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ADV Products5 Biggest Gripes About Women’s Riding Gear

5 Biggest Gripes About Women’s Riding Gear

Insights into what Female Adventure Riders want and need in their gear.

Published on 04.16.2018

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.

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

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

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

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

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Tana Todd (TT)
Tana Todd (TT)
April 16, 2018 9:14 am

Establishing a relationship with one’s potential customers seems like a bygone business practice anymore. Listening to and acting upon customer input is the only way to increase sales in a market with such little traction already. We are waiting, us women, for manufacturers to invest in us as primary consumers, not accessories. Great article, Egle!

April 16, 2018 9:56 am

Jeez had a license since 83 still can’t get good female bike gear I mean really

April 16, 2018 12:43 pm

I agree with all the complaints about motorcycle gear not always fitting women’s needs. But I’m missing the final conclusion: Why aren’t there some tough girls which enter this business and startup a “girls brand”? Why crying for the dudes to help out?

Kyler Stewart
Kyler Stewart
April 16, 2018 4:09 pm

Its all supply and demand, I can’t say I know many women or have seen many riding motorcycles, so until the number increases you are all SOL, just the facts man (or woman)

April 17, 2018 5:01 am

Also lack of selection for us men with short inseams. Some companies offer shorter inseams but most offer “regular” and “long”. Many of the “regular” length pants are 32 to 34 inseams and I’m walking on 2 to 3 inches of material.

April 17, 2018 7:31 am

Common complaints from my wife, too. You did not mention short inseam issues, although I see another poster did, below. My girl is tall, 6 ft 1, and needs the long inseam, 33-34 in inseam. Unobtanium! She buys mens, and hates the cut. Thanks for posting this story. I hope the makers are listening.

Carol Hauck
Carol Hauck
April 17, 2018 9:56 am

Good Article. My biggest complaint is I don’t want black and I want a feminie cut. I like colors, but I don’t want pinks, puplre and light blue either. As I was looking for a new jacket last year I found the manufactures that I used before had cut the arms lengths shorter, so as I reached for the handle bars it would expose my skin. I found the KLIM Jacket and I love it, except for the neck cut and it being a bit snug in front of the Armholes. LOVE the feminie cut. I ride 15,000 miles on my GoldWing and about 3,000 technical miles on my two Dual Sport bikes. I don’t mind paying the price for good gear, but it better have everything I need as a women who rides! I am in it a lot!

Julie Menard
Julie Menard
April 17, 2018 2:36 pm

Ya! You’ve got to be the “EvergreenE” with he 250CC (called something like “blinky”if my memory is good ) going around South America. Cool!!! With the “hair” I have no doubt. My boy friend & I travelled 30,000km (18,000miles) in 4 monthd from Ushuaia to Quebec. It was the trip of a life time. When I came back, statred to get sick. I received the news that I have colon cancer stage 4. Wow… What do you do with that? 8 mo5nths down that new path I have faith to live for more adventures. The doctors in Montreal have given hope.
I am “1couple2motos3ameriq” in i had pleasure to read your stories.
bisois xxoo

April 26, 2018 2:08 pm

I love the fact that more women are riding bikes than ever before and I hope they eventually have access to all the gear they possibly want.
The problem is that women are small market segment. They want more colour selection, wider variety of “fit right”, and more adjustability than the man products. Plus the same protection and materials. It is difficult to combine all of these features into a product that The Local Dealer is willing to stock and take the chance of having to put it on sale at seasons end.
There are already companies that make custom fit clothes for women at fair price. I think that is the best solution in the near future.

Patrick Lohr
Patrick Lohr
April 24, 2020 12:15 pm

Stumbled upon this article while being completely frustrated while trying to find gear for my wife. I can look for myself and find tons of gear ranging from the entry level sub $100 price point up to 1k for a pair of pants but hardly anything exists for my wife. The things that do exist never fit her correctly when we order it leaving her to ride with less protection.


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