Months ago, while bouldering with my friend Erica, I asked her if she ever wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle; she did a little shoulder dance, scrunched her face and exclaimed: “@#$& yeah, I’ve always wanted to dress up in leathers and be a badass chick on a bike.”

I laughed at the time, thinking her sentiments sounded more performative than substantive, but a recently released report on research conducted by Kelton and commissioned by Harley-Davidson suggests that motorcycling could indeed be a critical lifestyle palliative (or amphetamine?) for women.

Boring statistics first: women now make up 12% of the riding population in the United States — up 30% over the previous decade.

The Kelton study went on to find women who ride a motorcycle are more than twice as likely to always feel happy (37% of riders vs. 16% of non-riders) and 34% say they felt less stressed since starting their riding career.

The revelations don’t stop there. Four times as many women riders to non-riders always feel sexy (27% of riders to 7% of non-riders), and nearly twice as many always feel confident (35% of riders to 18% of non-riders). The use of the word “always” in the surveying logistics is baffling to me.

It’s always interesting to see how these demographical reports on women in motorcycling alter their tone, research questions and focus to supposedly speak to a “female perspective” on motorcycling.

Read the subtitle from the report: “Research Shows Women Motorcycle Riders Feel Happier, Sexier, More Confident and Less Stressed.” The report goes on to reference better outcomes for women riders across the board of Life: in work, in the mirror, in relationships, and in spirit (whatever that means).

Of course, this supposed study is nothing more than thinly veiled marketing material for the big H-D so they can continue their dominance of selling more motorcycles to women than all the other brands combined.

My perspective: diet and exercise can provide similar, if not better, results in your work and love life. Motorcycles are two-wheels and a powerful engine, and riding them is like no other experience on earth. That’s reason enough for anyone to want to swing a leg over.

Source: Harley-Davidson

  • MotoBella

    Well… Duh.

  • crshnbrn

    I read this study a while back also and wondered; does riding a motorcycle make a woman feel sexy and confident, or are women who feel sexy and confident more likely to ride a motorcycle?

  • arjay

    Correlation does not equal causation.

  • Kroeter

    They always say, “You never see motorcycles parked outside a psychiatrist’s office”.

    What percentage of male riders always feel sexy? Ha ha.

  • TonyC

    “Correlation does not equal causation”.

    I agree with you, arjay. I’d say that confident and happy women are more likely to venture out and try new things like motorcycling, while depressed women would stay home with their cats. This is how the correlation should be worded – it’s not that motorcycling makes you happier (I am sure it does to a certain degree) but it’s more likely that it’s because you are happy, you want to ride.

  • aaron

    Hmm. I wonder how these figures compare to studies on women who use sex toys vs those that don’t. Happier, less stressed, more confident, feeling sexier… sounds like more frequent sexual stimulation would have similar results for many women.

    These claims are not surprising, given H-D has been in the business of selling vibrators for years…

  • JoeD

    “@#$& yeah, I’ve always wanted to dress up in leathers and be a badass chick on a bike.”

    Thanks, Hollywood. COSPLAY any one?

  • L2C

    I wonder if the results of that survey were published in Cosmopolitan magazine. Sounds just like the stuff they would peddle to women.

  • ADG

    ……..waiting for Melissa Paris to shove a jackboot up my ass.

  • Paul McM

    As others have pointed out, maybe the happier, more self-confident women are those who chose to ride, so one cannot conclude that it is the motorcycling experience that makes ladies feel happier or “less stressed.” Also I want to know how they define “women riders”. Does this include pillion passengers, or only women who pilot their own machines?

    As for the 12% of the riding population being female, I don’t buy it. I ride 6-7 days a week, year-round in California. I notice other riders… particularly if they are female. My real-world “erring on the high side” estimate, based on actual on-road observations (plus some club rides etc.) is that no more than 5% of ACTIVE city+highway riders are female, and I bet even that number is generous. Maybe, maybe if you include mopeds and scooter riders you might get up to 7-8%. But on any given Sunday, based on what I see on California roads and biker hangouts, maybe 1 in 40 motorcyclists are females steering their own machines. And consider this odd fact — I visit a motorcycle dealer or shop probably once a week. I haven’t seen a female motorcyclist looking at bikes at a dealership in over a year, and the last time I saw a women looking at new bikes she was a tourist who didn’t even live in this country.

  • Lewis Dawson

    The Kelton study says 12% of American motorcycle *owners* are women, and that is based on MIC data. It does not say 12% of miles ridden. Any way you measure it, a significant market segment. And Paul McM, maybe you are not hanging out at Harley-Davidson dealers? The study says women buy more Harleys than all other brands combined. And Harley-Davidson reports that women aged 35+ choose HD products over their nearest competitor by a margin of more than 9 to 1 (based on R.L. Polk registrations data). So the data is clear… If you are looking for a biker chick, check out Sportsters and Street Glides, not mopeds and scooters.

  • Mars

    “Motorcycles are two-wheels and a powerful engine, and riding them is like no other experience on earth. That’s reason enough for anyone to want to swing a leg over.”

    That is truth. Carve that shit in stone and put it in front of the courthouse. Amen, Brother. Amen.

  • meatspin

    most women riders I’ve met, that were straight, always piggyback their desire to ride from their bf/husband. I’ve met very few women self actualized enough to pick up riding just on their own.

    Maybe I’ve just met the wrong women.

  • anotheraakashfudgeup

    aakash, a large vocabulary allows people who have them to speak very pointedly. when idiots use big words incorrectly, everyone can easily see they’re idiots. which one do you think you are? at least look up the words you try to use bud.

  • I am not above the proper use of the English language.

    Instead of vague criticism, be more specific as to where I failed to use word(s) correctly.

    I’ll make the subsequent edits and all will be right again.

  • anotheraakashfudgeup

    too much to pick through, do your own job. and aakash, the only big word i know is “pretentious”