Las Vegas, NV-OCT 4-7
For the better part of a century, motorcycling has been the pastime/sport/lifestyle of men. Women who rode their own machines were few and far between and not always viewed by male riders, nor the general public, in a positive light.
My wife, Monika, has been riding, off and on, for over 30 years and remembers it was not so long ago that the sight of her behind the handlebars of a motorcycle would leave other motorists agape with astonishment. Today, far fewer people are astonished at the sight of a female rider and women, for the most part, have been accepted within the previously male-dominated biker community as more than just a popular back seat “accessory.”
Women comprise the fastest growing segment of today’s motorcycle market. Motorcycle manufacturers have recognized the significance of this market and have not only geared their advertising toward female riders, but have even introduced models specifically tailored to appeal to a woman’s physical requirements, such as a lower seat height, pull-back handlebars and midmounted footpegs, lighter clutch pull, and lower centers of gravity to make big bikes feel like smaller, lighter bikes.
The motorcycle accessory and apparel industry has also geared up for the new wave of women riders. I’m sure that most of our readers have noticed the influx of traditional biker wear with a feminine bent now appearing on store shelves. Jackets, gloves and helmets can now be found almost everywhere in ladylike colors of pink, lavender and baby blue. Several aftermarket parts companies are offering devices to reduce clutch lever pull and others are offering automatic clutches that eliminate the need to pull in the clutch, while still maintaining fully manual up and down shifting, which most riders, men and women, feel is a major part of the riding experience.
Up until fairly recently though, women who wanted to ride their own motorcycles were left to the mercy of a husband/dad/brother or other significant male in their lives to help them discover the magical world of motorcycling. Today, however, women have other avenues of education and even hands-on experience. One of these is Femmoto, an organization devoted to helping women get started and to make the most of the sport of motorcycling. I lifted the following mission statement from their website:
“Femmoto began in 2001 as a women-only track day, but has quickly evolved into much more. Today Femmoto is an organization that looks to fill the void for women motorcycle riders who are looking not only to improve their riding skills with on-track instruction, but who need information, contacts, and specialty services/products.“
Femmoto has been holding “All Women Track Days” for the last few years, with each succeeding year being bigger than the last, nearly doubling in attendance each year. For 4 days the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was host to hundreds of women who came to check out what’s new in motorcycles and accessories. Many were experienced riders looking for their next bike, but many more were novices just beginning to learn the ropes.
And this isn’t just a bike show where the ladies can sit on a few bikes and take home some pretty brochures; this is 4 days of riding as many bikes as you want on the Speedway racecourse. For $125 per day, you get to spend the entire day riding any number of bikes supplied by manufacturers such as Buell, Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Harley-Davidson, Kymco and Hyosung. Some of the manufacturers also offered free demos of their street bikes, which were taken on-road, rather than on the track. Helmets and leathers are provided for those who don’t bring their own.
Monika didn’t come prepared to ride and just took pictures, although she did take a moment to try on the new Victory Vegas Low for size. She’s already sent a letter off to Santa about that. Her friends, Pam and Mary, accompanied us and each took a test ride on a Harley; Mary selecting a Nightster and Pam opting for a Screaming Eagle Dyna. Mary hated the Nightster, but vowed to come back the next day and plunk down her $125 for some serious track time on a few other bikes. Monika and Pam, both having to work the next day, have instead made plans to attend next year’s Femmoto event.
Motorcycles are no longer the exclusive domain of men. Women are now making the lifestyle their own and Femmoto is a great way for women to get hands-on experience with all kinds of motorcycles.
To learn more about Femmoto, check out their website: www.femmoto.com