add something that will complete disrupt airflow is crazy.

    • http://motocynic.wordpress.com/ Scott Otte

      It’s not that bad. Even at freeway speeds it’s not that noticeable. (I haven’t used mine on my helmet on the freeway for more than 20+ minutes though)

      • Generic42

        I used one on the side of my helmet on the freeway, never again! It kept wanting to rotate my helmet+head and drove me nuts.

        • http://motocynic.wordpress.com/ Scott Otte

          I haven’t had a problem on the short 20-30 minute freeway trips that I’ve done. I’m wearing for as much of the 2000 miles as I can on my ride to Portland this weekend. We’ll see how much I like it then.

          I did notice that it bugged me more on the first trip than on the second one, so maybe it’s something you get used to? Eh… we’ll see.

          • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

            I was looking at a mount like this for an upcoming charity ride I’m helping out with. Since it’ll be like 60 miles tops, and maybe 40MPH, it might not be too bad. Is that a stock mount with the GoPro, or something aftermarket?

    • PaddingtonPoohBear

      I’d also worry about the camera or mount snagging on something during a crash / slide. Don’t they make helmets smooth at least partially for that reason?

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    “there’s been a 35% increase in the number of women who’ve bought motorcycles between 2003 and 2012. ” What does that number even mean? It means Women now own 12.3 percent of all motorcycles in the country, up from 9.6 percent in 2003. In most other markets women are absolutely the main drivers of what gets purchased. Across all market segments the share of female consumers has increased drastically. Motorcycles are one of the few industries where they havent. Compare 12.3 of motorcycles to 52% of all cars are bought by women and there is no car on the market that is even close to a women-exclusive car—Not in the same way corvettes, 911′s and M3′s are bought by almost exclusively men—Even the Bug is only bought by women half of the time.

    http://www.thefemalefactor.com/statistics/statistics_about_women.html

    • Heather McCoy

      They need to MARKET to women, for cryin’ out loud! Cripes, the last thing we want is a “female-specific motorcycle”. I’m only trying to help guys, but you should know that the concept of “FOR A GIRL” (or any incantation thereof) is revolting on a scale of epic proportions. In the context of women shopping for motorcycles, it’s as good as summoning Beelzebub himeself (er, herself). With regard to my “kiss of death” remark, you have to understand that the female shopper, when considering a several-thousand-dollar purchase, does not want to hear about how those who have gone before her have already bought it and love it. Good god man, that’s female shopper 101.
      Interesting that my last two cars have been a Porsche and a BMW, btw. Please tell me you’re not trying to make a living in sales, Kr…

      • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

        I find marketing and sales interesting but I’m way more into actual product design.
        Porsche and BMW are both male dominated brands but specifically the M3 and 911 are closer to being 90% specifically male owned. It wasnt until porsche introduced the cayenne that women had any interest in porsche at all. Like you said, and I said, marketing ANYTHING to specifically women doesn’t work. The closest thing to a women’s only car is still bought by men half the time.

        So two things, why is it you can build a successful vehicle FOR MEN, that will only be bought by men, but you can’t do that for women? I think its a sociological thing.

        And secondly, on the marketing side, how do you market to women, without marketing to women? That seems to be what you’re saying.

        • Heather McCoy

          1. Because women want equality, not separate stuff (except for bathrooms). Every consumer product sold in America is a “budgetary thing”, and women wear the purchasing pants in 80% of US households. Think of all the non-riding wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, BFFs who don’t even THINK of buying their guys motorcycle stuff. Why? They have no idea it even exists. Show me the CycleGear or RevZilla or Bike Bandit gift card on the wall of gift cards at Safeway. DUH!
          2. First of all, the Cayenne is ugly. Did they really intend that to be a “women’s Porsche?” To answer your question, I’d say do what Harley, or even Yamaha does: include women riders in advertising. As riders, I mean.
          Oh fine, I’ll write an article about it.

          • Piglet2010

            “First of all, the Cayenne is ugly.”

            How does that differ from any other SUV?

            • Ken Lindsay

              The body is alright, but for that expensive of a vehicle, it should have something that makes you go Ooooo! the taillights are crap, square-ish cheap looking turds. An Escape looks sportier…

              • Piglet2010

                Shortly after the Cayenne was introduced I had one pull up right next to me at an intersection when I was on a lowracer recumbent bicycle – lots of “orange peel” in the paint on the lower body panels.

              • Piglet2010

                The worst is the first generation Cadillac SRX – looks like a hearse.

                • Ken Lindsay

                  I briefly looked at the Ford Flex as a family go getter and the wife said absolutely no! Looked too much like a hearse. Same with the new Durango. Okay, back to bikes!

            • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

              Old Defenders are hot. Everything else is tupperware.

              • Piglet2010

                What about the IH Scout?

          • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

            They didn’t directly market to women with the cayenne. They took out the hard-edged sportiness, added four doors, trunk space, and a much lower price tag, and they inherently attracted women. You can’t really pull the same trick with motorcycles. You have to change the behavior of women altogether. It’s not impossible, I mean smoking was something men only did at one point too. Now in the US it’s about 50-50.

          • Stef

            Soo, women want the same bikes men want? Well that’s a problem solved.

  • Jack McLovin

    I live in the bay area, there are a million bikes out every day and I hardly see a female rider. Has anyone considered that women buying and registering bikes doesn’t mean they’re the ones riding them? I bet there are a ton of dudes out there riding a bike registered in their moms’ name.

  • Joseph Knudsen

    I thought it odd that you should mention Melissa Paris rather than Elena Myers who has actually won races and is ,I believe, a more relevant role model for girls such as my daughters. (they both have EM21 t-shirts) I’m not trying to make a big deal about it, but thought it worth mentioning.

    • Heather McCoy

      There is just simply not enough room to mention each and every one of the women racers I mention, every time I mention them. They know I switch things up to spread the love. You did notice who’s picture the editor chose to accompany the article, right? Your daughters are likely to be equally inspired by any woman on the grid.

      • Piglet2010

        What about Beryl Swain?

  • zion

    I read this article a few times, trying to formulate a response that was right. Lot’s of different reactions and responses being edited in my head. Then I saw the article just posted…. and figured F-it, because it struck such an opposite chord from this one, while still trying to be “correct”. http://rideapart.com/2014/04/gear-revit-broadway-ladies-jeans/

    • Heather McCoy

      Yes…oh, dear God comes to mind.

      • zion

        Well obviously, as the author, you saw my original post…. Figured I’d delete it, given I rethought it out and figured maybe as I “guy” I just don’t get it. But, yeah, the story’s photos say it all.

  • lakapitz

    Thanks for the article, 35% is a *huge* increase. I am included in that number, I got my M1 in 2009. My experiences in dealerships have varied based on whether I was alone or with a guy (or a few guys).

    I have bought two bikes from dealerships, and both times I went alone to make the final decision and purchase. I got 100% positive attention from the sales guys, was not talked down to, all of my questions were answered. They wanted my money, and knew enough to avoid saying anything that would piss me off.

    But I’ve also been into dealerships with my boyfriend, and with group of guy friends we ride with, and that is a different situation. I am generally ignored, or worse – my favorite story is the time we went for an informal tour of an electric motorcycle factory in our area. The guy who gave us the tour (I think he was management, not a salesman) turned to me during his spiel and pointed out that the compartment where the gas tank would normally be would be a good place for me to keep my purse. I was standing in front of him in full leathers, not a purse in sight… what made him think I didn’t already have that problem solved? I was so irritated.

    • Piglet2010

      ” I got my M1 in 2009″

      Yamaha YZR-M1? Wow!

      • lakapitz

        Hah, no, M1 is the California license code for a motorcycle – so I got my motorcycle license in 2009 :)

    • Heather McCoy

      My response would have sounded a little like, “Dude! Do I LOOK like June Cleaver?!” Sometimes I feel it’s my duty to set people on the right path.

  • Justin Henry

    Although the stats may say 1/4 women own motorcycles I don’t see it at all. Once in a blue moon do I see a woman riding. Maybe the female riders stick to the group events, etc. When I pass another motorcyclist on the road I’d bet every time that it’s a dude and I’d be right 999 out of 1000 times.

  • daveinva

    One thing I think it’s important to dispel: many women riders, IME, *do* happen to like the “Hello Kitty” gear!

    For example, my GF didn’t ride before she met me. After a year riding pillion she wanted to learn for herself and get her own ride, so she passed a woman-only MSF course, and she’s had a few bikes since then. The bikes have all been indistinguishable from bikes men ride, but her gear is certainly gender appropriate– brighter color helmets, feminine cut armored jackets, overpants and kevlar jeans that don’t look like she’s wearing Depends, etc.

    I think her opinion is pretty common: just because she’s in a sport/hobby that is dominated by men doesn’t mean she wants to LOOK like a man when she’s dressing for the ride.

    • Heather McCoy

      Your last statement is spot-on, daveinva. But most of us aren’t thrilled to drop down a few hundred bucks on something that looks like it was inspired by our 6-year old daughter’s lunchbox.

    • CheezLouise

      There’s a big difference between feminine and Hello Kitty! LOL.

      You are right. I do want my gear to be feminine. I want it to fit like the rest of my clothes fit, not be some smaller version of guys stuff. I’m not even averse to having a little bit of pink in there somewhere. But I don’t want it to be covered in garish pink flowers or Hello Kitty motifs ;)

      • Andrea Fuentes

        Agreed, some of that is an age thing… I teach college and high school, and many of my students (not related to motorcycles) love the pink Hello Kitty stuff. OK with me, but I’m too old for that. Dealers should offer some variety. Don’t want to look like a man either though and like gear to fit and be flattering.

    • Piglet2010

      What is wrong with Hello Kitty (besides her having no mouth*)?

      N.b. I am not a woman, nor homosexual, nor even metrosexual.

      * http://www.queeg.com/hellokitty/

  • kent_skinner

    For the most part, every car or bike dealership I’ve been in has been staffed by idiots. There’s a few exceptions, but damn few.
    Firing all the salespeople would be a good start to getting women on bikes. Throwing away all the “make it smaller and pinker so we can sell it to women” is probably the send step.

  • Chris Optional Freeman

    how do you get “sophisticated Americans” from “Harley Riders”? seriously, anybody that cares about statistics is going to immediately turn from the gigantor cast-iron 1960′s tech that is HD. The naive and irrationally patriotic are the large majority of HD customers (not all just about 90% from my experience). I actually like some HD bikes and plenty of people that ride them, but most bought HD’s because it says “HARLEY DAVIDSON” on the side

    What bout the fact that over the past few years more companies are selling more appealing entry level bikes with lower seat heights, and that weigh less. previously the Kawi ninja 250 and the baby sportster were it. now the CBR250, Ninja300, Yamaha SR400 (coming this year), Suzuki S40, CBR500 bikes, etc. are all there for a more petite person to begin on. statistically women are more likely to buy new than men, so the used market does not mean quite so much. generally when any girl/woman i know has purchased a used vehicle they have gone with their father/boyfriend/brother/husband/etc. but women will go by themselves more often to purchase a new vehicle. I get that there is the whole “……For a girl” problem, but statistically speaking women are more likely to choose a sensible first bike than your average male purchasing a first bike. here a woman is likely to think about things like “my feet dont really touch the ground well” or “this one feels to heavy” while the male counterpart is thinking “this looks badass” or “this has 175hp and does 189mph” or “undertail exhaust” or “GIXXER//NINJA”or “BUSA”. At what point will the ludicrous feminist movement just relax and take some things for face value. physically a man should be more apt to handle a 600 supersport better than a woman as their first bike. mentally probably not.

    • Heather McCoy

      Using the words ‘sophisticated’ + ‘Americans’ + ‘consumers’ in the same sentence was my feeble attempt at sarcasm. And, if you’re going to speak statistically, please include your references. You wouldn’t let me get by with that…

    • CatTana

      “At what point will the ludicrous feminist movement just relax and take some things for face value.”
      At the point in time that old fashioned men stop making silly assumptions.

      Women have a lower center of gravity and our leg/arm strength is usually opposite what men have. Strong legs and good technique make bike lifting/moving a breeze for women. We often use a different technique. Like when we move a fridge up a set of stairs, easy, just different. If Rossi had been taught to lift “like a girl” he wouldn’t have wasted precious seconds last year. He needed the two guys who ran over to lift it with muscles alone. How do you think those tiny little motorcycle cop women lift their massive bikes? lol!

      Like many men and women have stated here: no special treatment, just a little respect, we’re all different and that should be celebrated.
      Remember that stereotype about women loving shopping? I hate shopping but I could fill a closet with gear if I could find it :-( No other part of the footwear or garment industry has this problem – it IS the motorcycle industry.
      PS. the new BMW1000rr is a bike all women should try. No need to twist the throttle all the way until you want to but it’s very well designed.
      Excellent article! So glad I found it. I’ll be passing it around to all the women riders. Keep up the good work.

      • Heather McCoy

        Well-said, and will-do, Cat!

  • Andrea Fuentes

    Agree with HodenL. Experienced female rider here (track days, 15+ years, touring, street). Shopping for a leftover 2013 GSXR about 6 weeks ago online, called local bike dealer A t before riding over to see bikes in person: 1) did they have specific color scheme in a 2013 I wanted, and 2) would the 2013 GSXR1000 be eligible for Suzuki 0% financing. Simple huh? Wasn’t asking for a quote, just didn’t want to drive across town if they didn’t have the bike I wanted. Not really…

    Salesman on phone asked first 1) “Is the bike for YOU” (in a slightly incredulous voice). I said yes, politely, and repeated a question. Salesman asks (in surprised tone) “Do you know how to ride?” I said YES icily, channeling Elsa from Frozen. Undeterred, he then asked if I knew how to ride a sportbike. I laughed and asked him how old he was? Then explained to him that when he was born, I was riding my cousin’s minibike around and told him how many bikes I’d owned and modified, etc. He FINALLY gave me the info I requested… I thanked him politely, hung up, then asked a male friend (also experienced rider) to call with similar question and they JUST ANSWERED HIS QUESTIONS without the nonsense!

    I then took same friend (racing background, professional mechanic) with me to a different dealer and bought the 2013 GSXR 1000, forgetting Dealer A. Having a male with me (IMHO) there was no nonsense and no run around. They gave me a price on my trade in (rode over there) and I bought the bike the same day. The salesman was actually nice and treated me with respect but I still think on my own it might have been a different story. Sigh. Story of my life, but I do love my bike!!

    • Heather McCoy

      Ha! Reminds me of that scene from “Pretty Woman”. Just shared it with the head of sales for Suzuki NW region, btw.

      • Andrea Fuentes

        Thanks Heather :)

    • Melody

      I had a similar experience when I bought my Suzuki Hayabusa. The salesman was all nice and friendly until I threw a leg over it and not my husband. Things went quickly downhill from there, but he did eventually agree to allow me to take it for a spin. I bought one, btw, but not from him.
      Every SINGLE day, I am slapped in the face with a male-dominated remark about motorcycling (and I work in the industry) and it still manages to amaze me. I cannot fathom why this industry cannot grasp the concept that I don’t want anything “special” catering to me as a female and that I want nothing more than to be seen as another enthusiast and addict.
      And just for reference, I drive an M3, own and maintain 9 motorcycles, teach a motorcycle safety course and have been riding street, sand, etc. for 19+ years on two wheels.

      • Heather McCoy

        One of these days, we’re going to have to slap back.

        • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

          Bring bats. Some folks don’t comprehend without a touch of overkill.

    • Laura Smith

      Good lord. Just reading about your ordeal there makes my blood boil. Likely reminding me of pretty much any time I walk into a bike dealership. Difficult to deal with after 17 years of riding and owning 15 motorcycles…

    • Richard R.

      A friend of mine sold his used gsxr 1000. Kid takes it for a test ride. 45 minutes or so and he’s not coming back and we think he may be stealing it. then we see the lifestar helicopter flying in. Kid survived, said when he gave it throttle the bike yanked him backwards, and his hands pulling gave it more throttle. He was hanging on for dear life wide open till he crashed.

      Just saying maybe the problem is not that he asked you questions – its that he didn’t ask the male.

      • Andrea Fuentes

        True, absolutely appropriate to ask those questions before a test ride but again why only if you are female.. I wasn’t asking for a test ride just asking about what they had in stock.

  • Piglet2010

    I’m impatiently waiting for the “Watson on McCoy on Watson on Female Riders” response article.

    • Bluesceyes

      Only Leo’s character from Inception could navigate that article.

      • daveinva

        WE HAVE TO GO DEEPER!

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        InceptionApart

  • charlie

    With the exception of sportbike riders, the majority of women I see riding have open-face helmets. It’s the same in blogs and magazines. Obviously, correlation does not imply causation but they outnumber the men I’ve seen in that regard. It’d be interesting to see if there was any more info on this.

    • Mattin11225

      If it’s for photoshoot purposes, it’s most likely to make it obvious that it’s a woman under the helmet, and to show off her face. At least they’re wearing some kind of helmet, I cringe whenever I see a photoshoot with zero gear.

      • charlie

        I was referring to when I’m out riding. Basically, I’m curious to see if the photoshoots have had any influence because I’ve seen way more females wearing them than men. Of course it’s their right like with anybody else but even though it’s legal, it’d be nice to see everybody being safe with a full face on.

  • zedro

    Sooooo….going the ‘Pink Cadillac’ route would be a bad thing then…..

    • Heather McCoy

      Bruce Springstein ‘Pink Cadillac’ (very cool) or Mary Kay Cosmetics pink cadillac (very gross)? Our culture is so complex.

      • Clawbrant

        We already have plenty of women “riding on the back, cruising down the street”. Still waiting on OEM crushed velvet seats though.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    How not to market to women: http://www.heropleasure.com/

    • daveinva

      I ain’t gonna lie: until that site actually came up completely, I was expecting a NSFW site for, ummm, “marital aids.”

      • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

        If that’s what you were expecting you were probably really disappointed to see a website for an India-made scooter.

    • Piglet2010

      Are they trying to sell scooters to 12-year old girls?

  • NextTurn

    I can’t speak for the bike buying part… My wife prefers to ride on the pillion and be able to look around. However, buying motorcycle gear stinks for everyone – especially for women.

    In San Antonio, buying motorcycle gear for women is next to impossible. The stuff on the rack is either made for women that must have a day job as a linebacker or for someone that is the size of your average 12 year old. My wife is about 5’4″ and petite, but she isn’t that small. When you ask for more information or more product, almost every shop pulls out 3-4 encyclopedia thick catalogs, but they give minimal information and you have no idea how it fits or what it is like to wear. My wife and I spent an entire month ordering stuff from RevZilla and returning it trying to find the right gear for her. We ended up settling on somethings that she is “okay with”, but for the most part it isn’t what she wanted.

    This year we will probably spend another grand on trying gear until we can find something that works right for her.

    • Heather McCoy

      See, now that’s just dumb, isn’t it? I feel your pain!

      • NextTurn

        The worst part is walking into a store dedicated to bike gear, and most of the “womens” gear boils down to a few iterations of two or three products. There is no selection. We spend most of our money online for this reason. It’s sad. We both really enjoy supporting local businesses, but these businesses aren’t supporting my wife or any woman for that matter.

        • Heather McCoy

          When I talked to gear retailers in Europe, they literally could not believe this is how people have to shop for gear in the US. They would ask me questions like, “but how do you know if it fits?”. Quaint, huh? And working on a review of a new women’s track suit from AXO, we were shooting pics at a local mega-dealer, one that actually has a full-time apparel manufacturer who asked me like three times the brand name before admitting, “I’ve never heard of them”. I don’t get this. It’s. Not. Brain. Surgery.

          • NextTurn

            No. It’s laziness and ignorance.

    • Piglet2010

      Bite the bullet and get plane tickets to Duluth, MN.

  • pedro

    And you think the Bike industry is not paying attention?!? How do you think payed the movie company to show a Girl on a Ducati on Matrix in the first place?

    • Heather McCoy

      Here’s how insightful the motorcycle industry is: when the production team of The Matrix approached Ducati about that iconic scene, Ducati said ‘no’. In fact, not only did they say ‘no’, they suggested they go ask BMW. Eventually, a deal was struck providing half of the requested motorcycles that the producers had to purchase. Do your homework, Pedro.

      • chupa

        To be fair, we need sources if you’re gonna blast someone for not doing their homework.

        • Heather McCoy

          BS. When I publish the in-depth article about Ducati, then you’ll get your references. Feel free to fact-check between then and now.

          • chupa

            What’s BS? Asking you to cite your source and to be fair about it? I’ll be fair myself then, I’ve read your articles on your own site before and enjoyed them but I just don’t see a reason for you to have a crappy attitude about this thread?

            • Heather McCoy

              Ok, sometimes my razor-sharp with doesn’t translate well in the written form; did not mean to sound crappy (my apologies). I don’t want to get into the habit of leaning on a reference or link every time I say something with the authority I’ve earned, though.

              • chupa

                Given the thin line these days of what’s a blogger vs. what’s a journalist, citing sources and references is an easy foolproof way to back up what’s printed online. Any reputable journalist shouldn’t be offended when asked to present references and sources, after all, that’s what makes good accurate journalism! It’s part of the job. And I don’t mean to suggest you make up facts or outright lie but even established journalists and reporters from the cornerstones of journalistic institutions have been caught making up sources, facts and report false claims, whether intentional or not ie. Jayson Blair, Dan Rather, Judith Miller.

                • Heather McCoy

                  If your’re going to demand references in comments, you’re not going to get them from me. When it comes to this form of media, it’s your responsibility as a reader to fact-check what you doubt, not my responsibility as a COMMENTER to spoon-feed proof to others in the conversation who are too lazy to open a book (or a newspaper, or f’ing Google, for that matter). I put a great deal of time, effort, and research into everything I write (thank you, doctoral degree from Columbia), so when I publish my article on Ducati, rest assured, there will be references a-go-go. I’m pretty clear on the distinction between blogging and journalism.

                • chupa

                  “When it comes to this form of media, it’s your responsibility as a reader to fact-check what you doubt…” Which is exactly why this form is media is only to be taken with a grain of salt. BTW, I did google “ducati didn’t want to sponsor motorcycles in matrix movie, bmw” and there were no obvious links in the first five pages of results. So it isn’t exactly easy widespread information that you’re suggesting it is.

                • Heather McCoy

                  Dig deeper, my friend.

                • chupa

                  Rideapart used to be good, now it’s authors insultings and talking down to readers because they disagree or point out flaws in the articles. So long and thanks for all the fish.

            • Piglet2010

              “What’s BS?” – https://www.bsigroup.com/

  • 1destroyed_student1

    I’ve struggled to find gear for my 5’9″, hourglass shape. At the risk of getting peoples’ undies in a twist, I have to say the market does okay for non-U.S. female riders; perhaps this is anecdotal, but Europeans tend to be thinner, and Asians tend to be shorter than Americans. This is probably why Harley has been ahead of the curve- they make gear for Americans. I’m not a Harley girl, but if they made things in a style I really liked, I’d buy it anyway since I’m sick of wearing man-pants when I ride. As to motorcycle shopping, I’ve never had a problem. The reaction I usually get is, “you’re lucky you’re so tall, you can ride a bigger bike!”

  • zion

    As coincidence would have it, I just received my new copy of the MSF Rider Handbook for the new transition in the Basic Ridercourse. It’s now a glossy color print, as opposed to the old black and white, with new material. On the cover, it prominently uses two pictures featuring a female RiderCoach and a female student. So there you go. (Although, the student is wearing a helmet that does utilize pink and black.)

  • November11Seven

    I LOVE how the first link under “you also might like” is “Top bikes for beginners.” LOL

  • Anna Kaufman

    Heather, thank you so much for sharing your perspective! As a female rider new to the motorcycle community, it’s refreshing to read a woman’s opinions and be able to relate. I absolutely loved your references to the T-Mobile girl and the Ratatouille chef — both are now my newest favorite spokespeople :) wishing you much success and please don’t let the haters keep you down.