Sydney Motorcycle Show 2017 – new venue, new motorbikes and much more for the lady rider.
The first time I went to a motorbike show was in November 2015, I was a new rider, my motorbike broke down on the way (that’s a whole other story) and I still felt like a bit of a fraud. In this whole new world of machines and testosterone. I went into it feeling a little intimidated by salesmen talking in technical terms and semi naked ladies hovering around new motorbikes (are there still men out there who can be tricked by sex into buying something they otherwise didn’t want?).
This time I went with new eyes, this was my place, these were my people and I wasn’t going to be intimidated by a bunch of men using jargon and talking to me in patronising terms, even if I don’t get quite as excited about tech specs as some.
I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised by a change in feel of the show. I couldn’t tell you if it was the change of venue, from Olympic Park to the new International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour, or whether the world really has shifted but, finally, women are being recognised as a consumers in their own right, rather than just an accessory to their husband’s passion.
After the untimely demise of Rita, I am on the look out for a new motorbike and have a keen interest in sharing my findings with the fellow short rider. I was particularly interested to find a range of motorbikes which either had a lower seat height or an option for a lower seat.
Based on my findings (and putting cruisers aside, which are traditionally low but just aren’t my style), full marks go to Triumph, BMW, Ducati and Yamaha for great options, pass marks go to Honda and Kawasaki.
A ‘could do better’ goes to KTM with no real options apart from to learn how to slide off the bike slightly and balance on one foot, which is not something I’m particular confident in doing with several thousand dollars worth of motorbike yet. KTMs are generally tall motorbikes so my only option there is a 125cc or to seriously muck around with the handling by lowering the suspension, next!
So, after two days of sitting, posing, assessing and pondering, my testriding shortlist is likely to be:
Triumph Street Twin
Triumph Street Triple (Low option)
Triumph Tiger XCX Low
Yamaha MT-07HO (Low option)
Kawasaki Ninja 650 (non LAMS)
More on that after Christmas, once my wrist has healed and I am out of this bulky cast.
It was refreshing to see much more ladies gear this year. When I started shopping for gear, around three and half years ago, I was forced into badly fitting gear or men’s options. There were noticeably more options this year for the female this time around, and not everything comes with the mandatory pink trim. I found options for ladies jackets on most of the gear stands, of note to me were Furygan, Rukka and new female offerings from Alpinestars, probably available elsewhere in the world but not all of us want to shop online so it’s great to see its appearance in Australia.
The stockist of Rukka, Innotesco, is interesting as it is run by a lady in Melbourne who had a fabulous range of premium gear for ladies; she takes measurements so she can ensure that the gear you order actually fits. I picked up a pair of Lady Evoque Daytona boots which will add 6cm to my height which, I hope, will help me feel more stable and confident when holding up a stopped motorbike.
One rep from another brand which will remain nameless did show me the single women’s jacket they had brought to the show with a comment that, ‘we imported women’s gear 7 years ago but no one bought it’. Well, 7 years ago is a long time and you might want to check how much the market has changed but, fine, there are other brands out there and they will happily take your potential market share.
I also met Yvonne from Girlrider, who chatted passionately about female riders and her sponsorship of young female riders. She also had a fabulous range of fun tshirts and attractive riding jackets in more than just pink.
Ladies Learning From Ladies
Whether you subscribe to idea that men and women have different learning styles or not, some ladies feel much more conformance learning from other ladies, and the show has some to offer here too.
I visited the GirlTorque.cc stand, run by Fabienne Phillips, a lady who has set up a business to help lady riders in Sydney with everything from one-on-one lessons, to shopping for motorbikes and gear, to eventually organising ladies-only track days. The latter excites me no end because I have always found the track to very male dominated, where many of the men seem to want to be Valentino Rossi, and get their knees down, without much regard to anyone else on the track; passing me with 1 metre to spare is not cool, guys.
What is also of interest to me from GirlTorque.cc is the ‘Post Bingle’ training (aka post-accident) because, although I am quite determined to ride again, I suspect that I am going to suffer a few leg wobbles when getting back on a motorbike and it would be fabulous for someone to hold my hand through that. The guys at HART are great but they don’t offer weekend lessons and I’m not sure they deal particularly well with tears (I suspect that there might be a few of those).
It was also great to have representation from female riders speaking to an audience at the Shannons stand. Rhianna Buchanan, Lauren Vickers and Jacinta Siracusa aka Motodoll shared their experiences of learning to ride with one of the best tips (that I totally subscribe to) is to find a huge empty car park and practice, practice, practice until your body knows what to do instinctively.
With the market for ladies and all things motorbikes still being relatively niche in Australia, it’s hard to find retailers focussed on lady’s needs and many are relying on on-line stores and hope to attract customers. A show like this helps the customer meet the seller face to face and to allow easy try before you buy.
The trouble is that it does cost retailers a lot to attend so a balance must be struck and us ladies probably need to educate ourselves more about our needs rather than settling for the badly fitting men’s sizes; this will help to enable demand to justify supply. Still, it was nice to see a reduction in the number of scantily women and increase in helpful salesman, finally aware that the girls have grown up now and really don’t need to be patronised.