By Lisa Malachowsky
With experts describing the current trajectory of the motorcycle industry as “on a downswing,” I am here to talk about a group that’s on the upswing: Women riders.
The latest reported Motorcycle Industry Council statistics show that women accounted for 14 percent of riders in 2015, but we know that number has grown rapidly in the past three years.
I have been a rider since I was a 10-year old and an AMA member for more than 20 years. I’ve worked at three motorcycle dealerships and a helmet maker, and I have run my own accessories business.
About five years ago, I also became a member of the Women’s Coalition of Motorcyclists. The WCM (www.wcm2020.org) is an advocacy organization that was formed in 2012 with a mission to double the number of women riding motorcycles, while ensuring diversity in the women’s riding community.
The WCM encourages female motorcyclists to both tell more women to join us and to keep those who are already riding in the saddle.
I was elected to the WCM industry liaison in 2018. This position offers me the opportunity to be a part of a change movement, instead of just talking about it.
Women are one of the few growing demographics riding motorcycles right now. We are getting on bikes in greater numbers and feeling the sisterhood and empowerment that comes with the freedom of riding a motorcycle.
In my role as industry liaison, my job is to put my finger on the pulse of the industry and help those who make decisions better understand women’s needs.
I also am raising scholarship funds for women to take their riding to higher and higher levels of competency on the track, on the teaching range and in the dirt.
The WCM endeavors to be the voice of female riders across the spectrum of motorcyclists and their backgrounds. While other organizations concentrate on a sub-segment of riders or riders of a certain brand, it is our mission to represent all women.
It is a tall order! To achieve this goal, we are a nonprofit organization that is funded in a grassroots manner.
We offer memberships to individuals and clubs, while also seeking industry sponsorships. All the money we generate goes to fund our work influencing business choices made by companies who make motorcycles, parts and accessories, while creating more opportunities for women to ride.
An example of this is a recent scholarship we sponsored at Reg Pridmore’s CLASS Motorcycle School in Southern California for their women-only track day on April 11. Some women feel intimidated by co-ed track days and find they really benefit from women-only groups. We are grateful to be able to assist with offerings like this for our members.
We currently are creating partnerships with other organizations and hoping in 2019 to create a spokeswomen’s group to represent female riders to the industry. We hope to have a greater influence on the industry, enabling the recognition that women’s needs can be very different from men’s needs when it comes to bikes, apparel and safety gear.
We repeatedly hear from women that current product offerings do not appeal to them, and we hope to be able to quantify this for developing new offerings.
We expect to enlist the opinions of the entire range of female riders to speak with a strong, unified voice and create a positive influence.
So, follow our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WCM2020/), join our ranks and watch what women can do to revitalize the industry!
Change is a-comin’!
Lisa Malachowsky is an AMA member from Apex, N.C.