Why aren't there more lady bikers?
Following the piece in last week’s MCN I felt I should add my thoughts on why other ladies don’t indulge in biking.
reaking into any male oriented activity can be intimidating for some women. The focus of much of the advertising or programmes on television is how powerful the bikes are, or how fast they can go, or who is the better rider. I just want to get on the bike and enjoy the freedom of the ride.
But there’s another, deeper problem. Women have limited choice. If you’re like me and at or above the average size for a woman in the UK, finding decent boots is a nightmare.
Ladies have calves, and standard boots, if you can even get them in a size 5, seem to assume we all have slim legs. If you want to buy some footwear to protect you, you are limited to ankle boots or searching for specialist suppliers that cater for the curvy woman.
As an occasional pillion, the ankle boot option may be fine, but for the serious rider there is a clear gap in the market.
Clothing, too, presents difficulties. Kitting out my two teenage step-daughters in clothing wasn’t too bad, although if you want a colourful jacket that isn’t pink you have to search high and low.
But trying to find suitable jackets, riding jeans and over-trousers for the curvier woman was very difficult.
Once again, we are limited by choice and, particularly for the jeans and over-trousers, I had to look for the smaller men’s sizes to find something that would fit (and which was then two long!)
Yes, there are companies that provide for the curvy rider, but they are specialist and you have to search for them, usually on the internet.
And if the rest of the female population is anything like me, then we want to be able to ‘go shopping’ and pick up and try things on. We love to browse, but browsing a very limited selection is disheartening to say the least.
Of course, these issues with clothing and equipment affect pillions too, so they are not the main reason why more women don’t ride. It’s not just clothing where we have a limited choice as a rider. We have limited choice in bikes too.
I’m an average height, perhaps a little short at 5’4”, but I struggled to find a bike I could comfortably ride. As a fairly new rider I like being able to put both feet on the ground when sat on my bike, but the range of bikes with a sufficiently low seat for me to do that is tiny.
Yes, you can get kits to lower seats for some bikes, but there is additional expense and hassle involved and these big bikes are pretty heavy too. I’ve ended up with a Honda Shadow and I’m very pleased with it, but I didn’t have a lot of choice. I think there is a gap in the market.
I believe that if a good manufacturer brought out a mid range bike, in a classic bike style but with a slightly smaller frame and lower seat than, for example, the Triumph Bonneville, they would sell like hotcakes. I certainly would have bought one.