In the world of motorcycles, women have often been underestimated and overlooked. Even today, gender disparities persist, with female riders facing challenges unique to their experience. As we commemorate Women’s History Month, we’d like to introduce you to 25 Amazing women who have paved the way for greater equality and opportunities for female motorcyclists.
Table of Contents
- 1 25 Women Who Changed Motorcycle Travel Forever
- 1.1 Avis and Effie Hotchkiss: Trailblazing Duo
- 1.2 Dot Robinson: Founding Motor Maids
- 1.3 Bessie Stringfield: Breaking Barriers
- 1.4 Vivian Bales: The Motorcycle Cover Girl
- 1.5 Augusta and Adeline van Buren: Pioneering Sisters
- 1.6 Anne-France Dautheville: The Parisian Adventurer
- 1.7 Benka Pulko: The Globetrotting Author
- 1.8 Cathy Birchall: Navigating the World Blind
- 1.9 Susan Lang: Harley-Davidson Superstar
- 1.10 Elspeth Beard: The Architect and Adventurer
- 1.11 Kinga Tanajewska: The Adventurous Polish Soul
- 1.12 Steph Jeavons: The Multi-Talented Explorer
- 1.13 Claire Elsdon: The Motorcycle Philanthropist
- 1.14 Lisa Thomas: The Most Traveled Female Motorcyclist
- 1.15 Danell Lynn: Breaking Records
- 1.16 Egle Gerulaityte: The Adventurous Digital Nomad
- 1.17 Jacqui Furneaux: The Late Bloomer
- 1.18 Lois Pryce: From Comfort to Adventure
- 1.19 Tiffany Coates: From the UK to India
- 1.20 Laia Sanz: The Dakar Rally Heroine
- 1.21 Anna Grechishkina: The Ukrainian Solo Explorer
- 1.22 Nikki Misurelli: Defying Expectations
- 1.23 Jo Rust: Circumnavigating Africa
- 1.24 Michelle Lamphere: Changing Perceptions
- 1.25 Zofia Radzikowska: The Digital Nomad
25 Women Who Changed Motorcycle Travel Forever
Avis and Effie Hotchkiss: Trailblazing Duo
Mother and daughter team Avis and Effie Hotchkiss embarked on an epic journey from New York to San Francisco and back, covering an impressive 9,000 miles in 1915. They undertook this adventure on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a sidecar, defying the limitations of the era regarding road conditions and motorcycle technology.
Dot Robinson: Founding Motor Maids
Dorothy, known as Dot Robinson, was a prominent figure in the mid-20th century. She co-founded the Motor Maids, an organization for women motorcyclists. Her passion for motorcycles began at a young age, as her father, a sidecar designer, exposed her to the world of two-wheelers from her birth.
Bessie Stringfield: Breaking Barriers
An African-American motorcycling enthusiast born in the early 20th century, Bessie Stringfield’s determination shone bright during World War II when she served as a dispatch rider for the US Army. Despite facing racial discrimination, she never let it dampen her love for motorcycles. Her legacy lives on, with the American Motorcyclist Association awarding her the title of “Superior Achievement by a Female Motorcyclist.”
Vivian Bales: The Motorcycle Cover Girl
Vivian Bales, the first motorcycle cover girl, realized her dream of exploring long distances on two wheels. Her first motorcycle, purchased with pocket money earned from dance lessons, carried her 5,000 miles in just 78 days when she was 20. Her journey was made possible with the support of Harley-Davidson dealerships.
Augusta and Adeline van Buren: Pioneering Sisters
Augusta and Adeline van Buren were the second and third women to traverse the continental United States on their motorcycles, aiming to prove that women could serve as military dispatch riders. They completed their 5,500-mile journey in 60 days using 1000cc Indian Power Plus motorcycles. However, their trip was marked by numerous arrests for wearing men’s clothing, which they found more comfortable for riding.
Anne-France Dautheville: The Parisian Adventurer
Anne-France Dautheville, a former journalist from Paris, left her job to embark on a solo motorcycle journey around the world in 1972. Her unique style, which included tailor-made outfits, silk neck scarves, and long dresses, garnered attention. She documented her adventures while maintaining her Parisian flair.
Benka Pulko: The Globetrotting Author
Hailing from Slovenia, Benka Pulko is a well-traveled female who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous motorcycle trip by a woman, visiting all seven continents during her five-year adventure. Apart from motorcycling, she is an author, photographer, activist, and motivational speaker.
Cathy Birchall, the first blind woman to circumnavigate the globe on a motorcycle, achieved this incredible feat with the unwavering support of her husband. Her story resulted in a book that chronicled their journey through 31 countries across five continents, a testament to trust, love, and a shared passion for exploration.
Susan Lang: Harley-Davidson Superstar
Susan Lang, a prominent figure in the world of motorcycling, completed a long-distance motorcycle trip without male support. She embarked on her journey with her three children in a sidecar, demonstrating remarkable determination. Alongside her husband, she owned Harley-Davidson dealerships and earned recognition as one of the country’s most accomplished motorcycle mechanics.
Elspeth Beard: The Architect and Adventurer
Elspeth Beard, an English architect, became the first British female motorcyclist to circumnavigate the world during her training. Her remarkable journey, which began in 1982, remained largely unknown until her autobiography was released in 2017. Her book offers inspiration for those seeking their own adventures.
Kinga Tanajewska: The Adventurous Polish Soul
Polish adventurer Kinga Tanajewska, known as “On Her Bike,” embarked on a round-the-world trip on her beloved BMW F800 GS. Her passion for motorcycles has led her to explore Australia, Europe, and other regions, updating thousands of fans through her social media platform and her website.
Steph Jeavons: The Multi-Talented Explorer
Steph Jeavons, a versatile author and adventurer, completed a solo trip around the world, covering over 74,000 miles on a 250cc motorcycle in nearly four years. She is currently working on a book to capture her remarkable adventures during this journey.
Claire Elsdon: The Motorcycle Philanthropist
Claire Elsdon left her prestigious job in a city bank to embark on a motorcycle adventure and make the world a better place. She founded Pikilily, an organization that provides road safety and maintenance training for Tanzanian motorcyclists and empowers African women to become more independent by riding motorcycles.
Lisa Thomas: The Most Traveled Female Motorcyclist
Lisa Thomas, known as the “most traveled female motorcyclist in the world,” has conquered 80 countries across six continents and covered over half a million miles in a single journey. Her international renown extends to her skills as a cook, blending local ingredients with flavors from her homeland during her remarkable travels.
Danell Lynn: Breaking Records
Danell Lynn’s motorcycle adventure began as a pillion rider before she transitioned to a pre-owned Yamaha Virago. Her goal was to set a world record for the longest single motorcycle trip by a female. When she learned that there would be no woman-specific category, she continued to break the existing record. Her story and accomplishments can be explored on her website.
Egle Gerulaityte: The Adventurous Digital Nomad
Egle Gerulaityte, known for her distinctive blonde dreadlocks, is living life on the road while working online as a digital nomad. She shares her stories and insights on her travel blog, inspiring other women to embrace the thrill of ADV motorcycle riding. She is also working on a book to chronicle her ongoing adventure.
Jacqui Furneaux: The Late Bloomer
Jacqui Furneaux embarked on her first serious motorcycle adventure at the age of 50 when she bought her dream bike, a Royal Enfield Bullet. Her seven-year journey covered 20 countries, uniting her love for travel and adventure into one unforgettable experience.
Lois Pryce: From Comfort to Adventure
Lois Pryce left her comfortable city job to pursue her passion for motorcycle adventure. Her excursions led to the creation of multiple travel adventure books, and she also founded the Adventure Travel Film Festival. Her inspiring stories have made her a prominent figure among motorcycle travelers.
Tiffany Coates: From the UK to India
Tiffany Coates embarked on an incredible adventure from the UK to India just two months after passing her motorcycle driving tests. Initially planned as a nine-month journey with a friend, it turned into an epic two-and-a-half-year exploration of four continents overland. She now shares her experiences as a freelance guide for motorcycle expeditions.
Laia Sanz: The Dakar Rally Heroine
Laia Sanz, known as ‘The Toughest Woman in Motorsport,’ repeatedly participated in the Dakar Rally, finishing every edition, despite battling dizziness and fever at times. Her status as the best female Dakar competitor sets her apart as an exceptional rider.
Anna Grechishkina: The Ukrainian Solo Explorer
Anna Grechishkina, a Ukrainian motorcycle traveler, has been exploring the world solo since 2013. Her incredible journey began with just $1,000 in her pocket, and her adventures quickly gained the attention of sponsors and enthusiastic supporters. She has circumnavigated the globe once and is now on her second lap.
Nikki Misurelli: Defying Expectations
Known as the ‘Alaska Moto Girl,’ Nikki Misurelli has been on the road since 2015, motorcycling across the Americas and around Europe. Her solo adventure began when her ex-boyfriend deemed it too dangerous for a woman. Nikki sold her possessions, worked part-time in various locations, and set off to explore the world.
Jo Rust, the first woman to circumnavigate Africa on a motorcycle, is a trailblazer who offers motorcycle training and tours in South Africa. Her desire to push the boundaries and promote motorcycle travel led her to become one of the world’s four accredited female off-road instructors.
Michelle Lamphere: Changing Perceptions
Michelle Lamphere embarked on a two-year adventure with her partner to challenge stereotypes about women on motorcycles. After working for a hotel company for over 20 years, she left her career behind to explore 20 countries and cover 40,000 miles in under two years.
Zofia Radzikowska: The Digital Nomad
Zofia Radzikowska is a digital nomad who supports her adventures by working online. She transitioned from cycling to motorcycling to travel faster and more comfortably, all while immersing herself in different cultures and connecting with local people. Her ongoing journey can be followed on her blog, Just a Journey.
Women’s History Month offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the courage, adventure, and character of inspirational women. These pioneering female motorcyclists have shattered stereotypes, overcome challenges, and embarked on life-changing journeys, leaving an indelible mark on the world of motorcycle travel. Regardless of gender or era, their remarkable road trips continue to inspire us all.