The Future of Women Cycling is A Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Trek Bicycles has seen the future of cycling for women and it is… the Harley Davidson.

Let’s back up a bit.

We received a press release from Trek yesterday announcing the hire of a new Trek Women Brand Manager, Leslie Prevish, formerly of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Normally we don’t pay a lot of attention to press releases about new hires but this one caught us off guard, and at first a bit angry. These paragraphs set me off a bit.

In her past role at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Prevish led the marketing efforts to increase the number of women riding motorized two wheels, and she’s excited about the transition to pedals.

“My first weekend on the job I did the Trek Women Triathlon and couldn’t believe the empowering vibe,” said Prevish. “Then I tackled the Trek Dirt Series mountain bike camp and met so many amazing women. Newbies like me and experienced riders – all of us learning new skills and overcoming fears on the trails.”

Trek’s women’s division to be run by someone with a background in motorcycles? Someone, it seems, doesn’t who have any background in cycling? Is that good for this industry? Is that good for the issues surrounding getting more women on bikes?

But after a long ride to ruminate on the industry it hit me. This is great news. It was the phrase “empowering vibe” that got me.

This year’s Interbike will mark the fifteenth or so year that I’ve been in attendance. (In my early days covering the show I did both Interbike East and West and CABDA as well.) Most of the people that I met then are still in the industry, they’ve just changed between jobs at different companies. There isn’t nearly enough “new blood” in the industry.

Meanwhile, as I’ve said before, the bike industry doesn’t quite know how to encourage women to ride. Pink bikes and shorter stems does not equal an understanding of the unique challenges and issues women face when they try to embrace the cycling lifestyle.

If there’s any group on earth that has a worse time trying to get women to enter the culture it’s motorcycles. When I say the phrases “Harley Davidson” and “women riders” what do you think? If it’s the mental picture of a middle-aged woman with sun damage from riding in her leather vest then you’ve got it all wrong.

This image, pilfered from a great article on Scooteringusa.com about Harley’s Garage Party program shows the potential here. Replace the Harley with a Trek and you’ve got the ideal bike-store scenario. A knowledgeable dealer rep explaining how a technology works to a group of eager consumers.

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If there’s any transportation/recreation device that seems less consumer friendly than a bicycle it’s a motorcycle. See if this stereotype sounds familiar. A group of people that hog the roads, using them like they own them. Dressed in obnoxious outfits. Making too much noise.

Then I hit this sentence

Prevish is also working with Trek retailers to invite women to be fit and philanthropic on the 5thAnnual Breast Cancer Awareness Ride on October 9 (Awareness Ride. All of the registration fees from the 10- or 25-mile rides go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Last year, 100 retailers hosted events and raised $100,000. Trek Women’s goal for 2010 is $150,000.

So if Trek’s going to bring in an expert from the motorcycle world who jumps right into triathlons and mountain biking and who makes it a goal to raise more than $150,000 for cancer awareness, well god bless them. Because after getting women to ride a Harley, getting women on bikes should be a piece of cake.