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In July 2022, 1,549 women gathered at the Triumph factory in Leicestershire for the World’s Largest Female Biker Meet.  It was organised by Moto Adviser, a group run by two enthusiastic bikers, who are keen to raise the profile of female bikers to the motorcycle industry and support those women who ride.  It is a great example of initiatives taking place to encourage and support women in biking and inspire others to live their passion.

The bikers who showed up that day were on all kinds, and size of bike – scooters, tourers, electric bikes, old and new and it attracted ladies of all ages, even ladies in their 70s – all showing how proud they are to be part of the growing female biking community.  In turning up to the event they not only set a new world record, but they also sent a message, loud and clear that biking is not just a man’s world, and that the biking industry needs to sit up and listen and better cater for women.

Sherrie Woolf, Moto Advisor, said: “We are keen to show the motorcycle industry that the female market is financially worthwhile catering to. There are over 300,000 female motorcycle licence holders in the UK alone. We also want to encourage and support more women to enjoy riding and get involved in all aspects of biking.”

The barriers faced by women in biking

A lack of well-fitting motorcycle safety gear, motorcycle design based on male riders (therefore too big and heavy), being judged and stereotyped are all common barriers cited by women’s biker groups.

And they are keen for these issues to be better understood to support the growth of women in motorcycling.

Difficulties in finding adequate safety gear

Backed up by our very own Vicci Plows, an enthusiastic biker in her spare time, one of the biggest barriers faced by women who ride is the difficulty in finding adequate and well-fitting safety gear.  The selection of good quality kit is limited and there still seems to be a lingering assumption that most ladies involved in biking are pillions.

Vicci believes the offerings have improved over the last few years, with some companies such as Moto Girl launching new products that are designed specifically for women, but it is still hard to find well-fitting, suitable safety gear.  Most stores only stock a limited range and sizing seems to be a big issue.  Helmets too can be difficult to find.

Motorcycles designed for men

There are no motorbikes specifically designed for women per se – bikes are designed with male physiology and anatomy in mind.  Given women are on average shorter and lighter than men, many struggle with the height and weight of bikes.

However, many manufacturers are now starting to implement design features that make their motorcycles more accessible to women such as lighter weight, narrower fuel tanks and lower seat height.  There are also more bikes available now that can be adapted – seats can be lowered, and modifications made to the suspension.

Having more bikes suitable for female riders and that are marketed to female riders will play an important role in the rise of female motorcyclists on the road.

Social media playing a role in encouraging female bikers

As well as groups like Moto Advisor, there are many other groups and influencers on social media playing a big role in encouraging and motivating women who ride and ensuring their voices are heard. Women all over the world are finding each other, whether through Instagram or Tik Tok, and inspiring each other with their shared enthusiasm and search for adventure and doing it together as part of the female motorcycle community.

Vicci says this has played a huge part in her growing confidence to ride.  Despite growing up with a dad who was an enthusiastic biker, Vicci initially found it a bit daunting when first taking up the hobby herself.  She has found great support through telling her story on Tik Tok, of her initial vulnerability and takes great comfort in the support she gets from her online followers.

Sallyha Din hosts the Ride of Your Life podcast and is trying to change the narrative on female bikers.

She says: “You constantly have to prove you belong on a motorcycle. Although there is a great amount of change occurring in this industry, you can still come across attitudes of expecting women to sit on the back seat.”

There are other longer established organisations too, such as the Women’s International Motorcycle Association (WIMA), promoting women in motorcycling and who have been active since 1958 in the UK.  They are inspired by trailblazers like Theresa Wallach, a racer and motorcycle adventurer, who in 1934/5 rode with a friend from London to Cape Town on a 650cc, three and a half horsepower Panther with a sidecar and a twelve-foot trailer!

WIMAs agenda is mostly around friendship and encouraging female riders and nurturing new riders to give them the confidence to go that bit further than they would on their own.

A level playing field may still be a way off but there seems to be no stopping the rise in the number of female motorcyclists.  Their voices are being heard. Manufacturers are starting to listen and take action and with the support of groups such as Moto Advisor and WIMA, and active communities on social media, it seems women bikers are here to stay.