India's super-empowered female biker clubs are owning the road
When one thinks of bikers, the first thought that comes to mind is that of leather jackets, mustaches, and muscles; true, testosterone-fueled imagery. Step aside, boys, because a growing community of women in India are adding themselves to the country’s thriving motorcycle community.
During the past few years, a number of women-only biker groups have popped up across India, with names like Riderni, Hop on Gurls, and the Bengal Lady Bikers. While cycling has long been a beloved Indian pastime, it wasn’t until 2011 that women truly got in on the action, when then-22-year-old Urvashi Patola founded Bikerni, India’s first women’s motorcycle association as a way for women to express their passion for motorcycles and bond with like-minded female riders.
Since its inception, Bikerni has grown from a small group of 11 members located in the city of Pune to a group of more than 500 women, with branches popping up across the country.
“The idea behind the association was to promote motorcycling among women and encourage them to fulfill their desire for adventure,” Patola tells the Hindustan Times. “We are not a group of unruly bikers. We believe in safe riding and promote safe riding.”
In an interview earlier this year with the India Times, Patola acknowledged that riding while female comes with its own set of challenges and dangers.
“Guys sometimes try to cut through or follow us in an attempt to intimidate, which is why staying in a group is very important,” she said, referencing a time in which a group of men tried to run her off the road.
Some of the women involved in India’s biking scene find empowerment in defying the gender norms so often tied to motorcycling, while others are getting in on the fun for reasons ranging from the sense of community brought on by this type of group travel to reasons as simple as the economic benefits of biking instead of driving.
“For me biking is not just about fun, it is also about freedom,” Stuti Rastogi, 20, a member of the Free Souls Rider group, told the HindustanTimes.
Rastogi, Patola, and the hundreds of other motorcycle enthusiasts are certainly making their mark on Indian bike culture, with many cycling businesses finding themselves adjusting with the times and offering services targeted at women.
V Srinivas, head of the training program at Delhi’s Vintage Rides Motor Cycling Training, claims that upwards of 90 percent of all new trainees in their riding programs are women, proving themselves to be “dedicated and fast learners.”
No matter the reason these women ride, it’s always awesome to see a group of women come together like this.
(Image via India Times)