Women Riders: Choosing the Right Motorcycle

There are more women motorcyclists on the road than ever before and motorcycling manufacturers have taken note. Today, women have more options when it comes to choosing a motorcycle and finding the perfect fit for the perfect ride. As women riders, it is important to know that sometimes our needs are different from our male counterparts  – this is true in life and in motorcycling. We often ride for different reasons – and we enjoy different aspects of motorcycling. Likewise, what bike works for our male friends and partners will not necessarily work for you. I recently saw a video of a motorcyclist dressed up to look like the alien in Predator. The motorcycle he was riding was a chopper loaded out with chrome and decorated with various Alien/Predator decor. That bike ain’t for me. So, before you buy your next bike – take into consideration some of these very important features.

Choosing the Right Motorcycle For You

Finding the Right FIT – When choosing a motorcycle, it is important to pay attention to seat height and the bike’s weight. The size of the bike and your size matters! You cannot control a bike that is too big for you. Before you go out looking for bikes – know your inseam measurements and your arm length. Be sure you can place both feet on the ground without straining. In addition, be sure that you can comfortably turn the handlebars in both directions without overreaching.

The weight of the bike is also an issue. Can you pull the bike off the side stand? If the bike feels too heavy to control or maneuver, then it is too heavy of a bike for you. Large, heavy bikes are not ideal for beginner riders. Also, consider your center of gravity. Shorter people, myself included, will appreciate a bike with a low center of gravity, such as the Harley-Davidson Sportster or a similar metric alternative.

  • Control Placement – Your bike needs to be comfortable. Controls should be right at your fingers and toes. There should be no straining. Where your control placement sits is a personal comfort issue and different for everyone. Adjust. Test. Repeat. The easier your bike is to control the more fun you will ultimately have riding.
  • Engine Size – If you are new to riding, it may be wise to start with a smaller engine size. Motorcycle engine size is determined by the cubic centimeters rating. The higher the number, the bigger the engine.
  • Form & Function – It is important to know how you plan to ride your motorcycle in most circumstances. Each type of bike has a specific purpose and you want to buy a bike that will fit your riding needs. Do you plan to ride daily? Put in long commutes on the motorcycle? Will you be taking day trips? Will you be riding on paved or dirt roads? It is important to know that not all types of bikes carry beginner models, so keep that in mind when looking at the different types of cruisers, touring bikes, sportbikes, dual sports, and off-road models.

There are numerous types of motorcycles for women and no “one bike” is perfect for everyone. Here are a few options if you are looking to purchase your first bike.

2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T
2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T
  •      2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T – this touring motorcycle is easy to handle and perfect for women riders looking for that smaller touring bike.
  •      2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 – this Sportster bike is the most popular motorcycle ridden by women and for good reason. It is budget-friendly and easy to handle. Harley-Davidson leads sales of bikes to women riders.
  •      Harley-Davidson Street Glide – this larger touring motorcycle is easy to handle and popular for women riders. It is better for motorcyclists that have already become proficient in their riding skills and who are going to take long-distance tours on their bikes.
  •      Honda Shadow 750 – this bike has a lower center of gravity making it easier to handle for many women riders. There are currently 4 models of the Shadow, but all have a powerful 750cc engine powering them. The Spirit model in the Shadow line has the lowest seat height making it a popular choice for smaller riders.
Honda Shadow 750
Honda Shadow 750

For those who just want a basic, economical option, you may want to look at the 2016 H-D Street 500 or Street 750. It’s designed as a starter bike that’s affordable and easy to handle.

If it is your first motorcycle don’t hesitate to go used. A good friend told me to look at my first motorcycle as a ‘practice bike’. I was intimidated about motorcycles when I started riding. I found going to industry events like the International Motorcycle Show was a great way to see all the different bikes available and I took the opportunity to sit on a lot of them to find the right bike for me.

How did you choose your bike? What worked for you and what didn’t?

Whatever bike avenue you choose – take your time. Have fun. Enjoy the ride.