Ride Like A Girl Spotlight - July 2022 - Hannah Kent


My name is Hannah, I am an aspiring motorcycle apparel and gear designer who has been riding motorcycles since 2009. I’ve always loved the idea of riding, but have been disappointed in how often I have to sacrifice fashion for function, or worse, not find anything that fits to even function at all. This is the very reason I am starting Moto Muse and the sort of things I’m working on in my designs. 

Why did you start riding? 

I've always loved the idea of motorcycles, in part I think it was due to when a family friend took me for my very first ride on his motorcycle at age 6. Then in high school I stumbled onto a charming anime called “Oh! My Goddess” that featured motorcycles as a somewhat background element, but one that got my adolescent brain inspired. So when I started my first industry job, some of my coworkers had motorcycles and invited me to ride with them one weekend. I borrowed a helmet, put on a fashion leather jacket I had and hopped on the back of their bike for a ride through the canyons. Needless to say I was hooked! It didn't take long for me to buy all my own gear and sign up for the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) Course so I could get my license and my own motorcycle! 

How long have you been riding? 

I have been riding for 13 years now. Which is crazy to think about! But I've had some of the most fantastic experiences thanks to being on 2 wheels. From meeting incredible people, to finding more strength and perseverance then I knew I could have, riding has been one of the best things I ever did for myself. That and learning to like kale.....but I still am just lying to myself about that one.

How would you describe your riding style? 

Forever learning with a need for speed. In all honesty, I know I have a lot to work on with my riding, and I love that feeling of hanging off a sport bike and ripping through a corner. That said, I prefer to really push that activity when I’m on the track and not go so hard on the streets. Sure, I may still shift my butt over and hang off through a sweeping turn on a twisty road, but I’m not going to be pushing my bike full throttle or trying to drag a knee. When I’m at the track I’m able to safely push myself and find my limits. Then I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to my street riding, but in a much more toned down way. 

 

What bikes have you had and which one is/was your fave and why? 

So far I have owned three bikes, and have yet to be able to part with any of them. My first bike was a 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 250, that I bought brand new a week after acquiring my license! I still have it today and love riding it the most. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a bit more engine power, but the height, shape and weight of the bike fit me so well, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to part with it. I also have a 2015 Yamaha R3 that is a fully race ready bike, which I admittedly inherited from my husband. He raced it for a season in an effort to not need to buy tires every weekend, but the 600s called him back, so I started riding the R3 at track days while he got a new ZX6R. Last, but not least, I also have a 1991 Yamaha Radian. I bought this bike off Craigslist, it had been through many owners and really beat up and modified in some....confusing ways. It runs, and I even took it down the coast for a Babe Ride Out trip in 2019, but it has mostly been my hands-on learning bike as I slowly repair it and do my best to bring it back to its former glory!

What experience/lesson stands out the most to you, as it relates to skill development on your bike? 

I think my biggest lesson would be that if you lay your bike down, get back on as soon as possible. Even if your bike isn’t rideable, see if you can borrow a friend’s bike for a couple laps around a parking lot here and there until you can get your bike fixed. The sooner you get back on, the easier the fear and crash demons will be to overcome! I think the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is overcoming my crash demons after low siding so that I could be a safer rider again. I had laid my bike down during a track day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. I hadn’t slept well and my brain felt foggy. I went out for the first session and didn’t come in after a couple laps, even though I could tell I was tired. I was coming in fast to turn 16, but when it was time to brake before an almost 90 degree left hander turn, I just grabbed a handful of clutch and leaned in hard at around 60+ MPH. I lowsided the bike, and I remember thinking “don’t fight the fall, just stay loose and go with it” as I fell in what felt like slow motion. So I just relaxed my body and slid. It honestly wasn’t all that terrible in the moment. My gear took the major brunt of the skid, so aside from some bruising from the impact, I was otherwise ok. Unfortunately I completely shaved off my shifter and foot peg, making it unrideable until I could replace these parts. With this being my only bike at the time, I ended up not having an easy way to get back on the proverbial horse immediately. By the time I got around to fixing my bike, it had been a few months and while I didn’t think much of it, when I finally did ride again, I found my entire body tensing up and fighting me when it came to leaning into turns, especially left ones. It’s taken a good bit of dedicated effort, but I definitely feel like I’m getting back to a good place with my comfort riding, but I wouldn’t wish this sort of discomfort on anyone, especially when I know how special and even therapeutic riding can be. You just can’t be so darn tense when you do it!

What advice do you have for womxn who are interested in riding, but haven't started yet?

You absolutely can and should do it! My best advice is to take the Motorcycle Safety Course, or whatever your local course is called. In CA they have several that if you pass the riding portion, it actually qualifies as your "riding test" for the DMV, so you only need to take the written test to get your license! They also take you through everything from what mindset to have while riding and things to look for, to your first moment shifting into first gear and rolling forward on the bike. Sure, you may have a friend that can teach you, but this class is well worth the experience and knowledge it provides. They even provide a motorcycle for you, so you don't have to have yours yet! It is such a wonderful, freeing and empowering feeling to be a woman riding her own bike. So if you've ever even just thought about it, at least take the class and see if it's the right fit for you!  

  

What has been your most exciting accomplishment on your bike?

Overcoming my crash demons. Eventually I decided I had to do something. I missed riding too much to just let this be the way it was. So I looked up the MSF course and they had a downloadable PDF with all the exercises they would run in the program. Honestly, it was great to just be trying something relatively straightforward and working on it without the stress of traffic or other distractions. This was a great way to just practice and something I recommend any rider to do, be it overcoming crash demons or just looking to practice some great basic riding skills. 

I then signed up for the Femmewalla event that coming December, which was my first time getting back to the track after everything. This was also my first time getting to ride the Yamaha R3 that my husband had converted to a race bike. While it was similar to my Ninja 250, it did sit a smidge higher and the footpegs were in a very awkward place for a short gal like me. I went out in the C/Novice Group, and it must have been pretty clear that I was struggling because an instructor rode up in front of me and tapped their seat and waved at me to follow them. They then proceeded to guide me around the track, pointing out all the marking cones, indicating moment to turn on the throttle, and demonstrating the “race line”. It was the first time these markers and timing really clicked for me, so I spent the rest of the day working on following that line and hitting those markers. By the end of the day another instructor took me around the track and then followed me for a few laps. After my session ended, she came by my pit to tell me my lines were looking really good and that she’d love to see me work on my body positioning more. This was a huge moment for me as it was the first time I had felt really good on a bike in a while and feeling excited to sign up for more events! 

Fast forward to Her Track Days event this past April. I had been put into the A group due to my track experience, but I absolutely did not feel like I was anywhere near skilled nor fast enough to be in that group. But Sara, the event organizer, encouraged me to stay in the group. So I sought out Bridgette Leber, an awesome motorcycle racer and one of the Her Track Days Instructors. She was so beyond awesome and I legitimately had the best track day I had ever had. I got my knee down in 2 separate corners and just felt like I was really feeling a connection with my bike.  

Since then, I’ve done 2 track days and have absolutely felt myself riding safer and more confidently. For so long I just wanted to get back to feeling as comfortable as I did before my crash, and yet all of a sudden I realize I’m riding better than I ever had before. 

What motorcycle gear is your "go-to"? 

I would rather sweat than bleed, so I will always wear all my gear. That means my helmet, jacket, pants, gloves and boots. I’m still not 100% happy with the fit of most women’s jackets, and I make the most of the pants I have found, but here are my current gear go-tos: For my helmet, I wear a Shoei RF-1200 with the photochromic face shield and pinlock. My jacket is a Scorpion jacket that I bought almost 10 years ago. It’s a white textile jacket that is great for warm weather riding. I also put an Icon D30 Back Protector into my jacket since most don’t actually come with one, but they’re good to have. My riding pants are from a brand called Ugly Bros. I really like that they offer them in shorter inseams and they fit my curvy booty better than any of the other brands I’ve tried so far. I inherited a pair of Dainese gloves that I absolutely love, but couldn’t tell you the model. My street boots are the Dainese Nexus boots. I loved these because they have the ability to give more room at the calf of the boot, and the ankle is hinged to make walking much easier! 

For the track, my helmet is an Arai Corsair X, and it’s so comfortable I almost forget I’m wearing it. I have been trying out and enjoying both the Rev’It Xena 3 Women’s Race Suit and the Alpinestars Stella Missile V2 Race Suit. Both are great, but I think the Rev’It suit is a bit better for curves, especially in the hip and thigh area. Currently I’m using a pair of Rev’It Gauntlet Gloves while riding, but they don’t seem to open wide enough to wrap over my suit's sleeve cuff, so I’m still looking for a better option. For boots, I started with the Alpinestars Stella SMX 6 V2 Vented boots, but eventually upgraded to the Alpinestars Stella Plus V2 boots. Both are great boots, but I especially love the little inner bootie corset piece that the Plus V2 Boot has, which makes fitting the pant leg of my suit into the boot a smidge easier. That said, I love how light weight both these boots are and how much room for your gear and calf they give! And I can’t forget the back protector! With the Rev’It suit I use a Dainese Manis D1 Back Protector, which came in a small and worked great for my short torso. When wearing the Alpinestars suit, I use the Nucleon KR-R Cell Back Protector, it snaps directly into the suit and then wraps around my waist for a very secure fit. Both are great and I love how they each work and feel.  

What would be your "dream bike" to own and why? 

First bike that comes to mind is the 2009 Yamaha FZ6R. When this bike was first released, I wanted it so bad, but I was a brand new rider and a bit intimidated by its size and engine power. I’m honestly glad I started with my Ninja 250. However, the FZ6R still holds a special place in my heart and that year they released it in the most beautiful pearly white with a semi swirly pink and black pinstripe design on it that I just adored. While there may be shinier and fancier bikes out there, I still would love to own this one someday. 

  

Who inspires you from the moto world and why?

First and foremost, I am just beyond inspired by the Motorcycle Community as a whole! There is just something about 2 wheels that connects people in a way that you don’t even need to have ever met, but you want to give a wave to when you pass another rider on the road! Or when you see another rider down, you stop to check on them. The generosity in the hearts of motorcyclists helps me to keep continued faith in humanity.

As for Inspiring people, Gosh, that’s tough. There are so many incredible inspiring people. Melissa Paris is a badass rider, racer, wife and mother! She does it all and makes it work! So often I hear about women giving up riding because they had kids, or didn’t have time, or money. I just love that she’s been able to make it work, and shares her passion with her family. If that’s not enough, she and her friend Jen Dunstan put together Femmewalla, one of the first women only track day events hosted at Chuckwalla Valley Speedway as a way to invite, encourage and support lady riders of all experience levels to come out to the track and ride. 

Brittany Morrow is another inspiration. She’s someone who was in a very bad accident while riding on the back of a friend's bike, wearing almost no gear. She had a severe amount of her skin ripped off of her body and it took a long time for her to heal, but she’s also scarred for life. Despite going through something so traumatic, Brittany chose to face her fear head on. She learned to ride, and became incredibly interested in motorcycle safety. So much so that she is now a motorcycle safety instructor and uses her social media channels to promote wearing proper gear and being a safe rider!  

I also can not forget to mention Sara Zomo, founder of Her Track Days. This lady has managed to make a track organization focused around encouraging women riders of all experience levels the chance to take their bike out on the track and see what they can do. She brings with her some amazingly talented riders that offer coaching to anyone who asks. While I enjoy hitting the track with everyone, sometimes it’s nice to remove the competitive expectation that can come from riding alongside boys, and just enjoy having a safe space to just focus on my ride, what I need or want to work on and just having a great time!  

How have motorcycles changed your life? 

Motorcycles have changed my life in every way that seems to matter. I met my husband, Josh, because a mutual friend decided to play matchmaker since we had similar religious views and loved motorcycles. We traveled to Italy together for a MotoGP race, and toured the Ducati Factory and Museum, which was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been! Eventually I decided to leave my cushy industry job so I could pursue my dream of designing motorcycle apparel and gear for women. To ride a motorcycle is a very special experience, and it bonds you with others who ride. It’s a passion I’m so glad we share and I love getting to share with others. 

If you are interested in following Hannah, her IG handle is: @motomusegear.

Thanks so much, Hannah, for allowing us to interview you and share your story!

For our August interview, we will be speaking with a female rider from So Cal. Look for that in early August.


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