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June 29, 2013

Women on 2 Wheels

Number of women motorcycle riders on the rise

NEW ALBANY — Biker culture hasn’t always been at the forefront of sexual equality. In the past, many male motorcyclists would have laughed at the idea of their “old ladies” taking over the wheels as an active rider. Quite a few might chuckle even today.

Leggy blondes are still more likely to be found straddling a cruiser on a wall calendar rather than hammering their own hogs down Southern Indiana streets.

But women like Sharon Fink are helping to change that culture. As owner of Fink’s, New Albany’s motorcycle parts, accessories and leather store, the Elizabeth native has dedicated a section of her shop to female riding apparel. Since becoming involved seven years ago in the business her uncle Henry Fink founded, she has seen a marked increase in the number of women bikers.

“There have always been women riding motorcycles, but it’s just becoming a lot more mainstream than it ever was before,” Sharon said. “You are manning the machine so you control how fast you go, how aggressive you want to be. It’s just a different kind of feeling. A more powerful kind of feeling I think. And more and more women are interested in seeing what that’s like.”

Others in the industry have also noted the surge in popularity. According to 2009 Motorcycle Industry Council statistics, the number of women operating motorcycles from 2003 to 2009 increased by 67 percent, while the number of females owning bikes during the same time went up by 37 percent. The data now shows that one out of every four motorcyclists is a woman.

With such a new demographic entering into the biker scene, the industry that has traditionally produced male oriented products has started to take notice too. More female friendly motorcycles have started to appear on the scene. So have some gender specific clothing options and equipment.

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