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New Data Reveals Female Motorcycle Riders Feel Happier, More Confident and Sexier Than Women Who Don't Ride

Female Riders Feel Happier, More Confident and Sexier Than Women Who Don’t Ride

It’s so classically Glamour and just in time for the New Year.

I’m talking about women and self-help books.  No, not the help of how to install a thermostat or how to assemble furniture, but that elusive key to finding happiness.

You see, Harley-Davidson commissioned a study and miraculously the results indicate that women who ride their own motorcycles are noticeably happier – in life, in relationships, and even in the bedroom – than women who don’t ride.

Seems self serving don’t you think?  But, let’s remember for a minute that all humans are somewhat self-obsessed, and if you think I’m writing this is about you, don’t take it personal.

Most men I know just want a gal that can apply makeup without an automobile mirror and be capable of leaving the house on 5 minutes’ notice.  I’m not a psychologist and haven’t a clue on the details of the study, but I wonder what was it about their persistent low self-esteem: how did it get that way? Were they awkward growing up? Not quick or witty enough?  Once they gained a shred of confidence, did they seek out companions they knew would make them feel inadequate? Why? Do they think they’re a narcissist? Or just a weak person?

Well guess what? We’re all different.  We’re a collection of experiences. We’re all special, which is precisely what makes us so un-special.  And if you harbor lingering dissatisfaction with yourself, figuring out what it is might be a pretty good way to start coming to terms with self-improvement.

But, that’s my $0.02.  

Let’s look to the Harley-Davidson “Help Desk” – and their study – of how women can jumpstart their journey to a more fulfilling life.

Conducted by Kelton (and commissioned by H-D) they interviewed 1,013 adult female riders and 1,016 adult female non-riders, and found overwhelming evidence that riding a motorcycle greatly improves a woman’s feelings of overall self-worth.

Key insights surrounding women who ride motorcycles in comparison to those who don’t include the following:

  • More than twice as many always feel happy (37 percent of riders vs. 16 percent of non-riders)
  • Nearly four times as many always feel sexy (27 percent of riders vs. 7 percent of non-riders)
  • Nearly twice as many always feel confident (35 percent of riders vs. 18 percent of non-riders)

According to the study, more than half (53 percent) of women who ride cite their motorcycle as a key source of happiness and nearly three in four (74 percent) believe their lives have improved since they started riding.

Somewhat interesting is that the study found that beyond positively impacting a woman’s sense of self, riding can improve relationships. When it comes to romance, women who ride leave non-riders in their dust, being more content with:

  • Communication with their significant other (60 percent of riders vs. 38 percent of non-riders)
  • Physical intimacy (51 percent of riders vs. 35 percent of non-riders).

I can see it now… a group of marketer’s in a Harley-Davidson conference room brainstorming a catchy title for a new self-help book:  The No Excuses H-D Motorcycle Guide To Intimacy

The book will go something like this…  distraught woman loses it completely, then rebuilds her life bit by bit.  By the last chapter she has purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, found freedom, independence, self-expression, a rebel spirit and ridden from downtown Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and attended the San Tropez H.O.G. rally in France.  She has found a richly rewarding new life and a new mate with who she shares a deeper, more extraordinary love than she could ever have imagined possible.  Simply put, in the romance Olympics she has obtained a “Gold” medal!

Look for it on a bookshelf soon.

Photo courtesy of HD.

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davidsonsMen have dominated the world of motorcycles.  Sure women on Harley’s date back to the early 1900’s and the first women’s motorcycle group in America was Motor Maids, which started in the 1930’s.   However, in the past 10 years or so women riders have skyrocketed.  Women love motorcycles, it’s a fact! Women riders during the last 20 years have gone from 4% to 12% of all motorcycles registered in the US. Women represent 10% of the U.S. motorcycle population, and nearly 12% of new Harley-Davidson purchasers.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation estimates that one-third of students in the rider safety courses are female.  Harley has clearly figured out women are a growth market for a number of reasons and in that process they also discovered that following the money trail in a household often leads to women.

Karen Davidson

Karen Davidson

One individual who has shaped and dramatically influenced women riders is Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of HD co-founder, William A. Davidson.  She is the daughter of Willie G. Davidson, yet doesn’t seem to get a lot of press unless it’s about participating in a charity event.  As the Creative Director for General Merchandise and responsible for Harley-Davidson MotorClothes I found that somewhat peculiar.

Karen is “4th Generation” and one of three children by Willie G.  She studied fine arts and fashion design in college and was employed in the NYC garment industry for a time.  She began a free-lance leather design business in 1985 and joined HD in 1989.  The company created a new, branded line of apparel and accessories for its customers at that time – MotorClothes.  She is involved in most everything from creative direction of the leather collections to design of diamond rings.  She is an active rider and involved in charity events from the Women’s Day Ride benefiting Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Film contests to the Love Ride.  She has been a key company “booster” in support of women motorcycle riders.  Second only to Leslie Prevish (Women’s Outreach Mgr) who is also very involved with women in motorcycling.

Karen’s influence was noticeable in 1991 when the runways in Paris and New York looked like biker rallies.  Harley-inspired emblems were on everything and Bloomingdales had a “Bad and Beautiful” shop devoted to women’s motorcycle jackets.  That year the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave HD a special award for its influence on fashion.  In 1998 she was involved in a Patent and Trademark trial (and appeal) over the mark “BIKER BLUES” for clothing line which Harley ultimately prevailed.

Beside owning and riding motorcycles, women have formed a presence within the industry that has gone way beyond being umbrella girls or trade show booth babes.  And in no small part thanks to Karen Davidson’s continued efforts to promote women in motorcycling.  I prefer to think of it as a gender-neutral activity, but I get the marketing angle.

Avis and Effie Hotchkiss might have been the first women to ride across the U.S. in 1915, but I’m sure they’d be pleasantly surprised at how far women have come from the motorcycle race track to urban streets.

 

Photo’s courtesy of HD (Family Picture L to R: Karen, Michael, Bill and Willie G.)

 

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Have you noticed the increase in women riding their own motorcycles?  I noticed many during my riding adventures this year. Every year more and more women are sitt’n in the saddle and riding solo on the open road.  Female riders have increased from 4% in 1990 to 12% today.  This aligns perfectly with Harley-Davidsons marketing plans and key product messages as the female demographic represents a significant expansion for the company.

To help “drive” the gal’s to or into their products, Harley introduced a special website and included a laser targeted publication.  Called “We Ride“, there is a lot of information on choosing models, basic handling techniques and how best to customize your ride.  Don’t be confuse.  It provides Harley-centric information about getting into motorcycling.  It’s called “soft” marketing to push product messaging at a key audience and ultimately sell more motorcycles.

I have no idea if similar to the best selling novel by Ann Brashares whether women wearing chaps gain insight into their life or are emboldened to change it.  I’m the first to admit I need help from the “sisters” on that front.

You can download sections or the entire (23Mb) PDF from the jump site here.

Photo courtsey of HD website.

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More women than ever are choosing to ride motorcycles as their main leisure activity. This bit of trivia is according to a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates, where 12 out of every 100 motorcycles are sold to women – a 20 percent increase since 2003.

However, that’s just not enough women buyers for Harley or they aren’t getting a disproportionate share of those women buyers because the company marketers have spun up another promotion targeted exclusively for women. 

The deal is that every women who graduates from a Rider’s Edge course AND purchases a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle now through October 1, 2008 will receive a diamond ring.

This comes as no surprise from a highly male marketing team.  Motorcycling is a male dominated sport and there is very little information out there that speaks directly to woman’s interest in riding or getting her own bike…call me crazy, but today’s woman rider is college-educated earning $50,000 or more and is a role model in her community…do “diamond ring”  stereotype’s really work and influence women to make a purchase decision?

This is so yesterday’s news.  The Harley marketing staff needs to get a clue and bring on a few dozen female college interns to regain perspective.

Ring and Woman advertisement photo courtesy of HD

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Girls Oatman It’s true. Just like there are differences in how men and women communicate there are differences in how they ride.

Whether you’re at work, at home or going for a Harley ride, understanding these gender-related differences – and learning the “tips and tricks” will help you navigate through them.

For example:

You’ll never hear a guy say:

  • Here honey, let me ride “bitch”
  • Do these chaps make my belly look big?
  • I know we just filled up, but lets stop and grab a latte
  • You’ll never hear a gal say:

  • Don’t stop for directions, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out
  • I can sure feel the difference of the $4000 in that “103” kit
  • Let’s smile at that car load of college girls
  • If you don’t get these differences then stop reading here. The biker babe is somewhat stereotypical, but it does make a point. Traveling with the opposite sex can be incredibly fun, entertaining, but if you’re not careful or didn’t think it thru it can be frustrating.

    In fact, Female riders are no longer satisfied hanging on to their significant other and want to grab the handlebars and do their own gig. I’ve never had the pleasure of a female lead driving our posse on a route. I’m sure it will soon come and I expect it be uneventful. How do I know this?

    The demographics for female motorcyclists are:

  • 1 in 10 motorcycle owners is a woman
  • In ’03 of the 23.5M people in the U.S. that operated a motorcycle about 4.3M were women
  • Median age of female motorcyclist is 42
  • 28% of female motorcyclist have a college or post-grad degree
  • 35% of female motorcyclist are in a technical/professional occupation
  • (Source: 2003 Motorcycle Industry Council (most recent))

    As you can see above women are straddling Bold Blue with flame motorcycles. Mostly for the same reason men ride – desire of freedom, relaxing from stress, friendship, garage parties, camaraderie. Now you know why the cycle industry is trying to figure out “How to speak to women?” There are a couple hundred “Queens Together” or “Chicks ‘N Chaps” motorcycle clubs for the sisterhood. In the Northwest there is GRIP (Girls Riding Independently Proud – “Gripsters”) and a couple other groups Women in the Wind (WIW) and Chrome Divas out of South Florida. The “Divas” are women only…both riders and passengers…hummmm?

    This isn’t about who can ride more aggressive or wrench a spark plug best. I really wanted to acknowledge the fact that more riders are women and that we need to understand the differences in how we communicate. I suspect many don’t give a hoot what I think. If the truth be told I got a fortune cookie after eating Chinese and it stated You should enhance your feminine side at this time…so, here is a blog about women…?!

    Point being that if we don’t learn to communicate better (at work, at home or going for a Harley ride) — that off-ramp you just took might be a result of “Sally” checking out a broken finger nail…not a right turn signal! I couldn’t resist.

    Yes, honey I’ll gladly sleep on the sofa tonight… Have I told you how wonderful you look in those chaps?! What color roses do you like?

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