Leading the charge for women who ride
Genevieve Schmitt has had an incredible influence on the motorcycle industry and on women who ride. She is the founder of the online magazine Women Riders Now and has been a passionate motojournalist since 1999. Genevieve pioneered the online experience for women who ride motorcycles with her vision of creating an information resource for female riders in 2006 when she launched WomenRidersNow.com. This online magazine provides articles and reviews from a female point of view, something that had been lacking in the motorcycle industry at the time. As a spokesperson for the sport Genevieve has inspired, and continues to inspire, thousands of women to ride their own motorcycles each year.
Over the years Genevieve has been quoted as an expert in numerous articles, radio shows, and television documentaries on the topic of motorcycling, including articles in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. She's been interviewed by NPR and BBC World Radio, and included in a TV segment on Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo At Large.”
Genevieve Launched her journalism career in the late 1980s as a television producer, but it wasn't until she moved to the Speed Channel in 1997 that her career in motorcycling really began to define itself. For six years with the network, she was a correspondent in a weekly show called “Bike Week.” During the same time, she also edited “Woman Rider,” a quarterly print publication serving female motorcyclists.
In May 2019, Genevieve was named one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Powersports” by Dealernews, a leading powersports industry trade magazine. The recognition comes just three months after Genevieve was named the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Bessie Stringfield Award by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). The AMA honor came on the heels of her induction into the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2017, again in recognition of her journalism work and marketing efforts in raising awareness of women and motorcycling. This induction made her a two-time hall of famer; a distinction held by just eight women in motorcycling history. Genevieve's first motorcycle hall of fame recognition came in 2001 when she was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.
Though she has owned many different motorcycles and ridden just about every model imaginable as a motojournalist, Gen’s favorite bike is her 2008 Harley Street Glide. In a recent interview for Revilla she was quoted as saying, “I remember when I made the switch from my Dyna Low Rider, I thought, ‘Oh no, I'm going to the other side. I’m getting a couch to ride on the road.’ But, you know, once you get used to these comforts, it’s really hard to go back. At least for me, I’ve never looked back. I love this bike. I wouldn’t want a bigger bike or a more powerful bike. I feel like all the engines are bigger now. My Twin Cam is perfect for me.”
However, the catalyst for her love of bikes came from an unusual source when she was the producer of “Good Morning America” on ABC. “I was assigned a story on the fact that more women were driving trucks. And the producers, for some reason, wanted to expand on that and said, ‘Why don't we see if more women are riding motorcycles?’ So I was assigned that story. And I went around to all the dealerships and said, ‘Could you round up some women so I could interview them on their motorcycling passion?’ I had them all show up at this city park. And it wasn’t easy finding those women. Back then, there were very few women riding motorcycles. But about ten women showed up on all sorts of bikes, and it’s what got me hooked. I remember vividly the quintessential image of a woman pulling off her full-face helmet and her blonde hair cascading down her back that kind of just stuck with me. I was probably 25 at the time when I did that story and I thought, ‘I want to have what these women have.’” And she hasn’t looked back since.
Genevieve learned to ride while she lived in South Florida, saying, “I was 26 years old and started on a 1985 Honda Shadow 500 that I bought in 1990. It was a great learner bike. I didn’t have it for very long. I moved to L.A. and bought a ’92 Harley-Davidson Sportster.”
Her two-wheeled passion and drive led her from TV producer to print journalist for several magazines including Woman Rider. “I think maybe two percent of the population of riders were female back then. If you look at the last 20 to 30 years, the growth of women in the sport has been exponential. I believe with magazines and what I did with Women Riders Now, along with the advent of social media, it all just really helped to propel it forward.”
Summing up her involvement with women who ride today, Genevieve says, “Almost 20 percent of the population of motorcyclists are female. Now, that includes passengers, but that’s women who are involved with the sport. That’s significant. And that growth happened during this explosion of Women Riders Now and social media. So I would like to think there’s some momentum there, and I would like to help fuel that momentum in any way that people think that I can serve the industry.”