Increasing numbers of women are riding motorcycles, according to a study by the trade group Motorcycle Industry Council.
And -- are you listening, dealers and manufacturers? -- they’re younger, better educated and better trained to ride than their male counterparts.
The MIC’s latest Motorcycle Owner Survey found that women now account for 14% of all U.S. motorcycle owners.
Among Gen X riders, women account for 17% of bike owners compared with 9% of baby boomers. In the Gen Y cohort, the number is closer to 18%.
Slightly more than a third of women owners ride cruisers -- a testament, perhaps, to the aggressive outreach campaign being waged by Harley-Davidson, the country’s biggest bike brand. Slightly fewer like scooters. Sport bikes accounted for only about 10% of the female-owned motorcycles.
Asked why they ride, women answered “fun and recreation,” “sense of freedom” and “enjoy outdoors/nature.”
“What we’re seeing is motorcycling is for anyone, male or female,” said Renee Tuzee, MIC’s director of marketing.
The median age for U.S. female motorcyclists is 39, compared with 48 for males. Just under half of them are married -- compared with more than 60% of male riders -- and about half have college or postgraduate degrees.
And they’re smart about bikes too. An estimated 60% of them took motorcycle safety courses, something that only 42% of the men did.
The numbers, culled from an online survey of 48,000 U.S. households, should be encouraging to motorcycle manufacturers, who have been stymied by stagnant bike sales even as the economy has improved and who recognize that the future of the power sports industry relies upon creating a younger and more diverse population of riders.
Many have paid lip service, and some have even dedicated marketing money, to attracting something beyond the core motorcycling group of white men.
Some have even introduced motorcycles that cater to female riders.
“Manufacturers are looking at lower seat heights and lower-priced entry-level motorcycles,” Tuzee said. “As a woman, I don’t look for a bike that’s ‘female.’ But I need a narrower gas tank and a bike that has lower weight and is lower to the ground.”
Tuzee, who rides a Honda CBR 250, has ridden since she was 8, but took up the sport with renewed vigor when she became an empty-nester. She sees many other women doing the same.
“Women are saying it’s OK to be involved in a sport that they might have stayed away from,” when they had children at home, Tuzee said. “Now I’m riding because I that freedom of choice again.”