Why You Should Trade Your Steering Wheel for Handlebars

The arrival of summer can entail much excitement. Summer means beaches and ice cream dripping down to your elbow, it means bonfires that will leave the smell in your hair for a week. Best of all, the first hints of summer mean pulling your slightly dusty motorcycle out of the garage after being separated from your two-wheeled friend for far too long.

If you are a woman who, like myself, has a hunger for independence, leaps at adventure, and loves the feeling of female liberation, this should be right up your highway.

Saving for a car is the standard, but trading in a steering wheel for handlebars can reap many benefits -  for your wallet, your wardrobe, and even for your mental health!

I speak partially from personal experience. I cannot recall a time in my life where motorcycles were not around. My dad rides, his brothers ride, even my mom’s brother joined the family ordeal. In all of this motorcycle-mania, I could never help but notice the ladies in my life sitting on the back of the bike, myself included. As I have gotten older, my desire to take the front seat has persisted. In this desire, I am not alone.

Before women even had the right to vote, they were finding their independence and freedom on motorcycles. In 1915, mother-daughter-duo Avis and Effie Hotchkiss rode across the U.S. on a Harley-Davidson with a sidecar. Their adventurous spirit paved the road for many others, as the percentage of women who ride has only continued to increase. In 2009, 10.5% of the biker population was made up of women. The most recent study from 2014 shows that this number is now 14%.

With the steadily increasing population of female bikers, the stigma of motorcycling as a masculine culture that seeks to largely objectify women is beginning to dissipate. Women who ride have created tight-knit communities and female-centered events to counteract such stigmas. Groups like “The Litas” are just one example of the bonds being created by the female biker community.

As for events, “Babes Ride Out” is possibly the pinnacle of female liberation within the scope of the biker community. This event is an annual female-only motorcycle rally held in Joshua Tree, California. Between music, tattoos, fashion, food, drinks, the beautiful setting, great company, and motorcycles galore, Babes Ride Out serves as an example of the joy that can be found in a community of women who ride. 

The female biker community has also taken creative liberties in redefining what it means to be a motorcyclist. Fashion and safety have molded together, as businesses like Breaking Hearts & Burning Rubber and Gear Chic have started creating apparel and gear that fit the needs of biker women. 

Clearly, this haven of ladies who take the two-wheeled route is enough to inspire a desire to ride, but choosing to ride a motorcycle reaps benefits beyond the freedom of hitting the road. If you are looking to save a penny, choosing two wheels instead of four is a great way to go. In terms of saving money on gas, smaller sized motorcycles can get anywhere from 60 to 120 miles to the gallon, and medium to larger sized bikes still hit the range of 40 to 50.

Besides making your wallet happier, embracing a life on two-wheels can also make you happier. In a study commissioned by Harley-Davidson, compared to their non-riding counterparts, female riders are twice as likely to report feeling "confident". Over half of these riders also reported that motorcycling made them feel "free" and "independent", and oddly enough, "extremely satisfied" with their appearance as well. 

While motorcycling may still be a male-dominated pursuit, the community as a whole has slowly started to change as a result of women taking their place at the front of the bike. With the benefits of community, freedom, confidence, and pleasure, rationalizing the switch to two wheels is simple, advantageous and undeniably liberating. 

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