Ever since she was a teenager, Mumbai-based Thejaswini Unni was enamoured with the idea of owning a geared motorcycle after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Her dad had an Enfield Classic 350 but learning how to ride it was a nightmare for her. Today, she is the proud owner of a powerful Triumph Bonneville Classic and can’t stop gushing about it.
“I thought it was a dream come true when I bought it, but it goes deeper than that—it is the only way I stay connected to dad. Every time I ride, I sense the freedom he would have had on the roads, I sense his free spirit travelling with me and know he will be there, always!” Thejaswini says with emotion as she talks about her bike and the connection with her
In India, more women are discovering motorcycles for a variety of reasons and taking it up seriously as a passion and lifestyle. “Women riders currently form a very strong and growing proportion of the motorcycling community in India. Harley-Davidson has an extremely strong community of women riders. We have also witnessed a rise in participation by women in our rallies and events over the last two years. Women today form a large number of the attendees of the zonal HOG rallies,” says Peter MacKenzie, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson India and Greater China.
Given this scenario, it is not surprising that motorcycle accessories have turned into important lifestyle must-haves for women who take their riding seriously. Accessories like helmets, gloves, jackets, scarves, shoes and riding pants, are par for the course and women are ensuring that they get the best. Biker Richa Devi who has biked through the Himalayas, the forests of Chikamangalur and even Bhutan on her Royal Enfield, says that accessories are integral to their rides. “Bike accessories are very important to me and it has really helped elevate the whole motorcycling experience for me. It is more of a necessity than a lifestyle at this stage. Earlier, when I was starting out, I would think about what would look good but now it’s all about safety. The most general of all accessories and also the most crucial is spending on the right riding gears. Helmets, jacket, riding pants, gloves and boots—you cannot afford to skip of any of these. I have spent most on my AGV Tartaruga K3 Rossi helmet and Dainese riding jacket.”
Many women bikers stress on the need for quality accessories and reiterate that splurging on high-end brands is not just for looks but for safety too. “What should you spend the most on—riding gear and helmet, undoubtedly!” says 27-year-old Candida Louis who explored India on a bike on a solo trip a few years back. She adds, “Apart from the basics like a helmet, gear, etc, for me—Sena, Ram Mount, ChargePlus, etc, are now part of the deal. It makes life so much easier, and often safer, on the move. I would rather wait a little longer to pool in funds and buy a trusted brand even though they tend to be slightly expensive. I would hate it if even a minor issue crops up during the ride. In a place like India, you already have a handful of things to worry about while on the road. You definitely don’t want any kind of niggles from your bike or accessories to cause further miseries. Personally, accessories should blend in with the whole experience and enhance it. It should not be something you keep thinking or worrying about.”
Motorbike companies like Royal Enfield, Harley Davidson and Spartan ProGear offer a range of accessories suiting a variety of budgets in India. Samrat Som, Head of Gear (Apparel and Accessories) at Royal Enfield, says, “We contribute to motorcycling fashion through our varied product portfolio termed as ‘Royal Enfield Gear’ which is an amalgamation of protection, comfort, style and safety. Royal Enfield Gear is our effort towards building an ecosystem around motorcycles that further enhances the riding experience. Whether it’s for freedom, adventure, spiritual experience, confidence, independence, or community, women are taking to motorcycles with an increased voracity. With our unisex gear, we aim to break societal stereotypes and cultural expectations to embrace the freedom and independence of motorcycling.”
But the right jackets, denims and boots are some gear that women seem to have a hard time finding in India. They invest in some of the best riding denims from international brands like Dainese Bonneville Jeans, Deus Ex Machina, Alpinestars, Maple and REV’IT, and swear by them as well. Another accessory that women invest heavily in is their riding boots. Harley-Davidson and FRYE are some popular choices in boots while for jackets many cite AGV, Dainese and Speed and Strength among others as solid brands to buy.
Like the women bikers cite, riding a bike is an extension of themselves and their personality. And motorbike companies recognise this fact and provide them with a variety of parts and accessories to make sure their bikes reflect their individual personality and style. Says Peter MacKenzie, “Customers can choose from more than 14,000 parts and accessories to personalise motorcycles to reflect their personalities, preferences and lifestyle, while our range of Harley-Davidson apparel allows customers to express their own personal sense of style both on the bike with our protective riding gear offerings, as well as off the bike with our lifestyle apparel offerings.”
The stress on safety has prompted women—as much as men or more—to research, compare and select bike accessories which will give them maximum safety and comfort on these long and sometimes arduous rides. “I fell many times and learned how important wearing the right safety gear is. It is the only protection bikers, and that too bikers on powerful, fast-moving machines, have on the road. At any given point in time, I and the motorcycle are more powerful and at the same time, more vulnerable. This is true of small lanes and streets to the highways,” says Thejaswini who learned the hard way.
Today, women and motorbikes are synonymous with words like freedom, independence, adventure and even conquering fears. Women’s riding communities like The Bikerni, Riderni, Hop On Gurls and REgals have given women a sisterhood that has transformed their lives as well. And through all this, women bikers are ensuring they get not just the best bike ride experiences, but also the best bikes and best accessories too.