Few things are changing faster than the old stereotypes associated with women and motorcycles. The old-school image of a so-called “motorcycle mama” may still exist, but that woman who wraps her arms around her man has been replaced by a new generation of strong, independent women who only want the answer to one crucial question: what are the best Harley-Davidson bikes for women?
Can a Girl Ride a Harley-Davidson?
They sure can! And the market is shifting to accommodate them. The percentage of women riders has nearly doubled in the last couple of decades, and manufacturers like Harley-Davidson are paying attention and making great bikes to get and keep them on the road.
Before we get to Harley bikes, though, let’s ask the eternal question: What do women want? (In a motorcycle, that is.) Most women have specific design needs for their dream ride that go way beyond style and color, so let’s tackle some of the specifics.
Which Motorcycle is Best for Ladies?
Everyone knows about the anatomical differences between men and women, but many people don’t know how those differences pertain to what women are looking for in a great bike. When it comes to motorcycles, the old adage is true: size really does matter.
Let’s start with the basics: Generally speaking, the motorcycle needs to be lighter for women riders, especially if they’re beginners. That means something in the 500-lb range, and fortunately, there are plenty of great Harleys available in that weight class that meet the criteria most female riders are looking for in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
What is the Best Harley-Davidson for a Short Woman?
A lower center of gravity is preferable to increase maneuverability, and that’s where the seat height comes into play. Women generally have a shorter inseam than men, which can make it a little harder to have the control and maneuverability that are essential for a great ride. Most of the seat heights in the bikes mentioned here are in the 25–26 inch range, but it’s critical to nail the exact height. The width matters, too. If the seat is too wide, it makes it harder for the rider to get her feet on the ground before starting and after stopping, which diminishes both control and confidence.
The seat height is so important that a serious aftermarket has since developed to meet specific needs. Reach Seats help women ride closer to the ground, but generally speaking, it’s best to have a Harley technician perform any necessary modifications at the time of purchase.
Given the importance of seat height, it is fair to ask how tall women need to be to ride. Usually, the cutoff is 4 feet, so there’s plenty of room for petite women to find the right ride. Harley bikes have some of the lowest heights on the market, so once again, there are lots of choices.
There are other comfort considerations as well. Shorter rear shocks will lower the profile of the bike and make it easier to handle, and you can also swap out stock handlebars for any number of pullback varieties, which are often easier to grip for better control.
What is the Best Motorcycle for a Female Beginner?
Now let’s talk about power. It’s important, of course, but there are special considerations for new riders since extra power that will inevitably get used will diminish control. Unless you specifically want more power and have the skill to handle it, look for an engine that’s under 600 cc’s.
It’s also important to know why you’re getting the bike. Do you want to commute? Go touring? A combination of both? Commuter bikes usually have better handling, while long-distance touring bikes tend to be specifically built to handle the comfort issues that come with extended highway miles.
Lastly, if you already have a motorcycle license when you go to buy your new bike, take a test ride. It’s especially important if you don’t have your criteria nailed down, and your Harley rep will be happy to give you any help and feedback you need.
Reviewing the Candidates: Is a Harley 883 a Woman’s Bike?
Now let’s get to the good stuff. What are the best Harley-Davidson motorcycles for women, and what are some of the tradeoffs involved with these special considerations? There are plenty of choices, so let’s start at the beginning, literally and figuratively:
Harley-Davidson Iron 883 SuperLow
Why? Start with the low seat height of 25.5 inches and bucket seat design that allows women to easily straddle the bike and maintain stability. The handlebars lean back to offer more control, and the suspension and shocks, along with the footpegs, are designed to provide maximum comfort. And with an engine size of 830 cc’s that provide 52 HP, the extra power is there for those who want or need it.
Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom
At the other end of the spectrum, the Custom is considered a great choice for more experienced or advanced riders. The seat height is slightly taller at just over 26 inches, and at 562 pounds with a 1200 cc motor, the weight-to-power ratio is considered excellent.
It’s a great choice for women riders who want some power but don’t want to deal with the extra weight of a touring bike.
Harley-Davidson Softtail Deluxe
The Harley-Davidson Softtail Deluxe has become especially popular among women riders, and there are plenty of reasons why. The low seat height of 24.5 inches is great for comfort, and Harley-Davidson provides aftermarket kits to lower that height even further for those who need that modification for their center of gravity. The seats are designed with ergonomics in mind, as are the floorboards and handlebars.
At just over 700 pounds, Harley-Davidson’s Softtail Deluxe is a little heavier than most of the other bikes listed here, but it’s a great choice for women who can handle the weight and want the extra power of the 1746 cc engine that provides over 100 pounds of torque.
Harley Softball Low Rider
The Harley-Davidson Low Rider bike offers the classic Harley-Davidson look, plenty of power, great ergonomics, and a light, easy-to-handle weight. What’s not to love?
It also has enhanced low-speed maneuverability that makes it especially good for newcomers, but there are also plenty of advanced women riders who have fallen in love with this bike.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Classic
The Harley-Davidson Street Glide Classic used to be considered a bit of a beast to handle at over 800 pounds, but some design advances have helped women get in the game with this particular bike. The combination of a seat height of 26.1 inches and a low center of gravity have improved the handling, and the custom saddlebags and excellent mileage make it ideal for cruising and touring.
The highlight in the bells-and-whistles category is the Boom! Box 4.3-inch infotainment system that connects through Bluetooth, and the 6.5-inch Boom Box is available with touch-screen navigation and balanced sound. If that won’t smooth out the ride, what will?
Harley Street 500 and 750
The Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Harley-Davidson Street 750 check in as a great value, and they’re part of Harley’s Dark Custom line, which is geared toward younger riders, especially urban women who are looking for a ride that’s light but still aggressive and sporty.
The weight is just 400 pounds, and the Revolution X engine is liquid-cooled, which is an advantage in heavy urban traffic where overheating may be an issue.
Where “That’s a Girl Bike!” is a Compliment—Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands
This roster of bikes rounds out a complete lineup that can give any woman, beginner, or pro the ultimate ride. We have a fully stocked showroom of the best new and pre-owned Harley-Davidson bikes for women and men, plus all the gear you need to ride away in style. Come on down to Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands to schedule a test ride today and get started on the adventure of a lifetime!
Harley Davidson of The Woodlands
Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.