In October 2018, I crossed something off my bucket list for that year: Go to motorcycle school.
Within a few days after “passing” motorcycle school, I had my motorcycle license in hand.
But there was one problem… Well, two…
- I didn’t have a bike to ride.
- Winter was quickly approaching.
Love At First Sight
I spent all winter researching and trying to figure out what kind of bike I would want and what would be the best fit for me. I read online forums, blogs, and reviews, and went to different bike shows.
If you have been reading my blogs or following me on Instagram (thank you!), then you know that I am not a large woman. I’m only 5’1″ and about 108 pounds—on a good day. So, riding anything on two wheels over 900 cc would be a death sentence.
So, I took a different road (pun intended).
I went to a local car and bike show held at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in January 2019.
And it was love at first sight…
It was comfortable. It was easy for me to handle. It had the right amount of power.
And, yes, it has three wheels.
What you see above is a 2019 Can-Am Ryker, 900 cc—one of the first “demo” models to come off the production line.
Now, depending on how you were raised or what you may or may not ride yourself, you might look at that and think, “That’s not a motorcycle”.
Okay. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But it was right—and safe—for me.
I spoke to the salesman at the show and gave him my name and number. He said once the weather warms up to come to the dealership. They would take a brand new Ryker out of the crate, put it together, and let me take it for a test drive.
Suddenly March seemed so far away…
March finally arrived.
As part of my birthday present—and as the dealership promised—I drove an hour to their location in beautiful Barre, Massachusetts to test-drive a new Ryker.
As I pulled into their parking lot, I was greeted by a group of salesmen and workers. They already have one of the first Rykers put together, warmed up, and all ready to go.
It took me a few rides around the building and the parking lot to get the hang of it, but once I did, I knew she was “the one”.
After I parked, I got up, took off my helmet, and said, “Where do I sign?”
March can be a cruel month in the Northeast: One day it could be a beautiful spring day, the next day could be a blizzard. Although March 2019 was particularly cold, the last weekend of the month looked promising: sunny and in the 50s.
So, after making a phone call to the dealership, they took a brand new Ryker out of the crate, assembled it, and delivered to me that same afternoon—Friday, March 29th.
… And, of course, it snowed that night.
The next morning, I jumped out of bed like an excited kid on Christmas morning, ran downstairs and to my porch window, and eagerly awaited the sun to come out, melt the snow, and warm up the Earth.
Needless to say, I was out riding—ALL weekend, and every nice weekend from that point forward.
8 Tips for Biker Chicks
I have been around motorcycles my whole life.
My first ride ever was with my father when I was just 7 years old on his very rare, 1982 Kawasaki Ninja, 650 Turbo.
As a child, I always used to watch him leave for work in the morning on the bike with one ear pressed against the screen door, listening to the sound of his turbo engine in the distance until I couldn’t hear him anymore.
Then, after 5:00 pm every night, I would sit outside on my swing set in our childhood backyard, waiting to hear the sound of his bike through our quiet neighborhood trees, waiting for him to get home.
I remember asking him, “Dad, when can I ride with you?”
“When you are tall enough to reach the pegs,” he used to say.
After my first ride, even as a little girl, I knew I wanted to ride when I was old enough.
I grew up with all boys. I have four boy cousins and a younger brother. And being the only girl growing up, I either played or did what the boys did, or got beat up.
So, when it was time to ride dirt bikes and four-wheelers through the woods, I just did it.
Of course, it took me until I was in my mid-30s before I was finally able to take the time to go to motorcycle and buy my first bike, but I made it happen.
But the way I see it? Most women my age are married and have children.
I own and run a business, pole dance, and ride a motorcycle.
However, even though I’ve been around bikes my whole life, riding my own was a unique experience. And I feel like being a woman rider brings about a whole different experience.
So, here’s what I’ve learned during my first year of riding:
1. No Purse, No Problems.
One of the first things I loved about riding was that I couldn’t carry a purse with me. Now, as a woman, this was a nerve-wracking feeling, considering we go pretty much everywhere with a purse.
However, I realized that I was going to have to condense my belongings to the basics, (debit or credit card, license, cash, and so on) to my phone case, and shove that into my jacket pocket.
But that quickly became annoying, and I was constantly panicked that my phone and wallet would fall out of my pocket. So, I bought a tank bag, which instantly solved all my problems. I can fit pretty much everything I need in there, including my phone, and some other female essentials.
Once I adjusted to not carrying a purse with me while I rode, and used the tank bag for anything I needed to carry with me, I felt… free.
2. Female Essentials for the Road
There are just some things a woman rider needs with her while on the road. Here are a few:
A small towel or rag— So, literally the first morning I went out riding by myself, a bird pooped on my seat. I suddenly realized how vulnerable one could be in this situation. Luckily, I was somewhere where I could grab a paper towel to clean it up, but what would I have done if I wasn’t?
Needless to say, I now keep a small towel or rag in my tank bag—just in case.
Something for your hair—Have you ever seen in movies when a female bike rider takes off her helmet and her hair and makeup are perfect? Yeah, that just doesn’t happen in real life.
If you have long, thick, wavy hair like I do, then you know taking off your helmet can cause devastating effects. Therefore, I now keep a small travel brush, a hair tie, and a few bobby pins in my tank bag.
Tampons—Yup, another important one. There’s nothing worse than riding with a group of guys and suddenly pulling into a CVS in the middle of nowhere for an emergency period purchase, without having to explain why.
Tissues—Keep tissues in your jacket pocket for when your nose starts to run on cold riding days.
3. Biker Chicks Are Dude Magnets
If you are a female rider, you instantly become a dude magnet—no matter what you ride.
After my first month of riding, I attended a local bike meetup with some of my fellow guy friends who also ride. Before I could even pull into a parking spot, groups of guys seemingly from near and far suddenly swarmed me, asking me questions about the Ryker, how fast it goes, what kind of engine it has, chain or shaft, and so on. Some even asked to take pictures of me with it.
I initially thought that this level of attention was just because I attended a bike meetup.
I started noticing it pretty much everywhere—getting an inspection sticker, pumping gas, parking—guys from seemingly near and far will find a reason to stop and talk to me. parking.
It seems as if a biker chick is every guy’s fantasy. But all joking aside, I’ve met a few new friends who appreciate riding for what it is, and who also respect the different kinds of makes, models, and styles.
4. Motorcycles Are Everywhere
All joking aside, motorcycle safety is a serious issue. We all know that people are the road today are idiots. With society’s insane infatuation with Smartphones, digital devices, texting, and social media, it has made being on the road more dangerous than ever—especially for bikers.
As motorcycle riders, we are taught to look more than once before turning out onto a main road, changing lanes on the highway, or backing out of a parking spot.
As a new rider, I definitely found myself being much more aware of what vehicles are around me and where at all times, and making eye contact with other drivers before pulling out.
So, seriously, ladies, be safe out there.
5. Be Prepared for Any Type of Weather
I extremely, EXTREMELY dislike cold weather. I hate those winter days and nights when you are so cold that no amount of socks and blankets seem to warm you up.
Even though I have lived in the Northeast my entire life, riding in the cold is a cold that I’ve never felt before… It’s a cold that stays with you, even hours after trying to warm up.
It’s very easy to get up on a warm and sunny Saturday or Sunday morning, get on the bike, and just be out riding all day. However, when that sun sets, or goes behind the clouds, that ride can get pretty chilly.
Also, you never know when you might hit rain.
If possible, dress in layers. For riding in temperatures under 60 degrees (F), I wear two pairs of socks in my boots, a pair of stretchy pants underneath my jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, a fleece, and THEN my jacket (with the interior liner zipped in) over it. That might be overkill for some of you, but it has worked for me.
Be sure to also keep a pair of gloves in your tank bag, saddle bags, or—in the case of my Ryker—the “frunk” (front trunk).
6. Give it the Gas
If you are new to riding or if are considering riding, one thing you will have to adjust to is the size of your gas tank. If you are used to the gas tank in your car, then you likely know how far you can go before you need to fill up. This is likely maybe a week or two, or every few days (depending on how much you drive and how far, of course).
However, the gas tank in your bike is much smaller. So, again, depending on how much, how far, and how often you ride, you will feel like your are filling up a lot more often.
The good news is your bike will get better gas mileage than whatever vehicle you drive. I can’t tell you how many times I have been out riding and suddenly realized I was almost empty, even though I felt like I just filled up.
Get in the habit of checking your gas tank or filling up before going out for a ride—even if you feel like you are full enough.
7. Ride Like the Wind (But Shield Yourself Against It…)
Windshields: Some bikers say they are necessary; others say they aren’t. When “Roxanne the Rockstar” was built, I had the option to add a windshield for an added cost. I already had a full-face helmet, so I wasn’t sure if I really would need one…
Of course, I consulted with my dad. He said that he always ended up selling the windshield on every bike he has ever bought in his life. So, I took his advice and went without it.
When I rode on the highway for the first time, the drag was so strong that I had a stiff neck for days. Riding on the highway for even just 10 minutes was enough to make it seriously uncomfortable.
How would I ever be able to go on long trips—like visit my parents in Maine?
Size Does Matter
I explained the issue I was having with several like-minded, experienced female bikers, and they suggested getting a windshield. The reason why some men would suggest going without a windshield is because men naturally have more body mass and weight than women. So even though a windshield might not always make sense for a man, it just might be essential for woman.
So, I decided to purchase a windshield specifically designed for “Roxanne”, and it made all the difference.
Needless to say, it made my trip to Maine with my dad—and every highway trip from that point forward—a lot more enjoyable.
8. Hell on High Heels
As a short woman, there isn’t much I do or few places I go where I don’t wear heels. I wear heels to work, to the store, and I dance in 7-inch platform heels with a 2- to 3-inch toe box.
However, I was scared as hell to wear heels while riding. Of course, many female riding boots are designed with heels. Depending on the bike you have, you might have flat foot pedals, but the arch in your foot from heels might prevent you from lifting your toe beneath the clutch pedal.
In the case of a Ryker, there is the option to purchase foot boards, but otherwise the stock models come with foot pegs. If you wear heels, it is easy to rest your feet on the foot pedal in between your toes and the heel. However, it makes it difficult to hit the brake, especially if you need to quickly.
For almost my entire first riding season, I avoided wearing heels while riding. After I felt like I was a more experienced rider, I started wearing heels on short riding trips to get the “feel” for it.
Now, I can confidently ride with heels, but I just make sure that I am conscious of them when I wear them, because it requires me to position my feet differently on the pegs so I can hit the brake safely.
My advice to you? Depending on the make, model, and style of your bike, it may be easy or difficult to ride with heels. This is definitely something I recommend practicing first while you get used to your bike, or before taking long trips.
9. Winter Storage
As a Northeast native, I’ve always struggled with the winter, specifically winter depression. However, I think this past winter was the hardest of all, because it meant saying goodbye…
Not only saying goodbye to Summer, warm weather, and beach time, but saying goodbye to my first riding season and putting “Roxanne the Rockstar” in storage.
I think I literally cried…
A few things to keep in mind before putting your bike in storage…
Always Use a Battery Tender
Keeping your battery charged all winter will ensure that the bike starts up when you really want to ride on that first beautiful and warm spring day.
Note: Motorcycle batteries can go at any point, so be prepared.
While “Roxanne” sat in storage during the winter, I only kept basic insurance on it and removed collision. My registration expired on December 31st, 2019, and I didn’t bother to renew it until the spring riding season began.
… Another big mistake.
Of course, we were fortunate enough to have a very mild winter—and there were random 60 and even 70-degree days in January and February, which were perfect riding days.
Although I saved $75 on insurance by taking “Roxanne” off the road for the winter, it almost wasn’t worth it considering how many random nice days I gave up.
Next winter, I will certainly keep her fully insured and registered, just in the off chance we get nice days for riding.
Back On The Road in 2020
On March 1st, 2020, I renewed my registration, put insurance back on, brought the bike home from storage, did an oil change… and finished writing this blog.
Exactly one year ago today, “Roxanne” the “Rockstar” was delivered to my home. Thinking back to this time last year, I remember how excited and anxious I felt. After all, making any big purchase is always a little unnerving.
However, a year later, I’m still very happy with my decision and the great experiences, especially as a woman. Today, I can’t imagine life without riding.