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ROAR, motorcycles for women

June 16, 7:35 PM
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  Kathy Tolleson, CEO of ROAR, motorcycles for women

Chatting casually, there's not a hint of irony in Kathy Tolleson's voice. In a matter-of-fact tone that's so steady she might just as easily be ordering dinner, she throws off the line like it's barely worth mentioning, “I've been riding [motorcycles] ever since I was a young kid.”

At only five feet tall, Tolleson doesn't look like she has much hope of muscling anything more than a moped around the parking lot. But looks can be deceiving. Kathy Tolleson is not the demure, petite, retiring woman her stature might suggest. She's a lioness on the prowl - and she's got her sights set on some very big game.

What separates this grandmother from the stereotypical AARP member's profile is the fact that not only  has she been an avid motorcyclist for much of her life, she has gone beyond the limitations of being a mere rider and has thrown herself headlong into the mission of changing the face of motorcycling forever.

Kathy is the CEO of a different kind of motorcycle company. Watch for the name, ROAR, motorcycles for women; they just may be on to something here.

While most of the motorcycle industry is aimed at the 18 – 49 year old male, Kathy and her crew have focused their attention on the most under-served portion of the market. Their clientèle has the potential for explosive growth. They've rarely been the focus of an advertising campaign, hardly ever had a bike designed just for them, and are often ignored if they work up the courage to actually walk into a bike shop. They're women, and ROAR was launched specifically to cater to the female motorcycle enthusiast. Including women who may not even be aware they have a desire to ride.

“I was really concerned about mainstream women,” admitted Kathy. In describing the mission of her fledgling shop and manufacturing company she explained her goal of extending, “an invitation to women who never felt like they had an invitation to the ball.”

Consider your invitation sent ladies. Kathy's got your back in a big way.

ROAR customizes existing motorcycles to fit the woman who wants to ride them. By lowering the bike, Kathy's crew is able to lower the center-of-gravity. With the seat customized for fit and sitting lower to the ground, even a five footer like the company's CEO can stand flat footed at a stop light. But that's not the extent of the ROAR full bike makeover. By taking into account the complete range of ergonomics that affect a rider's safety and comfort, ROAR is bringing to the the street a string of hot machines that are more than just high end eye candy. These are fully functional street machines that will turn heads anywhere they roll.

“Women are into color,” says the boss in cool tones that belie the intensity of her mission. She makes her point with flair, explaining that men predominantly shop for shoes in  black or brown. Women on the other hand want a rainbow of options. ROAR makes those options available on their bikes, too.

“You do not have to be a grease monkey anymore,” she says of the riding experience. Electric start, leak free engines, and the availability of belt or shaft drive have erased forever the image of the oil soaked rider struggling to replace a thrown chain, then huffing and puffing while jumping up and down on the kick starter in an effort to get the beast breathing again.

Perhaps most important to the issue of attracting women to the saddle is the fact that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has developed a safe program where women can learn to ride. No longer do women have to shudder at the thought of learning the ropes on a bike that's much too large and heavy – while sweating bullets in fear that they'll drop such a monstrosity in a turn and feel the wrath of its angry owner.  Couple that relatively new development with the fact that ROAR can put a woman on a bike that fits them and Kathy is confident that motorcycling may be poised for a change.

“If you have a good fit,” Kathy points out, “you're going to have confidence.”  A statement that's as true for riders of one gender as it is for the other.

As a custom shop, ROAR is making a name in the industry. “We have bikes in Texas, Connecticut, Montana, Ohio, California...” Tolleson ticks off states one after another until it becomes clear that her shop in Daytona Beach, Florida reaches out and touches people who live nowhere near her beach town's main drag on South Atlantic Avenue.

Beyond customization is where the real story is, and ROAR's latest offering is the WildKaT – a purpose built women's motorcycle that sports all the fit and flash a frame can contain, with a 1200cc Harley-Davidson motor tucked into its belly.

The proprietary frame and swing arm allow the ROAR builders to do something truly remarkable with tubular steel. And the inclusion of one of the most highly respected power-trains in the business is brilliant. Any  WildKaT owner will be able to find parts and skilled mechanical expertise in any corner of North America.

These folks are thinking ahead, and thinking creatively in a way that has seldom been seen in the world of motorcycling.

Something tells me we're all about to be hearing a whole lot more about ROAR, the WildKaT, and women bikers tooling through town looking way better than their boyfriends and husbands ever dreamed was possible.



Author: Jamie Beckett
Jamie Beckett is an Examiner from Orlando. You can see Jamie's articles on Jamie's Home Page.
Find out more about Jamie:
Jamie Beckett has been an active motorcyclist for more than four decades. From starter bikes to massive cruisers, Jamie's got a story to tell. Contact him at: jamiebeckett@earthlink.net with questions, news, or event details.
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Comments

Elizabeth says:
C L A S S Y ------hope I own one someday!
June 17, 7:37 PM
Bristol says:
Any motorcycle shop adjust any motorcycle to its rider, man or woman. So, what Roar does bring? Nothing that has not be done on a daily basis since the invention of the motorcycle. And explain to me why the WildCat is a woman bike? I don't see. It doesn't look good or even feminine. And do you think that all women are short and all men are tall??? Quite ridiculous. IMHO, Roar is just a marketing gimmick.
June 17, 12:07 PM
Laurie says:
I have been riding for almost ten years am 5'5" tall and have had great success with for height and fit. I have a 1300 cc VTX with drag pipes that really flies...Love the idea of a custom motorcyle for women shorter than I though so am hopeful some of my woman friends smaller than me can also learn to ride. I do enjoy riding with the boys though too. They have been great to me all these years. Congrats and good luck.
June 17, 10:41 AM
Joni M Fisher says:
How ingenious to engineer bikes for the other half of the population! And the bikes are pretty. Great news and well written.
June 17, 6:30 AM
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