A Demo Event At The Racetrack
You want to go to Las Vegas for a demo event at the track?" The former editor asked me. The event was Femmoto, an all-women's two-day demo ride with various sportbike manufacturers held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from October 7-8, 2006. I took the invitation with a devilish grin and rode with it, not just because it was in Sin City, but because my interest was piqued. I've never been on a sportbike or to a racetrack, nor have I ridden anything besides my '06 Sportster XL 1200L test bike. Femmoto was going to be an interesting experience.
Femmoto was started in 2001 by organizers Bonnie Strawser and Monte Lutz as a women-only demo day on the track for ladies who want to have a quality riding experience at their own pace with their own gender. Fast or slow, experienced or lack thereof, the Femmoto event is just for the pure pleasure of riding and not having to "worry about the male testosterone levels out on the track." Sorry men, nothing personal.
Femmoto 2006 went from a one to a two-day event and doubled in attendance, with over 300 women geared up DOT-style and ready to ride. I was one of those women, tucked into a one-piece race suit that was on loan from Buell/Harley-Davidson. Once I learned how the Femmoto event was organized, my fears about lack of riding experience and track time went away. Riders are broken down into the novice group--with classroom and on-track instruction--or the intermediate group, designed for riders with enough track time to be comfortable at an accelerated pace.
I pre-registered the night prior to this event for the novice group, and then went to the manufacturer's area to select bikes to test ride. A variety of models were available, including Buell, Ducati, Kawasaki, Triumph, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and KYMCO. Several of these manufacturers, like Ducati and Moto Guzzi, as well as the MSF Dirtbike course, were new at this event. I was only able to attend one of the days during Femmoto, and therefore my time was limited to cover this event and test bikes. Taking into account my small frame, light weight, and lack of riding experience, I chose the Buell Blast and the Buell Lightning XB12Scg.
The Buell Blast was introduced in 2000 and has been successful in getting riders into sport riding. As one measure of the Blast's success, over 90,000 new riders have been trained on this nimble machine through Harley-Davidson's Rider's Edge course since classes started in 2000. Any bit of intimidation went out the exhaust pipe once I hit the track on the Blast-I experienced its appeal. This bike is lightweight, well-balanced, and an effortless corner-carver. The Blast is powered by a 492cc single-cylinder motor, so there's lots of low to mid-range torque for everyday ridability. I was confident tearing around the track on the Blast; in fact, its power wasn't keeping up with me. But remember-I'm used to 1200cc of power from my Sportster. Excluding the Sporty's power from the picture, the Blast is a great bike to build confidence on. After test riding the Blast, its name suits it well.
Soon after my track session, all the riders broke for a tasty lunch as part of the Femmoto package. Afterwards, I shopped vendors like Icon, G-Line by Hein Gericke, Scorpion Helmet, and Parts Unlimited until my next track session. In the meantime, many riders I talked with thought Femmoto was a great event because you get 10 sessions over two days on 10 different types of bikes at a reasonable price-it's quite a deal. Besides, a portion of Club Femmoto membership fees, along with a donation from the proceeds, will go towards the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's "Race For The Cure."
I got a little nervous when I heard the announcement for session four of the novice group-time for me to ride the Lightning. The Buell Lightning is the original factory streetfighter, and the streetfighter "is at the core of what Buell is all about." It delivers brute sport-muscle performance in a light, nimble package. The Lightning XB12Scg is powered by a 1203cc air/oil/fan-cooled Thunderstorm V-Twin engine. The XB12Scg model has all the handling characteristics of the original Lightning, but its specially designed suspension help lower ride height and center of gravity. After the first lap around the track, I was comfortable on this bike and enjoyed both the power coming out of the turns and the all-around handling performance. The Lightning showed me the other side of the grass (or road)-the thrill of sport riding.
Femmoto proved to be an interesting and growing experience. Instead of etching it in stone that I'm a cruiser kind of girl, this event allowed me the opportunity to at least test ride sportbikes with other women in a safe, controlled environment. Femmoto also gave women the chance to come out and find the bike to suit their needs with the support of manufacturers, especially in this growing market of women riders.
For more information, check out www.femmoto.com. Special thanks to Buell/Harley-Davidson.