One of the motorcycle industry’s biggest hurdles is figuring out how to capture new riders in new segments. Sure, it’s easy to add more 50 to 60-year-old dudes riding Harleys, but unless the industry figures out how to sell bikes to young people and women, it simply won’t grow.
The motorcycle industry is obviously doing something right though, and the number of women owning motorcycles is currently higher than it’s ever been in the past.
The Motorcycle Industry Council tracks huge amounts of data which is used by manufacturers so they can react to trends. This data has recently shown that females currently make up 14% of the current total of motorcycle ownership, which has been increasing steadily since 1998 when it was just 8%.
Even better? These numbers are skewing towards the younger generation. Women aged between 18-35 currently make up 17.6% of motorcycle owners, those between 36 and 50 make up 17%, and those aged between 51 and 69 are just 9% of total motorcycle owners.
34% of these women riders were cruisers, and 33% have chosen scooters. Just 10% own sports bikes, while the last 20% was a mix between adventure, standard, and off-road bikes.
Women listed a few different reasons for riding, and the top were “sense of freedom,” “fun and recreation”, and “enjoy outdoors/nature”, and said that fuel economy and test rides as two of their biggest factors when it was time to buy a bike.
It turns out that female riders are also a little smarter than men, and 60% reported that they’d already taken a motorcycle course, compared to 42% of men. It also turns out that the average female motorcyclist is 39 years old, compared to 48 for men.
47% of female riders have either a college or post grad degree, and more than 49% either do their own maintenance or outsource it to a friend (something that’s becoming easier now that and other parts are now available online on sites like .
In the United States, motorcycle sales are still only about 50% of what they were before the recession, but with more and more women joining the ranks of motorcyclists around the world, we can expect to see awesome new technologies being developed, the release of new bikes, and innovation from the gear world in the next few years.
Sara Schlike is BMW Motorrad USA’s national marketing manager, and also the chair or PowerLily, which is a group of professionals in the female motorcycle industry. She says that while her generation was still being told that women belonged in the kitchen, Generation Y was told they could do whatever they wanted.
There’s little doubt that the internet has helped female riders to connect and learn from each other, while also allowing them to buy gear online. In fact , bike parts, and other gear is readily available online, and there are many different groups for women who want to connect to other female motorcycle owners.