I started riding motorcycles five years ago. I now have three bikes and am heavily involved in racing. Why do I ride? For fun and camaraderie. Most women I know ride for the same reasons.
For many non-riders, the perception of motorbike culture is a male-dominated world where women are mere accessories. In reality, this is far from the truth. Women play a large part in the motorcycle community – and not because our husbands or partners ride. We ride because we want to ride.
A close-knit community
Spend two minutes online and you’ll discover a plethora of motorcycle groups that are inclusive and welcoming. Communal rides are posted on social media and online forums. Simply make your way to the meet point and join up with a diverse group of riders from all walks of life. You can enjoy a day out, stopping for coffees and lunch along the way.
Before I started riding, I wasn’t aware that there are an awful lot of women who ride bikes. The camaraderie is strong; as a motorcyclist, you’re part of a family. Everywhere you go you run into other riders. Car-park conversations often lead to great new friendships.
Most women choose not to ride because they have a strong sense of self-preservation and they feel unsafe on a bike. They’re likely to be highly attuned to the impact an accident would have on their loved ones.
There are also the practicalities: you can’t put a small child on a motorbike. I’ve noticed that most women who ride are either young and without children or older with kids who are eight or nine and upwards, including many grandmothers. Road laws vary from state to state but in most places the minimum age for bike passengers is eight years old.
Some women worry about having the strength to manoeuvre their bike when stationary. I used to ride with a petite friend who found this hard. Whenever we’d stop, she’d hold my bike while I’d go and park hers. So, yes, it can be a challenge – but there are ways to make it work.
Motorbikes come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing a bike consider the size, weight and manoeuvrability. You want something you can sit on comfortably, and you should ideally be able to touch the ground with your feet.
Some female riders take extra training to build up their confidence and skill. RACs offer courses where they’ll teach you things like how to do emergency stops in the wet, and how to deal with gravel on the road. Racetrack training is a good way to learn how your bike will behave at higher speeds.
It’s important to ride within your comfort zone. I used to ride to work until one day I was knocked off my bike. After that, I reduced my commutes. I have no desire to be killed on the way to work by some idiot who’s eating his breakfast while answering his phone and driving 100km down the freeway.
When you ride a bike you’re exposed. You can be in your lane and drivers just don’t see you – they see a gap. So the onus is on you to move out of harm’s way. You must be alert and ready – even when you’re in the right and the other driver is in the wrong.
Despite this risk, more and more women are joining up to be part of a community that’s strong, social and fun.