Women bikers are on a roll…and have been for a while!

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Christine at Coney Island 2015

For Miss-Fire member Christine, belonging to a women’s club is no new idea. She recently shared with us an article published in the Daily News on May 13th, 1990. Below is her story and the article. Enjoy a bit of NY motorbiking history! – The Miss-Fires

My name is Christine and I have ridden on motorcycle for as long as I remember. As a child, every time I would use the bathroom at my grandfather house, I would spend some time pretending to ride on the old broken motorcycle that my grandfather stored next to the toilet, which were in the shed next to the barn  (Yes!! This is true, my grand father had only running cold water in his house, and no indoor bathroom. This was the 60’s in rural France). As a teenager I loved going on ride on the back my cousins and neighbors bike. I also rode my father “Solex”, a cross between a moped and a bicycle, and my sister moped (in rural France in the 70’s, teenagers drove moped to get around, unlike in America, where they drove cars). By the time I got to college, I wanted to ride a real bike, so I used the money from my summer job to pay for motorcycle driving lessons and passed my motorcycle driving test the first time (the NYC motorcycle driving test is a joke, compared to the French motorcycle driving test). I dropped out of college in 1986 and  came to NYC on a one way ticket. As soon as I had enough money saved, I bought my first bike, a Yamaha 750 XJ. This was in 1987. One day, in 1989, I was in the Harley store in Long Island city, looking for riding apparel, when I saw an add on the bulletin board about a women motorcycle group: the American Women Road Rider Alliance. I was a member of AWRA from 1989 to 1991. The Long Island/NYC chapter was featured in a HSBC ad and was also interviewed by the Daily News. I recently found the old “hard copy” of the article while cleaning/disgarding some old boxes. So here it is.

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The Daily News, May 13th 1990b2

The Daily News, May 13th 1990

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The Daily News, May 13th 1990: Miss-Fire Christine shown above, at far right.

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The Daily News, May 13th 1990

My grand ma and grand pa were from Belfort, near Alsace, next to the the Swiss/German border. This picture was from the trip they took for their honeymoon, in the Alps. My grand ma told me that this picture was taken in Annecy. My grand pa was a blacksmith and bought his first bike in the late 1920’s. After WWII, he opened a garage, as horses were being replaced by cars.

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The Badass Women Changing Brooklyn’s Motorcycle Scene

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The Badass Women Changing Brooklyn’s Motorcycle Scene
Story by Ilana Kaplan, Jan 27, 2015
READ THE STORY ON REFINERY29

Even if you’ve never been on a motorcycle, there’s something about spending time with The Miss-Fires that convinces you to leave all of your concerns about riding behind and just throw on a helmet. With this (predominantly) Brooklyn-based, all-female riding group, bullshit always takes a backseat to riding.

In October 2013, the idea of The Miss-Fires was born, naturally, via text message. 34-year-old Corinna Mantlo reached out to fellow female riders to take a dinner ride. As more rides occurred, the group continued to grow by word of mouth. One evening, a lengthy Post-It-note list of options eventually led to the club’s official name.

“The name ‘The Miss-Fires’ stuck with [everyone], because it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Mantlo says, citing that in motorcycle terminology, a ‘misfire’ technically means you’ve messed up, that your bike isn’t going to start because of a fizzle of the spark. “A lot of the other women’s clubs around the country are ‘The Hottie Babes’ or ‘The Super-Awesome Sexy Girls.’ And, that’s not us.” Instead, they selected a name that keeps the riding club both humble and determined.

image-1PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARC MCANDREWS.
Over the past year or so, The Miss-Fires have officially grown to include more than 100 women — ranging from their 20s to their 60s — who ride and wrench at all different levels; their bikes, too, are an array of different styles and types, from Ducatis and Triumphs to Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis, Harleys, and more. While some of the women only picked up bikes in the past few years, others have been riding motorcycles since they were children; for example, 60-year-old Andrea Young has been at this for 50 years. Ashlinn Romagnoli learned a couple of years ago while her dad was taking up riding again. The 27-year-old told her father, “If you’re gonna do this, you’re gonna teach me, too.”
One of the most fascinating qualities of The Miss-Fires, however, is the diversity of backgrounds from which they come. While riding may be the driving force that brings them together, it’s just as interesting to look at their passions off the bike. Soulful singer-songwriter Julia Haltigan rides alongside scientist Alison Cutlan, who is currently developing her own probiotic skincare line. In-house lawyer Dani Nolan hangs with commercial tailor Leslie Padoll and fashion photographer Ashleigh Ide. There’s a Glamour magazine editor, a handbag designer, and a financial controller. There’s a visual designer, a Wall Street vice president, and a leather designer who’s worked with Prince. It’s a melting pot of women one would not necessarily suspect to be avid motorcycle riders. And, that’s the coolest part.

image-2PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARC MCANDREWS.

Being such a rising, powerful force in a male-dominated culture certainly has its fair share of challenges. Lynda Lucas, 28, has witnessed the stigma against female riders firsthand. “There are so many times I’ve experienced push-back or sexist comments,” she says. “I think there’s something really empowering and inspiring about being a woman rider. You get strength from pushing yourself and learning how to do something that not even a lot of men will do. It’s something that will change you forever.” Suzanne Cellura, 34, often receives negative reactions because of her bike, a 2013 Ducati Monster 696 ABS. “If people see me on it, sometimes I hear stupid things like, ‘That’s a big bike for a little girl,’ she explains. “I’ll ride harder than any guy there. I purchased that bike because I wanted a bike that performed well. I wanted to ride hard. That’s what I do.”

Such comments are often an outcome of the assumption that women ride motorcycles to get attention. “There are a lot of girls who want to get attention for being sexy on a bike, so there are a lot of stereotypes,” says 40-year-old Kim Kenney. “You need to make sure you present yourself appropriately, be safe, wear your gear, and know what you’re doing — and that’s challenging for women [who] want the attention for the wrong reasons.”

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARC MCANDREWS.
The Miss-Fires became a place for female riders to feel connected within a culture where riding alone or amongst a group of men seemed like the only options. The individual journeys these women have embarked on have allowed them to find their inner selves (Nolan says participating in The Miss-Fires has encouraged her to come out of her shell) and, naturally, their senses of style.

“In real life, I don’t wear pants, and I don’t look good in pants,” says Kat Thomsen, digital managing editor at Glamour magazine. “I wear a lot of ’50s vintage dresses, crinolines, and heels. A lot of The Miss-Fires don’t know that side of me, whereas my colleagues know a different side. I own more jeans [now] than I did before, but I only really wear them on the motorcycle.” Romagnoli, too, admits her personal look has become more influenced by riding. “What I wear in the summer is dictated by my riding,” she explains. “I have to wear long pants and boots. Also, now I only wear high-waisted jeans because I’m sitting down all the time.”

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARC MCANDREWS.
For Heidi Hackemer, founder of strategy shop Wolf & Wilhelmine, incorporating her own sense of style by putting a personal touch on her favorite leather jacket has blended her two worlds seamlessly. “I bought this jacket, and I put this wolf on about a year ago,” she says. “Then, I gave it to my niece to paint. She was like, ‘But, this was your favorite motorcycle jacket!’ And, I said, ‘I know. That’s why I want you to paint on it.'” The result is a gorgeous riding jacket, something that truly represents the greatest passions in Hackemer’s life.

Unsurprisingly, The Miss-Fires are a huge part of why the motorcycle industry is changing — especially when it comes to the female biker scene in New York City. “I know The Miss-Fires are definitely encouraging ladies who want to get motorcycles,” Heavy Leather NYC owner Rachael Becker comments. “Now, I can encourage [women] to get their licenses, because now there’s a presence of female riders in the neighborhood. Before that, it was really daunting to get one if you were a lone rider.”

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARC MCANDREWS.
With fundraisers like bike washes, speakeasies, and barbecues accompanied by the sounds of Thomsen’s honky-tonk band, Your Ex-Girlfriends, The Miss-Fires have a good time on and off of their bikes. The women-only club even hosted an evening at Mercury Lounge featuring Thomsen’s band and Haltigan.

The Miss-Fires’ passionate vibe is contagious. “It takes a certain kind of girl to want to ride,” Lucas says. “It’s hard to explain, but everyone is kind of a badass at heart. Everyone is so caring and supportive of each other. It’s just a big family. It’s pretty great.”

It Was All A Dream About Tennessee

Dragon Theener

I’ve had the bike I’m riding now, my 1983 Honda GL650, since August of 2010. Her name: My Only One True Love. Ever since my dad rebuilt her for me and I bought a one-way ticket to Illinois and rode her back to Staten Island, I’ve been wanting to get down to Tennessee and explore the epic riding there. A couple weeks ago, my plan came together and I finally got to do all that. I drove over 3000 miles, got wet a lot, had a wreck, ate BBQ at every opportunity, and I would do it all over again for sure. Here are the highlights.

1. I got my shit together and left. That’s no mean feat. I always feel a little barfy the morning I leave on a big ride, and this was going to be the biggest one that I had done so farBike leaving Continue reading

Birthday Ride To Bear Mountain!

 

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Last Saturday, on a lovely cool morning, We gathered to celebrate Miss-Fire Amanda’s birthday, and what an amazing day it was. Happy Birthday darling from all of us!

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We met at Tar Pit Cafe (owned by Miss-Fire Kerry), for early morning coffee.

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It was pretty clear right off the bat that it was going to be a magical day…

10492132_10204212004037377_2749304013105666398_nThe Birthday girl presented with a custom made gift from Miss-Fire Rachel Quinn Jewelry!

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tough guys…

10562970_10152338694449608_354921372504867898_nDirections…

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The route…

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Group photo. Ready to ride!

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Scenic Overlook from the Palisades.

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View from the chase truck.

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We made it!

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birthday cake river surprise!

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Crossing the Bear Mountain Bridge to find some much needed food and beer after a long day…

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such fun.

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Perfect sunset skyline as we return happy and tired to the big city. a perfect day in every way.

 

Corinna Mantlo

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero, 1971 BSA Victor 250 desert sled race bike.

It’s gonna be just like the movies…Thank god we brought the polaroid!

 

“It’s gonna be just like the movies…Thank god we brought the polaroid!” – Love & A .45 (1994)

Well…We’ve been the gang that hugs (NY Times), and now it seems we’re the bad biker girls of Brooklyn (Inside Edition)…or perhaps the next Duck Dynasty. The truth lies somewhere…um, in between i’d say.

 

Regardless of media coverage, The Inside Edition ride we did a few weeks ago  was a great excuse to get the girls out en mass for a full day of riding all over the city. geared up with Go-Pros provided by the film crew, 20+ Miss-Fires  tore down the highways and backstreets from Williamsburg to Coney Island to Queens and back followed by the Inside Edition crew hanging out of the window of their Suburban with more cameras poised on us. Full coverage!

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Stay tuned for the Inside Edition air date…God help us all!

 

The Shakedown Show

 

10415675_10152222944364608_8915303835415840769_nLady Jay’s

We were stoked that our good friends,  The Shakedown Show asked us to lead a pack of 40+ bikes from Brooklyn out to The Railroad Inn in Valley Stream for their first annual parking lot show. So, bright and early Saturday morning, we scooted over to Lady Jay’s for coffee and bagels.

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Lady Jay’s is the home of my weekly vehicular movie night, Cine Meccanica and an organizer of The Shakedown Show. Needless to say it’s an establishment that caters to motorcyclists, but it was pretty impressive to see the turn out and to get to hang with a bunch of friends before hitting the road.

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Scottie and Jack…serious coffee motobike talk in the backyard at Lady Jay’s

10308084_10152222956089608_6328802523100598687_nThe Miss-Fires (left to right): Rachael Q, Amanda, Suzanne, Kim

Miss-Fires Suzanne led the ride on her Ducati Monster and though we ride together on the regular, it was a blast being up front with her on my vintage Beezer for the quick but fun 20 mile ride to the show.

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Miss-Fires (left to right): Corinna (me) and Kim

photo (1)Miss-Fire Melissa and her Ducati Monster

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Miss-Fires Rachael I. and Leslie were on hand in Leslie’s rad 1964 Chevy C20 pickup with her 1966 Honda Superhawk “DUMMY” in the back to showcase their custom leather goods; travel bags, gas can holsters, blanket straps, and custom Makeup and tool rolls. Can’t wait to get my custom gear!

Check out these badass moto accessories on their website DOOMED Darlings.

10359411_10152222985854608_3725459896913875315_nDOOMED Darlings (left to right) Rachael I and Leslie on their Harley Sportsters

10350639_10152222989234608_3893020467236261345_nDenim and Feathers…DOOMED Darlings (left to right) Leslie and Rachael

10307237_10152222997044608_2555169194877844131_nMiss-Fires (left to right): Kim and Suzanne

photo 1It was an amazing day of bikes and classic cars under the welcome shade of the railroad station, just opposite the home of The Shakedown Show at The Railroad Inn. Suntanned, tired and happy, we hit the road back to Brooklyn to party late into the night back at Lady Jay’s where there was cold beer and free BBQ and the Sailor Jerry airstream waiting for us. What more could you want out of a Memorial Day Sunday!

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The Miss-Fires (top row): Corinna (me), Kim, Leslie, Val, (bottom row): Nikki, Suzanne, Amanda, Rachael, Jack (friend of the Miss-Fires), Robyn…and the best photo bomber EVER.

photo 2The Shakedown Show

Huge thanks to Billy, Myles, Nikki, Devin, Railroad Inn, and Lady Jay’s for pulling off a great show and see you next year!

Corinna Mantlo

1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1971 BSA Victor 250, 1971 Yamaha AT1 125, 1962 Ford Ranchero