The name, Litas, is a made-up word, says founder Jessica Wise, but the friendships women riders are forming are real.
“Women can be overly analytical and hard on themselves and it leads them to be competitive with each other,” said Wise. “It’s natural for women to throw up walls. Bonding over motorcycles breaks them down.”
After riding with men for years, Wise longed to share her love of the sport with women. On a whim, The Litas was born and its rise has been spectacular. In four short years, the community of women riders has exploded to more than 8,000 riders in 250 cities and 30 countries—including Portugal, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Brazil.
The growth of The Litas dovetails with the overall expansion of women in the sport. Recently, the Motorcycle Industry Council released data showing that female ridership has roared up almost 10 percent. Millennials are fueling the trend. Wise attributes that in part to the rise of social media, especially Instagram, where Wise has more than 64,000 followers.
“Women see other women riding and it inspires them to give it a try, too,” said Wise, who rocks a Low Rider S. “I tell first-time riders to find your local Litas chapter and just do it.”
As long as you identify as a woman, you can ride with Litas. The Litas isn’t a motorcycle club, stresses Wise. There are no pins, patches, or ranks. The women are fiercely inclusive and extremely diverse across all categories: riding experience, race, ethnicity, class, and marital status.
The Litas is all about women feeling free on the open road, as well as supported in their relationships with each other, according to Wise.
“Women tell me all the time that The Litas has changed their lives,” said Wise. “They’re forming bands, making new best friends, meeting husbands, etc.”
The Litas is a path for women to cultivate their power as a collective and to celebrate their individuality.
“The Litas is all about women being authentic, whatever that means for them,” said Wise. “They’re choosing whatever bike and look works for them.”
Wise, who also runs a motorcycle clothing company, Hell Babes, says the motorcycle industry—including bike and clothes manufacturers—should cater more specifically to women riders to help women feel more welcome in the sport.
“Women often have to alter their bikes to make them work and it sucks,” said Wise. “And buying custom motorcycle clothes is out of some people’s price range.”
But Wise is hopeful the industry will become more accommodating to women. In the meantime, Wise says women who are interested in riding should do four things:
“I’m actually a cautious person,” said Wise. “But when I’m riding, I feel completely confident and in control. Women who want to ride need to be motivated and intentional in their efforts.
“Riding gives women the power to feel they can do anything,” said Wise. “We love to ride, and we’re around for the long haul.”