The world of motorcycles is always growing and evolving to meet the needs and desires of consumers. But some of that growth might surprise a lot of riders. As a female rider, I honestly would not have estimated that nearly 20% of all bike owners in the United States are ladies. But that is exactly what the Motorcycle Industry Council discovered during its latest poll.
The 2018 MIC Motorcycle/ATV Owners Survey found that 19% of all owners are female, which is a 5% increase in just four years, and a substantial 9% increase over the 2009 results. And though the actual numbers could be considered surprising, this is nothing but great news for all of the ladies out there who are dedicated riders.
Strength In Numbers
One of the greatest benefits to female riders as a result of their increase in numbers is definitely the increase in ladies gear. Its simple supply and demand, but in this case, the increased supply is driven by the greater demand for quality riding gear made specifically for the body types, shapes and sizes of female riders.
For many years, women tolerated the guy’s gear which tended to be too big in the shoulders and length of the sleeves and legs, but too tight in the seat and waist areas. But for the most part, ladies were not investing much in true riding gear, because they were often just a part-time passenger on a bike.
However, as more and more ladies discovered the thrill and enjoyment of actually operating a motorcycle, the need for comfortable, and more importantly, safe gear became apparent.
Ladies on The Job
Bike ownership is not the only place that the gender barrier has been broken. There have also been huge strides made in the motorcycle industry and the gear industry as more ladies are working in the design and development of gear specific to female riders. The result has been a huge improvement in the fit and comfort of riding gear for ladies. And with better fitting gear female riders are safer operators and are enjoying the benefits of better protection and safety from the gear that they are wearing.
Gear for All Sizes
I am very fortunate to have been able to adapt and wear some of the guy’s gear fairly comfortably. At 5’10” tall I never had to worry that even a men’s small was going to be too big. But petite ladies have always had a difficult time finding gear for sports and other activities. In the past, I know it was common for ladies to turn to boys athletic equipment and gear to get a size that was more realistic than a men’s small.
However, motorcycle riding, being an adult activity, meant that even that poor substitute for correctly sized gear was not an option. But with the growing number of ladies riding and spending their hard earned money on ladies gear, the manufacturers have expanded the options to cover not only a ladies line of gear but a line of gear that has a huge range of sizes and shapes available.
Ladies can now shop for gear in much the same way they shop for other clothing. And I know we all appreciate that not only are there assorted sizes and shapes but also colors and patterns that appeal to us. Let’s be honest, guys will wear all black, all the time, but ladies really do care about having other choices.
I will admit that I have even bought some gear specifically because it matched my bike, so color choices do appeal to me. Just to get an idea of what’s out there now for the ladies, I looked at Revzilla’s search criteria which include a sizing qualification. I found options ranging in size from 2XS to 5XL. In addition, there are plus sizes and standard ladies sizes from 4 to 20.
I went to Revzilla and clicked on the tab for the women’s gear. I must admit I was a little surprised, but also very happy to see a full dozen categories to choose from including jackets, race suits, and boots. My first selection was the jackets and vests category, which yielded an impressive 291 options to choose from. Names such as Alpinestars, Cortech, Dainese, Fly, Icon, Joe Rocket and Kilm were among the more notables from a list of over 45 manufacturers.
I checked out a few brands that I am familiar with and found that currently, Revzilla offers 30 different women’s Alpinestars jackets, as well as 30 choices from Dianese. Joe Rocket and Klim offer a dozen ladies coats each and Icon offers 24. Granted, there are over 400 choices for men when it comes to just sportbike jackets, but 291 ladies jackets are a great many more choices now than there were offered just a few years ago.
A Tougher Choice
Jackets are a critical piece of gear for every rider and the wide number of selections for ladies is awesome, but I wanted to check out a piece of gear that might not have a great demand, to see if there really are any more choices than there had been in the past. I clicked on race suits expecting to find one or two selections but was excited to see a dozen choices offered by three great manufacturers.
Alpinestars, Dainese, and Spidi combine to offer nine one piece race suit options and three two-piece choices for the ladies who are looking to get out on a track and really push their bikes and their riding skills to the limit. The suits are very comparable to what is available in men’s suits with the price range of just over $700 to a top of the line model for $2,499.95.
In the case of racing suits, even with less demand, the motorcycle gear industry has recognized that ladies need quality gear that fits and more than just one or two pieces to choose from. This is a major breakthrough for female riders on the track, on the road and on trials everywhere.
Not only was I happy to see that most of the major manufacturers are offering a great variety for ladies but also that retailers are equally as interested in winning the dollars of the female riding community. Not too many years ago, only a very few retailers were willing to stock the ladies gear, but that has all changed as more ladies are owning bikes and buying quality gear.
Andria Yu, MIC director of communications at the Motorcycle Industry Council stated in a recent interview that as the number of boomers on bikes decreases, the percentage of female riders is expected to hit 25% very quickly. That is great news for all of the ladies who ride or are thinking about learning to ride as they will certainly be able to find quality gear that is both comfortable and safe.
Be sure to check back with WBW in the coming weeks to read about Ladies Jackets Worth Wearing. This will offer a more in-depth look at several ladies jackets and the features and benefits that they offer in addition to proper fit and comfort.