The Miss-Fires featured in Triumph’s Spirit Magazine

The more I ride, the more I seek to absorb moto culture and literature. I discovered Triumph’s digital magazine, Spirit, when I purchased my Bonnie two years ago, and always enjoy reading the quarterly features full of inspiration and life on two wheels. Last year, I noticed they were soliciting pictures from readers, so I sent in a few that my 18-year-old sister had taken of me in Brooklyn.

And then forgot about it.

Months later, the editor contacted me requesting a story to go along with the photos, which I happily and carefully drafted. Triumph published [a highly scaled down version of] my submission in their spring issue #15, and I am very honored to be included.

Read it here!

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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.”

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.

I wanna RIDE!

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It has been 25 years since I last drove a motorcycle. I felt like it is well over due, I needed to get riding once again. Being that it has been so long, I figured I would do the responsible thing and go and take a class. I started from the beginning. Even though I rode in the past, I wanted to make sure I approached this with patience and caution. I was anxious to get riding. I see all my gal pals ripping it up,having a blast as we all go out on weekend Rides and such. Being a Miss-fire would be a lot more fun if I had a motorcycle and not just my classic car. So instead of asking one of my friends to help me learn or refresh my memory, I figured I would go to the professionals. I signed up for an introduction to motorcycle. If I was starting over, why not start off with the proper know how of this powerful machine. I always feel like anything that has that much power deserves respect.
So it wasn’t the nicest day. Gloomy.. Almost rainy. I have heard that if you learn on a rainy day it may be better for you since you are learning in more difficult conditions.
I was excited! Just like a kid going to Disneyland. Again I told myself to focus and listen.
I was greeted with a big smile. I met Adam Wood.(Yowza!!) A very knowledgeable    instructor at MSS. We went into it right away. Even if I felt like I already knew some of the things we were reviewing, I knew it was important to take it all in. I know a focused rider is a smart rider.

image(So focus Lori, focus!) We started with what is the proper gear and which helmets, pants, jacket and gloves were best for riding.(Damn! my pin-up polkadot dress and flower will have to stay at home :/) Adam made us all think about what kind of rider we were going to be so we could start thinking about the proper bike for us. I couldn’t get Grease’s “cool rider” out of my head. He helped us understand why certain gears were better, not in a fashion sense but in a “how it is made” and how durable they will be in an accident scenario. You really don’t want to talk about accidents before you get on such a powerful machine, but like I said, you must respect every aspect of riding, safety and all. Being properly prepared is where I needed to start.image

After we went through the basics of getting to know a bike like what goes where we moved onto the proper way to orchestrate them all together. That is a good word to use, Orchestrate. That’s how it should all be. All the main controls working together like an orchestra. When used in the right way you will smoothly coast out of first gear and into second like a beautiful song. If used wrongly, you will most likely stall out and need to start up again.
The introduction to motorcycle truly allowed us to get to know the bike (introduction to motorcycle..ehh..it’s in the title)
We covered all the things you need to do to start and take that first ride. After spending a few hours getting to know my bike, I feel like I am more properly prepared to start my next phase – get off of the back seat and finally start riding! I am READY!!
Bitch no more!
I will keep you posted!….image    THANKS MSS !
❤ Lori Erlitz

Project: BSA

photo 5We recently did a quick one nighter session over at member Valerie’s garage MotorGrrl, on my 1968 BSA Lightning. The fork seals were leaking badly and it should have been a quick swap, but as with many old bikes and mine in particular, nothing is ever what it seems.

1555526_682822451739323_1171141786_nI already knew that my ’68 Lightning has a ’70 Thunderbolt 650 engine in it, but i thought that was the only modification. Of course when we went to install stock, mail ordered ’68 A65 Lightning fork seals, we discovered that the Beezer has  earlier A10 forks fitted to an A65 wheel. So…another week’s wait to get the right seals and I was back up and running. I love my franken-bike. Viva la vintage iron!

Corinna

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero

Project Dirtbike

photo(1)Moto Monday winter project nights are going strong over at the MotorGrrl garage. Here’s an update on the 1971 Yamaha At1 125 engine rebuild project.

photo 2-1This week we put the transmission together, installed the crank, tested the gears and shift pattern, applied Yama-bond to the case edges and pressed them closed. Be sure to thoroughly check your gears and shifting BEFORE you closed up the cases as it’s a pain in the butt to open them up again. Guess why I mention this…Go on, Guess? 🙂

photo 4-1A tip from a friend is to install the transmission, close up the cases (without the crank installed), put on the shifter and go through the gears until you are sure they’re right. Once checked, open cases (easy now, since the crank is not pressure fit in place), install crank and pressure fit cases closed.

photo 5-2We used a torch to heat the bearings (staying away from the bearing balls themselves), then tapped them closed carefully with a rubber mallet.

photo 2All photos by Miss-Fires member, Kristin.

Corinna

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero