Possibly the Coolest Motorcycle Mom Ever!

Motorcycle touring with two kids and a husband

By Monique Filips, Torrance, California

Motorcycle Mama

I became a “front seat” motorcyclist in 1999 when I took the MSF Basic RiderCourse to learn to ride a motorcycle. After being a passenger for a couple of years on my husband’s motorcycle, I was excited to ride my own bike. We started to travel all over Southern California, the Sierras, and even a big trip to Canada.

In 2004 my first child, Makayla was born. I still went riding, but my time in the saddle was limited because I couldn’t take an infant car seat on the back of my sport bike. In 2007 I gave birth to my son Spencer—now two car seats. As the years went by, we continued to ride whenever we could find a babysitter and looked forward to when we could take the kids with us.

motorcycle mama
Once the kids were big enough to ride on the passenger seat, we were finally able to take family trips on two wheels again.

Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity

In 2016, a friend told me about the Sisters Centennial Ride. It was a three week cross-country tour to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Van Buren sisters 1916 motorcycle ride to show the government that women could help with the war effort. I had never embarked on such an ambitious ride, nor had I ever been on an all-women’s ride, but the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity sounded too exciting to pass up. This motorcycle mama needed to put the idea into action. 

At first, I was worried about how I would find three weeks of daycare and summer camps for my now 12- and 9-year-olds and if my husband would be able to handle all the extra running around. But as the idea of this epic tour became more serious my husband said, “Well, you could take the kids.” In the past we had joked about getting a motorcycle with a sidecar so we could be those cool (crazy) parents in the carpool lane.

Five months before the tour, we became the proud new-to-us owners of a Honda Shadow Aero 1100 with a Champion sidecar. We prepped the vehicle, our gear, and our bodies. We started “sidecar bootcamp” to get in shape for long rides. Our SENA helmet communicators kept us together, listening to music and talking to each other.

motorcycle mom sidecar rig
We installed an iPad in the Honda Aero sidecar rig so the kids could see the map, watch movies, read comic books, and keep up with their summer reading list for school. I could even reach out and grasp their hand for a little love squeeze while we cruised down the road.

An Epic Family Adventure

That summer trip was one of the most memorable adventures we have ever gone on as a family. Riding through 14 states, we stopped at museums, national parks, national monuments, crossed the Mississippi River, the plains, Rockies, Golden Gate Bridge, and took hundreds of pictures. We saw lightning, got slammed by rain showers, fought major headwinds, and saw more corn fields than I ever imagined possible. Every day people wanted to talk to us about motorcycles and ask how the kids liked the sidecar. They asked, “What do they do in there all day?” My two “Mini-Mes” became little motorcycle ambassadors wherever we went.

Sidecar rig with trailer
When my husband joined us in Colorado, we all finished the final third of the trip as a family. That epic trip lit a fire in us to travel even more.

In summer of 2017 we set off again with our Champion Sidecar and toured all over Western Canada. We often took weekend trips to San Diego and the Sierras. As our kids got older, we introduced them to riding dirt bikes. Some of our friends were also having kids and we all went camping together and helped with babysitting duties and taking the novice dirt riders on little trail rides. We were again, those crazy parents…but now we were the ones that let our kids ride dirt bikes.

Motorcycle family
The family that rides together…stays together.
Motorcycle family sidecar rig
After we were all stuck inside for three months during the COVID-19 pandemic, we loaded up the sidecar rig and went off grid for three weeks camping and riding up and down California, Oregon, and Washington State.

Going Again

After a year of Zoom school we did it again; zig-zagging up and down California, camping and trying to find new roads that we had not been on before. Each trip had its own memories and follies. Our kids learned about dead batteries, rained out campsites, road closures, wildfires, freak snowstorms, and the amazing beauty of our country. We all became experts at setting up camp and packing it up again. They also learned that sometimes mom just wants to listen to her music during the ride.

One Last Time? Hopefully Not.

If you haven’t done the math yet, my kids are now 20 and 16. Last summer we did another big trip from the midwest to Southern California. There is a chance it might be our last sidecar trip. They are too big to share the sidecar now, but they take turns riding on the back of our Suzuki V-Strom.

With college looming, I am making a point to spend as much time with them as possible. Every volleyball game, choir performance, and family vacation is cherished. I especially love our time going on motorcycle trips and camping. When I had kids I had no idea I would become that motorcycle mama that shares her love of motorcycles with the children. I hope when they are older they'll look back on these years and think I was a cool mom. They have had a unique childhood, and maybe someday when they have kids, they will also be strapping a helmet onto their little ones heads and riding off on another adventure.

family rig
The view of the family rig from behind.

Monique Filips lives in Southern California with her husband and 2 kids. She has been involved in the motorcycle industry for over 10 years through her work with the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows, Discover the Ride, Ride for Kids and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

Monique is also thriving and surviving with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and urges everyone to have regular checkups and diagnostic testing. Insist on an ultrasound if you have dense breast tissue.

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