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Female-Founded Motorcycle Shop 'Motorgrrl' Encourages Women to Ride

By Meredith Hoffman | March 25, 2013 9:59am

WILLIAMSBURG — A female-owned Williamsburg motorcycle shop is working to get more women on bikes.

From an all-women calendar to a "dinner series," owner Val Figarella — known as "Motorgrrl" — is getting creative to tip the motorcycle world's gender scales in her 9-year-old eponymous shop.

When visitors enter the Motorgrrl office, they may see mainly male clients — but they can scroll through pages of high-style women riders in Motorgrrl's new monthly calendar featuring Figarella's female customers and friends from around the city.

"Jennifer's a mom...Liz is a customer...Monica is a nurse. All these women come from various backgrounds," Figarella said, flipping through the photographs taken by client and friend Geoff Barrenger.

Barrenger, a professional photographer who drove his own motorcycle while shooting his subjects, said the women also varied in their riding skills.

"Some were really good riders and others were novices...one girl had only had her bike for two months," he said.

Figarella said their diverse styles also helped show off all the motorcycle clothing options for women.  

"The whole concept was to bring out women and talk about gear for women," Figarella said. "A lot of women say they can't find gear that's both fashionable and protective."

Motorgrrl has a small line of female-specific gear, said Figarella, who plans to add more to the selection in upcoming months. She also organizes groups (not exclusively for women, but with many women) that ride socially to brunches, to Coney Island and now to a "dinner series." 

"We get together for the sheer love of riding," she said. "We've had people meet and hook-up and become couples... We're open to everyone."

And Figarella, who rumbles to work on one of her 10 trusted motorcycles each morning with her chihuahua, Queeny, on the back, said she's always felt comfortable with her identity as a female rider. 

"When I started this shop 'Motorgrrl' was me entering the scene," said Figarella, 42, who opened the garage-shop in 2004. "Now people call our shop Motorgrrl, and they call me that, too."