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  • March 01, 2024 3 min read

    International Women’s Day

    International Women’s Day will be celebrated on 8th March this year and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and yes I had to google that!  I think the economic, cultural and political achievements of women have come a long way in the last 100 years or even 50 years or so, but there is still a long way to go.  This is Progress and not a forum for the gender pay gap discussion etc, so I’m not even going to go there.  I’ll stick to what I know, i.e. bikes!

    Women and biking have come a long way in the last 10, 20 or even 30 years. I was given my first bike almost 40 years ago (okay, not quite, but it feels like it). I got a moped for my 16th birthday for practical purposes.  One thing led to another and I got my full bike licence in 1990; back then there was no such thing as women’s leathers, well, except for the very thin leather trousers that the pillion wore which had no protection in whatsoever and were no better than the chamois leather you dried your car with!  If you wanted a decent set of leathers, you had to go find some men’s outfit that kind of fit and then you would trundle off down to Frontiers Motorcycles and see Debbie the Leather Lady.  She wasn’t really made of leather but she could work wonders with some leather and a sewing machine.  She would take the leathers apart and then alter them to fit, so kind of made to measure, but they were still all black and started life as men’s clothing.  I had some wonderful sets adjusted by her.  I still have a 1990’s one piece race suit in Rothman Honda colours, I loved that suit.  It’s still hanging in my wardrobe, but I’m not sure I would trust the integrity of the leather or stitching any more and the protection leaves a lot to be desired, but yes, I wore it on the track.

    Fast forward 30 years, there are now leathers and textiles made for women, believe it or not yes we are a different shape, we can get motorcycle gear but the choice still isn’t as wide as the men’s range.  We are getting there (slowly) but still have a long way to go.  Believe it or not women might like a splash of colour, not just black!

    As for bikes, there is a very long way to go there too, from comments I see on various female forums. The more vertically challenged women seem to stick to custom style of bike so they can reach the ground.  Those that know me know that this is not my style of bike.  A few years ago I spent 2 years going round all the bike shops and brands in the south looking for a bike that I could reach the ground on.  I’m not short, I am average height for a female at 5’ 4”; however, I will admit I have short legs in comparison to my height.  Some of my 5 foot friends have longer legs than I do!  I still cannot reach the ground on most brands, even if the shop lowers it, adjusts it and puts on a lower seat.  For me the only brand that stands out is BMW as they will make you anything with a lower frame with a lower seat.  I will admit, not cheap, but then again, what hobby is?

    The popularity of women taking up motorcycling was on the increase which I think is wonderful, why should we leave all the fun up to the guys?!?! Admittedly there are reasons why there are fewer women riding than men, but going forward, maybe with equality that will change and we will leave the guys at home to look after the children and we’ll go out and have fun without them?

    Jane Harle

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