The number of female riders has doubled from 2003 to 2015 in the United States, while in Australia where such official figures are not kept, there has also been a significant increase.
The American Motorcycle Industry Council’s Motorcycle Owner Survey shows female riders account for 14% of the riding population.
In 1998, it was 8%, in 2003, it was 10%, and since then the numbers have doubled from 600,000 to 1.2 million.
Estimates of Australian female riders seem to vary substantially from 6% to 10%.
Motorcycle Council of NSW chair CJ Burns believes it is about 6%, but says there has been “exponential growth” in female registrations.“Probably double what they were 10 years ago,” he says.
“The growth in regos in NSW and Australia has many causes; more leisure time, cheaper to holiday in Australia on a bike than go overseas, commuting in particular on scooters has been the biggest winner and scooters are non-threatening which gets female riders hooked and then they opt for something larger with better brakes and suspension, a natural progression.”
The American survey found a surge in younger riders was pushing up the female figures with just over 17% of riders in both the Gen X and Gen Y segments being women. By comparison, only 9% of Baby Boomer riders are women. The median age for American female riders is 39, compared with 48 for males.
There seems to be many reasons for the increase in female numbers:
They say that while women may only comprise 10% of the Australian riding population, they represent 24% of their course participants.
Women are becoming more and more emancipated and wanting to do things for themselves, such as start riding.
They just need a little encouragement, says Sue Corrigan, one of the organisers of the International Female Ride Day.
“Many husbands/partners/family/friends are encouraging women to no longer be pillions, and to get out on their own motorbikes and ride themselves,” she says.
“Many women are discouraged by the way in which some male riders act/speak, and I think this plays a large role in the decision women make about not wanting to get involved in riding motorbikes themselves.
“Experienced riders need to encourage women to start riding motorbikes, they need to take new riders under their wings, not pressure them into riding but be patient and considerate with them, and also let each person ride their own ride.”
And more women are using their motorcycles to see the world, says World on Wheels owner Denise Ferris who is considering a ladies-only tour.
“There are a lot more women who ride these days, so why not?”.