Monday, August 13, 2007

Motorcycles are not built for women

There are several things to consider when you, as a female rider, are ready to buy a bike. Most motorcycle manufacturers keep the male stature in mind when they are designing their bikes. Since the female riding population is increasing rapidly, some of them are beginning to make rides that fit smaller adults as well.

  • Consider your hand size. Can you reach the turn signals with your thumb while you already have the clutch pulled in? Can you comfortably squeeze the clutch lever with your left hand with enough strength to disengage the clutch?

  • Decide what position is comfortable for your arms. Are your arms spread too wide? Are they at a height that will be uncomfortable on a long ride? Some people like the cruiser style where your arms can be anywhere from a little above your waist to shoulder height. A lot prefer the crotch-rocket style of motorcycle where you are a little crouched over as you are riding. In this case some of your weight rests on your arms as you ride.

  • Can you touch your feet flat on the ground on both sides? Many bikes are too high for a smaller person to reach the ground safely. This is one of the greatest challenges when trying out bikes. A lot of the seats are too wide, which cuts into the thighs of a smaller person. I found there were a lot with a wide gas tank that cut into my thighs when my feet were positioned on the foot pegs.

  • Another thing that can be a hurdle is the weight of any large motorcycle. It is sometimes intimidating to think that a 120 lb female can hold up a motorcycle that weighs 800 to 1000 lbs. I have seen it so I know it is possible. Sometimes we worry what we might do if it ever turns over. Even a man would have a hard time lifting that weight alone. It shouldn’t be a hurdle as long as the bike fits in all of the other ways.

I eventually found that the Suzuki Boulevard S40 was the perfect fit for me. I am 5’4” and average weight. My bike weighs around 350lbs and is actually light and very easy to handle as a beginner. I have ridden for over 2 years now and I have almost outgrown it. Everyone said it would happen! I am dreaming about a ’07 Harley Dyna Street Bob. It is about twice the weight of mine, holds twice as much gas, and has an engine more than twice the size of my 650cc.

So, as long as women keep buying and riding motorcycles the demand will dictate the market. Manufacturers are listening, because the sales are up among female riders and increasing quickly each year. Since profits talk, I am sure that the choices of motorcycles for smaller individuals will be enormous in the near future.

So many roads to travel
Not enough time

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