Connecticut Harley Dealer Welcomes More Women to the Fold
Gengras Harley-Davidson’s Women’s Night designed to encourage women to ride in a comfortable, safe environment.
What’s usually the first image one thinks of when they think of Harley riders? Black leather vests with patches on the back? Sure, there is that. Loud, black and chrome motorcycles thundering down the road? You bet. Big, burley, bearded men who you wouldn’t want to meet in a brightly lit alley? Okay, we’ll go with that.
But what about women riding Harleys? That image doesn’t always come first to mind to most, if at all. But there are those who are working to change this by encouraging women to take up riding. Hartford, Connecticut newspaper Hartford Courant has the story of East Hartford’s Gengras Harley-Davidson, which recently hosted its second Women’s Night of 2019.
“The whole concept is to try and get women more comfortable, without men taking over the sport,” said Sophia Portal, Gengras Harley’s marketing manager and sales admin. “Do one-on-one time with them, and learn the bikes. Try shifting, try and get them into a class that’s mostly women.”
The women who attended the workshop took in a Harley maintenance demo from the dealer’s employees, rode a simulator, and learned of upcoming rides and riding classes, especially those for women new to riding or wish to improve their skills. The aforementioned classes are held at nearby Manchester Community College, in partnership with Gengras.
“My whole family rides,” said Portal. “I grew up around Harley, I’m kind of excited to be able to get my own bike and stop being a passenger on my dad’s bike all the time.”
Portal, like other women riders, will be working on her skills on the road to obtaining her motorcycle license. She recommends new riders opt for smaller Harleys like the Softail “because the weight is evenly distributed,” as opposed to top-heavy bikes like the Sportster which can be a handful for those just riding for the first time.
“I grew up with my older brother riding. He always had either dirt bikes or street bikes,” said Gengras Women’s Night co-host Sandra Graham. “I grew up as a kid learning on dirt bikes, and little min bikes, go-karts, snowmobiles. My husband bought a bike when my second child was a baby, so I waited until my kids grew up, and I got my license in 2015.”
Since then, Graham has ridden through the Catskills, Laconia, and the desert lands in Arizona. For Graham, riding gives her “the freedom of just picking up and going – just riding,” allowing her to take in her surroundings in way few experience. May more women get to have the joy of rolling down the road on a Harley.
Photos: Hartford Courant, Gengras Harley-Davidson