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Women Boost Motorcycle Sales

Female ridership is on the rise, with preference going to bikes that are lightweight and low to the ground.

By Claire_Martin Jun 28, 2012 10:46AM
Tha Heist photo by Cleveland Cyclewerks
Lightweight, low-to-the-ground motorcycle models are luring more riders these days -- many of them women. According to reporting by the Los Angeles Times, more than 30 percent of customers buying Tha Heist model by Cleveland CycleWerks are women, and 80 percent of those purchasing the manufacturer's SYM Wolf Classic are women. 

Among the larger manufacturers, 17 percent of Ducati's small-sized Monster bikes go to women, and American Honda Motor Co. counts 20 percent of its 750-cc Shadow cruiser customers as female.

These bikes weren't specifically designed for women, but they are more comfortable and easier to maneuver than other motorcycles, they get better mileage and they have lower price tags. 

"When women sit on our bikes, they feel comfortable," Cleveland CycleWerks founder Scott Colosimo told the Los Angeles Times. Part of that comfort stems from the fact that women -- whose average height is 5 feet, 4 inches -- can touch the ground with their feet while seated on the bikes. "Women need to have their feet flat on the ground," says Genevieve Schmidt, founder of "That's the No. 1 factor that makes it easier for women to manage a bike."

A bike's weight is another priority for women, many of whom might not think they have enough upper-body strength to handle a motorcycle. The average motorcycle weighs between 400 and 800 pounds, but the Wolf Classic is just 266 pounds and Tha Heist is 300 pounds. 

Overall, motorcycle ridership by women is on the rise. There was a 45 percent increase from 2003 to 2009, with numbers reaching nearly 1 million. But the vast majority of bikers are men; women comprise just 11 percent of the overall motorcycling population.

The industry, however, has high hopes for women. As Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times writes: "Female buyers are seen as a huge growth market for the motorcycle industry, which has been in a sales slump for three years."

Jun 28, 2012 4:29PM
 My wife has ridden more than 30 years the first few years on the back as a passenger, Then a Lady where she works got a Sportster  the in the mid 80s she got one as well. She put 65K miles on that bike. Now she rides a Honda Goldwing. Back in Feb a group of about 30 about half women Rode from Atlanta to Key West and back, women are just as capable of riding Motorcycles as they are driving cars. She's 63 years old and weighs 125lbs and has no difficulty at all riding any bike. Every motorcycle  dealer in the Atlanta has women salespeople to help the few who are uncomfortable with bikes feel more confident Both of our daughters ride  Harleys as do their husbands theres no reason why women shouldn't ride if they want to
Jun 28, 2012 2:05PM

Michael4yah, They say you can always tell when fools open there mouths because they say stupid things just like you did. If you have any idea about motocycle ridding, you should know that it has nothing to do with upper body strength. I have seen small 90 pund women pick up a full Ultra Classic laying on the groun. It's about knowing what and how to do things. You lift with you legs, not your upper body. Try it. Lay your bike on the ground, then go to the side that on the ground, sit on the edge of the seat, with your legs in a squatting position. then put your right hand on the handel bar and you left hand under the bike where you can grab. Then just push up and back with you legs as you stand the bike up. Its easy but head.

Jun 28, 2012 2:53PM
Oh please...all you men who think this is a guys sport and women aren't able to handle a bike, get over yourselves!  As a woman I've had my mc endorsement since 1969..owned several nice bikes and loved every minute of it.  I didn't ride for attention, and for a long time wore a guys jacket, dark face shield, jeans and ankle boots that were mens called chucka boots, until a friend told me to stop killing myself in the heat because after 20 miles an hour I wasn't hiding anything anyway, so I gave up the jacket....and yes...I once dropped a bike (at a gas station...HATED getting gas as NO women rode back then and it made me so nervous I didn't get the kick stand down all the way) and did have trouble getting it up.  But so do all the 100 pound men riding around on fully dressed Harleys.  As for ability and skill...they can teach monkeys to ride it's not a big deal. 
Jun 28, 2012 2:31PM

Been selling motorcycles for the past 14 years.  The statistics in Claire Martin's article are probably accurate.  I have definitely seen as increase in motorcycle sales to women.  Size does matter for a 'first bike" purchase but I do see women who buy bigger bikes with their second and consecutive purchases.  From my experience women make, dare I say, equal or better riders than their male counterparts.  Percentages show that less women damage their motorcycles then men do.  Apparently motorcycle safety programs benefit female riders more they do men.

Jun 28, 2012 5:25PM
I love it that more women ride.  Doesn't matter to me what they ride.  Being on two wheels out in the open is the greatest natural high there is.  I would love to share it with everybody.  So women, take the course, get your endorsement and put some miles on two wheels.  See you out there.
Jun 28, 2012 2:11PM
Michael4yah hasnt a clue about what he is stating as fact. I have seen many old short women riding heavy bikes including full dressed Harleys. Michael4yah take another one of your wild guesses at how many men can lift the fallen bike they were riding? the answer is not many can men lift a full size or cruiser motorcycle that is laying flat on the ground.
Jun 28, 2012 2:42PM

      As a 71 yr old man who has been riding scooters and motorcycles since 13

I have decided to quit riding. Since my last wreck which darned near killed me

I think that I would rather live a little longer, but I still have my memories.

Jun 28, 2012 2:55PM

Hey charlie, I am 73, you are going to die anyway. I ride because I enjoy it and if it kills me, it will be as good a way as any.

Yeah pa, some like big bikes but I prefer light ones, they don't ride as smoothly but they seem to be more agile. Lots easier to lift. I had a yamaha virago that weighed about 300 pounds, it was peppy enough and got close to seventy miles per gallon.

Jun 28, 2012 2:19PM
I am 5' and ride a motorcycle that ways 400 pounds, and yes I can lift it off the ground. Been there, done that and yes I am a woman. The point that is being made by the article is a safety issue. It is better to be able to put both feet on the ground, for anyone who rides. There are short men who ride and run into the same problem. Not everyone is 5' 5''. (the north american average).
Jun 28, 2012 6:39PM
Who cares just get out and ride. Different strokes for different riders. I've owned most of them at one time or another. you ride with what you're confident with to enjoy the ride no mater what your gender is.
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