Women Riders

April Ramblings

Written by  March 31, 2010

Are you a biker chick? If so, how many bikinis do you own? Ever sit backwards on your bike in one with your spiked heel shoes up in the air? Me neither.

Despite the proliferation of women in “the lifestyle,” the stereotypical “biker chick” remains firmly ingrained in the minds of many. And if you are not a bikini clad, fake-boobed blonde straddling a chopper, you are most certainly a hardened, spike-haired gal who gets mistaken for a man rather often.

Women like Theresa Wallach, Effie Hotchkiss, Bessie Stringfield and Faye Taylour broke the mold in many different ways and never once posed in a string bikini. Kay Moneghan, the first woman to own and operate a Harley-Davidson dealership and the first woman to become a certified Harley mechanic, was a mother of five children. Kay and her husband Monty began their business in 1947. Their wedding in Brockton, Massachusetts included a procession of over 300 motorcycles. When Monty passed away 12 years later, Kay took over the dealership and moved into the history books. Kay Moneghan passed away February 28 at the age of 88.

According to the AMA website, in 2008, the number of women riders rose 29% from 2003 to 12.4% of all motorcycle owners. Jan Plessner, Kawasaki’s Manager of Public Relations states that 16.5% of their small to midsize motorcycle customers are women. So, since women represent approximately one-eighth of all riders on the road, I have a proposal for all the editors of motorcycle magazines, both print and online: Devote one issue cover a year to us. Instead of a female model immodestly clad and straddling a bike in a gravity-defying manner, use a man. He doesn’t even have to be mostly naked, as most women like a man in well-fitted attire. Think of it: a studly guy, perhaps in some sharp looking leathers, straddling his big bad cruiser with a look that says “Wanna ride this bad boy?” Yes! Oh, Yes!
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A year ago, I wrote about Effie Hotchkiss and her cross-country adventure in 1915 on a three-speed Harley Twin. The trip, which she made with her mother in a sidecar, took over four months on mostly dirt (or mud) roads.

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In September, Cris Sommer Simmons will be riding cross country on the same model bike which she and her husband have been restoring. This time, the trip, The Motorcycle Cannonball Run, is expected to take six days. Cris is the author of “The American Motorcycle Girls, 1900-1950.”
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It’s been a long cruel winter, but the days they are a-changing and a few good riding days have come along. Before getting into full swing, though, there are some things you should check. How old is your helmet? If it’s over five years old, replace it. If it feels “wrong” when you put it on, replace it. Check the strap for wear; make sure the snap or latch is secure. Try on all your gear and make sure it fits well. If it’s too tight, we won’t mention the “D” word, but you should think about replacing it as well. Take the bike for its maintenance if you haven’t already. If you have spoke wheels, have them adjusted. Check the brakes and tires; panic stopping is not the time to find out you need new brakes!

Enjoy the spring weather!

Louise Reeves

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