TORCH Motorcycles is a company set to create a community of female moto-enthusiasts, whose bikes reflect their build
Patti Derbyshire never imagined herself building motorcycles for women, but the lack of bikes marketed or built for women’s bodies inspired a venture into creating a company that would be the first to handle these issues.
Her company is called TORCH Motorcycles, with a core staff of six women working together to use data from volunteer women to develop variables of a motorcycle and related products that address known safety concerns for women riders in a beautiful way.
“We have really kind of flipped product development on its head, we’ve been data driven for the past three years, so we’ve sampled with close to 500 women, just measuring them. Nobody has done anything significant in terms of the motorcycle as an object,” said Derbyshire.
The idea was born when Derbyshire noticed the motorcycle advertisements on billboards lining major roadways in Calgary that were often hyper-masculine, aggressive and sometimes misogynistic, similar to the types of motorcycles on the market.
The current design for motorcycles, Derbyshire said, are to be bigger and more powerful, a trend that excludes women from participating. To enable women to ride more comfortably and safely, she is focusing on the seat, brake and throttle system, and the pegs.
Derbyshire said, “Major motorcycle brands will say they are selling to women, but they are actually not building for women." TORCH Motorcycles is aiming to solve this problem for both new and old riders by “building from the woman out and not the bike up,” as Derbyshire puts it. The three main components of the motorbike that TORCH tackled are the throttle, seat and pegs, using data collected through a scientific sampling process of around 200 women for each element.
Derbyshire and TORCH Motorcycles find most of their volunteer participants through events and exhibitions such as the adults only nights at the TELUS Spark Centre and Beakerhead. At these events, Derbyshire and her co-workers meet both men and women who are curious and supportive of the work they are doing. Though the project does not aim to exclude men from the results of the research, only women’s measurements are taken into account when analyzing the data they have collected.
“If you would have asked me a year ago if we would have six women actually building bikes I would have been like ‘What? What are talking about?’ the vision all along was for us to build the TORCH bike, but what the data has told us is there is no TORCH bike,” Derbyshire said.
Since undergoing the data collecting process, TORCH has started tailoring the fit and aesthetic of each bike to the women who have brought in old bikes to fit their personalities and their bodies.
Derbyshire’s own customized bike is travelling across Canada to be shown at various motorcycle shows and the next set of bikes belonging to the women of TORCH are set to be built and shown on May 15th .
- By Nora Cruickshank & Maria Dardano