Doug Stabler
Jeremy Hamilton
John Glimmerveen
Paul Funk
Reza Masiha
Dimitri Hettinga
Doug Stabler

Let’s get ahead of the curve!

Date:05-01-2017 Source:chinamotor

Question to dealers and manufacturers: What is the fasting growing group of potential riders and buyers of our products? In other words, where is our future?

Did you answer: women?

If not, it is time for you to do some research.

My business, ATV Wholesale Outlet Inc sells more Chinese scooters, ATVs, and motorcycles than any other dealer on the entire West Coast of the United States. I am “in the trenches,” seeing every day what people are buying and what they ask for.

It used to be that women came in with their boyfriends, husbands, or fathers, but more and more women walk into my dealership all on their own, knowing exactly what they want.

Across America, between 2003 and 2009 the estimated number of women motorcyclists increased 67 percent, and the estimated number of women motorcycle owners increased 37 percent.  By 2013 CBS News reported roughly 1 in every 10 motorcycle owners is a woman.

I can tell you that this is not just the trend in on road motorcycles, but Off Road Dirt Bikes, and ATVs as well. I just began receiving pink full-size ladies ranch ATVs 3 months ago and sometimes I sell 2 in 1 day. I can’t order and receive enough of little girls ATVs, which are always sold out. Pink helmets, Goggles, Gloves and more are super hot sellers!

What is behind this trend? I hear from women they love the freedom that motorcycle riding gives them. They like the social aspects of being part of motorcycle groups, riding with other women and going out for adventures. They watch celebrities like Cher, Joan Jett, Angelina Jolie, Pink, and Victoria Beckham enjoying themselves and looking cool.

Women like the practicality of affordable transportation that is cheaper than cars to fill with gas, to maintain, and to insure.

The insurance industry is busy writing policies for the overall increasing numbers of riders using motorcycles for every-day transportation, not just as spare time leisure riding.  And the industry is well aware that they are selling more policies to women every year.

With every vehicle we sell to a woman, they go out the door with proper protective gear that includes a full face helmet and eye protection, and often jacket, gloves and other items.

A bit of history: Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s bought motorcycles for transportation, not recreation. People could afford a motorcycle when the cost of a car was growing to prices often out of reach. When Henry Ford in 1927 sold automobiles for just $380, motorcycle sales dropped.  As the cost of a new car came up, so did motorcycle sales.

Motorcycles, whether for transport or recreation were mainly vehicles for men.

Women riders had to do something outstanding to be recognized. Here are a few who have contributed to the history and progress of motorcycling.

The first female riders to cross America were mother and daughter Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, in 1915. They rode a three speed V-twin Harley Davidson equipped with a sidecar for Avis from New York to California to attend the San Francisco World’s Fair.

Women were the first ever to climb up and down Pike’s Peak. In 1916 sisters Adeline and Augusta Van Buren took two months to cross the states, on a pair of Indian Powerplus Bikes, traveling 3,300 miles over often unpaved roads, and were once arrested for publicly wearing trousers (long pants).

Bessie Stringfield, who started riding when she was 16, was the first African-American woman to travel cross-country solo, in 1929 at age 19. On her 1928 Indian Scout, she traveled through all of the lower 48 states during the 1930s and 1940s when prejudice was strong and ugly. She served in World War II as one of the few motorcycle dispatch riders for the United States military.

In 1929 Vivian Bales appeared on the cover of The Harley-Davidson Enthusiast magazine spreading goodwill for the company as she rode cross-country.

Linda Dugeau began riding and touring in 1932. In 1938, she established a national network of female motorcyclists called the Motor Maids. The organization was chartered with the AMA in 1941, making it the oldest motorcycle organization for women in North America.

Louise Scherbyn founded the Women’s International Motorcycle Association (WIMA), which still exists today.

Billed as “The Blonde Cyclone” and the “Movie Stunt Girl”, Terry Strong was a motorcycle daredevil who performed acrobatic stunts in a motordrome 30 foot in diameter with 15 foot high walls. She was featured in Life Magazine in 1948.

Glamorous Anke-Eve Goldman was a female racer in the 1950s and 1960s who became a spokesperson for BMW. At six foot tall, she was a sensation wherever she went, teaching language to American children in Germany, teaching motorcycle riding, and racing hotrods.

Women have been on their bikes as long as men have, and it is time we focused on designing for their unique needs. We need to look at not just comfort issues, but safety as well.

Look at manufacturers that already understand this.

Honda reports that 40 percent of their 250cc Rebel street bikes are sold to women, as well as many scooter sales. They are mindful in new designs to provide a low seat height and center of gravity, ABS brakes and an automatic transmission.

Harley-Davidson is the number one seller of new street motorcycles (all engine sizes) in the United States to young adults ages 18-34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as Caucasian men ages 35 plus.

Among the bikes, what lure women today are: the Harley Sportster, Triumph Street Triple, Honda VFR400R NC30, Harley-Davidson Sportster XL883L, Suzuki Burgman 400 (a scooter), Triumph Bonneville SE, Suzuki Inazuma 250, Victory Hammer S, Suzuki Marauder GZ125, Kawasaki Ninja 250R, and Kawasaki ER-6n.

In 2009, an American company, ROAR Motorcycles introduced the first production motorcycle “designed by women exclusively for women.” After two years of work, under CEO Kathy Tolleson, the company rolled out a bike that addressed the needs and desires of women riders. The frame and suspension allows seat height and ground clearance to fluctuate. The foot controls are adjustable without any extra brackets. Design changes include exhaust curves that go forward and around the rider’s foot and run low below the floorboards to avoid getting burnt by hot pipes. Swept-back handlebars bring hand controls within easy reach. A wide leather seat can accommodate a woman’s hips.

Yes, the Roar bikes are pricey. Being ahead of the curve, in R&D, and customizing from what has been standard male dominated industry, can put this company and others in a position to rule a niche market that is growing rapidly.

It’s time the glossy motorcycle publications expanded their advertising beyond appeals to men, with sexy young girls sprawled on bikes. If Chinese companies want to extend invitations to the rapidly growing group of female buyers, here is your wake up call.

I have to explain to the women who come to my business that it’s up to them to customize their own bikes. We can help them, but Chinese bikes are aimed at mostly men.

After us pushing for 3 years, 1 of our suppliers decided to try producing a small number of Pink Camouflage ATVs just for us. We just began getting in full size Ladies ATVs in Pink Camo. They have been selling extremely well. Sometimes 2 in 1 day! Now we are hoping for Orange Camo and Purple Camo as well.

Are we going to be satisfied with stagnation? Why should my customers feel envy for riders of forward-looking Hondas, Harleys and Suzukis? Are we going to compete and get our share of the Ladies powersports market, or are we going to sit back, content with our good-enough products?

Do we, as designers, engineers, manufacturers and dealers, have what it takes to produce exciting and distinct merchandise that can excite the market and fill our dealerships with the right products that all consumers want?

I hope to get some feedback on this so I can report to our readers in a future.

Thanks for reading.


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