Women Bikers on the Rise

Going to town on two wheels

Now here's something you might not expect to discover: older ladies are hitting the road on motorcycles.

No, not high powered Suzukis or even Harley-Davidsons – but small scooters that are perfect for popping down to the post office or the shops.

AA Motorbike Insurance has noticed a rise in the number of policies that are being taken out by older women.

Ian Stokoe, head of AA Motorcycle Insurance, says that they can be a perfect way of getting around.

Small, but perfectly formed

"Small motorcycles are pretty easy to manage and increase your mobility. For instance, if you have decided to give up your car but still want to make short trips, they are perfect.

They are also very cheap to run – fuel economy means that with some models you'll get 150 miles per gallon or more out of them. They are cheap to tax as well – for a bike up to 150cc it costs only £15 per year.

"Small bikes are also cheap to insure. You'll need to lock it securely away at night with a chain and, ideally in a garage or other outbuilding but for a lady aged 65 you're talking about an annual premium of around £74".*

But it's not just ladies behind the handlebars. There has been a resurgence of interest in motorcycling this year, both as a primary means of getting around and also for leisure – for instance, amongst 'born-again' bikers, as well as those looking for a new and enjoyable pastime.

Liberating

"There's no doubt that once you have tried motorcycling the chances are you'll want more. There's nothing quite like the feeling of wind in your face as you cruise the country's roads and the extraordinary sense of freedom it brings," says Stokoe.

But he cautions against picking something powerful if you've not tried it before or you are returning to the saddle after a few years' break.

"Some sports bikes will take you from 0–60 in under 4 seconds and have a top speed of well over twice the national speed limit. I would certainly advise anyone who isn't experienced not to go for such a machine.

"It's best to start modestly and get used to biking, and build some no-claim bonus, before graduating to a more powerful machine.

Road aware

"It's also well worth while taking some good motorcycle training such as 'Bike Safe'. Whether you're 25 or 65 it will help you to be better aware of what other road users might be doing and avoid trouble, especially if they haven't noticed you."

He points out that the nation's highways are very different today and someone returning to a bike after say 30 years, expecting the kind of freedom they used to enjoy, could have a shock coming to them.

"The roads are increasingly crowded and many car drivers just aren't 'bike aware'. In fact, claims statistics tell us that the ratio of fault to non-fault motorcycle accidents is 40:60 . In other words, by far most accidents are because a car or van driver hasn't seen a bike coming.

"The AA also has concerns about the condition of many roads – potholes are not much more than an inconvenience to a car driver, but would cause a real problem for a motorcyclist travelling at 60mph."

Stokoe says that bike insurance and premiums are competitive. "As a broker, we are well placed to find cover that suits you – whether you are looking at a 49cc runabout or a 600cc road bike.

"We look for the cheapest motorbike insurance quote on our panel – but most important, you still have the support of the AA behind you."

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* Premium for a 65-year-old lady, fully comprehensive cover for a Honda C50, garaged, £200 excess, postcode RG21

Last updated: 7 January 2010