IT, COLOur, COMFOrT, price, availability… every single thing that’s important about motorcycle clothing is a major problem for female riders, according to our research. We’ve spoken to riders, pillions, shops, manufacturers and distributors to investigate the extent of the problem and highlight some of the best kit and best retailers. This is just a start. Clearly there are many thousands of female riders we haven’t spoken to, and there must be plenty of helpful shops who we don’t yet know about. But this much is clear: women have a much tougher time than most blokes when it comes to finding bike gear that’s safe, comfortable and stylish. So this is our challenge to the British bike business: prove us wrong. Every single member of the panel we assembled has had problems getting hold of the right gear. In many cases, the journey has been a long and painful one. Our women say they want the right fit, without it compromising on protection. And feeling comfortable on a bike improves your control and enjoyment. Caroline says: “It’s obvious that the majority of riders are male but there is a big and ever growing population of female riders. I went to my local Hein Gericke, in January, and they had little to no women’s clothing. They suggested I go back in March. I went back, and they had a sale on men’s clothing, but they didn’t even have a full set of ladies’ leathers or textiles.” Getting the right size can be a nightmare. Clare’s a petite 5ft 2in yet trousers still come up short in the leg: “They even look
BOOTS Females don’t necessarily have feet any smaller than men’s, but they do tend to have thinner ankles and wider calves. Finding the right boots was a nightmare for Kayleigh: “I tried several pairs but wasn’t able to get them done up over my calves. A female shop assistant told me women struggle because our calves start lower down than men, so she recommended a couple of different options. I ended up with my Sidi Vertigos. The fastening mechanism means you can tailor them to your legs, making them incredibly comfortable.” Helen bought the same boots, describing them as her “dream purchase”, sniffed out among ladies’ boots that she says were “downgraded with less features” than men’s. She also loves her Daytona Lady Star GTXs too: “They have an extra inch in the back of the boot which helps the vertically challenged (like me) touch the floor, although if it was across the whole boot it would help more. Daytona have really thought about ladies and the extra inch is an innovative idea.”
When choosing a crash helmet, the only thing that matters is that it fits. So get yourself measured
Simon Cowell-ish in the waist. And jackets that fit across the shoulders are too tight across the bust.” Zoe agrees: “The main issue with trousers is leg length and with jackets it’s baggy arms. Clothes don’t seem to be scaled down all over – some bits fit and some are huge.” But Zoe believes motorcycle clothing has come a long way in the past decade or so: “There is more choice in cost, colour, style and material, although overall there’s still a big gap between provision for men and women.” If she could afford it, Naila would only buy made-to-measure kit: “If you’re an average height, they assume you’re fat. If slim, they assume you’re short and have no
shape. If I want hips to fit, the waist is too big. If the waist fits, it’s tight on the legs and too short. If the legs fit OK, the waist and hips end up massive.” And even if it fits, sometimes the looks are horribly misjudged. Pink stripes. Floral embroidery. Butterfly emblems. Sound familiar? Kayleigh says: “Not all female bikers want to be plastered with something that advertises the fact that they’re female to all and sundry.” Kayleigh has a biking mum with years of wisdom to pass on, but not everyone is so lucky: “The best thing to do is talk to other bikers you know and don’t be afraid to ask staff in your local bike shop for help – it’s what they’re there for.”
Kate M ended up with a good result but had to battle against a shop assistant who thought he knew best: “For some reason the guy in the shop seemed to be trying to steer me away from trying on some men’s Alpinestars S-MX5, but I stood my ground. They tick all the boxes.” Kate B found her TCX boots in a charity shop for £20. “I spent almost a year riding in walking boots before finding a pair that fitted. My leather trousers are tapered at the bottom, with an inside zip. Could I find boots to fit over these comfortably? Of course not. A lot of ladies’ boots that I’ve seen don’t even have a reinforced leather patch for changing gear, suggesting that manufacturers think
female bikers are all pillions. That’s why I’m forced to wear men’s one-size-too-big boots padded with an extra pair of socks.” BUYING TIP Buy boots with a fastening mechanism – not just a single zip – that allows them to fit snugly around your legs.
Boots for women are sometimes more suited to pillions than riders, lacking a gearchange reinforcement