From the Editors

Are bikini bike washes limiting your customer base?

Liz KeenerI often look at dealership e-newsletters and think, “I can’t be the only one.” There’s no way I’m the only female receiving this e-newsletter who’s not excited about the upcoming bikini bike wash.

Sure, most of your customers are probably men, many of whom may be amped up about the bikini bike wash. But trust me when I tell you, all the men reading your e-newsletter aren’t excited about it either, for any multitude of reasons. Maybe there’s no way their wife would let them attend such an event, or maybe they’re old enough that they just see the bikini-clad women as their daughters or granddaughters, or maybe they’re put off because they’re reading your e-newsletter at work and worse than getting caught with a motorcycle on your screen is an image of a bikini-wearing girl.

But if you think some men don’t like that type of message, I can almost guarantee you that even more women aren’t interested in stopping by your dealership that day.

I’m not trying to be prude. It’s just something to think about.

Every year for the past 15 years I’ve been going to, and more recently bringing my car to, a local car show that draws thousands into the Twin Cities. One of my friends and I refer to the show as “Christmas” because we’re so excited for it every year, and it’s the one time she takes a significant amount of time off work. We enjoy the cars, the crowd and the burnouts, but the one thing we try to avoid is the bikini contest. It’s just unnecessary. What do girls in bikinis have to do with cars? Absolutely nothing.

Guess what they have to do with motorcycles. Absolutely nothing.

If you’re noticing your average customer is an aging male, and you want to bring new buyers into the store, you’re not going to draw in the female base by hosting too many events that don’t at all cater to their liking.

Many dealerships host female-oriented nights that are meant to make women comfortable with the idea of riding their own bikes, and that’s a step in the right direction. But following something like that up with a bikini bike wash the following weekend isn’t going to compel them to return.

I’m not saying all events have to include female-friendly activities, but they can include rider-friendly activities that would appeal to both sexes. Think about bike shows, PG&A sessions, stunt shows, food trucks, concerts, etc., that can draw in the largest variety of people, appealing to both your current customers and those who you’d like to be selling to tomorrow. The more that your events appeal to a variety of people, the more likely you are to draw a new group of people into your store, and that, in turn, opens opportunities to make new sales.

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  1. Liz, You are spot on with this. I shake my head when our advertisers continue to promote these events or ,worse, use this imagery in their ads.
    We’d be interested in reprinting this…

  2. Last year we had a bike wash with mail models in speedos, or in Australian slang, budgie smugglers 😉

    It went off the many female motorcyclists and some wives getting a photo with the boys, oh and with the bike 🙂

    Do it for both sexes as well as the riding events.

    Its is amazing how we had not negative comments.

  3. Great job Liz. You made your point fairly I believe. I am of the belief that bikini babes will always be part of the motorcycling culture. But there is a appropriate time and place for that and a motorcycle dealership or a motorcycle related advertisement is doing itself a disservice to both genders when they use a bikini clad model to try and sell their products. Leave the bikini babes to the bars in Sturgis and Daytona.

  4. Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Genevieve, I agree with you that the bikini girls as a whole aren’t going anywhere in a while, but this is something I’ve been meaning to address for a while. Again, I’m just trying to start a conversation about the topic and to get dealers and others in the industry to at least take a second look at an event and who it caters to before offering it.

  5. As a woman business owner, I occasionally get approached to advertise or participate in events and magazines that sport bikini clad women. For me personally, that type of marketing is not compatible with our mission of giving back to children’s charities nor is it very welcoming to me as a women.

    Certain events stand out for their more inclusive approach to marketing, like AIM Expo, and Cafe Racer Magazine. Kudos to those who see the larger marketplace and welcome the growing numbers of women entering as riders and bike owners.

  6. Liz, you are dead on the money. There is a culture of “Old Guys” and the traditional V-twin bikes that still don’t get it that they are grandpa’s age and it just looks weird when they are at these bikini events. I have the similar problem when it seems every biker event feels the need to cater to the outlaw or “Bad Ass” image. What ever happened to the Honda slogan image of normal people ride motorcycles too?


  7. My theory is, if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, then you probably shouldn’t do it. That should include your wife and your daughters. No bikini washes here. Thanks for a great article.

  8. Love this article and complete agree. I’m surprised in this Me Too culture corporations still allow dealers to hold these misogynistic events. Women ridership has increased dramatically as well as younger riders. They’d attract a lot more customers if everything wasn’t an objectifying women event.

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