As the years pass by, more and more females are starting to pick up the hobby of motorcycle riding. This activity is no longer associated with mainly men since the number of women riders is rising so quickly.
As a female getting into the motorcycle scene myself, I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for other female motorcycle riders that I wish someone would have told me. This is a great sport to get into and having a little bit of preparation can go a long way.
Ride At Your Comfort Level
Whether you’re new at riding or you’ve been riding for a while, you’ll notice how some fellow riders may pressure you into a type of riding that’s uncomfortable for you. For example, you may not be ready for highway riding and a touring group may be begging you to go on a tour with them.
Keep your ground and only ride in a way that’s comfortable for you. Riding nervously will make you a little more jittery. Jittery riding while on a motorcycle means less confidence which means a poor defensive rider.
You’ll slowly be able to ease yourself into more intermediate riding if you’re not there yet by simply doing what you’re already comfortable with. You’ll know when you’re ready to pursue certain types of riding. And if you have good riding friends, they should respect your comfort level and not make you do anything you’re not comfortable doing.
Wear Your Hair Right
Women tend to have longer hair than men. This means that you’ll need to style your hair a certain way in order to stay comfortable and safe while riding a motorcycle (assuming you will be safe and wear a helmet).
There are certain do’s and don’ts with long hair when it comes to riding with a helmet on. Don’t wear your hair completely loose and untied. Loose hair has a tendency to move around a lot underneath a helmet, even if you aren’t moving your head that much. This can often be distracting, itchy, and risks getting in your face and obstructing your view temporarily.
On the flip side, don’t wear your hair so tight that it’s uncomfortable. This may mean tight buns or tight braids starting on the top of your head. Putting your helmet on will pull down on those and cause you discomfort.
When riding a motorcycle, pull your hair back low so it doesn’t interfere with the inside of your helmet. This usually entails something like a low pony tail or a low, loose braid. I generally like to go with low braids because my hair is still intact and not jostled around by the wind.
Don’t Wear Loose Clothing
Women riders each have a different style and they like to manifest their style while on a motorcycle. While that is perfectly fine, there are a few things about your wardrobe you should consider. One of the biggest considerations should be how loose your clothing is.
Loose clothing can be incredibly distracting. Once you get going on a motorcycle, the high wind speeds will flap it around and possibly get into your view. It could also slap against your skin. Aside from being distracting, it can also be incredibly dangerous.
Avoid wearing things such as unbuttoned cardigans, scarves, and skirts. I’ve tried wearing all of these on a motorcycle and it didn’t work out too well. Ensure your clothing is tight enough to keep you comfortable and ensure it won’t be distracting.
Wear The Right Gear
Along with avoiding wearing loose clothing, you’ll need to ensure that you’re wearing the right gear. A lot of people assume that motorcycle gear is expensive and unfashionable, but as a fashion queen myself I can assure you that you can find gear out there that’s both fashionable and safe for females.
Gear doesn’t need to be incredibly expensive either. I do a lot of shopping online and have been able to find amazing deals on merchandise that helps me feel safe and feel good in what I’m wearing.
First, you’ll need to ensure you have a good fitting, full-face helmet. Do not settle for anything less than full-face since these provide the very best protection in the case of an accident. Getting a helmet online can be tricky because it needs to fit right, but it’s completely possible. Just make sure you check the return policy before purchasing so you know you can return it if the helmet doesn’t fit right.
It’s preferred that all motorcycle riders wear leather or other synthetic materials both as a jacket and as pants. Again, there are plenty of options out there for females. You’ll also need to ensure you have good riding boots that cover your ankles. Not only will these help in the case of an accident, but they’ll also help prevent burns from your motorcycle exhaust pipes and engine.
Start Out With A Small Motorcycle
Finding the right motorcycle for any rider is always an exciting time. But it can also be a little nerve racking because you want to make sure you get the right bike fit for you.
While you’re learning to ride, I suggest getting an old, smaller dirt bike and learn how the basic mechanisms work. There is a difference between a dirt bike and a motorcycle, but a dirt bike will give you a good idea about what it’s like on a motorcycle.
I recommend starting with something small and dinky because that’ll give you less frustration during your trial and error of riding. You’ll probably tip it over a few times and possibly run in to a few things. But that doesn’t matter when practicing on something that doesn’t cost much anyway.
Once you feel comfortable with riding small, you can start working your way up to bigger and better motorcycles. You can either borrow bikes from people who are willing to lend them out, or you can simply buy one, practice, then sell and buy a newer one once you get bored. This system works pretty great!
Assume No One Can See You
My husband has been riding motorcycles for a while and was the one who convinced me to start learning. One of the first things he taught me that I thought was vital information was to assume that all the drivers around you cannot see you. Because chances are, most drivers around you don’t see you.
Motorcycles are obviously much smaller than cars, that’s why car drivers have a hard time seeing motorcyclists. In fact, other motorists are so unaware of motorcycles that out of all motorcycle accidents and crashes, other vehicles are at fault 40% of the time. General driver’s education doesn’t nearly cover enough about being aware of motorcyclists.
Riding a motorcycle while assuming no one around you can see you will help you become a much more defensive rider. This will likely make you more aware to not ride in people’s blind spots, avoid riding by semi trucks, and to not follow other cars too closely.
Learn To Do Maintenance Yourself
For some reason, there seems to be this stigma that women motorcyclists can’t perform their own motorcycle maintenance. How very untrue this is. In fact, performing your own motorcycle maintenance is quite easy and can save you a lot of money.
We have an endless reservoir of information at our fingertips called the internet. Youtube, online forums, and articles (like this one) have a lot of knowledge to offer and will be able to guide you through any type of maintenance you need to perform on your bike.
It does make it easier if you have the right owner’s manual that goes along with your motorcycle. If you don’t have one, you should be able to either find a PDF version of it online or find a used hard copy for pretty cheap.
As a point of reference, you should change the oil on your motorcycle and lube/check chain tension about every 4,000-5,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. You’ll also want to check the tire pressure at least once a month. See our other article here to learn more about how often a motorcycle should be serviced.
Be Careful When Using A Mechanic
Unfortunately there will be a few fixes on your motorcycle that is over your head and should be taken to a professional mechanic to fix. This will ensure your motorcycle is repaired properly and that you’ll continue to be safe on the road.
I have noticed, however, that every once in a while when I go to a mechanic they tend to assume that I have no idea what I’m talking about simply because I’m female. This doesn’t happen too often and most shops and mechanics are great, but scenarios like this are still all too common for female riders.
There is no need to be rude, but if you sense a certain mechanic is trying to take advantage of you or assume you don’t know anything about the mechanics of your motorcycle (possibly because you’re a woman), you have a right to stick up for yourself and take your business elsewhere.
It’s a good idea to research and understand how much a certain fix will cost before paying someone else to do that fix for you. Doing a little bit of homework beforehand can really help you rid of any of those rare mechanics that do try to take advantage of you.
It’s Okay If You Drop Your Bike
If there’s one thing that can make you feel terrible while owning a motorcycle, it’s tipping it over or dropping it. It’s an unnatural scene to see a motorcycle toppled over on it’s side.
But the truth is that motorcycles get tipped over a lot more frequently than you would realize. It’s okay if you drop your motorcycle. It didn’t happen because you’re female and “less strong,” it happened because it happens to almost every motorcyclist out there.
My dad always had a saying that I feel is completely true: “There are two types of motorcycle riders. Ones who have tipped their motorcycle and ones who are going to tip their motorcycle.”
While the sound and the scene of a motorcycle getting dropped seems horrible, it’s really not that detrimental to it. Your main concern will be cosmetic issues if you’re able to get the motorcycle standing back up in a timely manner. You may have to replace a handlebar, foot peg, or repaint some parts of the frame. But those are things you can easily do yourself.
Mechanically-wise, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. There are ways to check for damages if it was on it’s side for more than several minutes. Click here to learn more about what happens when a motorcycle is laid on it’s side.
Come Up With An Emergency Plan
Having an emergency plan is a vital part to riding a motorcycle, especially for female riders. Yet this is one thing that is often neglected. As reliable as we’d like to think our motorcycles are, sometimes they just break down and leave us stranded.
Having an emergency plan in place will ensure that you aren’t caught in an awkward and potentially dangerous situation. As women, this is especially important. You need to think of things such as who you’re going to call in case you do break down, getting towing insurance, what to do if your cell phone is dead or you’re in a spot with no service, and always know where the closest gas station is.
Be sure to always tell someone where you’re going before a ride and that your cell phone has a charged battery in case you need to use it in an emergency situation. Look at the weather ahead of time to ensure you won’t be caught in a rain or snow storm.
If possible, try to store emergency items on your motorcycle such as a cell phone charger and phone numbers of contacts in case you need to use a pay phone. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to carry some pepper spray with you in case you ever need to defend yourself in such a susceptible situation.