Common Tread

What (motorcycle gear) do women want?

Oct 10, 2014

I’m a man. I’m also a feminist. I’m such a feminist that whenever I find a woman even somewhat interested in me, I make it my mission to convince her how much of a mistake dating me would be. She doesn’t need a stupid man to make her happy. She should be out conquering the world or something. Yeah! Empowerment!

My love life is terrible, is what I’m saying.

And so I stuff motorcycles into that void. Fortunately, though, as a RevZilla Gear Geek, I often get the opportunity to talk to women riders.

“Hey, how does this women’s Air-Frame Jacket fit?”

“I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I’ve worn women’s clothing.”

I’m hilarious, trust me.

The thing is, the problem goes beyond this Gear Geek’s inability to ask a customer about her bust size without feeling like a little boy. Females make up a little more than 50 percent of the human species but account for only 12.5 percent of the motorcyclists in the United States. The issue is that the amount of women-specific gear out there is way less than 12.5 percent of the market. And of the women’s gear that does exist, half of it is laughably stereotypical. Unless… do all women really like wearing pink? (I don’t really know, I haven’t dated a real woman in a long time. Does my KTM count? Her name is Inge. She’s Austrian.)

How do we fix this? Hell if I know. I only write funny things on the Internet. Awareness is the first step though, isn’t it? I know plenty of women who ride who hate flowery helmets, a handful who don’t mind, and one or two who love them. We all have diverse tastes, but styling aside, it seems basic that we all need gear that fits right, and that gear should be equally protective, regardless of your gender.

To dig deeper, I pried some information out of a few female Zillans. They’re double experts: both Gear Geeks and women who ride. Their opinions are as diverse as the voices in my head, but there are a few common threads.

The one thing I heard over and over again is that nothing fits correctly.

Sokrady, aboard her Ninja. Photo by Hao Dong.
Brands “seriously need to think about the bigger ladies who are busty and have big hips,” said Sokrady.

“We do bear children, you know!” Rania chimed in.

It’s not just fit. It’s also the level of protection. Joanne thinks that the highest quality gear brands (most of them European) should listen to serious women riders.

“The gear that is sold to us tends to be marketed towards those riding two up,” she said. “I find that lots of women’s gear is dumbed down in terms of features and function. I don’t think Europeans really understand American women who ride, or at least the ones who want quality safety gear.”

That sounds like a pretty big oversight to me. No bueno.

Joanne, a.k.a. Gearchic, geared up and on the road. Photo by Gearchic.

“I’m feminine, but I’m not girly,” explains Alessandra. “I hate pink. But I love tight, black leather.”

“It’s that feeling I get when I throw on red lipstick, hop on my Harley and see a little girl in a car next to me die of excitement. It’s a positive thing. It’s about her face lighting up because she’s stoked and didn’t know Barbie could ride a bike, too.”

I know exactly what you’re saying, Alessandra. Minus the Harley, of course. And the lipstick. And the self confidence. On second thought, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but good for you, Ale.

So what do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Really soon, because we have this ride coming up and we waited until the last minute to get gear and oh no we’re leaving in two days and we really need boots!

What we want, added Gail, is “palm sliders and Kevlar. Carbon fiber and wacky graphics. Petites and plus sizes. D-Dry and Gore-Tex. Seesoft, D3O and Forcefield. ankle protection and X-Trafit. Hi-viz, black, and all the other colors of the rainbow. I want curvy and stocky and rail-thin. I want choices.”

Alpinestars Stella GP Plus gloves
There's no reason women's gear can't provide the same protection as the stuff for the guys, like these Alpinestars Stella GP Plus gloves. Flowers and pink are optional. Alpinestars photo.

As Kat points out, she doesn’t refer to herself as a “woman motorcyclist.” She’s just a motorcyclist, regardless of what bits she happens to be equipped with. She wants gear that fits, and she wants gear that protects.

Simple, right? The gear equality cause is one we can all get behind, right guys?

Guys, are you there?