Nearly one in five motorcycle owners is now female, compared with one in 10 less than a decade ago, and the data suggests that women could soon make up one quarter of owners, which would be a major shift in motorcycling demographics, according to the latest national survey by the Motorcycle Industry Council.
Among all age groups, women now make up 19 percent of motorcycle owners. But the 2018 survey showed even greater female ownership within younger generations. Among Gen X motorcycle owners, 22 percent were women; among Gen Y, 26 percent were women.
“As the number of Boomer and mature motorcyclists shrink and are replaced by newer riders, we could soon be looking at a solid 25 percent of motorcycle owners being female,” said Andria Yu, MIC director of communications. “We’ve seen with our own eyes many more women riders — on the roads, on the trails, on the track, with families, at motorcycling events, forming clubs and just being part of everyday group rides. Many people in the industry have worked some 30 years to achieve this, and now the data confirms it: More and more women are getting out there and enjoying motorcycles.”
The MIC polled 2,472 adults nationwide for the 2018 Motorcycle/ATV Owner Survey. For decades, the MIC surveys have served as the census of motorcycling, and have tracked a steady growth in the percentage of women who own bikes.
“Major efforts to increase the number of women riders go back to the late 1980s when top manufacturers and distributors came together and formed Discover Today’s Motorcycling, the industry outreach program built to introduce new riders to two-wheeling,” said Cam Arnold, a longtime industry executive who organized a Women in Powersports networking event in New York City to coincide with the International Motorcycle Show. “The first DTM project in the 1980s spotlighted the historic 1916 Van Buren sisters ride across the country and garnered much media attention. Throughout the 1990s and on till today, the big brands have dedicated increasing amounts of attention to the women’s market, and we’ve simply seen more and more positive imagery on TV, in movies and in many mainstream settings where women on motorcycles are just having fun.”
The 2018 owner survey also found that women motorcycle owners spend, on average, $574 a year on tires, routine repairs, maintenance, replacement parts, and accessories and modifying equipment, compared with $497 by men.
“We’ve seen particularly strong growth in the aftermarket sector for women,” said Cinnamon Kernes, newly appointed vice president and general manager of MIC Events and the American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide, the largest powersports trade and consumer show in North America. “Over the past decade, more women are designing riding gear and other products specifically for female riders, working in major companies or creating their own brands. Having gear designed for women by women was a huge step and has certainly helped encourage female ridership.”
Motorcycling has grown in popularity and acceptance in American culture in recent decades, which is reflected in the survey. It found that 66 percent of women motorcycle owners say their family and friends would have a positive attitude toward motorcycles and scooters.