Although it’s taken its sweet time, the number of women motorcyclists in the U.S. has increased to around 7.2 million. As we know here at Belt Drive Betty, business is booming and sure, whilst the total number of male bikers stands at a cool 27 million, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Even better, there’s a lot more choice when it comes to lady leathers these days. I’m sure many biker chicks out there remember a time when they’ve had to wear all kinds of ill-fitting, unsightly leather turn-ups. Alas, no longer. Women have finally established themselves in the biker scene and we have absolutely no intention of leaving.
However, whilst motorcycle essentials are thriving on both sides of the American gender spectrum – lady bikers in the UK are often misrepresented as unusual, exotic creatures. I should know, I am one. When I tell people my transportation of choice, they raise their eyebrows with a twinkle in their eye and say “Oh, it’s like that is it?”
Like what? What exactly does my passion for a two-wheeled vehicle tell you about who I am and what it’s like?
In the UK, people have spent far too long associating women and motorcycles with sex. It’s not their fault; they’re just used to consuming images of biker babes clad in leather bikinis with mechanical grease smeared across their chests. These chicks are an accessory of motorcycling - they are not the riders - and any woman who proclaims a sincere affection for a Harley D Sportster will instantly tick the “butch” box.
But fear not, riders, for this dated perspective is starting to change thanks, in part, to people like Jo Stevenson. Jo became the world’s fastest female last year by clocking up 243.5mph on a turbo-powered superbike (although she’s since been between by 0.1mph)!
Jo, who rides a Suzuki Hayabusa and only took up motorbikes after watching racing at Santa Pod, said: “It’s the adrenaline I love. The rush is amazing. I shake before a run because I’m a little scared and afterwards because of the adrenaline.” And thanks to her need for speed, gal’s-only motorcycle clubs are popping up all over the UK.
Hell’s Belles, for example, is a totally independent female-only Motorcycle Riders Club based in the North of England. Intriguingly, it’s run by Pagan Witches and is very strict when it comes to the girls-only mantra. Alternatively, the GBMC (Gay Bikers Motorcycle Club) caters for gay men and women and operates under a “non-discriminatory” vibe. It was established as early as 1977 and is the biggest gay bikers club in Europe.
Despite recent improvements, there’s still a long way to go if the UK wants to catch up with the US’s 7 million. Of course, there’s a population difference to take into account and yet, gals like Jo are still in the minority.
“I’m just another motorcyclist,” Jo said after breaking the world record “I don’t feel any different. The first time I cracked 200 miles an hour the men were like ‘Wow she’s actually done it’. But they just respect me now as a rider rather than a woman.” And what’s next for Jo? Well, she wants to travel to America and “beat them on their own turf,” so watch this space!
- Written by Em Buchanan
- Category: Women Riders
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