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Form and Function

In recent years there’s been a strong focus in getting women more involved in motorcycling. Dealerships and businesses nationwide often hold workshops catering to women from selecting bikes to basic riding tips, often going as far as to hold special girls night out. Most of these dealerships and businesses also have rows of racks filled to the brim with various apparel to further garner more appeal. In spite of the boom in women’s motorcycle apparel in the States, I’ve noticed that there’s an interesting conundrum with the majority of women riders.

It’s the sheer monotony of a certain universal look that’s taken hold.

At events, bike nights and even with basic riding courses, a majority of women come out wearing basically the same thing. A unisex black/grey/white shirt, loose jeans, black chaps, doo rags, black bulky jacket or equally bulky vest. From afar or even reasonably close up, you can hardly tell the difference if the person riding is male or female. Usually the only telltale signs that a rider may be female is probably a glimpse of certain jewelry or the fact that their shirt or doo rag is pink. But aside from those minor differences, women are hardly distinguishable from male riders.

Some have made arguments that certain sacrifices have to be made for safety and while that may be true in certain cases, that doesn’t mean that a person has to take individuality out of the equation. I’m not saying that we should wear dresses when we ride, that’s just tossing common sense out of the window. However there’s an argument to be made that it’s pretty bad when other people can’t distinguish individual characteristics.

This draw towards monotony is an irony considering that motorcycling is about individuality and women riders are proud that barriers have been broken. It’s somewhat of a negative thing that we don’t dress like it. Instead, most fall into the mentioned sea of fashion monotony that is shared by our male counterparts. We spent so many years trying to separate ourselves from our male counterparts and yet in the end dress like them.

For the safety conscious, there are still options to flaunt the fact that we’re women riders. Women from other countries such as Japan and parts of Europe understand how to combine practicality of riding with the fact that they’re females. There are no doo rags that completely cover the head, bulky vests or chaps involved. Instead they wear form flattering shirts with bright colors/graphics, form fitting jeans/leather pants or mix it up with shorts and leggings, form fitting jackets with feminine accents and varied length boots. Helmets are often repainted with a wide range of patterns and colors to further stand out.

Even in a sea of other riders, they’re noticeable and one can always tell that there’s a woman rider because of those almost laughably minor changes. Practicality is still achieved, but without sacrificing the individual's sense of style. 

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