Many motorcycle shops only pay lip service to women’s riding gear, says Black Arrow fashion designer and motorcyclist Hannah Smith of Sydney.
“Female motorcyclists are a fast-growing sector worldwide; fact,” she says.
“So it is surprising to me that many motorcycle stores still think that they only need to cater to men with a token section for women made by the men’s brands they stock, instead of sourcing brands that are specifically developed for women,” says Hannah.
“Many motorcycle stores have been around a long time and women in motorcycling was always an after thought and while they say they cater to women, the product offering is slim, ill-fitting and dated which of course is not going to sell or bring women into the store to buy.”
Hannah has been a fashion designer for about 12 years specialising in commercial women’s gear and belongs to a motorcycle custom culture group called Foxy Fuelers who enjoy motorcycles and fashion.
Black Arrow designs
She says she became frustrated with the lack of fashionable and protective riding gear for women, so she created her own label called Black Arrow.
“It’s the old story of can’t find it so make it yourself,” Hannah says.
“I felt there must be a way to get more women into protective gear and designing fashion forward product has been the way to do it. I also wanted something I would want to wear. My jacket at the time was incredibly uncomfortable.
“Because of this, women will choose to wear their protective gear instead of picking up a regular jacket when they get on the bike. This was one of the biggest issues I saw when riding around Sydney.
“Women will always want to look good on and off the bike. Some women don’t mind the oversized, over-branded motorcycle jackets that currently flood the market but there are others that are a little more fashion conscious and because of that, more often than not they will choose un protective clothing over an armoured jacket.
“With Black Arrow I’ve combined style and function into a no more excuses protective product that women want to wear.”
Women’s specialised riding gear is now starting to boom, but Hannah says what sets Black Arrow apart from the others is the fit, thanks to her many years working as a fashion designer.
“Seems trivial, but this is another reason why women opt not to wear protective gear,” Hannah says.
“From self-experience, women’s motorcycle gear is notoriously ill-fitting and whether you’re just commuting or riding longer distance an ill-fitting jacket can be a distraction which, when you’re on the road, is not something you want to be thinking about.
“It seems some designers have forgotten that women have curves and boobs!”
On top of style and fit, Black Arrow jackets are claimed to come with DuPont Kevlar lining and Forcefield CE rated Lvl 1 armour.
“I always wanted to get my bike licence and I put it off for so long which I really regret now. Who knew two wheels would be so life changing!”
Her first bike was a 2005 Yamaha SR400 that she customised.
“Aesthetically I’ve never been into sports bikes,” she says
“It’s always classics that have appealed to me as a result of the bikes my family has had and still have.”
She wrote off her SR, but not the Black Arrow gear she was wearing, so she bought a Kawasaki Zephyr that turned out to be a complete lemon.
“But, I loved the look of that bike so much that I scoured the internet for another,” she says.
“I finally found one in pretty good working order, a 1990 ZR550. I then proceeded to pull it apart with a friend and give it an overhaul both cosmetically and functionally. It’s now a beautiful bike that just makes me smile when I look at it but there are still a few things I want to update on it.”