WORDS & IMAGES Yelena Sophia
Last year, the LAPD prematurely shut down the Women’s Motorcycle Show (WMS) in Los Angeles because almost 2,000 people showed up and “obstructed street space.” The 4th annual event, held this past weekend at Lucky Wheels Garage in downtown L.A, attracted 3,500 attendees, but fortunately, the police never showed.
“Something about the Women's Motorcycle Show seems to bring together people with great attitudes,” says the show’s founder, 'MotoLady' Alicia Elfving. Or maybe it's the vibe of the event? I couldn't say exactly. But as one commenter told me, "No one was a stranger, everyone was a friend even if you had never met them before.”
Jessi Combs, Joy Fire, and Theresa Contreras of “The Real Deal” shared their mastered technique through live demonstrations: Jessi’s welding drew small grounds of onlookers, Joy blacksmithed a sissy bar, and Theresa’s steady hand laid down pinstripes. Each showcase did what almost no other motorcycle show has: open the door to DIY customization.
Nineteen bikes were on display, all built by or for women. Amanda Steele, a jeweler and owner of Said What studios in Denver, built her 1974 KS 125 in 38 days. The bike was a crowd favorite and won the people’s choice award.
Building a custom is arguably one of the most intimate experiences you’ll have. There comes a decisive moment in every motorcyclist’s life when you realize that with a few tools, a few dollars, and a few hours, that foot peg, lever, or whatever part can be improved. From that moment on, the desire to customize your motorcycle exists and doesn’t want to fade. You can make a bike yours.
There’s a bright and beautiful future for the women’s motorcycle movement, and that includes women builders. Alicia envisions WMS will one day be a multiple-day show with basic riding lessons for the moto-curious, a mini-bike race, and general tomfoolery.