Is my mascara running?
Female Motorcycle Ownership Growing
It’s promising to learn that since our (Helmet Hairs) first reader survey back in 2005, a 1/3 of you today make up newer riders on the road (29% have less than five years experience), which helps to illustrate a continued trend towards women’s fascination with motorcycles and the need (and investment) to ride them. And the odds are that it’s these newer riders that may just have been inspired to ride by seeing the other 70% of HH readers surveyed, who have been riding between 5-20+ years now. And while 64% surveyed have their own motorcycle, a healthy 22% even have a second motorcycle in the stable. And 13% can actually boast of owning three or more.
Those numbers are bound to go up, too, because according to the results, 45% of those motorcycle owners surveyed are thinking about getting another bike. Not surprising that price is the most important factor (25%) in that group, when asked about choosing their next motorcycle. The eye-opener is that weight, seat height and displacements were a distance second. See percentages below:
Another interesting survey finding, which may also support why price is key consideration, is that almost just as many women made modifications to their existing bike so it would fit them better (46%), as those who did not make any changes (49%). Because it’s becoming easier to modify a wider array of bikes, females may not be as concerned, today, if a bike does not fit them perfectly (ergonomically-speaking). It’s the extra cost associated with having to make those modifications, which may presents the real hurdle.*
|First Bike: TOP THREE
~Honda (40%) – The Rebel, Shadow models remain reader’s top choice for first-time bike owners.
~Harley-Davidson (15%) – Sportster (various models) take second as most popular
~Kawasaki (10%) – Ninja, Vulcan (various models) secures third as most sought after first ride
First Bike Fun mention: “ a dirtbike made of lawnmower parts” and a 1948 Cushman Step Thru
Props: To the gal who cut her riding chops on a 1951 HD Panhead; two who rode HD 70’s era FLH Shovelheads, and one who started out on a 1974 FXE Super Glide.
Current Ride: TOP THREE*
* makes and models noted varied too much for the purpose of this list.
Acquiring Safety Skills and Purchasing Riding Gear
While 85% of HH readers surveyed have taken a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Course, reinforcing that 68% of readers trek along the roads safely as they have never experienced a crash (dropping your bike did not count – I can hear some of you laugh now.) But a much smaller number, only 28% have actually taken the Advanced MSF Course, designed to help newer riders (with at least 5,000 miles under their belt) and seasoned riders alike, break bad riding habits formed on the road——26% of those surveyed know this and ‘plan to take the course.’
In addition to the majority of readers who have taken the MSF, 46% of those surveyed brush up on their riding skills annually through other means: 25% of HH readers have gained extra knowledge through participation in track days and dirt bike schools; and 5% have taken the impressive leap to actually become an MSF Instructor.
We could devote an entire issue about women’s riding gear, but will spare you the lengthy input and stick to more tangible findings as: Do our purchasing habits, today, merit expansion of apparel directly targeted to female riders? So we looked specifically at how often we ‘go shopping,’ by gauging online purchasing habits; for two reasons: 1) it’s easiest to track and 2) according to trends, online purchases continue to rise.
In support of finding an answer to this question, we confirmed that 78% of readers surveyed report they wear protective gear all the time, and as a whole, 85% wear a helmet—validating that the majority of women riders surveyed are in need of safety apparel and gear.
If you relate those numbers to the next response, which reports that 70% of those who took the HH survey purchase motorcycle apparel online, and 40% of those make purchases ‘at least two-to-five times annually,’ it makes the case that the majority of our readers are seeking online stores for regular purchases. So what are they buying?
According to the responses, jackets (57%) are the most popular purchases followed by t-shirts (52%), which is good news for the independent, female-owned businesses whom specialize in motorcycle/scooter-themed tees. Pants/chaps, helmets, boots and gloves are the next frequently purchased items. See above.
The results offer an important glimpse to support that women do shop frequently (online) for motorcycle apparel and they do shop often. And that finding, we believe, makes a compelling case why companies should invest in female riders to offer and expand the gear it markets to us. Progress is also being made in respect to matching our fashion taste with functionality, even if that progress is slow, you’ll find a number of major motorcycle manufacturers and apparel companies doing just that.
Female Riders are Active Mentors
It’s no revelation that women riders seek community with others: 64% of readers who took the survey belong to a riding group, and 66% participate in charity-related rides and events. It’s that need to help and nurture others that make us ideal mentors, which is the real key to getting more women learning how to ride, and ultimately in becoming ‘motorcyclists.’
Almost 70% of HH Readers who took the survey have already mentored (or inspired) another female to ride her own bike, an encouraging statistic that ensures readers are doing their part to multiply our numbers. You might even call these women “pioneers.” That’s because a whopping 68% of them are the ‘only female in their family tree that has ever piloted a motorcycle.’ It’s these pioneers who will branch out to reach and to teach the next generation of female riders. Now that’s progress!
*Price is also a concern for those 49% who do not make modifications to their bike; a finding which may be reflective of the down economy.