Harley Davidson Reaches out to Women

Women represent the most important demographic in the next generation of riders. This has not gone unnoticed by motorcycle manufacturers. Harley-Davidson in particular has worked hard to reach beyond stereotypes that exclude women from motorcycling, demonstrating that handling a big, powerful bike is more about skill and confidence than physical strength. In fact, women represent nearly one-third of students enrolled in H-D’s rider training classes, and at the company’s recent 110th anniversary parade, the Triad Bad Lasses from Greensboro, NC participated.

Still, women motorcyclists don’t always feel welcome in a male-dominated activity, where even the dealerships sometimes don’t take them seriously. “They haven’t quite learned to look at women as potential equals in the game,” said Anne Zube, president of Stilettos on Steel, an all-women’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin-area motorcycle club.

One woman who has spent many years trying to break through motorcycle gender barriers is Leslie Prevish, a former Harley-Davidson executive who now operates a consulting firm that markets to women and diverse audiences in the outdoor and motor sports industries.

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While at Harley, one of Prevish’s responsibilities included heading up the “garage party” program that introduced women to motorcycling in an non-intimidating way. Garage parties target beginners, so guests feel more comfortable asking questions. Subject matter includes everything from motorcycle clothing to engine maintenance. There is even a lesson on bike lifting, demonstrating how even the most petite rider can lift a tipped bike using the proper technique.

Prevish believes that the dealership owner or manager needs to lead the way in making sure the sales staff treats female customers with the same respect as male customers. The millions of dollars spent marketing to women are wasted if the dealerships and service departments don’t take women seriously.

Much of the male-dominated motorcycle industry doesn’t appreciate that women control the spending in most families, including the money spent on recreation, says Genevieve Schmitt, publisher of the online publication, Women Riders Now. She finds it disturbing that motorcycling dismisses the influence of females.

Harley, with a website for female motorcyclists and outreach program with events geared toward women, is the only manufacturer that is dedicating resources to attracting female riders. “Kudos to Harley. They get it,” said Schmitt.

To avoid typecasting riders, Harley does not make a bike specifically for women. There are many different bikes with fit options that can be customized to every rider, according to Claudia Garber, director of women’s marketing outreach for H-D.

As stereotypes continue to fade, more women riders can now begin to enjoy the same luxury male riders have had for decades-the opportunity to step outside of the daily grind and just enjoy the road and their bike-without judgment.

Check out the latest Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles in addition to all the other manufacturers like Indian and Victory at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show coming to a city near you.

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At Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®, we encourage all women to give motorcycling a try and hope that more women will fall in love with a life on two wheels. We offer BAM, a free roadside and legal assistance program, to all riders—including women motorcyclists. If you would like to learn more about BAM or our law firm, call us at 1-800-4-BIKERS. We Ride—We Care—We Win!


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