Survey no. 2 for our Woman Rider Consumer Panel (join here!) was all about why we’re all here: motorcycles. Manufacturers have been trying pretty hard in recent years to attract female buyers…and some are better at it than others.

We want to give women riders a voice to those manufacturers, so we asked our panel some questions about their motorcycle buying behavior, as well as sources they trust for info when researching a potential purchase. (Hint: social media influencers, not so much!)

We decided to dive deeper into the topic of motorcycles for our June survey as well, and we’ll have those results next month. For now, here are a few interesting tidbits:

The first question was, “Have you ever modified a motorcycle to better fit you?” and a full 70% of you said yes. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the manufacturers — something as simple as adjusting the brake and/or clutch levers can make a big difference in comfort — so don’t be afraid to modify your bike to fit YOU.

We then asked what factors are most important when shopping for a motorcycle. The usual stuff like dealership support, the cost/complexity of service and maintenance, performance, price and safety features all drew strong marks for importance. But two answers stood out above the rest: seat height (44%) and style/looks (41%) turned out to be the biggest determining factors.

So what brands of motorcycle are the most popular amongst our panelists? We were a bit surprised by the answers.

37% of you own a Harley-Davidson (we actually expected that number to be higher), followed by Honda (23%), then BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha (17-18% each).

When it comes to test riding a potential new bike, the vast majority of you said it was a deal breaker — no test ride, no sale. Given the number of you who said you’d been treated poorly at a dealership (62% have left a shop because they were treated badly), we wondered how many have experienced pushback from a dealership salesperson when you requested a test ride, but we were relieved to see that most of you have had good experiences: 64% had no problems when they asked to test ride a bike.

Finally, we wanted to know how you felt about the “new normal” of online motorcycle buying and home delivery. Turns out it’s not your preference, with most respondents reporting they would prefer to return to the in-person buying experience. We couldn’t agree more.

If you’re a panel member, look for your next survey in a week or so. We’re enjoying getting to know you and giving you a voice to the industry!

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  1. i wonder how much the seat height of a harley had to do with the purchase decision? when looking for a powerful bike but low enough i always come back to Harley being the one.

  2. I have own a couple of Harleys, but mostly Kawasaki models along with a Yamaha & Royal Enfield Himalayan. I have a 28″ inseam and have resolved seat height issues by adding light weight orthopedic inserts. I have boots with up to an inch and a half added. I can find plenty of bikes that fit me without the inserts. However, my favorite kind of riding is dual sport/adventure riding.
    One cruiser model that I think is wonderful and is available with three different seat heights, bar reaches and foot peg adjustments is the Kawasaki Vulcan S. It has a strong motor for a 650 and is price friendly.
    I also wonder how many of you out there also enjoy off-road riding. Thanks for listening.

  3. Seat height is a deal breaker for me; too high, no go! I currently ride mostly Kawasaki’s and have a Honda scooter (old style). I also ride a Honda 185 which I absolutely love and do some off-road riding when the weather permits and much more before COVID. I, too, enjoy dual sport/adventure riding. We just did a weekend ride near Salt Fork State Park – great roads around there.

    • SueC:
      Good to know you are a woman who enjoys Dual Sport & Adventure Riding East of the Mississippi! I represent the Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation, Inc. We are hosting a three day dual sport / adventure riding training session in Coal Township, Pennsylvania. This class is full but let us know if you are interested in upping your off-road riding skills.

  4. Seat height is first. It is about center of gravity too. Have owned two Hondas and just bought a Kawi 650 Vulcan S. Perfect height. Hoping the soon-to-arrive Honda Rebel 1100 maintains lower seat.

    • I personally can’t wait to see what Honda does with the Rebel 1100. I think it’ll have a low seat height, what I’m worried about is the price. Keep it close to $10k, Honda, please!

  5. I have the Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 ergo fit bike and love it. It is zippy when you need it to be. And thanks to Sue Slate, I have put some orthopedic lifts on a pair of shoes to ride my Yamaha TW 200 which helps me be more confident when I come to a stop, and not have to worry about reaching the ground to put my foot down.
    Right now I am just riding around the seasonal use roads, getting re-aquainted with my TW. My husband and a couple of friends hope to do a weekend on new north eastern BDR route in August,

  6. I am 5’2″ tall and have a 27″ inseam. I recently purchased a 650 Royal Enfield Interceptor. Luckily I am married to someone who could lower the bike, and fabricated bar backs for it. I then ordered a custom Corbin seat. I love the bike now, but under normal circumstances without someone who could do the necessary changes, it would have a different owner.


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