Going Viral: Motorcycling’s Lady Trope Problem

11/09/2013 @ 8:21 am, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS


About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post that compared two sets of photos that had been done by Portland, Oregon Ducati dealership MotoCorsa. The first set was called “seDUCATIve” and featured a model name Kylie and the Ducati 1199 Panigale — you can imagine what those photos looked like.

MotoCorsa did something interesting with its second set of photos though, which were titled “MANigale”. Featuring male mechanics from the dealership, these good-humored lads recreated Kylie’s poses with the Panigale, complete with heels, tube tops, and booty shorts. It was good fun, and since I have a personal vendetta with the “girl on a bike” trope of motorcycle marketing, it made for good commentary as well.

The seDUCATIve vs. MANigale article was a fairly popular story on Asphalt & Rubber, it had its couple days of fame, and that was that — or so I thought. For the past month now, the MANigale story has been hitting various more mainstream outlets worldwide — much to my surprise, but also delight.

From what I can gather, the story was first posted to a dominatrix group on Facebook, something I was alerted to when a female dominatrix retweeted the link, along with 50 or so of her “friends” on Twitter. Seeing the story crop up on a couple friend’s Facebook feeds those first few days was…umm…interesting, to say the least.

From the there the story moved into other niche groups. For instance, one of my friends from law school sent me an excited message about seeing the story in one of her Facebook groups for feminists –an interesting progression, no?

The force is strong with the mommy bloggers, and it wasn’t long before the story was picked up by major mainstream news/information sites like The Huffington Post, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Imgur, Pinterest, etc. The story went around the world and even made the New Zealand Herald.

It hit popular online niche outlets as well, with fashion/style site The Frisky, gay lifestyle site Queerty, feminist site Bust, photographer site Fstoppers, knitting site Ravelry, and even radio station KISS 107 FM in Cincinnati covered the story. Eventually CNN did a piece where they interviewed myself, photographer Alicia Elfving (aka The Moto Lady), and MotoCorsa boss man Arun Sharma.

Somewhere in that past few weeks the photos have been on Good Morning America, HLN, and NBC. It’s been a bit crazy to watch, and hard to believe the MANigale photo shoot is getting so much press over a year after it originally was produced.

With thousands of tweets, tens of thousands of Facebook likes, and millions of pageviews, the renewed interest has caused MotoCorsa to release a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot.

The video is entertaining to watch, I think I just about lost it when one of the men tries to walk in his pair of one-inch heels. How you ladies manage three-inch stilettos, and more, is beyond my comprehension. This behind the scenes look is meant to be funny of course, as was the MANigale campaign…as it should be. Motorcycling is supposed to be fun, after all.

The bigger joke here though, the one that the mainstream media has been feeding off of, is the one about us as motorcyclists. You see, we are expected to be unsophisticated, ill-mannered, twenty-years behind the times men who spend our mid-life crisis dressed up either as pirates or Power Rangers.

The reason that these MANigale photos are so lurid when the public sees them now is because, quite frankly, no one expects better from as motorcyclists, especially in America. They expect us to fit into this niche expectation, and that expectation isn’t one of high-regard.

It maybe then isn’t that hard to believe that just weeks before the MANigale photos went on their viral media spree, motorcycles were already in the public consciousness, thanks to the asshats at Hollywood Stuntz.

I’ve already talked about my thoughts on NYC, and how I think motorcycling needs a better face with the general public. It is one of the reasons Asphalt & Rubber works so hard to promote our favorite charity, Riders for Health.

The issue has passed now, but the idea of what motorcycling is to the rest of the non-riding world is always on my mind. I am in Italy right now, where motorcycling is infinitely a bigger part of life: people use motorbikes and scooters to commute in the cities, riders of all ages are prominent, and the country is militant in its support for domestic brands. Good stuff.

Just wrapping up our coverage of the 2013 EICMA show is also an appropriate time to think about the future of motorcycling. The show’s slogan this year was “Motorcyclists Have Changed” with a young woman in leathers and a motorcycle helmet holding a baby. The message, whether the industry is listening or not, is that younger riders and female riders are the future of this industry.

We often talk about Harley-Davidson’s problem with its aging demographic, and how the Bar & Shield branding isn’t really bringing in new riders. Instead, it is just selling the bikes to the same group over, over, and over again. Well, the issue is the same for the motorcycle industry at large, though instead of being stuck in a rut with Baby Boomers, motorcycling is stuck in a rut with being “manly men”.

A quick look at any motorcycle expo or any motorcycle race, and you see the same male-centered (dare I say misogynistic) imagery and messages — like there was some sort of tits and ass shortage when we were all in puberty, and now we are making up for it.

OEMs talk about how they want to crack the nut that is the lady rider, but when it comes to acting on that desire, the response has been…flaccid.

With less than 10% of women riding two-wheels, there is a huge market potential for motorcycles and females. If I could find some sort of way to etch that onto your computer screen, I would.

Here is an interesting thought: if I walked into the headquarters of any motorcycle OEM right now and said “I have a foolproof way of doubling your yearly sales,” I would either be a) laughed at, or b) paid enormous sums of money. Here it is fellas: stop the process by which you continually inundate this industry with these over-compensating male-dominanted tropes.

If you want women to ride motorcycles, and I don’t mean on the back of the bike, start acting like you want them as customers. Don’t believe it can happen? If something as ridiculous as fantasy football right can have twice the market penetration with women than motorcycling currently holds, then there is money being left on the table with our sport, industry, and passion.

Hell, if Saudi Arabia can currently undergo a sea change on the country’s stance with women driving cars, then maybe the motorcycle industry too as a whole can shift its perception on women riding motorcycles, and start treating the other 50% of the population like something other than window dressing. Chewy.

Photo: Alicia Mariah Elfving

  • Alessandro

    Good social and business commentary Justin. Your point on the untapped female business opportunity should be taken as ghospel by the 2 wheel OEM’s, and used as an inspiration for a comprehensive rethink of marketingn and product positioning strategy.

  • L2C

    Ducati must be thrilled, as well.

  • James McBride

    Well done, this is a well written piece and it defines a few important truths about motorcycles and motorcyclists in general. It’s great to see Alicia getting full credit here as well as she’s been largely overlooked while this story went viral, which is painfully ironic when you think about it.

  • Holly


    THANK YOU! As a lady racer, I am so tired of trying to open the eyes of those in the old boys club who think that motorcycles are for boys to ride and girls are there to accessorize them. I cannot get through to them that we could have just as many female racers as male racers if they would make things inclusive. They cannot see the forest for the trees! They keep aiming their recruiting events/meetings/bike nights around scantily clad women who will serve them shit food and wash their bikes in a bikini. Really? Is this crowd of hooligans the kind of people we want chasing us around at 100+ miles an hour? Trying to prove their manhood while not actually learning how to race properly, because they just want to go fast? Sure, it brings in money, but so would another 100 female racers. Instead of the ten who tolerate the bullshit so they can put on their helmet and shut it all out for 10 laps of joy.

  • Mike

    Great piece Jensen. I was in the m/c industry for 15 years, and kept hearing about how they were going to increase the women’s market, but never really saw a lot of effort. It’s too bad, as there is a massive market out there. The increase in small displacement models coming out recently is encouraging though. There is no reason a woman cannot ride a bigger bike, but I think the smaller bikes will encourage more women to try. And as we know, once someone learns to ride, they will likely be hooked! The more women that ride, the easier it will be for other women to give it a try. A snowball effect could ensue. But I think the manufacturers need to follow through a little better in their marketing toward women.

  • smiler

    Ducati did this years ago with the Ducati people campaign. it included both men and women. The Monster has been popular amoungst men and women.

    This “campaign” seems to have been taken seriously but I would dispute the assertion that Ducati Portland had the idea of sexual equality in mind. But it has been used as a way for Americans to hide behind their conservative views on sexual equality.

  • Kevin White

    Smart, interesting, well-written commentary.

    I had noticed the MANigale stuff making the rounds. Great stuff.

  • Joe Sixpack

    What a load of crap.

    Honda had a massive advertising campaign. You may recall it. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”


    Who bought the bikes? Men.

    There are innate differences between men and women. Men are naturally (it’s in their DNA) risk takers. Women are not. This is science.

    Motorcycling, for better or worse, is considered a risky proposition. Transportation statistics bear this out.

    Motorcycling, like many other sporting activities is a male dominated past-time.

    Do you know how to get a wider readership? Drop the leftist tone.

    After all, as Michael Jordan said, “Republicans buy shoes too.”

  • Helitack32f1

    To me, this article seems like nothing more than someone thinks he has a brilliant idea that no one has thought of and yet is possibly missing a big piece of pertinent information. Isn’t it just simply possible that, because men’s and women’s brains are different, it is too simplistic to believe that the only reason women don’t flock in droves to motorcycles is because of ineffective advertising?

    Many women in the country love scrap booking. Most males in the lives of those women cannot comprehend the draw to do such a thing and no amount of advertising is going to suck men in to the desire to do scrap booking. The same goes for home party marketing things, like Tupperware, Thirtyone and Partylite Candles. You rarely ever see males take part in what is a multi-milion dollar industry and no amount of adverts is gonna change that either.

    On the other side, what percentage of avid video gamer’s are female? Is this disparity because of ineffective advertising? How about flying RC helicopters? Or RC anything for that matter? Is any amount of advertising going to cause a significant change in the make-up of these hobbies?

    It is simply possible that advertisers and manufacturers figured this all out long ago, unlike the writer of this column. Maybe they figured out that most marriage relationships where one spouse wants to ride, it is the male and the spouse that does not allow the other to ride, it is the female, usually for safety reasons. Maybe it is because the superior logic of the female mind, for the most part simply cannot comprehend why someone would want to be exposed to the elements, exposed to danger and have to deal with leather coats, helmets and gloves and messed up hair everywhere they go when they could just hop in the car and drive.

  • Joe Sixpack

    I will also add that it’s hilarious, sad, and arrogant that a single journalist knows better than the legions of behaviour scientists, marketing research, and advertising agencies on how to “double” sales of motorcycles.

    This conceit would be laughable if the author weren’t so earnest.

  • Mike

    So you can’t increase motorcycle sales to women because their DNA won’t allow it? Tell that to Elena Myers so she’ll stop wasting her time trying to race her motorcycle.
    So the “Meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign proves that women won’t buy motorcycles. If anything, it’s an example of how marketing can overcome a stereotype to sell more motorcycles. Before that, motorcycles were viewed as something only for “tough guys” or gang members. The campaign showed that anyone could ride and have fun on a motorcycle, and they didn’t have to be big, heavy, loud pieces of equipment. At that time, most women did not have the jobs and disposable income to buy motorcycles. A similar campaign to introduce motorcycles as a viable hobby/transportation option to women could help break down the resistance to buying one.
    The reality is, only a small percentage of the “risk taking” male population ride motorcycles. To make a big difference in sales, you would only have to convince a small percentage of the “risk adverse“ female population to put down their scrap books and get out and ride. I taught my wife to ride, something she had never considered before we met, and she loves it.
    It’s not a “left or right issue” here; it’s a basic business issue. When sales are down, look for expandable markets and exploit them. If you think that all the marketing “geniuses” have it all figured out, you haven’t met many of them.

  • MikeD

    First of all, i loved the article and i’m ALL IN for more girls riding BUT i have to agree with Joe Sixpack & Helitack.

    By “nature” Motorcycling is not something that the smarter and usually more reasonable/rational of the 2 sexes of the human race would do given the chance to choose.
    Why bother burning your marketing $$$, time, effort trying to tap into a source that will yield low gains ? That is not to say the girls don’t make big toys money and like to spend it, but that it’s harder for OEMs to get it out of their pockets than from the Boys.
    OEMs are here to make money not burn it foolishly chasing “Unicorns”.

    IS A FACT. . . is just that some of us don’t want or know how to deal with it.

  • Random

    Some of you should leave your own neighbourhood and look at the world… The example of motorcycling in Italy is perfect, because there you’re almost as likely to find a woman riding as a man. In Brazil 1/4 of all bikes sales are made for women, and we’re talking 3.6 million bikes per year. In countries where motorcycles are viewed as transport and not as some type of phallus compensation, girls ride a lot.

  • Cristi

    I recently sat in on a motorcycle industry meeting where a well known PhD and business strategist presented statistics and market research which support the rise of women in both purchasing motorcycles to ride as well as controlling the family finances. The only people visibly nodding heads during their presentations were the three journalists. It is not a single journalist knows better than legions, it’s that he/she is more in touch with the market and the consumer vis a vie comment boards such as this.

    Journalists and business strategists who operate outside the conventional box of thinking have been echoing these statements for years; however statistics now suggest that post-financial crisis thinking is profoundly different and has a direct effect on the way companies market to consumers.

    But you’re right…what would PhDs, business strategists, unbiased journalists with MBAs, and a woman who rode a bike solo around South America know about marketing?

  • Will

    When is this calendar going away?

  • MikeD


    ” In countries where motorcycles are viewed as transport and not as some type of phallus compensation, girls ride a lot. ”

    Wait a minute there Tiger, i thought we were talking USA’s motorcycling problems here . . . are we going Global ? Because if we are then what goes on for the USA does NOT apply to the rest of the Globe.

    You just made that pretty clear yourself.

  • Mitch

    Random, that’s a little different, in countries where pragmatic transportation is a two wheeled vehicle, those riding aren’t doing it because they want to, they do it because that’s the only way they are realistically going to get around.

  • Mitch

    I am way liberal, but you can’t wish things into reality that you want to be. ROI of risky stuff will always skew women away from activities and things that present a low level of return. Men will always risk their lives for stupid thrills. Unless motorcycling can be made to be systematically safe, it will never split along the genders at a 50/50 rate.

    Are there more women that want to ride, that should ride, that would benefit from a more inviting and accepting culture? Absolutely. Up to 50% of all riders? Never.

  • Is motorcycling really dangerous though?

    Is there something about the United States that causes riding on two-wheels to be more dangerous than other countries?

    Or, has the “bad boy biker” image been such an integral element to the American motorcycling culture that it is only fathomable that risk-takers should want to be a part of this industry?

  • PD

    Very unexpected comment to say the least coming from someone with the moniker “Joe Six Pack.” For such a person to have the open mind and broad understanding, the acceptance of science and reason that you clearly demonstrate with your faultless, eloquent prose gives me a renewed sense of optimism about the future of humanity.


  • Mitch

    “Is motorcycling really dangerous though?”

    I believe statisticians have come up with the figure of 37 times more likely to die compared to a non-rider. It is the most dangerous ‘normal’ thing a person can do, lifestyle wise.

  • MikeD


    “”” Is motorcycling really dangerous though? “””

    HECK YEAH ! Every time i go out i tell myself————————–> Maybe i won’t be coming back alive today.

    And so we were told by our MSF Instructor:

    Every time you guys get on your motorcycles you should be aware and know there’s a chance you won’t be seen by your loved ones alive again. Don’t forget that, ever.

    “”” Is there something about the United States that causes riding on two-wheels to be more dangerous than other countries? “””

    NOPE and YES.

    Judging by what i have seen around the world on YT i consider myself lucky to be able ride on the USA where people more less still act like civilized humans and obey traffic laws to some degree or form . . . no, suddenly ain’t so bad.

    Then if you look at “Pasta Land” and other Euro Countries where motorcycles are considered a way of daily life or another car and respected as such and sometimes even given a couple of extra privileges ( lane splitting ? parking on small spaces anywhere ? ) w/o cagers full of envy and hatred wishing your instant demise . . . yes, suddenly is bad.

  • MikeD

    P.S: Replace the word “bad” with “dangerous”. My bad. LOL.

  • Rich

    I do not understand why calling for a reduction in the use of women as sex props for advertising is a “leftist tone.” While men may be involved in greater risk-taking activities, what that has to do with using scantily clad women to photograph bikes is beyond me.

    I am a happily married man and have been married to my first wife for over thirty years. I have two grown daughters and son. I find no value in looking at these women with few clothes when looking at, evaluating, or appreciating motorcycles. In fact, in my mind, they detract from the whole “bike appreciation” exercise.

    While I am a liberal, I do not understand how that matters when having a discussion about not using or viewing women as sexual appendages for motorcycle photographs. Call me stumped.

  • “In countries where motorcycles are viewed as transport and not as some type of phallus compensation, girls ride a lot.”

    There’s a high percentage of females riding here in Japan, too.

    All these ideas that the US is somehow different and that the rules elsewhere don’t apply are only valid in the context of a culture that is only marginally less sexist than the Middle East. In other words, if the cultural paradigm would loosen up a little and not be quite so damned misogynistic — or, at least, not so dismissive of women — things wouldn’t be different at all.

    Alas, when that pirate/badass stereotype is so ingrained that an Iron 883 is dissed as a “girl’s bike”, what to you expect?

  • Norm G.

    re: “but you can’t wish things into reality that you want to be.”


    re: “ROI of risky stuff will always skew women away…”

    …women, men… doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs.

    we who ride are only 3% of the population (on a good day). the other 97% who don’t ride…? guess what…? they’re NEVER going to ride.

    human beings as a species, regardless of sex, are RISK AVERSE. I contend our willingness (as motorcyclists) to “throw ourselves to the hazard” often causes us to lose sight of this.

    hell, I’ve been guilty of it myself over the years. you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who makes a greater association between “MOTORCYCLES” and “DEATH” than my ex wife. it just wasn’t her bag, man. to that end, neither were airplanes, roller coasters, and fast moving elevators. ’twas a reoccurring theme. preference for office building staircases gave her “buns o’ steel”.

  • Norm G.

    re: “Is there something about the United States that causes riding on two-wheels to be more dangerous than other countries?”


  • Norm G.

    re: “When is this calendar going away?”


  • Jimmyjohn

    Automatic transmissions?

  • paulus

    I love motorcycles, my wife does not.
    No amount of design, marketing or branding will convince her to ride one.
    The majority of riders are men, the same way the majority of beer drinkers are men.
    The brands and advertisers aim their marketing bucks at the biggest catchment.
    If it didn’t work… they wouldn’t do it.
    It doesn’t make it right… it is just the reality.

    There are plenty of campaigns and magazines which equally dont fit all their bikes with T+A accessories.

  • MikeD


    LMAO, that’s hysterical. ROTFLMAO.

  • Neal Champion

    I read recently that 1/3 of new motorcycle licence in the UK are issued to women.

  • Jimmyjohn

    @ MikeD:

    Hope you didn’t hurt yourself ROTFLMAO. Remember when real men laughed at automatic transmissions in automobiles?

  • Jac

    I’ve had my motorbike license since I was about 22 years old (I am approaching 40 now). I rode a motorbike before I learned how to drive a car. I love riding our big black mongrel 1100 GSXR whenever I get the opportunity. I do not however count myself as part of the motorcycle community in Australia because it appears to be largely made of men who like to have tits and arse draped over pretty bikes and view women as accessories to the lifestyle, not real people, real riders in their own right. I don’t like most motorcycle group pages on facebook because of the inevitable sexual images of women that seem to go with the territory. I love riding motorcycles, but I don’t want to be part of the motorcycle frat-boy community, it’s just ugly and demeaning and if you don’t like you get labelled a prude, lezzo or other labels designed to invalidate your distaste for the whole bro-tastic attitude of the community at large. I love the Yamaha ads, I was saying to my husband last night, seeing those ads made me want to support their brand because it was just so refreshing to see advertising aimed at sharing the joy of riding for everyone – no sexual imagery or douchey crap – just people enjoying riding. How sad that such an advertising approach appears to be so revolutionary in the 21st century.

  • RoMey

    I got my MC driver’s license 10 years before my car driver’s licence. I loved my Yamaha FJ 1100 and rode it a lot, and wished the Norwegian MC season would start earlier and end later. I was a member of the all female MC Club “MC Budeiene” (which very roughly translates to MC Cowgirls). We used to ride with several mostly male MC Clubs, and they treated us as equals. As they should, you know. We even rode with some “badass” all male MC Clubs who didn’t accept female members. They liked us, they just didn’t want their own girlfriends to be part of their bro-ish club. Which is OK. We ourselves wanted to be an all female club, exactly because we wanted a female sort of camaraderie. I was also a member of a gender neutral club, consisting mostly of completely ordinary people who liked to go on a bike ride on the weekends and attend meets whenever their family schedules allowed. For most of us, photos of scantily clad women posing on/around bikes was completely alien, and it didn’t appeal to anyone I knew.

    It IS risky riding a motorcycle, especially at the beginning of the season when car drivers haven’t seen bikers for half a year. However, the risk is much higher for some bikers than others. Responsible driving greatly reduces the risk, and it was interesting to see how some guys chose to ride with us to motorcycle meets/weekend camping trips rather than zoom ahead down the E18 or up the E6. Except for the Kawasaki racing bike guys and the die-hard Harley riders who cling to their illusion of being “bad guys”.

    MC Budeiene got very cheap insurance due to our low accident numbers, but I eventually had to sell my bike because it needed service that would cost too much. The cost of a mostly useless vehicle probably is a key reason why many women here in Norway end up selling their bikes and opt for a better car instead. But the number of women getting an MC driver’s license is steadily increasing, and those who can afford it will in all likelihood continue to ride.

    Two funny (I hope) stories in closing: A group of us were riding with some tough looking but perfectly harmless Harley guys, and we stopped at a roadside rest area where there was a family of foreign tourists having lunch. When we pulled in they hastily gathered their things, obviously thinking we were trouble. But when we took our helmets off they visibly heaved a sigh of relief and sat back down. Harleys or no Harleys, seeing women bikers made them feel safe.

    Story number two: We were a bunch of bikers on our way on a Friday afternoon out of Oslo down the E18 towards the south coast, where there was a weekend meet. Traffic was slow, and eventually came to a near standstill. A couple of us lady bikers then moved to the front of the group, opening up our visors and leather jackets to let the car drivers see that we were female. Miraculously, as the Red Sea before Moses, the cars made room for us to pass. The guys who rode with us were very happy indeed to be with us.

    Funny, that.

  • user164

    “In Brazil 1/4 of all bikes sales are made for women, and we’re talking 3.6 million bikes per year.”
    That means that 3/4 of that 3.6 million were not “made” for women.

    “I read recently that 1/3 of new motorcycle licence in the UK are issued to women.”
    That means that 2/3 of all new motorcycle licenses in the UK are issued to men.

    Does this mean that women can’t be catered to on occasion? Does it mean that no woman can ride a motorcylce? Of course not, but when one is throwing out fractions like 1/4th and 1/3rd proudly, it means there is going to be a smaller return on investment trying to buck the trend.

    Motorcycles certainly don’t have a monopoly on “gender gap”. The whole time I was in college, I saw constant advertisements for “Women in Engineering”, and years later, they’re still fighting that same “battle”. For some reason, the lack of desire, relatively, for women to enter engineering is often blamed on “sexism”. Curiously, I don’t recall any huge push to get “Men in Elementary Education”. Of course, that’s just a choice men make… ;) Generalizations are largely true, but not universal or absolute – that’s why they’re called “generalizations” and not “absolute truths”.

  • Mike

    The idea that motorcycling is too risky for women is bullshit. Even in America, women buy a huge proportion of scooters. The difference there is that scooters are a more manageable size for women and not marketed with misogynistic imagery, in general. Riding a scooter is just as dangerous as riding a bike. If there was a bigger push to get women on more manageable machines, then perhaps they could take some of the scooter sales.

    Every woman I’ve dated has learned to ride as soon as they didn’t have a salesman trying to sell them a high profit machine, or spoken down to them. I taught them on an old Ninja 250 that I purchased for an old girlfriend, and they all ride today. Popular with my ex-GFs is the Ninja 400 available in Canada. All of these women have been intelligent professionals, a couple are scientists like myself, the others have multiple/advanced degrees. It takes a person bigoted enough to derogatorily call Italy “Pasta Land” to think that women have some sort of genetic block to riding. That’s the same kind of thinking that stopped women from voting, or owning land, or getting advanced degrees. Those outdated ideas should have been thrown out last century.

  • Cristi

    @Mike – “The idea that motorcycling is too risky for women is bullshit…”

    Mike is awesome. Period. At least according to this genetically pre-disposed non-risk taker…or is it dumber and unreasonable/irrational (because I do ride)? Excuse me while I rehydrate from crying tears of laughter while chasing unicorns on the freeway.

  • mudgun

    I think Jensen is right as long as the paradigm is: more riders make riding better. My question is, why would more women riders be better? That is not a facetious question. Nor is it sexiest. I just don’t see how or why more riders of any kind is better than the amount riding now? Will bikes improve? Will riding be safer? Will it be more fun? Will it be easier to meet….oh, I see. OK then, bring on the women!

  • @mudgun: “My question is, why would more women riders be better?”

    More riders = more demand for bikes and accessories. It potentially lowers prices on the bikes and supports a larger and more diverse dealer infrastructure. In an economy where more and more dealers are struggling to keep open the doors and stay out of receivership, the promise of more dollars could not be more appreciated.

    Your question is itself an interesting observation on just how fringe motorcycling is in North America. Many riders in North America cling to this romantic image of being outliers of society, intrepid explorers and pirates sticking it to convention. The romance ignores that a bustling motorcycle sector makes for a real boost to an economy. Selling more bikes sells more everything, from helmets and insurance to knee sliders and bash plates.

  • MikeD

    “””””””” It takes a person bigoted enough to derogatorily call Italy “Pasta Land” to think that women have some sort of genetic block to riding. “”””””””

    ROTFLMAO. Oh, you & your personal attacks ( i always thought a scientist would do better than some stalking & lame name calling ) . . . but i still like you, ” Doctor Evil “. LMAO.

  • mudgun


    Not to get too personal or anything, but you wouldn’t happen to be chasing those unicorns riding a scooter would ya?

  • Cristi


    I know better than to willingly enter a lion’s den on anything less than 300cc’s. F650GS twin.

  • Gender-defenders, calm down. What the auther quite correctly describes is simply a huge leaving of money on the table. Why on earth would any industry purposefully engage in advertising that shuts the door on half the human race? Because you don’t want to grow your customer base? Because you think the way to get ahead (or stay afloat) is to keep knocking on the same doors? Hey, Fuller Brush called; they want to know how many vacuum cleaners you sold today.

    Advertising that targets women is one thing (few would argue how well THAT works) but advertising that EXCLUDES them as potential customers is just plain dumb. Especially when, in 80% of US households, the ol’lady makes the purchasing decisions. Make that super-dumb. Ditto with the events that dangle bikini bike washes and photos with the girls of brand X as bait to boost attendance. You show me one of the 89% of attendees at AMA races last year who were male, and I’ll show you a wife or a daughter or a girlfriend or a mom who said “no thanks” to a day at the frat house. Too bad. She would’ve loved seeing Elena Myers and Melissa Paris leave 80% of the men behind them at Daytona.

    And Sixpack…seriously? Your example is Honda’s ad campaign from a time when girls weren’t even allowed to wear pants in public schools? Well, at least you’ll get the Fuller Brush reference.

  • PD

    @ Heather (If this comment makes it by the overly-sphinctered censorship committee): Your comment leaves all other comments this site has ever seen in the past to shame, it so far outclasses them in every single way possible…

  • Ryan M

    For anyone who says women shouldn’t ride, I’ll gladly put your skills against my sister. She has a lowered Bandit 1200, and can still outrun most guys in the twisty bits. She’s only slightly slower than me, and I’m a Suzuki/Yamaha certified tech who can keep up with or outrun anybody I’ve ever ridden with on my bone stock Z750S.

  • Jessica

    In motorcycle education classes in my state the majority of new endorsement seekers are women. As to the question from Helitack32f1 about female video gamers? 45% Is that insignificant difference enough to account for the lack of marketing towards women?

    Is it that marketers don’t want women customers or is it that many men would prefer it stay a male dominated sport?

    And I think User164 has an interesting though unintended point. Why are there so few women in engineering? The same reason many women don’t want to go into a shop where they are seen and treated as an object rather than as a customer. Believe it or not we all get harassed enough all the time already, it’s rare that we’ll go out of the way to choose it. Another reason would be the same reason women are slowly getting into other outdoor sports. It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t find women’s hiking boots. Can’t fit a man’s size? You’re out of luck. Still today few shops sell women’s gear and not all women fit in men’s gear.

    I’ve been into shops that completely ignored me (I had $120 in hand to buy a battery) so much so that another male customer had to tell the sales person that I was there first. They knew, they were simply unwilling to even acknowledge that I was there. What is that? The truly funny thing is that I was fairly interested in buying a new bike from them… but I won’t now. Had they even tried to give some customer service they might have sold a motorcycle, but they didn’t want that sale because I’m not a guy.

    As mentioned, it’s not about marketing to women, it’s about actively and aggressively keeping women out of the market. Fortunately for me I have a few shops that treat everyone with respect and as it turns out they do a good business, have loyal customers and as you can imagine, get all of my business.

    The motorcycle business isn’t doing well enough to actively eliminate 33% of their potential market. Plus there’s always someone else who is willing to take that business off your hands… gladly!

  • Jessica makes an excellent point. If I had a nickel for every time I walked into my local dealer, like her, with CASH IN HAND, just to be ignored by the sales staff in lieu of any middle-aged dude who wanders in with his teenaged son… let’s just say I’ll never forget the look of the salesman’s face when I wandered in, sat on a shiny, black Ducati 999, smiled and said, “yeah, I’ll take this bike, AND that Daytona behind you FOR MY HUSBAND”. Since then, the bike guys and I are ‘like this’.
    Can’t say the same for the retail staff. This summer, I walzed in ready to plunk down $1,500 bucks or so for not one, but TWO premium sportbike helmets, and as I wandered around trying on Arais and Shoeis and Bell Stars, do you think I could get a “can I help you?” from the retail staff? Yeah, no.

  • JackOat

    I ride road and track bikes. My wife is probably more passionate about biking than I am. I am more into the ‘performance’ side. She isn’t competitive but has done track days. She is very attractive in a 36/24/36 kind of way and as a person. She likes to go to bike races, or ride on the back of my road bike, or both.
    She owns a 600cc sports bike and Ducati 996 Fog. Rep. She has big chicken strips.
    She will ride in all weathers through Spring, Summer, and Autumn. She had an accident whilst on her bike and nearly died. She still loves it.
    She has been stopped for doing 132mph on her way to work and got let off when the cop realised it was a girl. Slow down and get some road tax he said…… I wish.
    She has a set of high quality leathers for each colour bike (she wouldn’t buy anything pink, thanks) and two top quality helmets to go with each ‘for a change’. Ditto boots and gloves.
    She isn’t typical; but she doesn’t like the patronising sexist approach of the industry either. Nor do I.
    The overtly sexual, exploitation of women/young girls is sad. I like to see pretty women and bikinis, as women may like to see ‘scantily clad’ blokes. But smarten it up and make sure those women are in control of their lives/income (as with Lauren and Manuela) and it’s not some smutty, casting couch-type scenario in cheap lycra.
    Oh – and stop dissing scooters. Everyone has to start somewhere and if its good enough for Nicky Hayden to ride then it should be OK for everyone. Try some encouragement for a change.
    Women are good at shopping – when will the manufacturers in this industry realise that and do more to attract and retain them?

  • TexusTim

    well.here goes..THERE ISNT A GLASS CEILING..IT IS ALL ABOUT SKILL AND AMBITION…ANY WOMEN THAT CAN RUN THE PACE HAS EVERY OPORTUNITY TO SUCCED IN FACT ALL THE MANUFACTORS WANT TO SEE THEM DO WELL..I for one am sick of hearing that every human on the planet has to take a back seat to white men..it just aint true..theres just a lot of us is all…is that our fault ? but if you look at the last US census only 18 percent of all federal employees are white men…so what gives there ?

  • Jessica

    First, thanks for yelling. Second, did you read the article? It’s not about glass ceilings so I’m not exactly sure why you’re commenting (well, yelling) about that. But since you brought it up, yes, yes there are glass ceilings and gender discrimination and I’m sure that’s something you can’t possibly fathom as you can’t possibly have experienced it. So here’s an article from a white man who did. Take a look at the gender discrimination he experienced when people thought he was a women and the immediate change he experienced when they realized he was a man:
    As a note, this is hardly the only story one can find about it…
    As for there being a lot of you… not so much and less and less all the time. Certainly not at the levels represented above the glass ceiling you claim doesn’t exist. Look to the higher government for example… clearly not a representation of America in any meaningful way.
    You can feel free to look up the stats on the differences in pay for the same work that women experience, even worse should you be a women of color. But if that doesn’t do it for you simply get into the massive amount of sexual abuse women experience in our military and on our college campuses, much of which goes unprosecuted. Not exactly a glass ceiling effect of course but it sure is hard to get ahead when people are literally beating you down.

    Now perhaps we can get back to the discussion of using women as objects in advertising motorcycles and motorcycle gear.