Monday, May 31, 2010

Vintage photos of women on motorcycles

Women have been posing with motorcycles since long before the invention of chopper magazines. What is it that compels photographers to put women in pictures with motorcycles?

For the chopper magazines, the answer is obvious, and the tinier the swimsuit, the higher the heels, the better for magazine sales.

But far less racy pictures have their appeal, too.

A recent "Vintage Photo Contest" of "Cool Girls on Motorcycles" sparked a debate on The Sartorialist blog: were the women in the pictures chosen posing with their own motorcycles, or just decorating a boyfriend's bike?

I suspect the models shown here were not riders, or they would have declined to get on the motorcycles in skirts. Skirts impose an obvious aerodynamic handicap at speed.

But there's no reason to disdain a picture of a non-rider who agrees to be photographed on a motorcycle. Consider the intentions of model and photographer. For the male photographer into whose collection the photo will go, the photograph probably represents "My Two Favorite Subjects."

If he shows off the picture, it will be to boast about his pretty girlfriend and his lovely motorcycle. Or vice versa.

He might also be saying, in effect, "look what a lucky guy I am; my girl doesn't mind me having a motorcycle."


  1. It sounds like the first woman actually DID ride!

  2. Anna, good point, it says she "liked to ride motorcycles." I didn't take proper notice of that.

  3. Anonymous5/31/2010

    She said "like to ride" could also mean as a passenger. I dont suspect she is a rider. If she was she'd pose with the kickstand up.
    Signed, a female rider/racer.

  4. aha! Fair enough. Still, pretty racy for her day I'm sure.


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