Shifting the Balance of Power

Why More Women are Riding Motorcycles and How That’s Driving Change

Whether it’s for freedom, adventure, spiritual experience, confidence, independence, or community, women are taking to motorcycles with an increased voracity.

Three years ago, Debra Teplitz, 44, decided to silence the voice in her head that said, “Nice Jewish girls from the North Shore of Chicago don’t ride motorcycles.” Like so many women who are learning to ride in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, Teplitz has confronted personal challenges, societal stereotypes, and cultural expectations to embrace the freedom and independence of motorcycling. For many female riders, mastering a motorcycle has served as a catalyst for other long-awaited life changes. While their riding is at an all-time high, women on motorcycles are nothing new. We’ve been riding longer than we’ve been voting. Nonetheless, there are a lot more of us now. Women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the powersports industry.

Why Women Ride: The Faces of Female Motorcycling


After her divorce in 2007, Wendy Lamparelli, 51, was ready to buy a bike to fulfill a lifelong dream. Fearing for her safety, Lamparelli’s mom and kids begged her not to, so she ended up with a convertible instead. But the dream didn’t fade. In June 2012, she made it come true. What does she enjoy most? “The freedom and the pure adrenaline rush I feel when I’m in control of such a beautiful machine,” she says.

Teplitz, editorial operations manager for a multinational publishing house, loved riding with her dad. Even as a child, she felt free and relished the special time spent with him. Years later, while watching her husband learn to ride, she was bitten by the bug. In spite of being terrified of her klutziness, Teplitz signed up, too. She recalls being so tense that her body still ached two days after class. In spite of stressing over learning to shift, dropping the bike, and picking up speed, she passed her test on the first try.


Now 55, Idaho tourism manager Diane Norton started riding 14 years ago because she wanted the independence and a better view than the back of a helmet. She loves riding through Idaho’s scenic back roads alongside her husband. “It’s my Zen,” Norton says. “I’m completely in the moment. There’s no cell phone, music, or email that can take me away from my Zen.”


Account manager Kelly Geissler, 46, always wanted to ride but never thought her husband was interested. Kids and careers took precedence and riding remained something for another day. That day finally arrived for both of them four years ago. Geissler hasn’t looked back since – except to check her mirrors.

To Conquer Fears

Three years ago, 46-year-old Christine Watson, learned to ride when her new husband decided he wanted to ride solo again. It was learn to ride, or see him less. The fear was almost paralyzing, but she overcame it and now wonders what took her so long. “I started on a Honda CBR 250, moved up to a 600, and now I’m on a Ninja 1000,” she says. “Riding’s been the driving force behind life changes. I now know I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Her excitement and drive hasn’t gone unnoticed. Christine’s 20-year-old daughter thinks her mom is cool to try new things and conquer fears. “I think it’s important for people to know you can do anything, no matter what your age,” Watson says.


While riding is often about independence, riders appreciate the community aspect. “It’s given me a sisterhood with a group of women that has changed my life,” Watson says.

Speed Bumps and Traffic Cones: Obstacles to Riding

At the age of 16 (which is when I first learned to ride) most of us feel invincible and immortal – so it’s easy to learn. There’s no fear. Learning as an adult, however, is a whole different ball game. There’s an established stigma. Before you can learn, you have to get past myths based on:

  • Cultural training
  • Opinions of others
  • Physical requirements
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success

There are also skill-based fears, remedied through training and practice:

  • Operating the clutch
  • Turning at slow speeds
  • Picking up speed
  • Cornering
  • Dropping it
  • Finding others to ride with

Geissler’s biggest challenge was to get that little voice out of her head that said, “Why are you doing this? It’s dangerous!” As her time in the saddle increased, so too did her confidence, and that little voice isn’t even a whisper any more. “It’s cliché to say it’s freedom, but that’s as close as I can get,” she says. “It’s the ‘don’t fence me in’ spirit. It’s so beautiful and I can’t help but say a little prayer of gratitude. I’m always grinning.”

A Sisterhood of Riders

“With women’s affinity toward connection, it’s only natural these riders want to connect with each other,” says Genevieve Schmitt, founder and editor of Women Riders Now, the longest-running and most comprehensive resource for female motorcyclists. “As a result there are hundreds of women’s motorcycle riding clubs across the U.S. and Canada,” she says. These clubs provide an outlet for women to meet up on a regular basis and share their passion for motorcycling. “It’s also a way for new riders to get integrated into a community of like-minded riders,” Schmitt says.

One of those organizations is Women On Wheels (WOW). By day, WOW president Cris Baldwin is the assistant dean and registrar for the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. But she devotes most nights and weekends to the not-for-profit organization. WOW has 75 Chapters in the U.S. and approximately 1,500 members worldwide. “This already gives me a network of females not accessible to me prior to WOW,” Baldwin says.

Women Take the Industry By Storm

Most telling of women’s impact on a still male-dominated arena is their entry into leadership positions in the powersports industry.

In February 2013, Maggie McNally-Bradshaw, an IT Specialist for New York State, was unanimously elected chair of theAmerican Motorcyclist Association (AMA) board of directors. She is the first woman to lead the AMA board in the association’s 89-year history.

McNally-Bradshaw is used to defying the odds. It was her feistiness and pure determination that got her riding at 19. She and a group of friends were talking about dream cars. When 5’1” McNally-Bradshaw said she wanted to get a motorcycle, one of the guys said, “You can’t. Girls don’t ride motorcycles.” She had her permit within a week, and now teaches part-time.

Sarah Schilke, Head of Marketing and PR for Schuberth North America and Held USA, became the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) in its 100-year history. An avid street rider and amateur off-road racer, Schilke has been riding motorcycles for 20 years and worked in the motorcycle field for almost as long.

Like many women, Cam Arnold – MIC’s VP of Communications – learned how to ride from her college boyfriend. She enjoyed it, and bought a bike, which became her main form of transportation for years. A couple of close calls spooked her and she sold her bike to a friend, whom she later married. She had her bike back! Also typical of many women’s stories, Arnold took a break while focusing on family and career. She and her husband returned to riding once the kids were grown, and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

In a move that’s a huge boost for women riders, PowerLily, a private LinkedIn group for women in the powersports industry (with more than 300 active members), recently became part of the MIC. Arnold will lead the program and work closely with its members to integrate MIC resources. “We’ll have support from all segments of the industry,” she says.

Industry leader Harley-Davidson has been pursuing women riders for years, with programs such as the Garage Party, designed to take the intimidation factor out of walking into a motorcycle shop. Their strategy worked. Harley-Davidsonsold more new on-road motorcycles to women in the U.S. than all other brands combined in 2013. Perhaps more women have realized the benefits of riding that can extend to daily lives off the road. “Thousands of women have found riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a powerful way to tap into their strength, independence, and confidence and take it to a whole new level,” said Claudia Garber, Director of Market Outreach for Harley-Davidson.

Honda has doubled its market share of female riders in the past five years by focusing on a proper fit for women riders. The broad appeal of the CTX700 and CTX700N cruisers with their lower seat height, lower center of gravity, and optional automatic transmission is evident with more than 30 percent of sales to women. Honda has also introduced lower and narrower seats on sport bikes, a move that has helped double the percentage of sales to women in that segment.

“I’ve also noticed a shift in more women seeking the adventure style of riding with an eye toward long distance touring on two wheels,” says Schmitt. The adventure touring motorcycle market has taken off in recent years; all the new models to choose allow riders more versatility for touring. Women are seeking out this style of riding and enjoying all the rewards that come from venturing outside of a set comfort zone and exploring new horizons, Schmitt explains.

Women on motorcycles are powerful. And they’re learning that if you can master your motorcycle, you can master anything. Transformation that begins with one inspires many more who are ready to make a change, with an established community waiting to welcome and provide support.

As women riders’ numbers and strength swell, so too does their positive influence, both in the powersports industry and in the organizations in which they work and play.



74th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – Harley-Davidson and V-Twin Life

Another year has gone by and already it’s time for Sturgis!  Sturgis is always an adventure and I don’t mean just during the rally.  Folks are coming in from all over the world for the biggest party in the world and getting there is half the fun.  With so much crazy weather out now and monsoon season in full force.  Your bound to get wet so make sure you get to South Dakota safe so the partying can begin!  If you’ve never gone keep an open mind and remember there is so much to do in Sturgis that you can go for years to come and have a different experience each time.

The excitement is hard to shake and the new friends are hard to leave so deciding to come back and do it all over is a fairly easy choice. The magic of the Hills is mesmerizing and the roads, well; there are few places on this good earth that offer this kind of riding.

Incredible roads like Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, the Wildlife Loop, Vanocker Canyon Road and Spearfish Canyon take you to amazing destinations – Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Bear Butte State Park, the Badlands and Devil’s Tower National Monument. Highway 14A’s big, wide turns transport you to the infamous town of Deadwood and the mining town of Lead, and the awe inspiring Highway 385 meanders past towns like Hill City, Silver City and Custer, all contained in the Black Hills National Forest. It’s breathtaking and it’s glorious and it will make you want to come back.

The Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally is the experience of a lifetime in a place where local people can still show you a thing or two about hospitality and visiting exhibitors can show you anything and everything you’d want or need to dress you up or dress up your bike. Or heck, demo virtually every kind of bike on the market – custom, V-Twin or metric. It’s like being a kid again, in a candy store. Only better! Because in addition to the bikes there are concerts and races and bike shows, five blocks of Main Street bikes-only street vibe, the 12th Annual Mayor’s Ride, Michael Lichter’s annual exhibit, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, organized rides, some pretty impressive watering holes, custom legends, blue skies and warm, sunny days. It’s all waiting for you in Sturgis and the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. #HarleyDavidson #VTwinLife #SturgisMotorcycleRally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Welcome


For a list of events click the link below

Bike Show Events

August 3, 2014   11:00 am
August 4, 2014    
August 4, 2014   10:00 am
August 4, 2014   12:00 pm
August 5, 2014   11:00 am
August 5, 2014   12:00 pm
August 6, 2014   11:00 am
August 6, 2014   12:30 pm – 4:30 pm
August 6, 2014   2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
August 7, 2014   10:00 am – 5:00 pm
August 7, 2014   11:00 am
August 7, 2014   9:00 pm

V-Twin Life - Riding the Black Hills

V-Twin Life – Riding the Black Hills

Legendary Buffalo Chip

Legendary Buffalo Chip

V-Twin Life - Road King at the Sturgis sign

V-Twin Life – Road King at the Sturgis sign

Biker Rally – 2014 Laughlin River Run – Harley-Davidson and V-Twin Life

It’s that time again here on the west when thousands of motorcyclist will roll into Laughlin, Nevada to take over the small town on the Colorado River.  At the annual Laughlin River Run on April 23-27, nearly 40,000+ bikers from around the world will head to the generally sleepy community 90 miles south of Las Vegas and about 280 miles east of Los Angeles.  Vendors of motorcycle accessories take over the parking lots of several casinos during the celebration along with outside bars and biker fun.  A group ride along Historic Route 66 from Kingman, Arizona, to the ghost town of Oatman, Arizona, is also planned.  Country and rock music concerts include such performers as Jason Aldean (April 24) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (April 26). Both shows will be at the new Laughlin Event Center.  

Police presence is still exceptionally heavy here ever since the 2002 shootings that took place in Harrah’s by rival gangs.  Be aware of this if you are heading out and don’t give them reason to ticket.  One of my personal favorites is cruising up to Oatman and hanging out to see the craziness.  The place gets packed especially toward the weekend so get there early, grab a beer, and enjoy the show.  The Laughlin event to some is a weekend warrior event with a lot of RUB’s and guys that don’t always ride daily.  Which doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, you just need to be cautious of guys that can’t handle their liquor  or their bike and the police on both sides of the state line.  Make sure to bring your helmet if you plan to ride on the California side as it’s required by law and they will ticket.  Be safe, have a killer time and enjoy the 32nd Annual Laughlin River Run!


V-Twin Life

Laughlin River Run Logo

V-Twin Life goes to Rocky Point Rally, Puerto Penasco, Mexico

It’s that time of year again! In fact, it’s the favorite time of year for thousands of motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts from all around the U.S. and Mexico.  It’s the time of year they all converge on our little slice of paradise by the Sea of Cortez for 3 nights and 4 days of camaraderie, consumption and custom bike show and tell. It’s a festive atmosphere amid continuous well-organized and fun entertainment to keep everyone busy deciding which event (read: party) or activity (like road trips to nearby scenic sites; mystery poker run; raffles, bike washes, wet t-shirt contests, and so much more…) to attend.  The saving grace is that there are no wrong decisions for these fun-loving amiable aficionados of two-wheel transportation.

rprally2013-poster (2)

Steeped in 12 years of tradition that began in March of 2001 with a simple gesture by local hotelier (Playa Bonita Hotel owner), Harley enthusiast and passionate promoter of Puerto Peñasco, Oscar Palacio who first invited a couple of Mexican bike clubs from Mexicali and San Luis to rally for a weekend in Rocky Point. Over 80 bikers showed up and had a ball!

Oscar and his tourism promotion friends quickly saw the draw this sea side community could have on bike enthusiasts from all over. They hastily moved to invite more clubs for a second event in November of 2001 that became the first Rocky Point Bikers Rally with 380 in attendance. It has grown exponentially each year with crowds during the couple of years before the world economic crisis estimated at upwards of 8-10 thousand bikers peacefully blessing Rocky Point with their non-stop party spirit, their contribution to about every nook and cranny of the local economy—this in addition to raising large sums of money for numerous local charities as well as their insistence on bringing toys for the needy kids, and spreading the parade route with candy and little gift items for the kids during the much anticipated motorcycle show and parade through town.

Oscar Palacio, who in every other aspect of the success of his original idea is very humble, but his pride bubbles just a bit when he relates the fact that these rallies have raised over $200,000 dollars for local charities such as the all-volunteer fire department, Red Cross, La Montaña School for children with special needs, Cancer Center for Women, the Catholic Home for the Elderly (Asilo de Ancianos) and DIF programs in Puerto Peñasco and Sonoyta. DIF is an important state sponsored social assistance program that provides food, medical services, mental health programs, rehabilitation programs for families and shelter for disadvantaged, abused and abandoned children.

Most of those funds have come from pure generosity on the part of our rallying bikers who willingly pay the $10 registration fee knowing it all goes to these charities.  The great percentage of the bikers also participates in another charity event, the “Poker Run”, on their way down to the rally. Since one road leads everybody from Why, AZ to Rocky Point, it’s easy to organize with some of the more than willing landmark stops along the way. This year’s game is “Mystery Poker”.  Everybody’s going to want to do this because no one will know the value of their hand until they turn it in, that’s the mystery; anybody can win.

Get all the details on the “Mystery Poker Run” and the entire event calendar in an easily readable itinerary format at . Just click on “events”. You’ll also probably want to click on “maps” to see the complete route for the traditional Saturday parade that will begin at the Black Dog on Fremont and wind up at the Baja Cantina and Hotel in El Mirador with two great bands waiting to start the “Parade Fiesta”.  This is such a complete web site for the Rally you can use it as your “go to” guide until you register at the Barclin Pemex-Circle K, the first gas station you see as you near Puerto Peñasco.  By the way, there’s also a facebook page at: Rocky Point


Since is such a great site, we can concentrate on some other important information to help you enjoy your visit during the Rally, whether you’re riding a bike or not.

It’s important to note that you do not have to be rolling in on your Harley to take part in this gala. Anyone can register at the Barclin Pemex-Circle K. When you pay the $10 donation to register, you’ll get a wrist-band that shows you supported the many charities listed above, as well as your Rally registration pin. You’ll also automatically be put in a drawing for a free condominium stay for next year’s Rally.  You can participate in the poker runs, trips, boat rides, and the concerts, which you will not want to miss this year.


Concerts are special this year 

On Friday from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. the annual “Fiesta on the Beach” where the rock rolls and tequila flows on Sandy Beach in front of the Playa Bonita Hotel, where it all started! This year you can dance or just listen to some great original country (as well as popular covers) by Sour Diesel Train Wreck who does their country with a lot of soul.


Then, just up the beach at the end of famous Calle 13, in front of the Peñasco Del Sol Hotel begins the equally traditional “Street Fest” with two fantastic bands that will entertain until around midnight.  If you’re a regular, this “Street Fest” is a prelude to the Calle 13 Fiesta which was modified a bit because the improvements to Calle 13 are restricting traffic somewhat. Motorcycles of course will have access all along Calle 13. The biggest change is the location of the bands to accommodate the crowd. One of the bands appearing for the Street Fest is our own local “Agua de Coco” one of the most all-around bands you’ll hear anywhere. They play anything from reggae to rock and country to jazz—and they do it well. The other band appearing Friday night is “Manzanares”  an incredibly talented ensemble of creative musicians who play in a space all their own and with such precision you’ll be compelled to move with every beat of their rhythm, which is rich and varied but Latin focused with a lot of percussion, bass and modern flamenco licks.  The greatest news about all three of these bands is that we get to hear them again on Saturday. Agua de Coco and Manzanares will appear at the Baja Cantina and Hotel “Parade Fiesta” at the end of the parade.  Sour Diesel Trainwreck will commandeer the Bonita RV Park that is off Calle 13 for the big Saturday night Tecate/XX final concert.  There’s no way you’ll have enough of any of these three unique groups in just one night.

No matter what revs your engine, there’ll be plenty of it all over town and more than enough to go around! Have fun! Everyone else will be!  This will be the first year will be attending the rally and it looks like a good one to start!  See you all down below the border for some fun in the sun.


Born-Free 6 Builder List is out! Are you ready?

Born-Free 6

Born-Free 6 is set for June 28th & 29th 2014…Yes you read  this correctly.  The show has been expanded to two days of fun in the sun with hundreds of beautiful choppers, vendors, music, and meeting up with good friends.  The Born-Free Show is about the love of old motorcycles and like-minded individuals having a good time together and enjoying these bikes of the past.  Last years show was bigger than ever and I for one am looking forward to what Mike and Grant are putting together for 2014.  The invited builder list is amazing with so many great names I can’t wait to see what will be created!  There is a new rule going forward is that no builder can be invited more than three years in a row, so new builders are being added each year.  V-Twin Life will be bringing any updates on the builds through our Facebook page.  So look out for upcoming features and make sure to mark your calendars now!

 Born-Free 6 Builder List


Famous Men and their V-Twin Life! – “One Speed Dean” Wide Open

Throughout history men have had a passion and sometimes an obsession with the motorcycle.  There is no mystery as to why this is. Motorcycles represent a combination of several manly elements: danger, speed, singular focus, solitude, mechanics, noise, and physical skill.

Many famous men were motorcycle enthusiasts; they combined their passion for things like acting, music, and adventure, with a love for bikes.  Motorcycles were a perfect outlet for their zeal for life; riding the open road with the wind in their faces left them invigorated and inspired. Today we take a look at the relationship one famous man had with their motorcycles and one that inspired me to go fast!


Of course the “Rebel Without a Cause” had a thing for motorcycles. He got his first real motorcycle at age 15, a 1947 CZ 125cc. He was the only kid in his small town in Indiana with his own motorcycle, and he rode it full throttle, losing two teeth in a fall. The locals called him “One Speed Dean.” And that one speed was “wide open.”

When he dropped out of college to pursue acting, he traded his beloved CZ for a Royal Enfield 500cc vertical twin. But he wouldn’t hold onto that bike for long. While home in Indiana on break from working on a play in NYC, Dean decided to ride his Royal Enfield all the way back to the Big Apple. But when it broke down along the way, he traded it in for an Indian Warrior TT. When Dean arrived back in New York, he had the bike serviced at a shop…where Steve McQueen worked as a mechanic.

Later, wanting to emulate Marlon Brando, Dean bought a Triumph TR5 Trophy, the last bike he rode before he died.