Women on bikes: Female motorcyclists hit the streets

Women on bikes: Female motorcyclists hit the streets

The number of women taking to the road on motorcycles in the US is on the rise.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council there has been a 30% jump in the number of female bikers in the past decade.

As the popularity of motorcycling among women has risen, so too has the number of clubs catering to enthusiasts. One such female-only club in New York is The Miss-Fires.

Michael Maher caught up with them on a recent weekend ride.

Produced and edited by Michael Maher, filmed by Mark Hiney.

-BBC NEWS

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Stories of Bike – Discovery

The Stories of Bike episode has been released featuring me, Kristen Reed. Come experience NYC from my perspective on my 2013 Bonneville, from hanging out with the Miss-Fires, to band rehearsal with The Rosewood Girl, to riding in the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. It’s a beautifully made video by Cam Elkins and Brian Stansfield. Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a wonderful experience!

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!

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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Adventures in riding ice

15_0207_IceRacing_116APhoto by Ryan Handt Photography

Winter in New York is always hard for motorcyclists. As ice and snow cover the streets, we put our bikes in storage, and spend hours reminiscing about summer, longing for spring, and cursing the Instagram feeds of our friends in warmer climates. This year has been particularly long and hard, and so I decided to make the most of it and use every minute and dime I had repairing and sprucing up my two bikes, as well as learning something new!

I’ve done a little bit of flattrack, by way of American Supercamp a few years back, and last year on the track with the help of fellow Miss-Fire Kara (Check out that story HERE). Kara races with Five & Dime Racing and just split town to defend the #1 plate in her class (ead her story HERE). So this winter, my goal was a similar, but even crazier sounding sport, Ice Riding!

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drilling screws into tires for grip.

It took a few weeks of talking to friends, asking technical questions, and inquiring about secret locations, but after not too long, I’d found a schedule for races 3 hours away and hopped in the car with some buddy’s to check it out. In short, it was everything I’d hoped for, cold, crazy, and so much fun to watch.

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We had a great day, and that started the ball rolling. More friends popped up with advice, and even offered to take me up to a private track on a river upstate. So, after getting the best text ever (above), I ran on over to Works Engineering and we spent several nights eating pizza, drinking beer and drilling thousands of screws into knobby tires.

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Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

Bright and early the next morning, we packed up the trucks, and headed upstate. The track was cleared and waiting for us along with a fire pit to keep warm in between turns courtesy of our gracious hosts, a lovely couple who race motorcycles, including flattrack.

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Jason wailing around a turn. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

It was great to watch everyone from the kids to the pros, find their way around the track. and I quickly came to understand the techniques that had been explained to me prior.

15_0207_IceRacing_036AOur host Scott. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

On dirttrack (or flattrack), you accelerate down the straight-aways, then lean and slide he bike around the turns with your leg extended out and into the turn, and that arm pushing into the handlebars, while your outside arm is raised high, and that leg is on the pegs and pushing against the tank. Looking all the while far down the track. That lesson of looking where I want the bike to go and it will go there, is something I originally learned riding horses years ago and it’s still one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned in regards to motorcycling, and I use it every day.

15_0207_IceRacing_087AMe. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

With the addition of the screws into the tires, the amount of grip is surprising. I had envisioned sliding all over slick ice, as if I was ice skating in dress shoes but in fact, The bike felt completely in control, and powered through the ice with grace and stability. Getting it to slide was indeed very similar to conditions of a dirttrack and after only a few turns, though I was slow and wobbly, I was starting to get it!

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Me. Photo By Miss-Fire Erika

Being new to not just ice riding, but motorcycle as off-road sport in general, gear was daunting. I did a bunch of research and found that it’s very similar to motocross, with some cold weather additions. You want to be warm, protected, and yet still able to have a full range of motion. I also found that an open MX helmet and Goggle combo was necessary as a full face helmet with flip down shield was prone to fogging badly.

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Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

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Jeanette. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

Jeanette (above) riding her first day on ice. She got her foot down on the very next lap!15_0207_IceRacing_080AErik showing Henry the track. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

All in all, an amazing day spent with friends learning a new skill and challenging myself with every turn on the track, and the only think that’s almost made me wish winter will last just a little longer…ALMOST.

Corinna Mantlo

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