Harley-Davidson Leading Sales Among Women

Outreach is one reason

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor

While it wont reveal specific sales numbers, Harley-Davidson claims it to have 62 percent of the female market making it the the top-selling motorcycle brand among women in the United States. It sold more new on-road motorcycles to women in the U.S. than all other brands combined in 2013.

Roughly 12 percent of the countrys motorcycle owners now are women, an increase of about 35 percent over the last decade, according to the latest estimate from the Motorcycle Industry Council. More statistics on women motorcyclists can be found here.
According to a study conducted by Kelton and commissioned by Harley-Davidson, women riders are more than twice as likely to always feel happy (37 percent of riders vs. 16 percent of non-riders) and more than a third (34 percent) reported that they felt less stressed after starting to ride.

Further more, nearly four times as many always feel sexy (27 percent of riders vs. 7 percent of non-riders), and nearly twice as many always feel confident (35 percent of riders vs. 18 percent of non-riders). Full results of the study can be found here.

“Thousands of women have found that 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. “Research shows the positive impact riding has on women, so we invite all those who dream of the open road to get started on the journey.”

Ive tracked women and motorcycling for nearly two decades and one of the reasons Harley-Davidson has the lions share of the female motorcyclists pie is because of its outreach efforts. Harley is the only motorcycle manufacturer with a division dedicated to outreach that specifically includes women. The company “puts its money where its mouth is” so to speak.

Not only does the company organize women-only rides, but its dealers hold Garage Parties with an emphasis on attracting women to the brand; it has a full-line of womens motorcycling gear and its website has a section dedicated to showing women how they can become a Harley-Davidson rider. Consistent marketing and messaging over the last decade has paid off.

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harley davidson leading sales among women dyna low rider
Harley-Davidson has managed to make its motorcycles appealing to both men and women. This is the 2014 Dyna Low Rider, a Big Twin model thats low to the ground, nimble and powerful so many women are attracted to it.

6 thoughts on Harley-Davidson Leading Sales Among Women

  1. I took the riders safety class in 2009 and that was the first time I ever touched a bike. It was a 250 and I thought it was big at the time. It took me a long time to get a bike of my own. I wanted to be the one in control. Well, I ended up with an old car that needed work so I traded it in for my first bike last winter. It is a 2007 Honda Shadow Aero. Solo seat so I do not ever have to ride someone else. (I have taken my chihuahua for a ride. She has a helmet and goggles and loves it too.)I had my bike about five months before I ever got on her. My man took me to a school parking lot on the weekend and started me there. It took me about three trips to the lot before he felt I was ready for the street. I live in the mountains so there are many small twisty roads to drive on. I would say my bike weighs about 580 pounds and I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall. This bike is the first one I tried on that I was able to put my feet flat on the ground. It felt heavy to me as well. With some practice in parking lots, I think anyone can learn to ride these big bikes. It just takes time to get the feel for it. They are heavy but even the ladies I work with who are much smaller than I am ride big bikes and handle them well.I’ve been riding now for four months and have to say that I love it! I want to ride all the time now. The best part of riding when you’re new is that you can learn at your own pace. You are the one that decides how fast or how long you are going to ride. I still prefer to have my man beside me on his bike when I go places and he is very willing to just sit back and let me grow. I will buy my first HD next year after I feel I have enough skills for one. The nice thing about HDs is that they are all different shapes and sizes. If one doesn’t fit, another one will. We just need to try them on and see what one works best for us.I’m happy I got my Honda to learn on. It has been a lot of fun and the bike is very dependable. I will be trying on a lot of HD’s to find the right one when the time comes. Good luck everyone and there is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it.

  2. Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academy (formerly Rider’s Edge) was a very positive experience for me. I was trained very well and I learned about the H-D family: I cannot imagine riding anything else! And my coach and the owner encouraged me to become an instructor for MSF and a Rider Coach for H-D. That was five years, two H-Ds, and 75,000 miles ago!

  3. I started on a Honda Shadow 600 (used – private sale) and outgrew that within a couple of months. I bought a Honda Shadow 750 new from an “out-the-door” dealership and loved it for seven years. I just bought a new bad ass Victory and after the initial pain in the butt of buying it and having it recalled and fixed I love it more every day. And with the $$$ I saved buying a Vic instead of an HD I can afford a lot of fun stuff for her! That being said… shop the dealers and find one that you love.

  4. Congrats HD! Well earned. I can vouch for almost 30 years of support from HD. They really understand women riders and took the time many years ago to listen to us even though our numbers were much smaller in the early 1980s. They not only believed in women, they embraced us and I thank them for that confidence. There is nothing more powerful than a woman who rides a Harley-Davidson!

  5. It doesn’t just take a Harley to make one happy. Any bike will do it. Just ride.

  6. I do think HD is the most successful in to marketing to women. Though my experience with HD and being a neophyte, has a bit of cautionary twist to it. I entered through the Rider’s Edge training program. I had difficulty with an overly macho alpha male instructor that thought it was a good idea to walk into the middle of my attempt at a figure 8, which resulted in me dumping the bike on my left leg. I found out later from an experienced instructor that it was not at all a sanctioned move by MSF folks. Despite being spooked out of my mind, I was successful in getting my endorsement. Follow up, I am skillfully persuaded (yes I did want a bike BADLY) into 2007 V Star custom 650 by the HD sales guy in the first time buyer’s program. They jacked the price on KBB by 2K. “Oh don’t worry about it. You will get that all back on the downpayment for your first Harley.” But for that idea to work, the bike has to work reliably. The local HD disavowed any responsibility, “well you didn’t buy a Harley.” I found out later I would be paying well over MSRP if I continued with that dealership. So I am out the excess charge on the first, unreliable bike but I have chosen to not work with that dealership again and save being charged well over MSRP. The caution here is know the market from which you are buying. If the HD dealership believes they are in a teflon market that will bear their outrageous overages, then you will pay for it if you stay in relationship with them. I have since learned of smaller dealerships that are longer on service and relationship with their customers. Not all is created equal amongst dealerships. Do your due diligence. Research their reviews on multiple websites. Listen to what is being said about them in the community. Know you are not stuck with them just because they are the most local. Have confidence in your judgment even if you are a newbie. If your gut twinges like mine did, listen to it. Had I listened to mine, I would not have bought my first ride from these guys. I’m not bitter; I’m just way more realistic and not as ready to buy into the “family” image a dealership offers unless they can back up their claims with provable substance that they are willing to put to writing. It’s not my goal to deter any new person that feels ready for HD. Just be a very aware buyer and even if you’re new, your gut could be telling you big truths worth listening to before you buy. Now let’s hope the other big brands take HD’s lead in marketing more skillfully to women.

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