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Time to Ride

June 24, 2012
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

Women love motorcycles and motorcycling.

That is a simple truth.

A related truth is that until recently most motorcycles, regardless of design, were purchased by men for men. Women more often than not simply came along for the ride in the passenger's seat or a sidecar of sorts.

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The motorcycle industry has come to recognize the purchasing power of women in today’s retail market. They are increasingly making every effort to make purchasing, or even renting a motorcycle, an experience that will get praise from friend to friend, everywhere from the traditional word of mouth marketing practices to the super connectivity available via social networks.

When it comes to enjoying the world of motorcycles, long gone are the days when stereotypical images drawn largely from Hollywood screens defined who could and could not ride these motorcycles, or even sport a clothing item featuring the "bar and shield" design now known around the world as Harley-Davidson.

Motorcycles are generally more fuel efficient that cars.

Motorcycles can be easier to find parking spaces for when running errands around town.

Times have changed, and according to consumers, it was a change for the better for everyone connected to the world of motorcycles.

While enjoying a leisurely ride as a passenger on a motorcycle is, and always should be, a great way to travel with someone, an important dynamic began changing in the world of motorcycle ridership and ownership a decade or two ago as women became increasingly interested in and able to own and operate motorcycles.

Some manufacturers responded to that consumer shift more effectively than others, and have never had any reason to regret making the commitment to include women as a vitally important part of their customer mix.

One of the most successful companies at appreciating and adjusting their product line to establish and maintain a solid connection with and for female consumers is the famed American motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson.

Not surprisingly, Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of the company's founder, has been a key player in adding layers of specific new product offerings for consumers - especially for female consumers from all means, motorcycling skill levels and personal interest in learning to handle a motorcycle on their own. Not to mention the endless varieties of all shapes, sizes, attitude and experience levels when it comes to having learned to operate a motorcycle correctly, confidently and safely.

That is where design engineers have been working their magic in recent years and female consumers have been pleased with the resulting designs, according to Jason Burge, sales manager at Valley Harley-Davidson of Belmont.

One of the most useful items available to consumers in today's motorcycle market is a unique machine simply called "jump start", which is readily available to help consumers get a trial "riding" experience from the safety of the showroom where a working bike is set into the machine, a potential rider takes a seat and is then walked through the process of the basic operations of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"It is a great way to safely and calmly let someone get a feel for a particular bike style, seat, or bar and other things like that which can really make a huge difference when it comes to keeping traveling - whether short jaunts around home or a drive across the country, comfortable experiences.

"Spending a few minutes with the jump start resource lets us make sure we get each customer set up with a bike that will literally be built to fit them as an individual," offered Derrick Kelley of Cadiz, a fit specialist at the Belmont branch of Valley Harley-Davidson.

It is helpful for someone a little rusty at the details of how a bike functions and feels while operating, and very helpful when it comes to introducing someone to operating a motorcycle for the very first time.

The emotional and physical dread of making a mistake while riding a motorcycle can be made much worse for someone who finds they are operating a bike that is not at all a proper fit for their body.

Investing the time and effort in determining each of those details will be time well spent by consumers, according to both Kelley and Burge, noting one of the key things a sales person should do for a customer is take the time to find out about their personal wants and dislikes when it comes to their expectations connected to buying and operating any motorcycle.

The jump start is an important part of an easy, yet exacting, process to get just the right mix when it comes to a machine's overall balance while operating, when at a stop, bike weight, maneuverability, responsiveness, seat comfort, cargo features and even the different entertainment and lighting options.

The almost limitless variations available on bikes like Harley-Davidson are not the norm for most motorcycle manufacturers, and play a big part in driving the fact that female ridership has increased by 60 percent in the past few years, as motorcycles are increasingly made available to consumers looking for a very specific mix of style, handling and more: all customized for the customer - the rider.

A stop at your local motorcycle dealership - regardless of the brand - is an easy way to affirm just how important women are seen when it comes buying power, whether shopping for a great looking leather jacket sporting wonderfully detailed embroidery or even rhinestones, a shirt or belt with a touch of attitude, or even a gift for the smallest among family and friends as infant onesies and children's clothing are popular offerings at a well stocked motorcycle shop or dealership.

It is also important to remember to ask your retailer about what a potential motorcycle owner should do when it comes to needs for acquiring proper licensing and insurance and other laws of the road unique to motorcycling.

Loccisano can be reached at



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