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The motorcycling “Born to be Wild” generation is getting older The industry is setting its sights on a new and interested demographic millennial women.

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Sue Carpenter

The motorcycling “Born to be Wild” generation is getting older. And as baby boomers age out of their Harley-Davidsons, the industry is setting its sights on a new — and interested — demographic: millennial women.

Sara Fiore, who started riding motorcycles five years ago, is one of them.

“I zipped around as a passenger for a while and then I was just like, ‘No. I gotta get up front,’” she said.

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At 30, Fiore is part of the fastest-growing group of motorcycle riders in the U.S.: millennial women. Motorbiking, she says, is “the most freeing, exhilarating, amazing feeling in the world.”

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One in five motorcycle owners in the U.S. is now female, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. That’s twice as many as a decade ago.

Barriers to riding are disappearing as bikes get smaller, less expensive, less powerful, and easier to handle. And social media has also played a big role.

“Now you can go online and there’s women riders groups,” said Motorcycle Industry Council spokesperson Cinnamon Kernes. “It’s just a lot more easy to connect with like-minded people.”

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A lot of those women’s groups and events have come to the attention of leading manufacturers. Babes Ride Out drew 1,500 riders to an event in central California last month. It was sponsored for the first time by Harley-Davidson. There’s also the Women Riders World Relay, sponsored by Indian Motorcycle.

The rise in women riders is coming at a welcome time for the industry: Annual motorcycle sales peaked at about 1 million in 2006, but since the great recession they’ve fallen to about half that.

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The industry is “in a tough spot,” said James Hardiman, managing director at Wedbush Securities.

“If you look at the math, it’s going to be hard to replace 65-year-old white American males. So the name of the game will be expanding your customer base,” Hardiman said.

Recruiting women, he added, is one way of doing it.

One comment

  1. Yeah, Harley used to have “Sportsters” and we called them girlie bikes. I’m a woman and I wouldn’t have been caught dead on one. I had a Panhead and a Shovelhead. So did every other woman I knew who rode.
    But then, I think the whole Harley world has gone to shit. Bunch of babies who need suspension, windshields and everything else to keep the bugs and dirt off of them or for goodness sakes hit an actual bump in the road. Wimpy little fucks.

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