Without any doubt, the invention of the bicycle in 1817 and its popularization in the late nineteenth century played a significant role in the cause for women’s rights. The bicycle was cheap, simple to use, and necessitated relatively loose clothing.
In the words of Susan B. Anthony in 1896:” The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world.”
But it was with the motorcycle that things started to, er, accelerate.
Early motor-bicycles and motor-scooters were literally that—bicycles and scooters with motors attached. Cheap and economical, they allowed women to experience more and different possibilities, just as bicycles had done before them.
In 1915, Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, a mother and daughter, biked from New York to San Francisco on a Harley and sidecar. Then in the 1940s, the first women’s motorbike club was formed, the 51-strong Motor Maids.
Yet despite the fact that motorbikes are ridden by women of every stripe, they are still regarded by many as inherently masculine machines.
Members of the Motor Maids club—still going strong—would likely disagree. Current membership: 1,200.
“When I first saw a motorcycle, I got a message from it. It was a feeling – the kind of thing that makes a person burst into tears hearing a piece of music or standing awestruck in front of a fine work of art. Motorcycling is a tool with which you can accomplish something meaningful in your life. It is an art.”Theresa Wallach, the first ever woman motorcycle dispatch rider