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5 Biggest Gripes About Women’s Riding Gear

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Women’s Riding Gear

Discussions on riding gear are always endless, but let’s face it: female riders have more legitimate gripes than their male counterparts. Yes, women’s riding gear is a smaller market. But the number of female adventure motorcycle riders is growing, and we’d love to see gear manufacturers paying more attention.

After talking to dozens of female adventure riders, here are five most common complaints that women have about gear.

1. Barbie Gear

“I don’t care for the pinks, purples or baby blues. When it comes to adventure gear, I prefer black, tan, earth tones and grays” – Jocelin Snow, BMW GS Trophy Challenge USA Team Member.

Top Gripes Women’s Riding Gear

Adventure gear for women is arguably getting better and more technical with each year: in 2018, Klim came out with their brand new “Artemis” line, REV’IT! has dedicated a whole Women’s ADV Team to test their gear, and Rukka is offering women’s technical Gore-Tex jackets and pants. But the choices are still limited to very few high-end manufacturers. Pink, purple, and floral patterns are still all too common in women’s riding gear – and frankly, we’ve had it.

“I don’t want to always wear plain black. But I do not want my gear adorned with flowers of pink and purple, or anything sparkly. Because most of the time, this doesn’t look feminine to me, it looks like an attempt to reduce us powerful women riders to the ‘delicate little girls’ of times past,” says Chantelle Powell, a world traveler from Australia.

That’s right: we don’t want the flowery, pink designs, but we like our gear to be flattering. Confusing? Not at all: female riders just don’t want to look like little girls or Barbie dolls. We want to look like women. More neutral color schemes, lighter colors for desert riding, bolder design patterns for visibility – we’d really appreciate those!

2. One Size Does Not Fit All

Top Complaints Women's Adventure Motorcycle Gear

“We are all shaped differently and it’s difficult to fit us, but manufacturers could at least offer different shapes or adjustability” – Susan Maxwell Stevens, adventure rider.

Women’s bodies come in a wider variety than men’s, and it would be wonderful if gear manufacturers would take this into account. Men’s gear often comes in a size range from XS to 5XL with different pant lengths, whereas women’s lines are much more limited.

“Too much bulky material, because they try to get one size to fit all. A large should be a large, not a medium, large, and extra- large all rolled onto one,” says adventure rider Davina de la Ossa. Most petite women struggle to find good fitting adventure riding gear, but plus-size riders often find themselves no better off. A lot of women mention they simply buy men’s gear and have it altered.

It’s not easy for manufacturers to offer equally wide ranges on gear that doesn’t sell on the same scale. But designing more adjustable waists and sleeves and adding extra straps and zippers, it would seem, would offer a welcome compromise.

3. Settle for Less

Function, especially when compared to men’s gear, is a frustratingly common gripe that female riders have. We all want the same level of protection, same durable, sturdy materials, and the same ventilation as men’s jackets and pants.

“When Simon and I decided to ride our motorcycles around the world back in 2003, my choice of riding kit was very limited. I wanted to have riding gear that would afford me the same protection as Simon’s. But this led to nothing but frustration and disappointment as there was no such thing available.” – Lisa Thomas, world rider.

Top Gripes Women’s Riding Gear

Some manufacturers mention that 6-7 years ago, women mostly rode adventure bikes as pillions and required different gear than men‘s. While that may have been true in the past, the times have changed. And although some manufacturers are catching up, the majority still produce women’s riding gear that is just not on par. Perhaps a new survey of how many women ride and own their adventure motorcycles would encourage a different outlook.

“There should be no compromise on materials or protection. I noticed some brands use different materials for women and men, while the prices are the same. Same goes for the protection. Motorbike gear is there to protect you from the elements and injuries, not to win a beauty contest! I want to be protected and comfortable when I ride” – Franziska Jenetzky, world rider.

4. Pockets!

“I like to have real pockets in the pants, something that holds more than spare change, that you get your fingers stuck in trying to grab a quarter!” – Jocelin Snow.

Lack of functional pockets is one of the most common gripes that women have about the riding gear: not only we have smaller (or fake!) pockets, but most of the time, there are a lot less pockets on women’s gear than men’s, too.

Some manufacturers say they put less pockets on women’s gear for fear that women won’t buy jackets that look too bulky – but why not add back pockets to our gear, for example, much like those on men’s jackets, or offer cargo-style pockets on the pants?

5. Curves

Top Gripes Women's Motorcycle Riding Gear

“I commute in an Aerostich, and was parking my bike in a pretty rough part of town one night. A “working girl” tried to pick me up before I got my helmet off!” – Risa Strobel, adventure rider

Most of the women who offered their top complaints about adventure riding gear mentioned they aren’t happy with the boxy, bulky look that so many adventure jackets have. What may work for men’s shapes doesn’t really work for ours: female riders prefer a feminine cut that has room for breasts and hips, and that compliments the curves instead of completely neglecting them.

“Hips, hips, hips! Why can’t the gear fit our curves well, without having to deal with a huge waistline when trying to fit hips?” asks Wamuyu Kariuki, an adventure rider and traveler. Susan Gerard, also an adventure rider, asks for an adventure jacket that is tailored and hugs the figure.

Top Gripes Women's Adventure Motorcycle Gear

Beyond “Shrink It and Pink It”

Klim’s head gear designer Kelsey Runge has offered an insight as to why women’s riding gear is developing so slowly. “Men make what they want to wear, and then there is a ‘shrink it and pink it’ mentality when it comes to the women’s gear, which just doesn’t work. It becomes an after-thought, it doesn’t fit right, and women don’t want to buy it, which then turns around and shows that women’s gear isn’t selling. Well, duh,” says Kelsey, and hopes that a female designer’s insight into what women need might be a better approach.

As much as we would love gear manufacturers to hire more women to design gear for us, perhaps more communication and attention to customer feedback could offer better understanding of the needs and wants of the female adventure rider. While it is understandable that manufacturers are reluctant to offer similar ranges in women’s gear as in men’s, some creative design solutions, added protection, better fabrics and better relationship with the customers might be a way to go.

Egle Gerulaityte Author ProfileAbout the Author: Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle Gerulaityte is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, Egle focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Photos Courtesy of RTW Paul, Simon Thomas, Risa Strobel & Susan Maxwell Stevens.

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