I’m so glad the Moto section has been so well received. I’ve gotten lots of encouragement from the motorsports industry as well as many other motohead women.
Every shop I go into has at least one – usually more – women working there. Women are everywhere on motorcycles. My favorite local shop sports a women’s section almost as big as the men’s section (not quite…but almost). Women on motorcycles is always a curiosity and it’s nice to see the tide turning.
As in everything, though, there’s a ways to go. One recent eye opener was my search for this year’s motorcycle. I shopped for several months for my motorcycle this year. I haven’t owned one in a few years due to working internationally over the last few years (SUCH a poor excuse…I know…I know.) and, since I live in the northern latitudes, I’m usually prone to buying in the spring and then selling in the fall. This time I was after a “special” bike so I took a little more time looking.
I had in mind that I wanted a smallish dual sport bike. This is really my first year of dual sport riding and I wanted to be sensible. In past years I’d been quite pleased with my 600cc sport bikes and even a little alarmed by the one 1000cc bike I’d ridden for a season. There seemed little point to looking at the big-girl bikes; naturally like every other rider I’ve seen Long Way Round and Long Way Down and I remember how much easier a time Claudio had on the little bike as opposed to the F1200GS behemoths that Ewan and Charley were wrangling. There’s just no escaping the fact that those bikes weigh 700 lbs and I’m usually riding by myself so tipping that thing over would be no joke. So I figured it would be easy to find a light little bike to rally around.
I had a harder time than I thought. I’ve never had a hard time buying a bike before. But this time, for whatever reason, things were different. I’d look at a bike and I would get the distinct impression that the seller was trying to talk me out of it. One man spent a long time on the phone with me explaining why his Kawa KLR was something I should approach with caution. He spent so much time working so hard to convince me that this bike was too much for me I didn’t even bother to go look at it – not because I thought he was right, but because when it comes to purchasing things, if it’s harder than “I give you money, you give me the thing” or vice versa, I’m just out. Remember my adventures in selling bicycles? Same thing, only opposite. You don’t want me to buy your bike…okay, I won’t. No problem.
I also noticed a disturbing number of motorcycle ads titled some variation of “great bike for beginners or women.” Now what is this shit? Woman = beginner by default? Beginner men could expect to graduate to a real man bike but women are just going to be on the Girl Bike forever because we’re women and….what? We should just stop there? That Ninja 250 is the top of the line for us?
Don’t even get me started on the guys selling “the wife’s bike” but reassuring the (most likely very manly and most definitely non-beginner) viewers of the ad that this isn’t something like a Girl Bike, but it’s Too Much For Her so she wants to sell it. I wouldn’t think this was a big deal except in all my exhaustive (not kidding) craigslist research I’ve yet to find a dude selling a bike because it’s “too much” for HIM.
Is this really a problem? I mean, I’m the size I am. I don’t have the same perspective as a six foot+ tall person (I almost typed “dude” but hey, there are women who are six feet tall…do they need a bike “good for women or beginners” too?), who, if you think about it, are the only people who have experienced ALL the various heights between 12″ and 6’+ over the years, but I haven’t had any trouble riding any bike. Yes, it’s a little disconcerting on a tall bike to have to wave my feet around at the stop lights, hoping one of them will connect with the ground at some point. I’d not want to ride a very tall loaded bike. It’s not ideal. I wouldn’t buy a bike like that – but I turn to my buddy G, who has two big-boy bikes and had both of them lowered, since he’s the same height as me. I bet no one tried to sell him a Girl Bike because just he’s on the shorter side. After all, he’s A Man, right?
So I ended up buying a 1000cc bike after all, my Ducati Multistrada. The guy who sold it to me seemed pretty cool. Until he delivered it, displaying a little bit of anxiety, warning me about the brakes and clearly hoping I didn’t kill myself on it. At least he kinda cared…I guess? With the money in his pocket I guess he had second thoughts about delivering my certain death. Don’t worry, man. I noticed that the rotors were warped (thanks for the kinda non-warning though) but it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I’ll survive my foray on your Man Bike. After this summer, I guess I appreciate not having to talk the guy into selling it to me in the first place. I guess it’s cool, every time I mention the kind of bike I own to a dude, or to a product rep, I get one reaction and one only: “whoa.” So, that’s kinda fun.
I also notice that “woman owned” in an ad is code for “not beat up.” Which I guess works to my advantage in the long run so let’s just let that slide for now. Honestly, I don’t want to give people too much shit for this. The moto industry has exceeded my expectations so far during this venture. I fully expect to be driven round the bend with the “booth babe” thing at the trade shows, but at a community level it seems that women and motorcycles are a pairing that is approaching the norm. Still. Please, people, get a clue – woman =/= beginner. Beginner equals beginner, male or female.