Thursday, 26 April 2012

A brief interlude ...

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
leather jacket
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
e-mails still.
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
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.

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