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What Women Want

Story by Kelly Gibson . Photos provided by ICON

If there’s one thing that binds us all together as female riders, it’s our lack of gear choices, perceived or real. Ask any female rider around and she’ll tell you she can’t find gear to fit her. Worse than that, she’ll tell you, that when you she does find gear that fits, it’s annoyingly pink, or baby blue, or has tassles. But like any rising group within a community, as we grow, our choices will continue to grow with us.

When I first started riding over 10 years ago, women’s gear choices were maddeningly simple. As a student I wanted something practical and thrifty, and if luck would have it, feminine. Leather jackets were expensive so I settled on a royal blue textile number that made me look slightly less like a bag of potatoes than any of the others in the store. I was excited and vowed to save up for a leather jacket that, to me, was the ultimate in female gear for the time. I laugh when I look at that jacket in my closet today, because while it still protects me just fine, flattering it was not.

What most gear lacked back then was a basic appreciation for the female form. They were simply smaller sized versions of men’s gear with no thought to the cut of the waist or how hips and chests might come into play. In fact that first leather jacket of mine was cut so short, presumably to sit above my hips, that I often got sunburns from my lower back being exposed on long rides. I’ve never had to crash test it but I’d hate to think of the rash possibilities from sliding on my back while wearing that jacket.

While protection should be the number one concern of any gear, sadly women’s gear has had to suffer through the “fashion first” phase of development. Not all gear is created equal and unfortunately much of the gear aimed at women, at least in the early days, was heavy on the fashion, with protection almost being an afterthought. Thankfully those days are a thing of the past and women’s gear now shares the same standard of protection for most men’s gear.

Boots were often impossible to find since not a lot of men have small feet, and not a lot of women can fit into men’s shoe sizes. Depending on your type of riding, boot options now are growing. You can still go for a smaller men’s size, or you can choose the newer, more stylish, women’s options. As the percentage of women involved in motorcycling grows, gear options continue to expand.

When I bought that first jacket, I picked up a pair of gloves that for all intents and purposes were no better than gardening gloves. Oh sure they were leather (okay maybe they were a step above gardening gloves), but they lacked any real protection other than abrasion, and were just the smallest men’s gloves I could find. They only came in one colour and looked like they were straight out of the eighties despite being purchased in the year 2000! Like boots, women’s glove choices are not on par with men’s, but have improved significantly. Long, short, warm, cold, race, and street are all options long with several colour and protection combinations. I’ve been so impressed with women’s gloves of late that it’s a bad habit of mine to pick up a pair every time I see a good deal. What can I say? I like to have a healthy gear selection on hand!

Over the years, as the selection of women’s gear has grown, so too has our demands of that gear. Aside from the basic stylings, women want gear that fits. Too short is as uncomfortable as too long. Jackets, pants, and suits that don’t account for hips or chests make you feel like a sausage and no one wants to ride like that!

The biggest hurdle for the female rider is not just finding the gear (thank you internet!), but finding somewhere to try it on. Unfortunately, we’re all built differently and there’s no substitute for trying it on. Once you know how your size runs, and how gear fits you, the measuring process is easy and you can order from almost anywhere. Many brands have increased their women’s ranges substantially in the last few years including Icon, Scorpion, Rev’it, and Teknic to name a few.

We welcome the influx of women’s gear on the market, but does it have to be so…..PINK! I’ll admit that I own a pink and white jacket and will stand up for anyone who wants to wear pink, but I don’t want all my gear to be pink. When selection started to open up for women’s gear there was an influx of pink and baby blue gear. We swung from being mistaken for a bag of potatoes on a motorcycle, to screaming “I am woman!” Certain companies seemed to be worse offenders than others, but at least it was a step in the right direction. More gear choices were there, they just might not exactly be the colour combination you want.

Pink and baby blue gear is still out there, and more power to anyone who wants to sport that gear. I often hear women complaining about the pink gear, but I consider it a groundbreaker, or a door crasher if you will. Companies listened and responded. They stepped up to the plate and offered more options, and that pink gear paved the way for the myriad of selections that are out there today. If you want to wear pink gear, it’s out there. If you want to wear a jacket with butterfly graphics, that’s out there too. And perhaps most appreciatively, standard jackets in basic colours, with great fits, are out there for women too. I’d even venture a guess that our gear choices rival men’s now, despite the fact that we only collectively account for approximately 10% of the motorcycling population.

The gear is out there. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the world is at our fingertips and our gear choices are endless. Personally, I like to support local shops, but I try and find everything on the internet first, not only to check prices but to read reviews. Blessed, or is it cursed, with a long torso, not all jackets fit me and I’ve had to make some creative choices. But I’m not alone and have found fast sources of information through online shops and services, internet forums, and buyer reviews.

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One comment

  • Fanny Fang says:

    Hello, I have just ridden from Cape Town in South Africa to my home town of Shanghai in China on a KTM 990 Adventure motorcycle. Three months before I started the expedition I had never ridden a motorcycle. Now I have ridden 53,800 kilometers across most of the conditions our Planet has to offer. I hope my story can inspire some more women to get out there. It was an amazing adventure that I will never forget. In fact, I am now planning a trip from Canada to Chile and hopefully I can meet some of my Canadian fellow riders on the way. By the way, I wore Canadian enduro motorcycle kit. See our English story and pictures at http://www.bigbiketrip.net …All countries were amazing , but I think Tanzania, Turkey and Tibet were special. Fanny


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