22 year old Danielle Westaway is a Sales Manager and Yard Manager at successful Kawasaki dealership Mack 1 Motorcycles in Wangara, WA. Danielle has been riding motorcycles ever since she passed her license test at 17 years of age and currently owns a Kawasaki Z1000.
As a woman who rides and sells motorcycles, I have found that there is a common stigma attached to female motorcycle buyers. I have been asked many times by my customers, "What’s a good bike for a female?" and whilst shopping for a motorcycle, been told by salesmen what I can and can't ride. Before I started working in the trade, I had believed the salesman when he told me what bike a female like myself should ride. But now I have come to realise that it’s not a matter of gender that picks the bike for you but other factors like differing skill levels of riding, experience, confidence and passion.
A few months ago I purchased a 2011 Kawasaki Z1000, my first 4 cylinder 1000cc sports bike. Getting to this bike has definitely been a gradual process for me. I started on a small 250, then moved to a twin 700 and now I’m on the big Z. Yes, the bike has a higher seat height and is heavier than smaller bikes and without a doubt very powerful, but it’s the same bike whether you’re a male or female buyer. Everywhere I ride, I encounter genuinely amazed people who ask, "Wow, how can a small girl like you ride such a big motorcycle?", but in reality, any woman can do it too if they have the experience and confidence! Let’s put gender aside. Experience and the passion of motorcycle riding is what counted most to me when I last purchased.
When heading into a dealership, there may be things that scare you off, like the weight of a bike and seat height, but what I have noticed in my years in the sales industry is that men have the exact same concerns.
Here’s some of my tips of what may be worth a look when heading into your local Kawasaki dealership.
Starting out? The Ninja 250R is a great bike for beginners. It features a low seat height of 770mm and can be lowered even further with a few aftermarket parts (up to approx 3 inches or 77mm) which is great for the vertically challenged. The Ninja 250R is light weight and has a great turning circle which makes them super easy to ride, not to mention very reasonably priced. It hasn’t been Australia’s best selling motorcycle for the last three years for nothing.
The KLX250S and KLX250SF models are great if you have been riding dirt bikes previously and want to start hitting the bitumen (without turning your back completely on offroad). Again, these bikes can be lowered to suit your height and are nice and light making them easy to ride.
If you’re in the market for a mid sized bike, there is quite a big range to choose from. The twin cylinder bikes such as the ER-6n ABS and Ninja 650R ABS are great motorcycles as they are relatively light and great for commuting around town For people wanting to move up from a 250 onto something a bit bigger but nothing too large or powerful, these bikes would be ideal. Both models also come in learner-legal variants. The Versys is also a great and versatile bike but has quite a high seat height, so more suitable for taller ladies.
The Z750 is one of my favourites. It’s a 4 cylinder 750cc with a naked appearance. (Naked refers to a more open faired model, unlike ZX model sports bikes). The Z750 is perfect for the woman who isn’t quite ready for a powerful 1000cc but still wants something with a bit of poke. The Ninja ZX-6R is also a great midsized sports bike, slightly more powerful than the Z750 but an option for the girls who like a fully faired and spirited sports motorcycle.
The Vulcan 900 cruiser range offers a great motorcycle for female cruiser enthusiasts and is a must see for anybody looking for a cruiser that has good usable power with the appearance of a bigger, more powerful motorcycle. The new W800 has the perfect retro looks, not to mention one of the easiest bikes I have ridden and is well worth a look.
And for the ladies who want to conquer the 1000cc category, then the Z1000 and Ninja ZX-10RABS are both great fun and surprisingly easy to handle. I own a Z1000 and absolutely love it!
To sum up, I really do believe that being a female should NOT limit what you ride. Choose the right bike for you based on things like practicality, comfort, experience and skill level and even looks and appearance rather than the thought process of “What is good for a female?” Like being proficient at anything in life, to be a good motorcycle rider takes time, practice and confidence and from one female to another, believe me it doesn’t happen overnight. There will be fear and second guessing of yourself but persevere and gain the experience and you can ride WHATEVER you want. Just make sure you understand what you need and are expecting from your motorcycle. Good luck and safe riding! Danielle