Regardless of gender, riding and maneuvering a big bike is a challenge for humans. And when you're a lady rider like me, these challenges are sometimes magnified. Some of them may boil down to plain "girly" things but still very real ones.
I have rode thousands of kilometers with my husband Pat Mamon on big motorcycles. And to make sure I wasn’t the only one with these issues, I asked my fellow lady riders what they found challenging about motorcycling and what are their most common concerns when on the road on two wheels.
And here’s how they were ranked:
1) Bathroom breaks – Truth be told, men can go anywhere. Women, on the other hand, prefer, if not require, a decent bathroom. In some remote provincial areas, this is non-existent. And the challenge is doubled during 'that time of the month.'
2) The height of a big bike - The average Filipina is not blessed with much height or long legs, and this makes bike choices difficult. As a newbie rider in search of a good motorcycle, seat height is something I really need to factor in.
I prefer to have my feet firmly on the ground when the bike is idle or when moving it backwards while I'm on it. Most big bikes available that I like have an average seat height of 800mm, which leaves me standing on tiptoe and not very confident in handling the bike.
3) The weight of a motorcycle – Dropping or falling off a bike is the worst thing that could happen to any rider. But getting it up off the ground again is what most lady riders find difficult.
I took my lessons on a relatively small 110cc two-wheeler and during one session, I lost my balance and fell. I didn't think it would be too difficult to lift it up but I was surprised to find out how heavy it was! I can just imagine how hard it would be to get a bigger bike off the ground.
4) Getting bullied on the road – Some lady riders feel that cars purposefully try to get too close to them, or worse, try to race them. Now that's not nice.
5) Gear for women - When riding, safety is key and good gear is a must for this. I wish more local motorcycle shops would offer more item choices for women. The options are very limited and the stock not very ample. Lady riders often end up donning riding jackets with broad shoulders and longer-than-usual sleeves. It is also difficult to find the right size of riding shoes and helmets for females.
6) Packing light for long trips – I don’t think I know of many females who enjoy doing this (or can). Obviously, motorcycles can accommodate much less luggage and packing for a long trip will really test your knowledge and decision-making skills of what the essentials are.
7) Helmet hair – Expect every ride to be a bad hair day! A good helmet will fit your head snugly and that doesn’t do much for you to be able to wear your hair the way you want—or the way it's supposed to, for that matter. Maintaining one's hairstyle is probably the biggest challenge that often haunts a lady rider.
Because of my love for riding, I managed to overcome these concerns by riding more kilometers with Pat, conquering new places, meeting different people, and knowing their cultures and traditions.
As I learn more, I start to ask myself: Is really there such thing as a gender issue with motorcycling?