Off-Road Women on the 2019 Suzuki DR-Z50 and DR-Z125L
Although I was born in Sweden, which has a proud moto history of its own, I was not raised around motorcycles. They were introduced to me 20 years ago, and it was definitely not love at first sight. Instead, it was a slow love affair built on a foundation of mostly fear, and then excitement, freedom, and thrills made it into the mix as well. That’s when I was hooked.Now I am a mother of a seven-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, so my relationship with motorcycles and motorcycle riding has changed over the years. When you become a parent, you stop doing a lot of things you used to enjoy. Sleeping is one example, and I thought motorcycle riding would be another one.
What I didn’t realize when my husband got me into riding dirt bikes all those years ago, was what a fantastic family activity dirt bike riding is. Once our daughter was old enough to ride with us, we bought a toy hauler and never looked back. My son was only three weeks old the first time he watched his big sister Tindra ride, and now he loves going as much as the rest of the family does.Riding with your child is probably an amazing experience for any parent. However, riding with my daughter is not only a fun activity—it is also extremely powerful and presents countless learning opportunities for both of us.There are times when she gets self-conscious at a riding area, being the only girl there. It’s a fine line between empowering a young girl versus feeding into already cemented stereotypes of what is male and female.She asks lots of questions about what girls can and cannot do. I love any opportunity I get to tell her that girls can ride just as fast and be as competitive as the boys on the impromptu racetrack of the day.It’s not about being a boy or a girl—it is about riding and having fun doing it. It just happens that motorcycle riding is still a male-dominated sport. Women such as Women’s Endurocross Champion Kacy Martinez, World Supersport 300 Champion Ana Carrasco, and five-time Women’s Enduro World Champion Laia Sanz are great role models who are breaking down stereotypes over time, though we still have some ways to go.Truth be told, I don’t have to tell my daughter that she can be fast or competitive—she already is. It’s the best feeling in the world watching her charge up a hill or seeing the pride in her eyes when she conquered a tough stretch of deep sand. I think we can all remember what it feels like to face that fear whether it be a steep berm, a black diamond trail, or landing that jump.I didn’t expect this, but riding with my daughter builds self-confidence in both of us. I get to role model for her, showing her that moms can ride and enjoy riding just as much as anyone else. Plus, she gets to show off her hard-earned moto-skills to a beaming parent.Something else I didn’t realize when I got my first motorcycle was that the world has changed into a place where living in a suburb of Los Angeles means that kids do not spend most of their time outside like we did growing up. They don’t walk to school or bike around the neighborhood until the sun starts setting. I feel very grateful that motorcycle riding naturally gives us that experience.It’s a fact that eating dinner together as a family has positive outcomes for the wellbeing of children. I feel the same way about motorcycle riding.The right equipment for mother and daughter is essential, of course, and there are a wide variety of trail-worthy motorcycles. An example of a friendly mother/daughter pairing is the venerable Suzuki DR-Z125L and the all-new for 2019 Suzuki DR-Z50.The Suzuki DR-Z125L has been around for years, and has established itself as a reliable basic off-road motorcycle. Although it lacks the electric start and fuel injection of newer trail bikes, it means we don’t have to worry about a battery, and if there’s a fueling issue, the Mikuni 20mm carb is easy to work on (I’m told).With a 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheel combination, the 32-inch seat height is about right for me. However, the peg-to-seat distance is a bit cramped for my longer legs—shorter riders will find it just right, though.Kickstarting isn’t difficult, though it doesn’t always get running on the first attempt. It is also a cold-blooded motor on winter mornings, so leave the choke in the down (on) position for a while. After that, the air-cooled engine runs flawlessly, with plenty of power for trail riding with a mom aboard.Handling and suspension on the Suzuki DR-Z125L are completely trail-appropriate. I’m sure it could be better, but it’s fine for me.The new 2019 Suzuki DR-Z50 lit Tindra’s eyes up. It matched my DR-Z125L perfectly, and it has the much-appreciated electric start button. While adults can kickstart a small engine, it can be a daunting challenge for a seven-year-old, especially at the start of a chilly day—a choke knob mounted on the handlebars is also prized first thing in the morning.The 22-inch seat height didn’t intimidate Tindra in the slightest. The little four-stroke motor has predictable power, and goes fast enough for her when wound out. Plus, she got on perfectly with the auto-clutch three-speed transmission.With just five inches of ground clearance and 10-inch tires, it means that we have to select trails for Tindra carefully. That is just fine until she gets a bit older and more accomplished as a rider. That will also mean graduating up from the 50 class.The DR-Z50’s curb weight of 119 pounds and low center of gravity mean she can pick it up when she falls, and then restart it with a press of a button—both enhance self-reliance, which is an important benefit of teaching children to ride dirt bikes.Along with the matching motorcycles, matching riding gear is necessary. Fly Racing caters to moms and daughters, with Women’s Lite Racewear designed and sized for both women and girls. The Racewear Blue/Hi-Vis color combination has just the right touch of femininity without being cloying.The Fly Racing Racewear was topped off with helmets, boots, and goggles from Fly for a stylish, unified look. It’s convenient to be able to get matching high-quality apparel from a single company.Tindra announced that she loved the Fly Racing apparel, and has never felt anything so light or soft in her life. We are already making plans of creating pajamas out of the same materials—Tindra’s idea—and she thinks it will be a big hit.Another detail Tindra enjoys is the tint of the Fly Racing Zone goggle lens. It created a perfect light for focusing on the trail, and are reflective on the outside so no one can see her eyes. That detail can be important to a seven-year-old (or 41-year-old) who still cries at times when falling, but doesn’t want the world to know.When Tindra and I are trail riding, we get to play together in the dirt. We get to explore together, conquer together, and laugh together.When stopped on the trail for a snack we discuss the nature we just saw and the sections we rode. My daughter loves taking note of every single animal or insect she encounters on our rides, and she is quick to tell dad and little brother about it back at the campsite. Together we are making memories while learning about Mother Earth and acquiring real-life skills. What can top that?Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE Helmet: Fly Racing Toxin MIPS Embargo Goggles: Fly Racing Zone Jersey and pants: Fly Racing Women’s Lite Gloves: Fly Racing Women’s Pro Lite Boots: Fly Racing Maverik
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.