Is the fact I am female relevant?
I am female and I ride a motorbike. Is the fact I am female relevant? No not really from my own perspective; I just happen to be female and that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier or harder to ride a bike. It doesn’t make me special and the only barriers that there are are the ones I put there myself. It may make a difference to the instructor though, as women are different to train.
Generally speaking, women will analyse and understand and are more self-conscious, whereas men will be more likely to just have a go. I don’t think I was aware of this when I started training and it is something to consider if you are looking for a training school to start learning to ride – the instructors need to be able to adapt their training styles to meet the needs of the student (regardless of their gender).
Wearing a crash helmet messes up your hair
However, there are some aspects of being a female who rides a bike that may be relevant…
- Women are, on average, shorter than men (average heights in England and Scotland are Men 5’ 9” and Women 5’ 3”, with Wales averaging half an inch taller for both sexes). This may mean that some bikes are just too short to ride. This will apply to men as well; it is just there will be a greater proportion of the women affected by this. So at 5’3” I am not particularly short.
- Women tend to be less physically strong than men. This probably only makes a difference if you are already struggling with height issues. You can mitigate this by improving your strength and fitness.
- Toilet breaks. Let’s face it, it is much easier for a man to stop and have a quick wee at the side of the road or in the bushes than it is for a woman.
- Wearing a crash helmet messes up your hair. I don’t think that there is a solution for this so you just need to get over it. You are probably the only one that is bothered about it anyway.
- Packing to go on tour. Women have more stuff to take – yes they do, really! But, generally speaking, women are more likely to over-pack. You don’t need as much as you think and if you plan ahead and think about the fabrics you can get quite a lot in a small bag. I took my bike to the south of France on a three week holiday and only had a 40 litre holdall on the bike. Included within this was three pairs of shoes, two dresses, spares for the bike, makeup and toiletries, as well as the usual bike gear and daytime clothing. (Note that shoes were first in the list but spares came before makeup!).
- Women like to talk – sometimes with more talking than riding. Sorry to say it but generally true from my experience. Riding in a group with women, the breaks tend to be longer and slower to get going again once the decision has been made to move. Taking longer breaks isn’t necessarily a bad thing though and may suit you if you are interested in having a bigger social aspect to riding, and maybe that’s what many women want.
Some female riders think that they have something to prove
Personally I haven’t had many issues because of being a female rider and I think it is as much about my own attitude as it is the attitude of others. On the slightly negative side, I’ve experienced…
- In some retail outlets and you are with a man it tends to be assumed you are a pillion
- I’ve walked away more than once from a salesman who could have sold me a bike. That may not have been because I was a woman though he may have been a poor salesman, or not used to selling to a woman on her own
- Some male riders assume you’re a rubbish rider because you are a woman and think that you are going to hold them up
- Some female riders think that they have something to prove to their male rider friends – by riding as fast as they can (this is an extreme error in judgement and is 100% not necessary)
Better service because I'm a woman!
On the positive side of things…
- I have had excellent customer service from the bike servicing businesses. None of them have treated me with anything other than respect. Actually, in some instances, I think I’ve actually had better service because I am a woman, although I am interested in the biking industry generally and I do take the time to talk to people
- Had many a friendly chat with other bikers who I’ve met out and about
- I’ve been asked advice by a male rider who had just bought a bike the same as mine
Chips on shoulders - male and female
So in summary, there are chips on shoulders – both male and female ones. If you happen to cross paths with a rider whose ‘chip’ or ego is causing you a problem, then simply walk away. There are plenty of riders out there of all genders whose company you can appreciate and enjoy riding with. Put safety first and don’t be influenced by those who wrongly believe that rider skill is all about getting your knee down or measuring everything in miles per hour.
About the author
Professionally, Moira Day enjoys the challenges of a high level finance position with the National Health Service, but her preferred mode of work transport immediately reveals one of Moira’s passions – motorcycles! Despite stepping up to pass her CBT in October 2011, Moira surprisingly expresses that she had no desire to learn to ride a motorcycle, but curiosity got the better of her.
Curiosity became passion and after gaining her full bike licence in 2012, Moira embarked on a series of motorcycle adventures, including tours throughout the UK and on the continent. Through her VideoBiker writings, Moira is keen to share her experiences with other women motorcyclists – of how a love of two wheels has opened up a whole new world of fun, friends and adventure.