This is the first time Royal Enfield has confirmed the development of an electric motorcycle. Launch is expected in the coming years.
A Royal Enfield electric motorcycle (yes, you have read that right) has been confirmed to be in the works by the company’s CEO. With the push towards electric mobility reshaping the automotive industry worldwide, manufacturers with little-to-no previous association with EV powertrains have also started to ready themselves for a supposedly inevitable future; Royal Enfield being just one of many others.
Vinod Dasari, CEO of Royal Enfield, shares that the Chennai-based motorcycle brand is actively developing an electric motorcycle. Despite the lower sales volume in the year, the company has invested enough capital to make new products for the coming years; electric and regular.
Earlier this year, the company had announced an investment of Rs 700 crores towards the development of newer and better platforms. Now, we can be certain that a part of it will go into the making of a Royal Enfield electric motorcycle.
It is a known fact that almost all major automotive manufacturers are working on an EV portfolio despite having a strong heritage with fossil-fuel-powered products. Loyal fans and enthusiasts of such brands may not be happy with this and we completely understand that. However, in order to ensure sustainability and reduce the chances of business failure in the future, manufacturers are bound to accept necessary changes.
Perhaps the biggest example of this was the introduction of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. The American motorcycle company — praised for its big, loud and intimidating V-Twins — shocked everyone with the introduction of the LiveWire electric motorcycle. However, from a business point of view, the move made sense and the LiveWire will definitely be a popular option in the electric cruiser market of the future.
Whilst the argument between EV fanatics and ICE purists will go on for ages, there is no denying that electric vehicles will become an integral part of global automotive industries. In India, the idea of electric mobility has not developed as much as in developed countries such as the USA. For starters, we do not have enough supporting infrastructure for EVs to logically replace every petrol/diesel-powered vehicle.
Royal Enfield motorcycles have a huge fan following in the country. The heritage of the British-origin brand is so strong that its classic and original models fetch quite a good amount in the used market. For the same reason, there might some initial shock and confusion regarding an electric Royal Enfield. After all, for the “RE addicts”, Royal Enfield motorcycles have always been about the “thump”.
by Jason Marker from https://www.rideapart.com
Harley-Davidson and Suicide Machine Company built a pair of extremely rad Street Rod-based snow bikes for the X Games.
What do you get when you cross a Street Rod 750, a snow track kit, and the know-how of a couple of ace fabricators? Well, you get a pair of killer Street Rod-based snow bikes like these two beauties right here. Now, I hear you. I hear you asking, “But Jason, why?” The short answer is, “Why not?” The long answer is that the X-Games are coming up and Harley wants to go play in the snow with the cool kids.
A week or so ago, we told you about Harley’s new Snow Hill Climb event at the 2018 X Games out in Aspen, CO. Apparently that wasn’t the only thing The Motor Company had up its sleeve for the event, as I found out earlier this week when I got to talk with Scott Beck, Harley-Davidson’s director of marketing. Along with the customized Sportsters taking part in the hill climb, Harley hired known hooligans and all-around cool guys Aaron and Shaun Guardado from Suicide Machine Company to build the Street Rod Snow Bikes to haul athletes around between events. That’s… that’s pretty rad, Harley.
One of the first things I asked Beck was, “Why the X Games?” I’ll be honest, when I think Harleys I think more about lonesome highways and open roads rather than, say, snowboarding and energy drinks. Beck told me that the hill climb event and the snow bikes are all part of Harley’s efforts to attract more people to motorcycling via the power of awesomeness.
“For 115 years H-D riders from all walks of life have expressed their freedom from the seat of America’s favorite motorcycle, so it’s natural for us to continue to blaze trails – this time off the road and in the snow,” Beck told me. “We’ve raced the ice and climbed virtually every kind of hill, and the Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb is another way for us to grow the sport of motorcycling. We know our riders, and X Games fans and athletes alike share a passion for adrenaline and speed.”
That’s great and all, but what you guys really want to know about is the bikes themselves, right? Lucky for you I also talked to Aaron Guardado of Suicide Machine about the build to find out how these things were built and what makes them tick.
The bikes started off as bone stock XG750 Street Rods, which the brothers received from Harley just before Christmas. That kicked off a frantic search for track conversion kits, a search complicated by the fact that these things are so popular that they’re sold out just about everywhere and Christmas was in a few days. After a flurry of phone calls, they finally tracked down two Camso DTS-129 kits at a dealership in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 23. The track conversion kits arrived at Suicide Machine’s Long Beach shop on Christmas Eve, delivered by the SLC dealer himself in his wife’s Jeep, but that was just the beginning.
If you don’t know – and I didn’t know until Aaron told me – track conversion kits like the Camso units are built specifically for dirt bikes, not street bikes. This meant that both the bike and the track unit itself would have to be modified to make the project work. The guys started by removing the Street Rods’ swingarm, rear tire, and shocks. They then fabricated a pair of struts with quick-release hardware to connect the track unit to the bikes themselves. This was complicated by the fact that the track unit was just a hair narrower than the bike, which threw off the chain allignment. With the help of a machinist friend, the Guardados built a handful of spacers and other adapters to get the drive chain aligned with the bike’s primary drive. Thankfully, since the track has its own integral suspension, they didn’t have to deal with finding a way to spring it as well as mount it.
Up front, they removed the front wheel and fender to mount the conversion kit’s ski. Using the stock Street Rod axle, forks, and triple trees and some custom machined spacers, they were able to mount the ski with much less drama than the track. It still wasn’t quite right though. See, the skis only come in white, which just wasn’t going to cut it. Since, as we all know, black is the coolest color, the guys had the skis ceracoated black. This improved not only their aesthetics, but added an additional layer of protection to keep the skis safe from any debris or obstacles lurking in the snow.
On the performance side, the Guardados chose to give the bikes a light tune and fancy-pants new clutches. Each one got a Screamin’ Eagle pro street tuner, Screamin’ Eagle intake, and Screamin’ Eagle exhaust. The latter needed a bit of fiddling to get it to fit since the stock mounts were removed when the track was installed. To improve power delivery and make these frankenbikes easier to manage, the brothers switched out the stock clutches for Radius X auto-clutches from Rekluse. These things consist of an auto-clutch assembly and a custom clutch pack and allow a rider to start, stop, and shift without ever touching the clutch lever. Aaron told me that the Rekluse clutches make the Street Rods respond to throttle input more like something with a CV transmission than a standard gearbox, therefore making them easier to control in the snow.
Once all the machining and fiddling and finessing was done, it was time for the Guardados to test their new creations. Sadly, there was no snow because, you know, California, so the bikes were just fired up on the bench and tested in the shop. Everything looked okay, so the bikes were loaded up and shipped out to Aspen for their shakedowns. Once the bikes were in the snow, they really showed off their potential. The Street Rods proved surprisingly well suited for the snow bike conversion, and with the engine tune and Rekluse clutch they powered through the drifts like they were built for it. At one point during all the screwing around in the snow serious testing, Olympic snowboarder Ben Ferguson showed up with fellow snowboarder Jack Mitrani. After oohing and aahing over the bikes for a bit, they snagged one and started towing each other through the snow while kicking up serious rooster tails. This was, without a doubt, the perfect way to test them.
During our conversation, Aaron told me that despite the stresses of building these bikes over the holidays with such a tight deadline, that he was really proud of how they came out. He felt that the project stretched the boundaries of not just the brothers’ skills as builders and fabricators, but the capabilities of the Street Rod as well.
I gotta say, these snow bikes are extremely rad. They’re such a departure from the usual Harley-based customs, and they really show off the versatility of the Street Rod platform. I mean, who ever would have thought making a Street Rod into a snow bike? If you’re going to be in Aspen this weekend, or are just enjoying the X Games from the comfort of your warm living room, keep an eye out for them zipping around the event grounds.
by Rich Duprey from https://www.fool.com/
Sales remained aloft longer than its rival, but now even its sales are falling.
As much as falling motorcycle sales at Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have been attributed to its core customer aging out of the market while the next generation of riders seems uninterested in buying the big bikes it produces, Indian Motorcycle sidestepped most of the same pitfalls even though it produces many of the same kinds of motorcycles as Harley does.
Since being resurrected from bankruptcy by Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) and returned to the market in 2014, Indian has been a steady performer with retail sales often rising in the double-digit percentages. That has allowed it to steal market share from Harley, whose sales often contracted at similar percentages.
Yet with Polaris’ third-quarter earnings report released last month, investors may have to accept that Indian Motorcycle now has its own Harley-Davidson problem.
A worsening sales decline
Polaris Industries is not transparent at all when it comes to telling you how its motorcycle business is performing. Where Harley breaks down sales and shipments by geographic region and type of motorcycle, Polaris provides vague percentage increases or declines, maybe calling out a model once in a while, but never giving investors any real insight into how Indian’s various motorcycles are performing.
What we do know is that despite double- and even triple-digit sales growth early on, Indian Motorcycle sales are now quickly spiraling down. Even as Polaris obscures the actual numbers, a mid-teen-percentage decline in retail sales that far eclipses the contraction of the broader motorcycle market suggests that this is becoming a big problem for the bike maker.
Worse, the downdraft is accelerating. In the second quarter, Polaris said Indian retail sales were down by almost 10%, while in the first quarter they were down by high single-digit rates. In last year’s fourth quarter they were down by low double-digit amounts, which was a big drop since they had been positive the quarter before.
That doesn’t bode well for when Polaris reports results the next time around. Even though the bar has been lowered considerably on sales, there’s no reason to think it will be able to rebound — precisely because Indian is still making the same kinds of heavy, big-bore bikes as Harley.
It just released its newest touring motorcycle, the 2020 Challenger, that houses its bigger, more muscular liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine that evokes images of Harley’s Road Glide.
Looking to reverse direction
Certainly both bike makers are hoping to change the equation. Harley has gone all-in on electric motorcycles — a field Polaris rejects, saying they’re unprofitable — along with two new styles it recently unveiled that represent a big change for the bike maker: the Bronx streetfighter and the Pan America adventure bike. They’re smaller, lighter, and meant for a different kind of riding than typified by Harley’s cruisers.
Polaris has also introduced a new bike, the FTR 1200, which was inspired by its racing team’s success on the flat-track circuit. While many enthusiasts had hoped for a street version of the FTR 750 that was tearing up the track, Polaris came out with a somewhat bigger, more powerful bike that it also hopes changes the conversation about its products.
But the introduction of the FTR 1200 was flawed in several respects. Polaris was late to market with the bike, so it missed a good part of the sales season, and then misjudged demand for the different models, believing more buyers would want the base model when in reality there was higher demand for the race replica version.
The new model helped lift international sales in the quarter, but it may be a while before we see any impact here at home. Motorcycle sales typically dry up during the winter months, and it’s still unknown what kind of demand will be there come the spring.
The outlook isn’t bright for biking
Polaris Industries, unlike Harley, is more than just a motorcycle maker. It also makes side-by-side recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, and more recently boats. They help the powersports vehicle maker smooth out sales over the year. And motorcycles only account for 9% of total revenue.
Yet with motorcycle sales deepening even further into the red, Indian is mimicking the worst aspects of its rival at just the wrong time, and its problem could only get worse.
The Piaggio Group has presented a number of exceptional new motorcycles and scooters from its exclusive brands. The highly anticipated new Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa and Piaggio models were unveiled in preparation for next year.
It’s a new era for Aprilia. Created around a totally new technical base, defined by the 660 parallel twin, comes a new generation of lightweight, high-performance bikes that are sophisticated in design. A return to the mid-sized engine, supported by the electronics and technology of the Aprilia Racing department, to rediscover the pleasure and joy of everyday riding.
The first born in this brand-new generation is RS 660 – premium technical content and advanced but unvarnished performance to rediscover the pleasure of dynamic riding on the road. A sportbike to suit all motorcyclists and that requires no particular experience level or ability. The innovative concept behind the RS 660 project can be summed up by its excellent weight/power ratio that makes for enjoyable riding, whether relaxed or more sports-orientated: 169 kg plus 100hp is the perfect formula for enjoyment on the road.
The Tuono 660 Concept best expresses the new concept of sports versatility introduced by Aprilia with the new family of motorcycles designed around the new 660 cc twin-cylinder that, with the Tuono 660 Concept, is able to deliver 95hp. Thanks to highly sophisticated semi-active suspension, the fastest, most powerful and lightweight RSV4 becomes even more efficient on track and enjoyable on the road. The control unit that governs the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension has access to all the bike’s electronic systems, meaning it is able to recognise all riding phases and therefore adapt calibration of the fork, shock absorber and steering damper hydraulics thanks to the development of an algorithm, the fruit of collaboration between Öhlins and Aprilia.
Tuono V4 1100 Factory is the most exclusive version in the Tuono range, dedicated to an extremely demanding public and equipped with components that largely derive from the Aprilia RSV4 superbike. The front mudguard, engine cover and side panels of the Factory are now in carbon fibre, a prestigious material that, as well as being lightweight and resistant, is able to boost the level of construction quality, now at a peak. The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory offers, as standard, the most advanced and efficient electronic suspension system currently available.
Following the critical and public acclaim achieved by the V85 TT, Moto Guzzi presents the Travel version, ready to take to the road with its complete dedicated range of equipment. Featuring, as standard, a higher Touring windshield, a pair of very spacious panniers, a set of heated hand grips, a pair of additional LED lights, and the Moto Guzzi MIA multimedia platform that allows a smartphone to be connected to the vehicle, extending the instrument cluster functions. The Sabbia Namib colour is exclusively dedicated to V85 TT Travel. Making its debut is Moto Guzzi V7 III Stone S, a sportier and more sophisticated interpretation of the Mandello best-seller.
There are also various new models from Piaggio. Piaggio Medley combines the agility of an urban vehicle with the dynamic performance of a high wheel model and the comfort and loading capacity of a big GT scooter. The new design puts the emphasis on sportiness, with a totally redesigned front end, at the centre of which the new vertical element stands out, characterised by a 3D honeycomb grille. Making its debut on the Piaggio Medley is the latest evolution in the family of Piaggio i-get engines, with 125 and 150 cc engine capacity: both are liquid-cooled, with four-valve distribution and electronic injection, and deliver 11 and 12.1kW respectively.
Piaggio Beverly, a leader in the high wheel scooter segment, presents its new 2020 range, available with 300 and 350 cc engines. The latter is the innovative engine with record performance introduced for the first time in 2011 with the top-of-range SportTouring version and now extended to the entire Beverly family, composed of Beverly, Beverly S and the brand-new Beverly Tourer.
Vespa Primavera Sean Wotherspoon is a special edition that expresses all the creative energy linking Vespa and Sean Wotherspoon, one of the most creative and influential designers on the American landscape. Sean takes the steel body of Vespa Primavera and creates a new style dedicated to young urban tribes, but one that can also appeal to a wider audience.
by Robin-Leigh Chetty from https://www.htxt.co.za/
While Harley-Davidson is not the first name that springs to mind when it comes to electric vehicles, every time we’ve written about the company, it’s had to do with one of its EVs.
This time around is no different, as the company offered up the first looks at its new trio of pedal-assisted electric bikes at 2019 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan earlier this week.
Electrek was on hand to take a closer look at the bikes, and you can check out a full gallery of images on its site.
With the trio of electric bikes yet to have official names, we’re more interested in what Harley-Davidson’s plans are moving forward, and luckily the firm has offered up some insight in that regard.
An unnamed spokesperson has noted that Harley-Davidson will be gauging the interest and demand for pedal-assisted electric bikes in coming months, with a view to launch them some time in 2020.
Based on the concept models shown in Milan, it looks the company is targeting a more premium customer, with The Verge believing that a price tag around the $1000 mark is not out of the question. This makes sense considering the electric LiveWire motorbike goes for a cool $30 000 on pre-order.
These bikes are not the only EVs that Harley-Davidson is working on, with the company also revealing an interesting looking e-bike concept last year, but sadly no word on whether that will go into production.
It’s also unclear which regions outside of the US the firm plans to launch these upcoming electric bikes, or indeed its LiveWire. With a number of dealerships locally, there is certainly a demand for the brand, and perhaps some of its future EVs too.
by Patrick Filbin from https://www.stripes.com/
(Tribune News Service) — Chris Mathison served three tours in Iraq over a 14-month period.
As a U.S. Army infantryman, he was in charge of millions of dollars worth of equipment, led a team of fellow infantrymen and, all things considered, was a soldier who was depended upon and good at his job.
When he came back home to Tennessee, he had a hard time adjusting.
The Nashville native moved to Cookeville after he got out of the service in 2011 and tried to find a stable job.
“I’ve probably been through 10 jobs,” Mathison said. “It’s hard to find something that fits. You don’t feel like you belong, there’s no sense of purpose or belonging.”
He went to school and received an associate’s degree, but even school was a tough adjustment.
“I remember very fondly when I got out, I was going through a sociology class,” Mathison recalled. “As we were flipping through the book, I found a picture of my unit in Iraq and it just kind of blew my mind.”
Mathison, 35, had a whole life behind him that he had a hard time talking about. Not only was the subject matter sensitive, he couldn’t find like-minded people to talk to. As an infantryman, he was surrounded by people who were going through the same things as he was, living through the same experiences.
When he came back home, he was taking general education courses with 19-year-olds.
“That was interesting,” he said with a smirk.
Soon after he got out, Mathison signed up for his first program with the Wounded Warrior Project, the country’s largest veterans charity organization.
He enrolled in the organization’s TRACK program, which had a curriculum meant to heal, develop and train the mind, body and spirit of each wounded warrior through two semesters of college.
It also incorporated peak performance training, health and wellness training, personal finance advice and a physical education program.
Ever since, he’s been a loyal supporter of the organization that helps veterans in a number of ways.
Wounded Warriors also helped Mathison get certified in scuba diving.
One of the newest programs in Georgia is a 12-week mental health workshop that kicks off with a three-day motorcycle road trip across North Georgia.
Jon Blauvelt, a public relations specialist with Wounded Warriors, said the program is designed to give veterans an outlet to manage PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other invisible wounds of war while connecting with nature and fellow veterans.
Motorcycles play a huge role in the therapy. Through wind and throttle therapy, reflective discussion and several weeks of follow-ups, the group of eight veterans from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Florida will experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip while bettering themselves mentally and spiritually.
“When you’re on one of these big bikes, all you’re thinking about is the bike,” Blauvelt said. “I’m on this bike, here are my surroundings, here’s the weather, but you’re not thinking about PTSD or [traumatic brain injury], you’re not thinking about what happened before and you’re not thinking about the future. You’re thinking about the present moment.”
It’s a perfect fit for Mathison, who is also a part of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
Mathison and the seven other riders strolled in at the Harley-Davidson store in Dalton, Georgia, on Tuesday afternoon for a lunch hosted by the motorcycle shop.
Cynthia Allgood, manager of the store, said it was a privilege to host the veterans who sacrificed so much for the country without asking for anything in return.
“Something like this gets you together with like-minded individuals and you can talk about everything and it creates a really good atmosphere,” Mathison said. “You’re able to make some really good friends that I would not have met.”
The Man of Many of Many Celebrities and Harleys
I’ve known and worked with Gene Thomason at Bartels’ H-D in Marina Del Rey, California for about 35 years. He was always known for his Harley-Davidson and Marlboro Man bikes, but he worked with way more celebrities during his long history with Bartels.
A new study has found that e-scooters may be greener than most cars, but they can be less green than several other options.
Washington DC: People who think electric scooters or e-scooters are environmentally friendly, take note!
A new study has found that e-scooters may be greener than most cars, but they can be less green than several other options.
“E-scooter companies tout themselves as having little or no carbon footprint, which is a bold statement,” said Jeremiah Johnson, the corresponding author of the study
“We wanted to look broadly at the environmental impacts of shared e-scooters – and how that compares to other local transportation options.”
To capture the impact of e-scooters, researchers looked at emissions associated with four aspects of each scooter’s life cycle: the production of the materials and components that go into each scooter; the manufacturing process; shipping the scooter from the manufacturer to its city of use; and collecting, charging and redistributing the scooters.
The researchers also conducted a small-scale survey of e-scooter riders to see what modes of transportation they would have used if they hadn’t used an e-scooter.
The researchers found that 49 per cent of riders would have biked or walked; 34 per cent would have used a car; 11 per cent would have taken a bus; and 7 per cent wouldn’t have taken the trip at all.
In order to compare the impact of e-scooters to that of other transport options, the researchers looked at previously published life cycle analyses of cars, buses, electric mopeds, and bicycles.
Researchers looked at four types of pollution and environmental impact: climate change impact; nutrient loading in water; respiratory health impacts related to air pollution; and acidification.
The performance results were similar for all four types of pollution.
“A lot of what we found is pretty complicated, but a few things were clear,” said Johnson.
“Biking – even with an electric bike – is almost always more environmentally friendly than using a shared e-scooter. The sole possible exception is for people who use pay-to-ride bike-share programs. Those companies use cars and trucks to redistribute the bicycles in their service area, which can sometimes make them less environmentally friendly than using an e-scooter.”
By the same token, the study found that driving a car is almost always less environmentally friendly than using an e-scooter.
But some results may surprise you. For example, taking the bus on a route with high ridership is usually more environmentally friendly than an e-scooter.
“We found that the environmental impact from the electricity used to charge the e-scooters is fairly small – about 5 per cent of its overall impact,” said Johnson. “The real impact comes largely from two areas: using other vehicles to collect and redistribute the scooters; and emissions related to producing the materials and components that go into each scooter.”
That means that there are two major factors that contribute to each scooter’s environmental footprint. First is that the less driving that is done to collect and redistribute the scooters, the smaller the impact. The second factor is the scooters’ lifetime: the longer the scooter is in service, the more time it has to offset the impact caused by making all of its constituent parts.
Anxious to find new audiences after a decade of declining sales, the giants like Harley-Davidson and BMW Motorrad are finally taking notice of a self-made community.
On Valentine’s Day, Sharry Billings posted a photograph on Instagram. Below the image of herself, her hair a red caramel and her smile open, she wrote: “I love you so much I wanna squeeze you!”
The object of her affection? “All the motorcycles I have owned and will own in the future,” she explained. Alongside the photo of her astride a Harley-Davidson, she wrote that bikes “have changed my life, healed my soul, and brought me more love and friendships than I could have ever imagined.”
Billings goes by @sistermother13 on Instagram, but the main account she oversees is @thelitaslosangeles. The Litas is a group she joined three years ago as a way to connect with other women riders in her city. She’s co-led the L.A. branch for two years. When she joined, it provided her with much-needed healing and camaraderie after her kids grew up and she got divorced. Billings had ridden as a teenager and into her 20s but took a hiatus later. “It was always in my heart,” she says. But when she was married with young children, “I thought it was a little too dangerous.”
After the breakup in 2015, she found herself longing for escape. And adventure. “My prayer at the time was, ‘God, I don’t want to date.’ These men are not happening,” Billings says, laughing. “The first thing that came to my heart was the motorcycle I wanted. It was a Harley.”
She bought the bike, took the ride. Then she joined the Litas. “I’m very grateful to have found my heart again,” Billings says.
Founded in Utah by Jessica Haggett half a decade ago, the Litas have expanded to include hundreds of branches around the world (Litas Denver, Litas Lisbon, Litas Rome), with members ranging from twentysomething singles to 60- and 70-year-old retirees with grandkids. They take regular rides, often along wild back roads, including the Pine Mountain Ridge route near Ojai, Calif., that Billings took with 32 other riders one Saturday in July. It’s about riding with your own style and pace but surrounded by like-minded friends.
“If you’re learning to ride, you’re going to kill yourself riding with men—they ride like bats out of hell!” Billings says. “And women—I’m generalizing here—tend to be more careful. We are mothers, we are sisters, we feel obligated to stay alive.”
The Litas are singular but not uncommon. All across California, Oregon, and Utah, from Texas to New York, women-only motorcycle groups and riding events are springing up like wildflowers. They go by names such as the Miss-Fires (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the Chrome Divas (Austin), and Leather and Lace (Daytona Beach, Fla.). They do regular rides: Tuesday night pizza runs, say, or weekend coffee meetups—and they take periodic excursions to women-only destination events such as the Wild Gypsy Tour, which is organizing a festival in Sturgis, S.D., in August, and the Dream Roll in Ashland, Ore.; it’s early June event near Denver was photographed for this article.
The biggest crowd follows Babes Ride Out, a series of events founded by Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis in 2013. It started with 50 women riders who gathered to camp out in Borrego Springs, Calif. They built fires, pitched tents, drank beer, and played games on Harleys, Husqvarnas, and Hondas while soaking in nature and one another’s company.
These groups are tapping into an undercurrent of the motorcycle industry. As sales have faltered, dropping more than 40% from 2008 to 2010, then recovering somewhat by 2014 but never to previous levels, manufacturers including Harley-Davidson Inc. and BMW Motorrad have struggled to create appeal beyond their core demographic of older white men. Their efforts include offering electric and less-expensive motorbikes and introducing exciting conceptual prototypes. Female riders offer enthusiasm and youth, and, yes, they’re spending money that brands crave.
The number of women who own motorcycles has almost doubled since 2010, according to a 2018 study by the Motorcycle Industry Council. Today, 19% of owners are women, up from 10% in 2009 and 8% in the late 1990s. And the number of female riders gets higher as you go younger: 22% of Generation X riders are women, and 26% of millennial riders are women. What’s more, the average woman who owns a motorcycle spends $574 annually on maintenance, parts, service, and accessories, while the average man who rides spends $497.
While the industry on the whole dropped 40% from 2008 to 2010, the amount of women who own motorcycles has almost doubled
“We are riding a ton,” says Joy Lewis, who started when she was 12. “I have a friend who put 20,000 miles on her bike in one year.” Lewis’s father, an Alaskan crab fisherman who owned a Harley, got her hooked. “We spend a lot of money on our gear and our bikes, and a lot of things to go with them. I think that’s starting to be appreciated.”
Andy Jefferson, a spokesman for Husqvarna, says one of the brand’s priorities must be to provide support for women’s motorcycling. “We were like everyone else—going after a piece of the pie,” he says. “But everyone was looking at men, and there are all these other people—women—that nobody even really talks about in conversations about how to sell more bikes.” The brand lacks figures for how many of its owners are women but is “working to change that,” Jefferson says. “That’s part of the problem.”
Husqvarna honed in on women riders five years ago when it started sponsoring Babes in the Dirt, an offshoot of Babes Ride Out that’s more focused on off-road and dirt-bike riding. Last year the company spent $50,000 to $60,000 in support of the three-day rally, lending 27 motorcycles and nine staffers to service the bikes and teach.
“We counted between 80 and 100 girls out there [trying out] Husqvarnas,” he says. “The number is not huge by any means, but those are 100 people we didn’t have before. It also jumps down to their brothers and sisters and kids. We never would have got these people without doing this.”
But more important, “we want to get you to ride a motorcycle,” Jefferson adds. “If you ride with Babes and have fun and go buy another brand, great. We just want people riding.”
At BMW Motorrad, which on July 1 named Trudy Hardy vice president for the Americas, the company is sponsoring women-only events including the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride. It’s also covering travel expenses and appearance fees for brand reps such as Elspeth Beard, an architect who was the first British woman to ride her motorcycle around the world. The brand also sends pro racer Jocelin Snow and Erin Sills, who holds a 242 mph land speed record, to attend events at local dealerships.
Harley-Davidson has expanded its retail line in recent years to include a host of riding jackets, helmets, boots, and gloves sized and styled for women. It’s perhaps the most critical field of growth for the 116-year-old Wisconsin brand, which has seen sales steadily decline since 2014. The average age of a Harley owner is 50. The average price of one is $15,800—more than many millennials will spend on a car, let alone a motorcycle.
“Even just in the last five years the conversation has shifted,” says motorcycle aficionado Lewis. “I’m sitting here in leather Kevlar pants as we speak, about to go into a meeting. Not only are companies making cute technical stuff that you could wear to work—rather than some weird leather pants with pink embroidery all over the butt that you’d never wear—they’re making things we can actually use.”
Attendees at events for Babes Ride Out (or BRO, the ironic abbreviation they’ve adopted) come to America from as far away as Sweden and South America. Some have ridden since they could walk; some can’t operate a bike at all, preferring always to be a passenger and imbibe the inspirational atmosphere. There’s always plenty of denim and leather on-site—but the hipster kind, not the leather-daddy look. Local shops give classes on basic bike maintenance. Some women get tattoos to commemorate the experience.
“People camp, and there are trailers, too,” Lewis says. “The idea is that you grab coffee and breakfast, and then during the day everyone is out riding. And then all the stuff happens in the evenings with bands or karaoke and slow races”—feats of throttle control.
Earlier this year, a 96-year-old woman joined them at camp; she’d first ridden cross-country on her motorcycle 75 years ago. Last summer the annual California desert meetup saw 1,700 women ride in Yucca Valley; 500 attended an East Coast campout in the Catskill Mountains in New York; 700 attended the most recent Babes in the Dirt in Lebec, Calif.
“Maybe people think that women who ride are pretty tough and badass, which is probably true, but all in all, women riders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and lifestyles, so any label that you want to give them does not really work,” co-founder Violet says. “I can honestly say that there is no ‘type’ … and we like it that way!”
Be Here Next for Motor-Loving Ladies
The Dream Roll
Set at New Frontier Ranch in the southern wilds of Oregon, the Dream Roll offers camping, tattoos, dirt trails, an on-site bar, and water activities near stunningly picturesque Crater Lake. Aug. 23–25; Ashland, Ore.
Wild Gypsy Tour – Sturgis Buffalo Chip
The biggest and baddest Gypsy festival of the year, the five-day South Dakota event will appeal to the truly unbridled spirit with Super Hooligan races, minibike showdowns, the Wall of Death—and multiple concerts including Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Snoop Dogg, and Styx. Aug. 3–7; Sturgis, S.D.
Babes in the Dirt East
A mix of flat-track and motocross riding gives dirt-loving ladies a place to experience and perfect their off-roading skills. Where Babes Ride Out focuses on asphalt routes, here you’ll be on trails. Sept. 20–22; Greenville, Tenn.
Babes Ride Out 7 – Central Coast
BRO 7 will include the jewels of years past: karaoke, free beer, performances from local bands, route maps for area rides, and hands-on classes for working on your bike. B.Y.O. tent. Oct. 11–13; Santa Margarita, Calif.