The number of women riding motorcycles has increased exponentially in recent years. Manufacturers are taking note – marketing machines to suit and producing kit that fits. But driving (or should we say riding) the change is a handful of women at the top of their respective games – standing out not for their gender, but for their skill, passion and determination.
Here are four worth following:
Nadieh Schoots – Road racer
Hailing from Zuidland in The Netherlands, Nadieh Schoots has lived for racing ever since she discovered minibiking at the age of 14. Fast forward almost two decades and the 32-year-old boasts an impressive racing career, including two seasons in the BSB Ducati TriOptions Cup (2014 & 2015) and one in BSB Superstock 1000 (2016). 2017 saw a successful season in the IRRC Superbike Championship, and in 2018 she broke the fastest female record at the NW200 and became the first woman to ever qualify for a Superbike race.
After a hiatus from racing, Schoots returned in 2021, with a 2nd place in the 24H of Catalunya Stock 600. 2022 brought yet more success and culminated in her becoming the first woman to race at the Macau Grand Prix, backed up by her female race mechanic and support crew.
Leah Tokelove – Flat track racer, PR guru and ambassador for women in motorcycling
Flat track may still be in its relative nascence in Britain, but Leah Tokelove hasn’t let that get in her way as she has carved a path to the top of the sport.
‘The Hooligan with Pigtails’, as she is affectionately known, has been riding since the age of five, and began her career in British beach racing, becoming the first woman to win a beach championship when she took the 2013/14 125cc class championship on a KTM SX125.
Ever unstoppable, Tokelove then shifted focus to the DTRA’s British championship, working her way up through the junior, adult and pro classes. In 2018, she was offered a sponsored ride by Indian Motorcycle, becoming one of four riders to race the Scout Sixty Hooligan in the DTRA Hooligan Championship. Multiple podium finishes placed her fourth overall, which she topped off by winning the Super Hooligan class at Wheels and Waves in Biarritz. Continuing to race aboard the Indian in 2019, Tokelove took 2nd in the British Hooligan and European Championships and won DirtQuake.
As her racing has progressed, so too has her career in media and PR, with Leah presenting content for TV, contributing to SideBurn magazine and juggling a full-time job in PR and events at Bennetts. And on top of all of this, she is campaigning to bring more women into motorcycling, offering coaching through her flat track school ‘Days on the Dirt’.
Jenny Anderson – MotoGP data engineer
Born into a family of motorsports enthusiasts, Jenny Anderson was destined to become an engineer. When she started kart racing at 10, she soon began adding sensors to her kart and analysing the data to improve her performance. The hobby evolved into a career and after completing a degree in Motorsport Engineering and a masters in Racing Engine design, Anderson began working on GP2 and GP3 cars. In 2015, she was recruited by KTM to be a Data & Electronics Engineer for the RC16 MotoGP project, before becoming an Electronics Strategy Engineer for Pol Espargaro.
When Espargaro made the jump to Honda, Anderson followed him and became Marc Marquez’s Data Engineer.
Kirsten Landman – Dakar Rally competitor
The Dakar Rally is a gruelling endeavour for even the most well-equipped, factory-supported riders. And for those competing in the self-supported Original by Motul (formerly Malle Moto) class, it’s a battle to even finish. South African hard enduro racer Kirsten Landman found that out for herself in this year’s edition of the race, in which she finished her class 12th without a single penalty, coming in 71st overall. Aboard a KTM 450 Rally Replica, the 31-year-old was the only woman competing in this year’s Malle Moto class, which limits competitors to the use of only minimal tools, spare parts and camping essentials with which to complete the race.
Landman began riding at eight and racing at 14, before securing a spot in the pro standings by 20. However, in 2013, a high-speed crash left her in a coma on life support. When she recovered, she shifted her focus to the slightly slower-paced sport of hard enduro, in which she soon achieved a brace of female first finishes at events such as Redbull Romaniacs, Sea to Sky, Megawatt 111, Braveman and the Roof of Africa. In 2020, she became the first African women to finish the Dakar rally in Saudi Arabia, taking a 55th place finish as a supported Rally2 rider.