Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, Suzuki V-Strom 650

Favorite quote:

If it all falls down, falls down, falls down; If they solve my life, if they find me out; Never thought to keep all I have found; I have had my fun, if it all falls down.

- Jimmy Buffett • If It All Falls Down - Floridays

Motorcycle Industry Talk

This past Americade I was involved in two separate group discussions - one part of Diane Ortiz’ Women’s Coffee Club early Thursday morning and the other a new offering called ‘Knights of the Round Table’. Both involved a question and answer format, one more serious than the other but equally centered around the health of the motorcycle industry and what we, as riders, can do to improve and better it.

Diane has been holding her Coffee Club for a few years, inviting women motorcyclists (whether riders or passengers) to come meet, schmooze and talk about whatever might be on their minds regarding their riding, their concerns on treatment of women in motorcycling, motorcycles themselves, etc. The first time I joined the group, I was impressed with the variety of women attending - industry folk, wrenchers, new and veteran riders.

Diane starts off by having everyone introduce themselves with a short bio of who they are, riding history and such. This year’s group included many long-time riders, some Motor Maid members, a few newbies, as well as those some co-pilots. I was a bit dismayed that the industry women attending Americade did not stop by, but I know how draining a trade show is and how precious those few extra minutes of sleep can be.

Discussion revolved around treatment of women in dealerships, availability of motorcycles and gear that fit women and how to get the manufacturers to address these issues. I remember the same discussion taking place several years ago, and I have to say that things have definitely changes, for the better, and while women are still not the majority of the motorcycling population, we are growing by leaps and bounds. According to statistics, our numbers have grown from 8% in 1998 to more than 25% in 2015 and going strong in 2018. The increase in female riders translates to more dollars spent on motorcycles, gear and accessories and, as most of us know, most women like to shop and have become a bigger part of the decision-making population in the motorcycle industry.

So, I was a bit bewildered when the hour-long back and forth kind of got stuck on ‘WHAHHHH, I can’t find a Bike/Jacket/Pants/Boots that fit me.’ I would have been much happier if the talk focused more on the how to use this great vehicle underneath us than the complaints on things that are not so much an issue any longer; ‘Now that I know how to ride a motorcycle, where can I take it? What might be my concerns, as a woman, of traveling alone and how can I meet like-minded women who might want to travel with me?’ I hope that at next year’s Women’s Coffee Club there will be more of that.

I knew about the ‘Knights of the Round Table’ as Brian had been asked to join it several months prior to me. I think that the powers that be realized it might be a good idea to have a woman present - not that I necessarily was the right woman, being as I am more a ponderer than a speaker - but I was happy to join the panel of talented motorcycle industry folk. From what I understood, it was to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek session of tall tales and anecdotes from our riding careers. Having Alonzo Bodden, passionate rider and stand up comedian extraordinaire, sitting next to me gave me the duck blind I needed.

We were asked what our favorite motorcycle was and, much to everyone’s surprise, Alonzo said that he was much enamored with his Honda Grom and rode it frequently. If you are not familiar with Mr. Bodden, he stands 6’ 4” tall - you put the image of him on a Grom in your head and tell me that doesn’t make you giggle.

Topics went from sarcastic to serious - there was even a deer head in the audience. Ken Condon, top-notch safety instructor and journalist, gave some great insight and advice and Fred Rau, crackerjack emcee, kept the flow moving at a great pace. From the size of the audience, I think that Americade made a good decision to include this in their nightly offerings and I hope they continue with it next year.