THE SHEER SIZE OF FEMMOTO IS IMPRESSIVE: Involvement from several OEMs and even more industry sponsors means that plenty of people are interested in catching the attention — and the buying dollars — of female riders.
Designed as a platform for female riders looking to test ride new models, improve their riding skills and find specialty services and products geared toward them, Femmoto has grown in scope since its inception as a women-only track day in 2001. Organizers reported a record 562 women in attendance at the most recent event, held in early October at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Femmoto is organized by Sportbike Track Time owners Bonnie and Monte Strawser.
There were plenty of motorcycles to test. Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda were there (though, surprisingly, Yamaha was nowhere to be seen), as were Buell, Harley- Davidson, Ducati, Aprilia and even KYMCO and Hyosung. Each manufacturer brought out a full test fleet with everything from cruisers to full-size sportbikes like the Kawasaki ZX-14. KYMCO even brought a full contingent of scooters.
Suzuki was the only manufacturer that had a noticeable absence of big sportbikes. As it turns out, it has nothing to do with the target audience: Not only does Suzuki not allow its models to be track-tested (it offered street rides only), but it doesn't hand out big-bore sportbikes for test rides.
Many manufacturers kept the female demographic in mind when making plans for the weekend. Harley-Davidson had many of its smaller cruisers waiting, and Ducati had a high percentage of Monsters, which the Italian OEM says is the model female riders prefer. Hyosung was quick to note that its twins — already a compact size — have lowering links available to offer a better fit for petite women (or men, for that matter).
Dual-sport bikes were popular models. The Ducati Hypermotard was in use each session. The women had to choose which bikes they wanted to ride each morning, and only those who were able to get to the Ducati compound early grabbed the Hypermotard. Similarly, Aprilia reported that its SXV 4.5 Supermoto was the model claimed the quickest.
In addition to the street rides and track sessions, Femmoto also offered the Kawasaki Off-Road Experience and an ATV demonstration. The limited spaces available for the dirt bike experience filled up quickly, and there was even a waiting list in case any spaces opened throughout the weekend.
Sponsors turned out in force, bringing rigs packed with accessories. Parts Unlimited, for example, brought a load of Icon ladies gear, and Scorpion Sports showed off its helmet line.
Many of the women riders brought along a spouse or significant other. Since most of these umbrella boys are riders themselves, Femmoto organizers and the manufacturers have recognized the built-in audience. The October event featured a co-ed track day, and manufacturers opened the street rides to men willing to pay a nominal fee for the otherwise free weekend.
Femmoto will need more support from the manufacturers if it's going to grow. More bikes are needed to meet the increasing involvement from one of the market's fastest-growing segments.
Beth Dolgner is editor of 2-Wheel Tuner, Dealernews' sister publication for consumer sportbike riders and custom sportbike builders. Contact Dolgner at email@example.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org.