I’m admitting something personal that I’ve never said out loud: I’ve got a massive, incurable crush on motorcycles. This truth is something I’ve actively worked to suppress my whole life, and with good reason (I told myself). After all, my estranged father was obsessed with them, a friend died tragically when his motorcycle hit a parked car rounding a turn on Saint Thomas, and an ex-boyfriend mangled his arm when a car t-boned him at an intersection. What kind of irresponsible, foolish woman would risk her safety by getting on a bike? Fear, and societal expectations that females shouldn’t take risks – that our place in that scene is in a bikini at a motorcycle show, not in leathers ON a bike – it’s the dominant narrative – and I bought it – hook, line and sinker.
I’ve openly loved cars all these years – anything with four wheels I’m curious, and enthusiastic, about. I love old Porsches, especially 911s – and have a soft spot for Jaguars, even though they’re lemons. I love muscle cars. I love reality shows about custom car restorations, and spending hours in a shop cleaning parts while my boyfriend works on his cars. That I’ve let myself ignore the statistics on cars and fixate on the stats on motorcycles seems a little silly at this point. Don't get me wrong - they are risky - but so are vehicles. Despite my warped perspective of motorcycle-as-forbidden fruit, the call persisted: “Freedom. Independence. Fearlessness. Adventure. Community.”
Women Rising – and Riding
The narrative that kept my crush bubbling under the surface for so many years is changing. In fact, the number of female motorcycle owners more than doubled from 2003 to 2014, and is on an exponential upward trajectory. GenX and GenY ownership beat the average, at over 17% of overall motorcycles owners. The average age of women motorcyclists trends younger than men: the median age for females is 39 vs. 48 for males. About half of women motorcyclists perform their own maintenance or have a friend or relatives do it rather than taking their bikes to a shop. About half are married and 47% have college or post-graduate degrees. [Source]
Why do I care about these stats? Frankly I’m psyched that there is such diversity in women who ride. I predict more data will become available revealing rising female ridership and wider demographics in the coming years, and I can’t wait.
Cricky and I founded Nice Avocado on a simple idea. We want to contribute to the empowerment of women through imagery that invokes and inspires pursuits that have historically been taboo for women to openly chase: freedom, independence, leadership – power. Around the time Cricky and I were first discussing the mission of the brand, I attended the New York Motorcycle Show at the Javits Center in New York City in December 2017 with my rider boyfriend and my aspiring rider sons. As expected, the show was male dominated – but it was clear that women were there, and not just in skimpy outfits as hired hands to promote a brand – but as enthusiasts. As riders. The essence of motorcycling, I realized – is one and the same as the feelings we search to invoke.
New York City Motorcycle Show, Javits Center, December 2017
Our first product design: Inspired by Women Who Ride
Cricky and I got on a call to discuss the first design for our first collection, the Badass Collection – focused on inspiring women to heed the call of the wild and feed their soul with adventure. “Can you draw a woman taking a nap on the back of her Triumph? I want it to look like she's truly taking in the adventure she's on." I asked. “Sure, I can take a stab at that,” she said. A few days later, we had our first design. My girlfriends, powerful career women with kids living the frenetic NYC suburban life – previewed a few of our designs, and every one of them immediately quipped: “I want the motorcycle one.”
Already Cool Like That: Badass Women and their Motorcycles
There are some incredibly badass women out there way ahead of me in acting on their love of motorcycles and leading the charge for all of us. We’ve done some research on organizations promoting women motorcycling and some trailblazers to follow on social media.
Women Riders Now is a kickass online motorcycling lifestyle magazine for women. It truly is a one-stop source of information on riding, women’s motorcycle clubs, products, and events for beginner to advanced enthusiasts. Follow them on Instagram @Women_Riders_Now
Women on Wheels is a “not for profit, international, family-oriented organization founded in 1982 that serves to unite all female motorcycle enthusiasts while promoting a positive image of the motorcycling lifestyle.” Follow them on Instagram @wowfotos
Badass Boss Ladies:
Maggie McNally-Bradshaw was unanimously elected to chair of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) board of directors – she is the first woman to lead the AMA board in the association’s 89-year history. Follow Maggie on Instagram @magmcnally – she’s got followers but hasn’t posted yet – if we nudge her maybe she’ll start posting!
Sarah Schilke, Head of Marketing and PR for Shuberth North America and Held USA, became the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) in its 100-year history. Follow Sarah on Instagram @schilkesar
Author Liz Jansen, a motorcycle enthusiast and a certified motorcycle instructor with the Canada Safety Council, has written some great work to contribute to the dialogue about women and motorcycles. We love her article “Shifting the Balance of Power: Why More Women are Riding Motorcycles (and How That’s Driving Change).” Liz is also the author of “Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment: Fifty Inspirational Stories of Adventure and Self-Discovery” and the ”Life Lessons from Motorcycles” series. Follow Liz on Twitter @trilliumliz
Diana Bletter wrote “The Mom who Took off on her Motorcycle: Life Lessons on the Road to Alaska”Follow Diana on Twitter @dianabletter
What about you?
Nice Avocado wants to hear your motorcycle stories! We are always looking for inspiration for our designs and ways to celebrate the Badass among us.
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org