Italy is famous for many things, among them are pizza and tagliatelle al ragù (which is the actual Italian name for the dish known as spaghetti Bolognese), but most importantly it is famous for its incredible motorcycle culture. In Italy, where Valentino Rossi is a national hero, MotoGP is the third most-watched sport, preceded only by soccer and Formula 1.
In Italy, a piece of land roughly the size of California, motorcycling seems to be the national pastime and motorcyclists are nicknamed “centaurs” because they are inseparable from their machines. Everyone seems to own a motorcycle, and even the old ladies commute to and from bridge class on Vespas.
Although motorcycling is rooted in the Italian lifestyle, the large numbers of women who take motorcycling (not just scootering) as a hobby and a way of life is relatively new. The global wave of biker ladies has hit Italy in full strength, with female motorcyclists more than doubling their numbers over the past 15 years: from a mere 2.6% in 2002 to more than 7% by the end of 2015. And this statistic from the Italian Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t even include females who ride scooters. These days it seems that wherever you look there is a woman dragging knee in a corner in Mugello or going sideways on a dirt track.
Surprisingly, until last year, there was no women-only community in Italy to support and cater to this enormous crowd. Even the simplest and most trivial things such as finding a group suitable for novice female riders, connecting with other female motorcyclists, looking up information on women’s riding gear or finding female-centered motorcycle reviews, was very difficult.
And that’s why MissBiker was created, to help resolve some of these issues by providing an active online meeting place on social media as well as gathering and making information accessible, all in one place. MissBiker also strives to support female riders by providing an ever-growing list of commercial partners, such as mechanics, motorcycle gear shops and even micro breweries that are MissBiker-friendly and offer discounts to our members.
“First it was just me and my close friends,” founder Lisa Cavalli says, “and then suddenly we became ten, then a hundred and before we knew it MissBiker had more than two thousand members, all women, and we’re still growing!”
Cavalli knew she stumbled upon something special, and before long has set up a website and a small but dedicated team that help create resources for the growing community.
As an active MissBiker test rider and blogger, I believe it’s not only about creating events and gatherings, much of it is about raising awareness with the manufacturers and the industry to take serious steps in making motorcycling more accessible and more tailored towards the female public. It’s more complex than slapping on a pink paint job on a bike. There is a lot going on and things are moving in the right direction, but there is still much catching up to do both within the industry and the general public.
Currently MissBiker is helping women connect and organize rides in their area, as well as organizing national events such as the MissBiker National Motorcycle Gathering held in the medieval city of Marostica. Last summer’s Gathering drew 100 women on 100 motorcycles (seen in the lead photo at the top of the page).
“Last year we had limited the number of participants to 100,” says Cavalli. “This year (June 2-5, 2016) we have raised the bar and want to share this incredible experience with 200 women and their motorcycles. With the help of Suzuki Italy, Pirelli, Garmin, Brembo and many more, this year’s event holds much promise.”
MissBiker wants to transcend the traditional definition of a motorcycle club, and instead defines itself as a community. To be a MissBiker, it is enough to be a woman on a motorcycle, no matter where you are or how old you are or what language you speak.
“We reach out to everybody,” Cavalli explains, “and ultimately strive to unite the global women’s motorcycling community, establishing partnerships with existing women-centered groups and changing how the woman/motorcycle combo is viewed. Our international partners such as the Dainese D-store network already offer special deals to any MissBiker with our free membership card, and we’re working on creating many more partnerships that would benefit the female motorcyclist public worldwide.”
MissBiker accepts memberships from anywhere in the world and is developing an English-language website scheduled to launch later this year. More at MissBiker.it.