OK, to cut a long story short, check out the photo above. Guess I liked the Tiger !!
Sunday, 29 April 2012
Thursday, 26 April 2012
I made it into a national bike mag commenting on womens bike kit and the challenges we face.
A sample of the article can be found at RIDE magazine but I'm quoted beyond the first page so you'll need to buy a copy to see the full article. My full answers are below although a fair bit didn't make it into the article.
1)What do you wear when you¹re riding - be as precise as you can about
manufacturer/product? (If you wear different stuff in good/bad weather,
please include everything and indicate what kit is for what conditions)
2) Is this gear designed specifically for women, or is it
3)How do you rate it?
Helmet: Arai Axces (unisex as far as I know)
fantastic, had a great fitting (see #5) and it's really comfortable.
Gloves:Alpinestars Stella Tyla (ladies)
Fantastic, perfect and fit like a second skin! Have been unable to find
winter gloves that don't feel like oversized flippers so have continued
to wear these on cold days but layered with thermal inner gloves and
they've worked a treat. I will wear them until they fall to pieces !
Boots: Alpinestars S-MX5 (mens)
For some reason the guy in the shop seemed to be trying to steer me
away from trying these on but I stood my ground ! I've found them to
tick all the boxes. I won't sing their praises but they do the job.
Jacket: Held Samina Ladies (textile) and a Ladies Triumph Alexandra
Held Jacket, comfortable, plenty of useful pockets, designed as a
summer jacket I believe but with plenty of layers underneath it's seen
me through the last few months quite comfortably. Leather Triumph Jacket
was about image rather than anything if I'm honest, and I wanted a bit
of a retro look which it certainly delivers on. There is less protection
on it than I would like and, as often occurs, the designer was of the
opinion that as it's a jacket for women it has to have pink on it
somewhere ! The stitching detail is pink so it doesn't scream 'girl
rider' but it still annoys me and I have to turn a blind eye to that
every time I put it on.
Jeans: Route One highway Kevlar Jeans (mens)
I struggled to find ladies jeans that were long enough in the leg
(although I'm only 5'7") and roomy enough to be comfortable sitting on
the bike for long periods so I ended up with mens jeans. They are not
very flattering around the hip/waist area as they are very high cut, but
generally comfortable and if I hide the waist line under a fleece they
look pretty good and I'm happy enough with them. They were intended as
summer jeans but again I layer with thermals and have been fine, I've
only been caught in the rain once so haven't suffered.
Fabric trousers: Triumph Acton pants (mens)
the store I bought these from didn't have much in stock but they
ordered them in for me. I returned one pair to get a bigger size and
hurriedly tried them on in the shop. Once home I realised they are a
pretty bad fit (short in leg and when on the bike they didn't work great
with the sitting position on a cruiser) but I was too embarrassed to
have them sent back for a 3rd time so they'll end up being gifted to
someone in the future ! This is one of the problems I've found, shops
are usually happy to order items in for you but you often need to try on
multiple sizes or styles and compare so ordering one or two in can be a
bit pointless, there needs to be more choice in store.
4) What are the main issues (if any) that you have in getting decent
riding kit?A real lack of choice in store. if you search online there is plenty
around but you really need to try on and compare items, this is almost
impossible to do. Overall there is just considerably less choice for
women (even if you take the online factor into account) I understand
that there are less female riders but its just another thing that makes
it hard for us to feel valued. We are also just as varied in size and
shape as men so we need as much variety even if we are lower in
As mentioned above, I also don't need pink bits or 'feminine' swirls !
The best looking kit is often mens, but it doesn't fit well!
5)Is there a shop or website that you would recommend as a good place
for female motorcyclists to get their gear?Sadly, not really. Having said that I would recommend Andy at
Metropolis for service - he sold me my gloves and helmet and they are
the best bits of kit I own. However he is all I will recommend about
Metropolis and I have had really bad service from other staff there, so
ask for him!
6) Have you found a good source of advice for female bike gear (a
person, a website, a shop? Michelle Vaiders, one of the owners at Valley Bike School in Lancashire where I learnt to ride (amazing by the way ,and all very supportive of
female bikers) was really helpful and supportive, she gave me various
tips and bits of advice when I was with them and happily replies to my
The staff at Jack Lilley's in Ashford have been very supportive about
biking in general, but for women-specific advice I still struggle.
7)Do you think women are well served by motorcycle clothing
manufacturers/suppliers?Not at all, for all the reasons in number 4. Add to that there is
little advertising for women's kit, we are poorly represented in images
and magazines (you know my views on this!). I have found myself
'settling' for kit rather than finding things I love. There is also a
lack of high standard customer service, with a couple of exceptions few
staff are prepared to go the extra mile and really try and find a
solution for you. I'll usually get directed toward the women's clothing
and then abandoned.
8)What do you currently ride?Triumph Speedmaster, purchased last year. My first bike and it's a great ride. I'm fairly long in the leg but equally it would ideal for
female riders much shorter than me. Very comfortable on long rides,
pretty light to handle on the move (takes a bit of work to manoeuvre
when parking etc) and has the added bonus of turning heads as its quite
a looker! I bought it from Jack Lilleys in Ashford and they were really
helpful, never talked down to me, made me feel really welcome and
continue to do so every time I drop in. I would highly recommend them.
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
My list of small scale adventures for the year ahead was growing. Many of them involved strapping a tent to the back of the bike and going to locations where I could pull on my hiking boots and enjoy some mountains; Snowdonia, the Lake District and Peak District were my main targets. Hooking up with friends in Spain and Italy was also being discussed and 2012 was beginning to look pretty full. However my attention kept gravitating towards magazine articles on trips made on adventure bikes, not quite as pretty as mine these bikes were real workhorses, taking their riders round the world with luggage piled high. The bikes were dusty and muddy, they looked like they had been to amazing places and had their own stories to tell. I started to formulate a plan to celebrate my 40th year by riding across Canada, I was inspired by the likes of Boorman and MacGregor and getting excited when I discovered sites like ADVGRRLS. I started to realise that my small scale trips in the year ahead were likely to involve muddy campsites and slogging north in the rain. My own 'bike personality' was starting to creep out, my confidence was growing and ideas that previously had only been dreams could very quickly become a reality and happen within months, not years. Every now and again a question would pop into my head "did I buy the wrong bike?". Eventually that question turned into "oh shit, I bought the wrong bike". To be honest, I didn't mind too much, I had bought the right bike at the right time and I needed the Speedmaster to help teach me where I really wanted to go. It was the perfect first bike for me, I just happened to outgrow it over night, I'd had a bit of a growth spurt! Geoff at Jack Lilley is a Tiger owner and we started emailing, the adventures he had on his bike were exactly what I was looking for and he understood my interests and ambitions. He was as pleased as punch that I was taking an interest in the Tiger but equally wanted me to make sure I got it right this time, so there was no hard sell in his emails. He suggested I take a Tiger 800 for a whole weekend and I bit his hand off!........
The first time I sat on it I lost my heart. It was an enormous, beautiful creature and I couldn't believe how comfortable or light it was, I had no idea that such an amazing bike could be a serious, sensible contender for my first bike. A classic cruiser, the Triumph Speedmaster turned heads and I drooled over photos of it in gleaming cranberry red until the day I could pick up my own . It's a real eyecatcher, a looker that means business; I gained a new level of respect from the 'blokes' at work and everyone who saw it was impressed. It was the ideal first bike for me. Big enough for me to feel that I had a strong road presence, low enough that my feet were flat on the floor (plus with knees bent I had a lot of control over the bike when waiting at lights or 'walking' it into a parking space). It was hugely comfortable to ride, very little vibration, perfect for leisurely trips to the coast. I was so proud, my first bike was something I had dreamed of owning, I didn't have to make a single compromise. I completed the look with Kevlar jeans and a retro style leather Triumph jacket. The picture was complete. My 'biker buddy' James is a Harley rider and with our cruisers we made a great team and quickly fitted in a couple of rides to the coast. I would polish it to within an inch of its life and planned over night trips in the spring, the world was my oyster and I was going to be exploring it in style!
I was born and bred in Derbyshire and spend most of time feeling homesick, in response to this I often try and do things of significance back home. I wasn't sure why I hadn't followed this routine with the bike lessons but I decided to change that. I found Valley Bike School online and called the Lancashire based company. Joe was friendly, and seemed genuinely saddened by my recent experience. I booked onto a Direct Access course, found a room in a B&B for a week and was ready to start again. In the end it took 5 months and a lot of cursing into my helmet : I really struggled, often questioning why I was doing it. But I refused to give up and I can clearly remember the day when something 'clicked': I was back in Lancashire with VBS, the day before another attempt at my Mod 2 (which I hasten to add I passed !), I swung my leg over the bike, started the engine and set off. For the first time I felt right at home and enjoyed every minute, by the time we got back my face ached from grinning all day. I had finally caught the bug.
On the 14th September 2011 I passed my test and it's one of the achievements I am most proud of.