One of the most common questions we get asked is, "What are the top 10 motorcycles for women?" In reality there aren’t any motorcycles made specifically for women, nor is there a list of the best motorcycles for women, but there are motorcycles that are more popular than others among the majority of women riders—and that's what people are really interested in knowing.
Using our surveys and reader input from the last six years we created a list of the top 10 motorcycles that women ride. As the definitive resource for on-road women motorcycle riders over the last decade we're confident that Women Riders Now's (WRN) list represents the most popular motorcycles among female motorcyclists today.
1. Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 SuperLow
Harley-Davidson introduced the Sportster 883 SuperLow in 2011 with a model designation of XL 883L. This model replaced the previous XL 883L, which was called the Sportster XL 883L—the L is for low. Both are hugely popular among women. These motorcycles have long been Harley’s entry-level model, and since Harley dominates female market share, and women are the fastest growing segment of new riders, it makes sense that Harley-Davidson's entry-level model would be the most popular motorcycle ridden by women today.
2. Star Motorcycles V Star Custom / Classic (650)
The V Star Custom and the V Star Classic have been in Star Motorcycles’ lineup, the cruiser brand division within Yamaha, consistently since 1997 because the platform offers what most women say they want: low seat height, low center of gravity, a strong yet manageable engine size and comfort. The difference between the two is styling. Some women buy this as their first motorcycle and never trade up to anything bigger, while others trade up from their starter 250cc motorcycle. The Classic was discontinued in model year 2011. In 2012, no V Star 650 was offered, but the Custom returned in 2013. WRN contributor Sash Walker rides a V Star Classic. Both the Classic and the Custom each are usually just called a V Star 650. And officially, V Star is spelled without a hyphen.
3. Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom
Harley-Davidson has produced several different versions of the Sportster 1200 over last few years. While many women ride the 1200 Custom, many are also riding the 1200L from years back. With Harley being the leading brand among women, it’s not surprising the Sportster 1200 would be near the top of the list.
4. Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
The Softail Deluxe is the first bike in our Top 10 Motorcycles for Women list that’s considered a "heavyweight," and it’s the model women are choosing to ride the most among Harley-Davidson’s “big twin” line up. Big twin means motorcycles that are powered by Harley's bigger V-twin engine of 1690cc, or 103 cubic-inches as you’ll see it also referred to. It's no coincidence that the Softail Deluxe is the most popular “bigger” bike in our list—its extremely low seat height of 24.5 inches and its low center of gravity give experienced women riders the opportunity to handle a more powerful motorcycle that can easily and comfortably tackle long days of touring.
5. Star Motorcycles V Star 950
The V Star 950 is the fifth most popular motorcycle choice among women, putting Star Motorcycles right behind Harley-Davidson as the second most popular brand of bikes among female riders. The V Star 950 is a strong middleweight contender that is hugely versatile as an urban cruiser or one that can be outfitted for touring. The low seat height of 26.6 inches enables different sized women to handle this “bigger” sized motorcycle.
6. Honda Shadow Spirit 750 C2
The Honda model featured in the Top 10 List of Motorcycles for Women is, not surprisingly, one of the Shadow models. This venerable platform has been hugely popular among women riders for decades. I even started my motorcycling life on a Shadow, a 1982 500cc model, so I can can vouch for its accessibility for women riders. The Shadow Spirit 750 C2 does a great job of bridging the gap between new rider and experienced rider, which is why so many intermediate motorcyclists love this comfortable cruiser with its low seat height.
7. Kawasaki Ninja 250 / 300
8. Harley-Davidson Street Glide
While the large majority of women riders are riding middleweight motorcycles, its not a surprise to see the number one selling motorcycle for the last five years make it into our top 10 list. The Harley-Davidson Street Glide has been the most popular motorcycle among all riders since its introduction in 2006. It inspired the custom bagger craze with its low slung, sleek styling. Once women realized it was low enough (or could be easily lowered through seat and suspension modifications) the experienced riders among us wanted all of this motorcycle's comfort and coolness too, including yours truly.
9. Kawasaki Vulcan 900
Riders didn’t specify whether they had the Custom, the Classic or the Classic LT—which are mostly style and comfort variations on the same motorcycle—either way, it’s nice to see a middleweight from Kawasaki make the list. Afterall, it competes head-to-head with the V Star 950 and the Sportster 883 SuperLow in engine size. Do you see a theme here in the motorcycles women are choosing? In our review of this motorcycle we say it has a big bike attitude in an easy-to-handle package.
10. Star Motorcycles V Star 250
It’s exciting to see what's termed a beginner motorcycle make it into our list. This validates the increase in the number of women riders we’re currently witnessing as many women choose an easy to handle 250cc as their starter bike. While we don’t advocate riding without a proper motorcycle jacket, let alone riding with one’s shirt open like this woman is doing here, this photo is exemplary of a new of generation riders—women 35 and under—taking up motorcycling and seeking to express themselves on two-wheels. Despite their level of experience, they’re choosing light, easy-to-handle motorcycles—such as the V Star 250—that get them out enjoying the biker lifestyle in a manner that has a minimal impact on their wallet.
157 thoughts on Top 10 Motorcycles for Women
Loved this article! Would love to finally own my own motorcycle!
I am a 5-foot-4-inch woman and I went with the 2003 Honda Shadow ACE 750 for my first bike because of its center of gravity.
I’m disappointed in the list. Half the list are Harleys which really put a stigma out there for women riders. I ride a Royal Enfield Himalayan and enjoy the dual sport ability. Not the leather chaps and bikini bras. Maybe a little different survey method next time would get you a more diverse blend.
Shocked to see no sport tour or adventure bikes made the list. I have owned a BMW GS for 15 years and encounter many woman riders.
Hi Tina,We are working on updating this list for 2021. We, too, see a surge of female adventure riders, partly due to more options for great “starter bikes” for off-road riders.
I ride my Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic. It’s truly comfortable on long highway rides and easy to maneuver and handle in the city. It’s got lots of power and is loads of fun!
I ride a Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited Low
The Can-Am Ryker is a good alternative as a first bike.Last year I broke my knee. In case I couldn’t ride a 2-wheeler again, last fall I took the Can-Am Riding Course to learn how to ride them and see if I liked it. I met a few ladies who were there to learn to ride that were either intimidated by motorcycles or afraid to ride them. All were excited to try the Rykers and a couple of them already had machines picked out. The 900 is a blast!
I’ve ridden a Can-Am Spyder since 2014. I love the ease of riding it, the comfort, the storage…really, just everything! The model I have now has heated handgrips, heated seat, paddle shifter (no clutch!), lots of storage and it handles curves awesomely.
I started out riding a 1974 Honda CB200 and not knowing I needed a motorcycle license or safety clothing. From there I moved up to a 1984 Gold Wing, then the Mommy van, and back to riding with a 1989 Honda Pacific Coast. I put 50,000 miles on it before moving on to a 2005 Honda Gold Wing which I put 100,000 miles on. At the same time I also rode a 2004 Honda VTX which I put 25,500 miles on in five years. In June 2019 I traded the 2005 GoldWing in for a 2014 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited that only had 6,400 miles on it. In 18 months I’ve put 18,000 miles on it during the pandemic. I find that it’s given me more peace of mind being able to ride with greater stability in my older age even though I’ve been riding for 50 years. I can now ride for many more years.
I ride a 2015 Can-Am Spyder RT Ltd. I love it! I’ve put almost 39,000 miles on it. This machine is so comfortable and fun to ride.
I ride a 2017 Indian Scout. I’m 5 feet 3 inches and it’s low and powerful enough right off the showroom floor and has has a great balance and center of gravity.
I ride a Harley-Davidson Softail Trike, which I love. It’s so good to be back on the road after a bad accident in 2011. I am an amputee now, and this is the third Harley I have owned. The first was a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200, which I loved and owned for 8 years. The second was a Harley-Davidson Softail Custom and wow, I so loved that bike, too! I have a big Harley-Davidson love affair.
Left out the Can-Am Spyders. They’ve got plenty of storage and offer a smooth ride and comfortable seats. The newer models have six-speed, semi-automatic transmissions, too.
I ride a 2014 Indian Cheiftain. I’ve always loved the look of the Indian Motorcycles. The Cheiftain has a nice low centered weight and is very comfortable to ride. And the 111 engine is awesome! It rides smoothly.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
I ride a Can-Am Spyder F3-T and love it. It’s safer, has lots of power, and comes with a semi-automatic transmission and reverse gear.
I ride a 2020 Indian Scout Bobber Sixty. It has a low seat height, great balance, and amazing power for the weight.
I ride the Can-Am Spyder RT Limited 2020! Best way to ride!
This reads like my list of bikes! Started at 16 on a Honda CB100, then Suzuki GS450L, then Yamaha Star 650, and Yamaha Virago 1000. Recently I was riding a 2013 Harley Sportster XL883L SuperLow (for 5 years) but I wasn’t in love with the ride. It was good for the 20 minute ride to work but now I’m retired and going for longer rides. I find the Sportster top heavy and awkward at slow speed.This summer I traded for a 2018 Harley Softail Sport Glide. I made a few adjustments for fit and comfort (I’m 5 feet 1 inch), and what a difference. The weight is all low—it’s easier to ride and oh, so smooth. The balance is amazing and the bike is so responsive. I now go out for full day rides and am comfortable all day.
I bought my wife a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 and it was too tall with a high center of gravity. She did poorly on it so I bought her a Harley Fat Boy. It’s much lower to the ground. She handled it like a natural, she was not afraid of long winding gravel driveways or roads. I was surprised at her level of confidence. She was 130 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches tall.
Years ago, my husband tried to teach me to ride on a 2003 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. The bike was too intimidating (and he has no patience), so I decided to enroll in a riding class. Buell Blasts and trained instructors made learning a breeze. Then, I jumped back on the Fat Boy. I rode it for years and loved it, but it would have been nice to have had something a bit smaller. Occasionally, I’d ride my husband’s uncle’s Sportster. It was very easy to ride and a lot of fun, although it just wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing to me as our heavier bikes. We had other bikes; Heritage Springer, Cow Glide Softail, Bad Boy, etc.; however, they were not fuel injected. Older bikes seemed harder to ride IMO. Once our family began growing, we decided to sell all of our bikes. It’s been years since I’ve been on a hog, and, honestly, I don’t know what is available. Nonetheless, my advice is stay away from older bikes because they are quirky!
Like many readers of this article, I agonized over what “first bike” to get. I received my endorsement six weeks ago and ride every chance I get. Every man in my life (husband, brothers, friends, etc.) told me what I should do and what I should buy! Their intentions were noble and I know that they all cared, however I needed to make up my own mind. I ventured out alone and decided to test ride as many bikes as possible to find the right fit for me. I’m 5 feet 9 inches, 155 pounds. To my surprise I found that a Triumph Speedmaster was the key to my first bike bliss! It’s so comfortable and fun to ride—I just love riding this bike!
I’m loving these comments as they are giving me insight in what to look for. However, I am going to buy a bike but I need to make a smart selection because I may not get to upgrade for a good long while. I need something that I can get used to and stick with. I’m 5 feet 3 inches, 140 pounds, and still having indecision, especially with all the differences of opinion. I hope I can make a good choice!
Harley-Davidson Sportster 883s are horrible motorcycles for women. The terrible weight distribution to height ratio is off the chart on rideability. I have found sportbikes or baggers are so much better balanced and easier to ride once you get over the size. Comfort and control, baggers are the way to go. I weigh 133 pounds and I ride a super custom bagger with no problem.
Just wondering why the Indian Scout wasn’t mentioned.
Yes, the Indian Scout is a wonderful motorcycle for women, but it is not listed because it is not one of the most popular motorcycles ridden by women, according to our survey from which this list came. Please reference the first paragraph of this story for more details on how we came up with this list.
I’ve been riding a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail for 20 years. Sweet, balanced, and keeps up with all the big boys! I don’t find any comfort or power necessary on a Sportster and never recommend for new lady riders!
I have a Triumph Tiger 800XC adventure bike which is the perfect bike for where I live as there are as many dirt roads as there are tar, and the scenery here is spectacular wherever you go. It is a little high, so I lowered it with a suspension lowering kit and lowered the forks as well, and now I can get the balls of my feet down which make all the difference! I am a returning rider now that my children are grown up, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that the technology is so much better now!
Why all those Harleys? Women can ride racers to. Here in the Netherlands we ride the Ninja 600, Yamaha R6, and Honda CBR a lot as female riders. This is my first bike and I’m totally in love with her.
There are plenty of sportbike-riding women here in the US, too. But most riders in America still choose cruisers, with Harley-Davidson being the clear choice for most. Perhaps our bike styles have a lot to do with road conditions and the type of riding we all do.
Been riding more years than I want to admit. I have ridden most brands. I really never wanted a Harley but ended up trading a Honda that had issues for a Dyna. After a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, I upgraded to a Street Glide and rode that 45,000 miles. They are great bikes. Mine was reliable and worry free. Hubby talked me into a new bike in April 2017. So now I’m on a Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited that I have more than 21,000 miles on. Also, I have a 2006 Honda VT1100C Shadow I ride locally. This is a good list, but I find the heavier bikes give a great ride on 600+ mile days. I am almost 5 feet 7 inches (in my dreams) and the Ultra fits very well. It’s also nice to have so much storage.
I love my 883 Iron. It is not top heavy.
Quite a few Harley fans, huh? Perhaps offer a bit more variety in terms of options in your next piece. Luckily, women have more choices now than in the past. Some women focus on weight, some on style, some on seat placement, and others on function. Thank you for the insight!
My name is Joanne (Baby Blue). I have a 2005 Harley-Davidon Softail Deluxe and it’s an amazing bike and the ride is so smooth. I also love my 2007 Harley-Davidson Softail Springer Screamin’ Eagle CVO 110. It’s a harder ride but it’s a badass bike and a really badass ride. I love it! My whole family rides with me; my husband, our daughter, and our grandson. We are a Harley-Davidson family—three generations and counting!
Awesome article on women’s 10 best bikes.
This answered the questions I have regarding what would be the best motorcycle for myself to try out since I’m a beginner.
My first and only bike so far is the Yamaha V Star 650 and I love it. I have the baffles out and this baby roars. This is my second year as a rider, within the next two years I plan to upgrade to a Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883, once I save up. The V Star is a great starter bike. I’ve been doing easy maintenance myself such as oil changes, air filter cleaning, changing spark plugs, and other things. The only thing I had to change was move handle bars down and get the clutch adjusted, other than that it’s perfect!
My wife Brenda absolutely loves her Vulcan 900. She has been waiting all winter to ride it.
I have been riding for 11 years now and as this article suggests, I started out with a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. Last year I upgraded and bought the 2015 Street Glide and I absolutely love it. My biggest problem now is convincing my husband to ride his own bike so I can have mine. I am 5 feet 5 inches and 145 pounds so I was a little intimidated by the size at first, but it took me about five minutes on the first ride to get over that. Thanks for sharing.
I want to be one of the few women who rides a bike in this country (Botswana). I am very excited by what I have seen and read.
My wife has been riding a Honda CTX1300 for just over a year. Long trips from Naples, Florida, to Key West followed by Milwaukee to the Mississippi River and back proved it a great ride. Its extremely low center of gravity and its very low seat height are features she loves. Even though she has been riding for under two years, she quickly moved up from the CTX 700 to the CTX 1300. She’s tried a Gold Wing, Honda NT700 and even my BMW R 1200 RT, but it’s the 1300 that she loves.
I’m also very surprised that the BMW 650 GS is not listed. I am on my third one, the 2010 GS single. I had to get this, the low version, after getting to ride one on an Eidelweiss tour in Europe. It is perfect for me—the 798cc, low seat height, performance, long distance touring ability and comfort—it’s my love! I’ve been riding since my early 20s (after getting the bug when I rode my Auntie’s Honda step-through when I was about 13). I’m in my late 50s now and have been fortunate to experience many different bikes, but the BMW R65 and now the GS, have been my favorites. Life is so good now.
I like to see more women riding. I’ve been on bikes since the age of ten. I’m in my very early 50s now and still ride. We raised four kids on bikes and they still ride. I traded my Harley-Davidson Softail in 2012 for a Harley trike. Yes, I fought it all the way but nowadays we bikers have to watch the road for the crazies that don’t care to see us. We are raising our 8-year-old grandson who rides with me. He was the reason for the trade. I feel he’s safer on it because the crazies don’t see us. I’ve noticed over the last few years a lot of women are riding Can-Ams but not many Harley trikes, which is fine. I rode a Can-Am but didn’t like the way it handled versus the Harley, but hey that’s me! As long as more women ride that’s great! Be aware, be safe, and ride long and hard!
Trying to pick out my first bike. Good start on my research.
I started on a 250cc Suzuki Van Van – passed my test – bought a BMW 650cc – then a BMW 700cc – now on my Moto Guzzi Norge 1200cc . It has a slim profile so your legs go further! It’s heavy but the weight is low down. I have to plan where I park and concentrate and plan ahead whilst slow maneuvering, but I’ve got used to the power, and ride accordingly. I’ve done so much research to look for an alternative but there hasn’t one out there! I enjoy riding her as she’s a true sports tourer. Done Scotland and then off to Southern Ireland soon and back, then Scotland again later in the year.
I’ve been riding behind my husband for 35 years and got tired of looking at the back of his helmet. I got my motorcycle license five years ago and my first motorcycle was a BMW 650 GS. Great bike! I have since moved up to a BMW 1200 RT. Although I have no problems riding it, I think I need a little smaller bike. It’s a little heavy sitting on a hill if I’m leaning. I keep hoping for the same 1200 RT style in an 800 RT. That would be perfect.
Great feedback! We will make sure BMW reps see your comment.
I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 and love it. It has plenty enough bang for my buck, is super low and also easy on the butt for long rides!
After being off a motorcycle for 16 years (marriage, divorce, bankruptcy), I decided I wanted to get back into riding before I turned 50. My first purchase to get back into practice was a Honda Rebel 250. Once I got my endorsement and some riding under my belt, I traded up to the Yamaha V Star Classic 650. This summer, my 50th birthday, I bought my dream bike, a Harley-Davidson Softail Custom FXSTC. I absolutely love my big, big boy and am glad I have the extra long legs needed to ride it!
Congratulations and thanks for sharing!
I’ve been on a Rebel for three years and am now (finally) starting to feel I’m ready to move up. I never even went on a highway or past 55 mph until last month. Just been too afraid. Anyway, I’ve been looking at a Shadow, V Star 650 and HD Sportster…haven’t ridden any yet. Just sat on them, although I rode a Suzuki S40 for awhile and it was OK. Glad I found this site.
The BMW F 650 is a sweet ride. Why is it not listed in the top bikes for women? ABS brakes heated grips and an expandable “purse” backpack. It’s ideal.
Yes, the F 650 is a wonderful motorcycle for women, but it is not listed because it is not one of the most popular motorcycles ridden by women, according to our survey from which this list came. Please reference the first paragraph of this story for more details on how we came up with this list.
I agree with Mona. I upgraded to a Harley-Davidson Softtail Slim also but I was on my Sportster for two years before I took the plunge. So far so good and I did all my own research. I felt just like Mona, and it turns out the bike is a lot easier to handle than my Sportster!
Good information. At 5 feet nothing I had a problem while stopped or parking my 09 Dyna so I got a pair of Arnott air shocks which lower by bike by about 3 inches and also gives me a softer smoother ride. I upgraded to the handlebar mounted switch.
I LOVE to ride. Been riding two years, starting out on a 250 Honda Rebel. Recently upgraded to a Honda CTX700. OH MY WORD! This is a wonderful bike!
I rode a Harley Sportster 883 SuperLow for a little over a month after passing my MSF Basic Rider Course then soon after I, or should I say, my husband, upgraded my ride to a Softail Slim. He did my research for me since I am not that knowledgeable with what features to want in a motorcycle at the time. At first I was like, no way can I handle such a heavy motorcycle, with my 140 pounds, but surprisingly, it handled much smoother and turned out to be a much more comfortable ride, especially in the highways. I feel safer braving gusty winds with it, and brazing against the slew of wind coming my way from oncoming trucks. I just love my Slim!
I found this very informative, and interesting too. I became a new rider two years ago. Got myself a Suzuki Boulevard S40 650 cc, the old Savage, with a new “cooler” name (I guess !). Love the bike… great to learn on, light (388 pounds), easy to handle, fits me well.Got the bike used with 320 miles on it, and two years later it’s at 17,775 miles! Not bad. Now I have been researching my next bike. Maybe a Harley Softail Slim, or Heritage, or Deluxe. Not sure. Also like the Fat Bob. Thank you. Dood quick read.
I started on an Kawasaki x250, graduated to a Honda VLX 600 which served me for years. I was 40 when I bought my sex on wheels sportbike and loved it, but I wasn’t getting any younger so I am now riding a BMW F 800 GS as I want to do a little more off-road riding as well. I do not recommend anything smaller than the 600 as a “starter” motorcycle in a cruiser, or anything larger than 400cc in a sportbike. My Honda CBR600RR was a rocket and I never recommend anything like that for a new rider. I was riding for six ears before I bought that. Sex appeal galore! I just figured out that I was not responsible enough for a sporty! Now I ride the much taller and heavier GS, but am loving it as well. Whatever fits you best when you sit on it should be the bike that you bring home. Don’t fall for a brand.
What about the BMW F 700 GS! Best bike for a woman!
Didn’t ride my own until I was 61! Now I’m on a 650 Star Custom. Looking to get the new Indian Scout. Feels very balanced with a low center of. Gravity for us vertically challenged women.
Here is our review of the Indian Scout. Check it out.
I’m wondering if you tested the Triumph America? I rode every make and model there is before deciding on the Triumph. It is by far the most comfortable riding bike, especially for long trips. It runs much smoother than the HD, and packs more power than the Honda.Mine is a 2004 and I love it. It’s definitely worth your time to check it out. My mechanic said he would take my bike on a long ride before the Dyna Glide! Even my local HD dealer told me that Triumph would be his second choice in bikes!
I didn’t start riding until I was 47 and I fell in love with riding. I started with a 250 Honda Rebel, then a 450 Honda Rebel, then a 883 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Now I have a Softail Slim and it is a wonderful bike for me. I loved my Sportster. I got it in 2007 and put 84,000 miles on it before I got my Slim in 2012. I have 36,000 miles on it now.
I started on a Honda 750 ACE. The wide front tire made handling it around town a breeze! Then I moved up to a VTX1300, also with a wide tire and it was truly the best. Until I got my 1800 VTX!
I have a 1987 Honda Rebel 450, and it is perfect for me, and I an 5 feet.
I LOVE my V Star 650 with a trike kit. I am disabled so I have to ride a trike or a bike with a trike kit. I’m HAPPY but would LOVE to own a Harley-Davidson trike! Maybe some day I can afford one, but for now my Yamaha keeps me in the wind!
I started out on a V Star 650 and it was only a few months that it was not big enough for me. I now ride a fully loaded 2014 V Star 950 and I would not take for it. My husband rides a Suzuki C80 and the weight distribution on his bike is not good for me at all. The V Star, all the weight seems to be near the bottom and the bike just rides perfects.
Riding an ’08 Heritage Softail Custom. Changed the seat, and at 5 feet 4 inches it’s great.
I ride three wheels, a Can-Am Spyder. I can’t compare it to anything else. This is all I’ve ever had, but I love it.
A lot of a woman’s comfort on a bike is based on where your controls are. A mid controlled bike is going to be a lot easier for a shorter statured woman to ride and most Harleys can be customized to have mid controls. Another very big difference, is the center of balance and where that is on your bike. The older Honda Shadows, especially the 1100s, have a higher center of gravity, which makes it more top heavy for a woman rider, while the newer Honda cruisers are better balanced. Most of the newer model bikes have taken into consideration their target riders and have specifically designed their bikes to accommodate their needs.
I am surprised I didn’t see the Honda Rebel on the list. It was my first bike and loved it. I customized it with all the things larger bikes have: saddlebags, windshield, and custom seat. Now I ride three wheels, a Can-Am, and I’ve never been happier! Happy riding on whatever you choose to ride.
I have a Harley Sportster Seventy-Two and am 5 feet even. With proper boots, which we should all wear anyway, I have no problems. My hubby got me a Mustang Seat for Christmas and it’s heavenly. I tried out the 883 SuperLow but the seat, handlebar, foot control positions were too much reach for my comfort zone. With how customizable bikes are, seems like it just gets left to preference of the rider. I think when I “move up” I’d really want a Street Bob.
Most of my friends do ride Harley or Harley lookalike bikes, consistent with your top 10. I also found most sport bikes have too high of a seat for me, but the Ducati Monster 1200S, with the low seat option, to be the perfect balance of ergonomics, relatively light weight (about 450 pounds), and superb handling–fast, too! So, if you’re looking for something more sport bike-like, I think any of the Ducati Monsters, Diavel, or the new Scrambler are worth checking out.
Thanks for the recommendation. We reviewed the Ducati Monster 696 and have info on the other Monsters here on WRN.
I started on a Sportster but once I tried a Low Rider I was sold. It’s not too big but low (I’m 5 feet 4 inches) with a low center of gravity. If I was in the market for a new bike I’d look at the new ones. They are a great bike for women.
Good reviews on these motorcycles. I started on a 1954 KH model, long before they were called Sporties. Have ridden many makes but always return to the Harley. This year I rode a HD Heritage and a Street Bob. The Street Bob is extremely nimble and fun to ride.
I have two Honda 250 Rebels — 2009 black and 2012 red — interchangeable with my mood. I love them. I can’t fathom a bike that is 400+ pounds heavier. They take me wherever I want to go, as fast as I want to go, and as long as I want to go. And I could not give a hoot what others say.
Uhm… I have a Victory Crossroads. I freaking love it. And I’m a rather small gal.
I started my riding life with an old 1981 Yamaha Virago. Tough old bike. Twelve thousand miles two-up with camping gear over the space of 16 months. Then we got the V Star 950, excellent bike to move up to.I now ride my 2013 Road Star Silverado S, which I think I found the last one available in my state. She is gorgeous, easy to handle, and fits me well. I am looking forward to many many miles on her. I am not sure if Yamaha will continue to offer the Road Star after 2014 but there are still ’13s and ’14s out there available. I actually added this bike to my shopping list when I was test riding bikes, because of an excellent review of the bike here on this site. For ladies looking to move up to a good sturdy reliable classic style tourer, you couldn’t ask for a better bike. I have only had mine since July ’14 and she has 7,000 miles on her. Folks in the Road Star Clinic forum have these bikes and have 100,000 miles or more on them, and they are still clicking right along.The bikes listed here are all good ones, but don’t forget the Road Star for ladies looking for a reliable fun touring solution that has just about everything you need on it right off the showroom floor.
Loren,So glad our review helped you to make your decision. For others who are interested, our review of the Road Star can be found here.
I started on a Yamaha V Star 650 and within a year needed a bigger bike to travel more comfortably. I moved up to a 1600 V Star. After that I felt like I was ready to purchase a new bike and have my final “keeper” bike. I love my Yamaha Road Liner 1900 Custom! Super comfy ride, super control and the low aluminum frame keeps the weight balance just right.
I ride a 2003 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider, my first bike. Been riding since 2002. Love riding and feeling the wind in my face.
I have a used Honda Shadow C2, model year 2007. I love my Shadow, and I am a relative newbie at motorcycling. The hubby has a HD Fat Bob, too big and too wide for me. I tried after I finished the HD Rider’s Edge class, but it is more bike than I could handle. He is now telling me it is time to upgrade and I’ve had my eye on the Heritage Softail. The Road King seems nice too, but may be too big. Bring on the spring! I cannot wait to start testing driving my next ride.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on those motorcycles Brenda. I’ve reviewed the Heritage Softail Classic. You can read that review here.
I ride a ’98 BMW R 1200 C. I love my bike and always get questions and nice comments about it when I’m out. I wouldn’t trade it!
I must wonder what makes the connection between women riders and the overwhelming preference for cruisers? Surely seat height is not reason enough to hobble one’s riding ability on a bike than is not designed to lean over very far, has less braking power on average than other kinds of bikes, and a lower power-to-weight ratio than other bikes. Maybe it really is the chrome. I’m not flaming any rider or his or her choice of motorcycle, as long as each riders treats other motorists with respect. I just wonder why most women gravitate towards cruisers. I started on cruisers and can’t tolerate their limitations now, 14 years later.
No offense intended but these “top 10 motorcycles for women” articles generally look like Harley advertisements. Most of the women in my club ride BMWs and have been thrilled with them. In contrast, our Harley friends seem to spend a lot of time being towed. Ladies unless you can wrench on a bike, do yourself a favor and select a bike that’s reliable.
The majority of the population of female riders in the U.S. ride a Harley-Davidson. This is a fact. You can see our story here where Harley-Davidson leads in market share among women.So a list such as this that summarizes the motorcycles most women are riding would naturally result in Harleys, and cruisers. Sportbikes and sport tourers are ridden by less than 50 percent of women. This is a fact! The main criteria for women when choosing a motorcycle are:- ease of being able to put both feet on the ground when seated- comfort- storage space- which manufacturer is making the loudest noise, i.e. which company is marketing to women.This list are facts based on research.Harley leads the way — with no one behind them — in aggressively marketing to women. Plus, their motorcycles meet most of the criteria the majority of women are looking for when buying a motorcycle.BMWs are awesome motorcycles. We’re glad you and your friends have discovered that. We do our best to review and promote BMWs that are favorable to women giving each manufacturer its fair share of time on WRN.
I ride a Dyna Super Glide! Love it and could see getting another.
I have a Suzuki Boulevard S50. It’s been an excellent first bike. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I ride a Heritage Softail 2012. I love riding and being out on the open road. I find the Heritage a very nice bike and easy to handle. I am very interested in the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, which I may upgrade to in the future. Have fun and just get out and ride!
I have had the Honda Shadow 750 and the Kawasaki Vulcan 900. I now own a 2013 Harley Heritage Softail. I agree.
The Indian Scout should make the top five!
Remember, this is a list of motorcycles most purchased by women. The Scout just came out this year so it is still too new to gauge interest among women. Check out our review of the Scout here.
I’ve had a Honda 500 Ascot, a 650 Kawasaki, Honda Shadow Aero, and now my bike for cross country riding, a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. All these bikes are low and handle easily. My only complaint is my Harley is heavier. It would be nice to have a reverse gear, like a Honda Gold Wing!
My first bikes: 2006 Honda Shadow 750cc, 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900cc, 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero. HD is finally paying attention to lady riders. They are finally introducing a full touring low rider for 2015. My bike selection is based on value for money, size, colour and possibility of high mileage, low maintenance.
My bike is an ’02 Heritage Springer. Love, love, love it! Ride safe everyone!
I started on a Honda VLX 600, moved up to a Honda Aero 750, then to a HD Deluxe 08 Anniversary Edition, now I have my dream bike — HD Street Glide, 2010 lipstick red! It has been lowered and I have a cutout seat that pushes me forward and sits me up better. You just can’t beat this bike! I’ll never have another model. This is it for me!
I started riding three years ago and I have been riding an 883XL. I love that bike. I recently acquired a 1999 Night Train. A more comfortable ride for longer days. Anything you are comfortable and confident on is the correct bike for you. Ride safe everyone
I have owned several motorcycles over the years, one being the V Star Custom. That bike was great, comfortable, and easy to maneuver. In April of this year, I purchased a HD Sporty XL1200L because I needed a heavier bike due to my small size. Albeit, I had to make several modifications, but after the modifications, she has been extremely fun to ride.
I got back into riding after a 30 years of not riding. This is my seventh year back in the saddle and I’m so happy to be back. My return to riding was on a Honda Rebel 250 (lovely bike) and a great beginners bike. Since then I’ve owned and sold at least six bikes until I finally found some real winners (for me that is). My bikes are my babies. I currently ride a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic (33,000 miles), Honda CRF250L (1,800 miles) and a Triumph Tiger 800 Roadie (24,000 miles). I love all my bikes but the Tiger has got to be the best bike I’ve ever owned. I had it lowered, bought a bunch of accessories for long distance comfort and turned it into my touring bike. I would say, don’t shy away from a bike because it’s too tall because there’s always a fix! Lowering links are a great solution. Stay safe and always were full gear!
I am a new rider and purchased a Triumph America. The bike is easy to handle, has great power, 865cc, and very comfortable. I did have the dealer install a shorter shock package so I could reach comfortably. At 5 feet 2 inches, it was just a bit too tall. Would like to get new exhaust so it’s a little bit louder. Recommend it for any new female rider.
I going for my third Kawasaki Vulcan 900. I am a distance rider and tour three weeks at a time with my husband. I couldn’t think of owning another bike. I am vertically challenged, 5 feet 1 inch and 120 pounds. Love this bike. Just wish Kawasaki would consider a greater selection of colors for this model.
I agree with Deborah (Morristown) — I bought a 2010 883L as my very first bike and I totaled it with under 100 miles because it was so top heavy and hard to turn from a stop, and whomever put those stupid little pins on the foot pegs should be shot. I love my 2010 Dyna Custom. It was scary to move up to a bigger bike after the accident but it actually made me a lot more comfortable on the road.
I ride a V Star 1110 Classic. I love my bike! Its balance, height and the Mustang seat make it the perfect bike for any lady rider. I ride every chance I get.
It amazed me to see that you would suggest Harley’s Sportster so many times. My first bike was a 1200XL Low. I had it seven months and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it! My husband begged me not to get it but I wouldn’t listen. It is top-heavy and not suited for any long rides or rides with bigger bikes. For that reason one of the best decisions I ever made was trading it for a 2012 Harley Dyna Switchback, which did not even make your cut for a woman’s bike. That is just sad. I am 5 feet 2 inches and with my solo seat it is a ride fit for a queen. I have spent anywhere form nine to 14 hours straight in the saddle and I couldn’t ask for a better ride, and if I choose not to keep up with the pack, I can most certainly catch up.
Thanks for your comments, but please remember this is not a list we, the editors of WRN, randomly put together. It is a list of motorcycles that are most popular among women, the motorcycles that majority of women are riding.
I started on a Honda Hornet 600. My second motorcycle was a Honda CBF1000F, 2011 model. Now, I ride a BMW R 1200 GSA.
I bought an 883 SuperLow in 2011. I’m 4 feet 9 inches short, but I love this bike. At first I felt like it was too small. Not anymore! Took the motorcycle safety course in Tulsa, Okla., and I am glad I did every time I get on my bike. Would like to get a big girl bike, but for now. This is it. I’m 53 now and I believe I will be riding for a long time!
I took a motorcycle safety course and bought my first bike, a 1980 Honda CB750K, three weeks ago. At 45 years old you’re never to old to start riding!
I ride the Honda Shadow ACE 750 Deluxe and I love it! It is my second bike. After not owning a bike since I was 21 (a Honda Hawk 400), I finally got my ACE at 50! Took the MSF Safety Course, and got my confidence back. I ride every chance I get!
I started riding this year and I have a Honda Rebel 250 to start out on. I eventually want to get a Harley Sportster.
I ride a 2011 HD 883 SuperLow and I love it! At 5 feet 2 inches (and shrinking a little every year) this bike is a perfect fit for me. I came late to riding as I was 55 when I went through the MSF course and got my license. I rode a small Rebel during the course and the batter box hitting my thighs was really bothersome, so I really appreciate the slim contour of my bike.I have loaded the bike with a windshield, rigid leather side-bags, and a removable tour pack. The bike looks like a mini bagger and served me well for a 100-mile daily commute to work or school.
I have been riding BMW touring bikes for the past 12 years. First a K75 RT and the past 10 years I have been riding a R 1200 RT and it is the nicest touring bike, plenty of saddlebags, tail bag and tank bag for storage. On board computer, heated seat and grips, and the best safety item – ABS brakes. They have saved my life a couple of times. I had short shocks installed.
I’ve recently come back to bikes after a quarter century of “sensible,” and thank God I’m over that insidious disease!. I ride a Kawasaki W800 SE 2013. Not too big and heavy for me to handle, at a push, I can even pick it up myself, as I found out one wet dark night recently. It’s an ‘old school’ style with modern technology so it suits my desire for comfort / minimum maintenance but still looks, feels and rides like the bikes I remember from my 20s. It’s wonderful to see so many ladies getting into riding and loving it. And it’s wonderful to see manufacturers attitudes have changed to accept that we are not just decorations for the “serious” male population of riders. Now there is clothing, equipment and machines specifically targeted to female riders, that isn’t, just a pink version of men’s gear or just for decoration.
What a great article. Great perspective. I started riding several years ago after taking the MSF class at our local college. Rode a Suzuki GZ250 for a couple of months in the fall of that year and over the winter bought a new 2008 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic! What a great bike; so well balanced, but the GZ was what I needed to get some initial road experience. I ride a 2010 Road Glide Custom now; I don’t think that I could be more in love with a motorcycle. This bike and I are one, and it has made me a better rider!
I started on a Suzuki Blvd C50 and moved up to a Victory Kingpin Low. I love my bike. The longest trip I’ve taken on it was just under 2,000 miles. I didn’t get saddle sore at all. She’s my baby.
I started out on the V Star 650. After a year I traded up to a Victory Kingpin Low. This is an amazing bike. Responsive, plenty of power to keep up with my son’s Raider, and the ergonomics are perfect for a lady.
This is a great article. I presently ride a Yamaha V Star 1300, a cruiser. Have had it for seven years and absolutely love the bike, other than the seat height and handlebar configuration generates a little fatigue on long rides and no room for modification. I am presently looking at the Harley Switchback as a new adventure. Saving my pennies!
My wife began riding four years ago at age 57. After taking the Riders Edge course her first motorcycle was a new 2010 HD Deluxe. The low seat height, balance, handling and style were all equal in her decision. Seven months later she purchased a 2011 HD Road Glide Ultra which we then modified by lowering the suspension and changing the seat and handlebars. She enjoys both bikes, using the Deluxe for day rides up to 200 to 300 miles and the Road Glide for loaded touring trips.
So cool! The above looks like my ride resume. I started on a Virago 250 (older V star 250) for two months, then flipped it for a V Star 650 Classic, for 2500 miles. Upgraded to a Vulcan 900 Classic, put on 8,000 miles and now own and love my Softail Deluxe. A nice progression of weight and power. I recommend honing your skills on a bike you can handle!P.S. The Vulcan was new; the 250 and 650 were craigslist buys and I flipped them for same price. Deluxe had 1800 miles and fully customized when I traded in my Vulcan. So you don’t have to spend tons. Also learning on a bike that doesn’t cost too much allows you not to fear wrecking a new bike.
I still like more the Ninja Kawasaki and the new 300cc seems a good improvement
I am of average height so I’ve never had to worry about how tall a motorcycle is. I rode a Suzuki Bandit 1200 for 12 years and I absolutely loved that bike! I’ve moved now to a Honda VFR 1200 which is very similar but has shaft drive and I hope to love just as much. I’m 58 and have been riding since I was 15 and I have heard that currently, more motorcycles are sold to women than men. Does anyone know if that’s true? I certainly see more and more women on the road and in the dirt.
Currently, no. More motorcycles are not sold to women than men. Sales to men dominate the market. To view the latest statistics on the number of women riding relative to the general motorcycling population, please visit the WRN About Us page. Thanks!
I rode a 1200 Sportster last year. Covered, solo, 8,000 miles in eight weeks. Got a very sore butt (inflammation, said doc. Small wonder!). Bought a Softail Heritage a month later and had healed enough to ride 12,000 miles before I was satisfied. This year I had to turn around due to cold and snow but saw several parks in Utah. A month later, I rode 7,000 miles, mostly solo, and I think I covered most of the paved roads south of Jasper, BC in 29 days.In Washington and Canada, I saw many more women riders on their own big bikes. Very encouraging. Oh, one last thing. I am 67 years old and started riding the Sportster in the fall, the year before last. Yeehaa!
I currently am riding a 2013 Street Glide, and love it. I have put 23,050 miles on it. Not too shabby considering the Ohio weather.
Everybody’s different, but I, personally, am not interested in big cruisers. I am an experienced, very competent rider and just “graduated” from a Triumph 800 to a Kawasaki 250 dual sport. I loved my Triumph for long road trips. But the little bike has been liberating. It’s challenging in the dirt and still a blast in the twisties. Just a reminder that you don’t have to move to a heavier bike to prove you’re a better rider. My first bike was a 250 twin, second bike was a 600cc 4 cyl., third bike was an 800cc triple and now I’m on a thumper and loving it. This thing would go around the world, if I had the time to do it. If you like big and low, go for it, but I’d like to encourage women to try lighter sportbikes and dual sports, too.
Recently upgraded from a Suzuki GZ250 to a 2012 (brand new off the dealer showroom floor) Honda Sabre 1300 in Utra Blue Metallic. Love the bike! Extremely well balanced with a low center of gravity. Got an excellent deal too!
Love the variety — all options from lightweight to full throttle. Thrilled to see mine listed, the very light V Star 250, which is perfect for me!
Great list and glad to the the Street Glide made the cut. I’m on my fourth and can’t say enough about its versatility. Long-distance, great creature comforts, beautiful styling and customization possibilities. With so many woman-friendly choices, let’s see more gals out there! Tell your girlfriends!
I just traded my Sportster in for a Softail Slim. What a difference from the Sportster. I am loving my new bike!
Very cool. I ride a V Star 1100 Classic and my husband says its heavier than his 98 Road King. Ha! His Road King has a more smoother ride as my V Star tends to vibrate more on the freeway. Mine stays out of the shop and his…well, just sayen’.
Many women just ride what they like! I’ve got a 2009 Buell Blast which I loved from my Harley Rider’s Edge Class. Great little starter bike, light with a big heart. Easy to ride and used still available for reasonable price.Will move up to something bigger when I’m ready and the budget allows!
I ride a Harley-Davidson 883 and as much as I enjoy riding it, I’m looking to get a Switchback. I’ll be able to cover more distance with fewer stops. The Switchback gives you the best of both bikes.
I started on a Yamaha 250 and progressed to a 650 V Star, but once I moved on to a Harley-Davidson, I couldn’t turn back. They tend to be made for vertically challenged riders. Bought a Softail Deuce in 2003 and loved it so much, I bought a used 2007 Softail Night Train last year. These bikes (with added detachable bags and windshields) give me the power to ride cross country, with the style I crave, and remain nimble in the handling department. The sales and service staff not only have great customer service, they treat me like family. I can see why four out of the top 10 are from the Motor Co. Harley’s for life!
I own a Vulcan Classic LT, but also own and ride a Vulcan 750. Both are very comfortable, but very different.
I think the results here reflect the demographics of the WRN – older women riders who tend to choose cruisers over other styles of motorcycles. I think that the majority of the younger women riders (and a few of us “old ladies”) go more for the sportbike style. The Ninja 300 was the only one to make the top 10 list, but I think that a true representative sampling of women riders would result in more sport-oriented bikes in the top 10.
You are right, the majority of younger women do choose more of a sportbike style, however, the number of those riders represent a very small segment of the overall female motorcycling population, not enough to make it into the Top 10 list of most popular motorcycles. The vast majority of women riders are “older” women, that is women over 40; and the majority of those women choose cruiser style motorcycles, hence the results of this top 10 list.A leading motorcycle industry trade association does a survey every five years of new bike owners based on new motorcycle registrations, as well as all owners of motorcycles for that particular year. In addition to gender, other questions that are asked of each gender are what particular style of motorcycle is ridden/owned. Cruisers are ridden by more than half of all women riders, with sport touring, sportbike, standard and dual sport making up the remaining 50 percent, in that order. I am privy to this information and have been for 15 years. It’s been pretty consistent over that time period, except for the fact that there used to be more females riding sportbikes than sport tourers. With the increase of availability of sport touring motorcycles over the last six years, that style of motorcycle has become slightly more popular among women than the sportbike. So, all that to say… WomenRidersNow.com’s survey results and reader input do reflect the general women’s motorcycle population. I’ve been following the women’s motorcycling market closely since 1999 including the growth, trends, motorcycles, gear, you name it. WRN’s balance of content has always reflected the ratio of the styles of motorcycles women are choosing.Thanks for expressing your opinion so that I could clear up any assumptions that are not based on facts.
May present some controversy but I just bought a Honda NC700X DCT which I absolutely love. I’m 62, new to bike ops, and have hardware in my ankle which limits my range of articulation. Not into trikes or scooters. My dream of having my own bike has finally materialized. For those of you who don’t know, the DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission. I don’t have to shift or clutch however, I can use a switch on the handle bar to shift from an easy-does-it DRIVE mode to SPORT mode, which allows for more rpms between gears.
Wow, it was great to see that all the bikes that I rode and am now riding made your list. I have rode dirt bikes growing up and when I decided to ride the road I chose the Yamaha 650 V Star. After a year of riding I traded up to the Yamaha 950 V Star. Put many miles on it before I traded it in for my Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe 103. Love the way that I can handle it on the curvy roads. Have done many trips with the boys and can outride most of them. Lots of power to spare on the Deluxe.
I am a proud owner of a 2014 Street Glide after being a proud owner of a 2007 Softail. Heck, I am a proud Harley owner.
I was surprised as well that the Suzuki Blvd C50T nor the Harley Road King made the most poplar with the female riders. Both are well balanced and a good fit for shorter for women.
I am surprised the Roadstar Silverado S didn’t make the list either. I just bought one, largely due to the review WRN wrote up about it. It is everything you guys said it was and more. I now have the 2013 Impact blue model. It is a great bike for the ladies! My husband likes it too, but Sapphire is mine.
It makes me proud to see the variety of bikes, but also that a “big bike,” the Street Glide, is also on the list. I see more and more women riding and handling the touring bikes incredibly well. I love my Road King and will be getting a Street Glide next…and of course keeping the Road King after all, a girl needs choices!
Whew, the Street Glide made it! Otherwise, Genevieve we were gonna have to have a ‘talkin to’! Since restarting riding in 2006 (I learned at 8 years old and rode until 18 and started up again at 41 years old) I’ve gone through two Street Glides. Loving my 2012 now. WRN helped me chose my first HD, a Street Bob, and I’ve since advanced. I’m 5 feet 4 inches and 128 pounds. People ask how I stand it up. Easy, just pull right handlebar and let it stand itself up. At my size and with a ruptured L5 disc I do not manhandle this bike. The Street Glide is a dream to ride. Just have to take care of parking as backing it up is a challenge.
For the shorter women, the Yamaha Virago is an excellent choice. I’m 5 feet 2 inches and sit flat footed with a slight bend. My first bike was the 750cc Virago; my second (and still have it) is the 1100cc Virago
Interesting article. But what I thought was a little funny was that I have owned three of your top 10. I started riding in 2006 at age 58 on an older Yamaha V Star 650 Classic. After one year and 10,000 miles I sold it for more than I had paid for it and purchased a 2-year-old 2005 Deluxe. It has since been customized to the max and after 88,000 miles is running strong. In 2011 my faithful Deluxe became my “extra” bike and I stepped up to a 103 Street Glide. It has been lowered one inch front and rear and I also cut down about 1/2 inch in the seat (I am only 5 feet 5 inches). Now at age 65 I am retired and cruising cross country in comfort. The real point is, riding is a blast on any bike and at any age, just throw your leg over that seat and go for it! You won’t regret it!
I’m surprised the Suzuki Boulevard C50/C50T didn’t make the list. It has a seat height of 27.6 inches and at 5 feet 6 inches I’m comfortably flat-footed when stopped. It’s 805cc engine is plenty powerful too.Also the Honda Rebel 250 wasn’t mentioned. I rode a Rebel for two years before getting my “Big Girl” bike (the above Suzuki). It really helped get my confidence up before having to deal with the weight of a heavier bike. If I had started with my Suzuki I probably would have given up the first week and never rode again. It had some quirks I needed to get used to, but was able to figure them out only because I already had some experience under my belt.
The Suzuki Boulevard C50 and C50T are popular among women—in fact we even reviewed it here, but it didn’t make the list of the top 10 most popular bikes, that is, the motorcycles the large majority of women are choosing to ride.
You might want to take a look at the Victory Vegas. Beautiful bike, built low, well balanced and rides like a dream. I’ve had mine for five years and still makes me smile every time I get on.
Yes, good choice of motorcycle for women. We reviewed the Vegas Low when it first came out.