SOURCE: Harley-Davidson

May 23, 2005 10:30 ET

Women Expand Personal Boundaries on the Open Road

Increasing Number of Females Prefer a Motorcycle's Front Seat

MILWAUKEE, WI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 23, 2005 -- Attracted by the freedom of the open road and camaraderie of fellow riders, many women are now confidently choosing the front seat of their very own motorcycle. In fact, the number of women participating in the sport of motorcycling is on the rise, representing one in 12 U.S. motorcycle owners, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

"Learning to master and control the motorcycle made me feel that I could do anything," said Gail Concannon of New York City. "While I enjoyed riding on the back seat of my husband's motorcycle for years, the sense of freedom and control I've had riding my own Harley-Davidson Softail alongside my husband is almost indescribable."

Concannon is not alone. More and more women are seeking the sense of freedom, independence and adventure that motorcycling invokes and are finding that donning a leather jacket and saddling up not only changes the way they look, it changes the way they feel about themselves.

"Putting on my leather jacket and settling into the front seat doesn't give me just a style makeover, it gives me confidence and a sense of control like nothing else I have ever known," said Wendy Cedeno of Chicago.

As more women take control of the open road, they are beginning to have more influence on the motorcycle industry. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, females purchased 45,000 new motorcycles in 2002, compared to only 10,000 just 14 years ago.

"This recent trend confirms what we knew all along," said Kathleen Lawler, vice president of communications at Harley-Davidson Motor Company (NYSE: HDI). "Women enjoy the freedom and solitude of the open road just as much as their male counterparts. But, women also see motorcycles as a perfect opportunity to counterbalance constraining traditional gender roles."

While women in the saddle of a Harley-Davidson is not a new phenomenon, the company is experiencing an exponential growth of female owners today. Purchases of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles by women grew from only 600 in 1985, to nearly 30,000 last year, accounting for nearly 10 percent of new motorcycle sales for the Motor Company.

"Getting my Low Rider was truly a life-changing experience for me," said Eileen Lopez of New York City. "As I pull out of the driveway on my Harley, I leave my worries and stresses behind. Plus, the strong relationships I've developed with my fellow riders have really enriched my life."

Linda Weeden, a new rider from Albuquerque, agrees. "Even though I've only put 1,000 miles on my new bike, I've already met the most incredible female riders from all walks of life. Although we come from different backgrounds, our love for riding and passion for adventure have made us really close, like family."

Helping fuel the growth of the sport among women is the Harley-Davidson Rider's Edge program, which teaches basic riding skills at select Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country. Since the program's inception in 2000, more than 40,000 people have learned to ride a motorcycle, and 42 percent of the students are women.

"I have to admit, I was a little intimidated before I took the class," said Weeden. "But, learning to master the motorcycle and feeling the wind in my face changed that. Now riding is one of my greatest and most sacred pleasures."

Although, the number of women riders has been on the rise for the last decade, women have been riding motorcycles since the very early days of the sport. One of the most famous was Vivian Bales, who in the summer of 1929, traveled for 78 days, covering nearly 5,000 miles on her 45 Twin D model Harley-Davidson. In each town she rode through, Bales met with local dignitaries and Harley-Davidson dealers -- she even had the opportunity to meet President Herbert Hoover.

Following her famous ride, Bales continued to ride motorcycles and performed stunts at races around Tallahassee, Fla. Like many women riders today, Bales stated that her Harley-Davidson experience was one of her most significant of her life.

For more information about women in the sport of motorcycling, visit www.harley-davidson.com/EX/KNO/WOME/en/women.asp.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company for the group of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Buell Motorcycle Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight street, custom and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories, apparel and general merchandise. Buell Motorcycle Company produces sport motorcycles in addition to motorcycle parts, accessories and apparel. Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc. provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance programs to Harley-Davidson/Buell dealers and customers.

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Harley-Davidson Motor Company
3700 W. Juneau Ave.
P.O. Box 653
Milwaukee WI 53201

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