Some riders discover motorcycles later in life. Karen Davidson was literally born to it. Hard to say whether her affinity is hereditary, or because she was surrounded by it growing up. Her father taught her to ride when she was just nine years old. Her father is Harley-Davidson styling legend Willie G. Davidson. And Karen’s great-grandfather is the Harley-Davidson company’s co-founder, William A. Davidson.
Don’t imagine that Karen is merely trading on her family tree. She’s the Creative Director for the company’s general merchandise division, directing the designs for Harley-Davidson’s apparel and accessory lines. She studied fashion design in college, and took the experience from her own leather design business to Harley-Davidson in 1989, when the company created the Harley-Davidson MotorClothes line.
Combining function, leather and sleek lines is her passion. Karen insists on leathers that perform: the high-quality hides are dyed completely through the leather, so they still look great even after they’ve been abraded or roughed. (That means nobody would know by looking at your jacket, that you’ve ever wiped out or scuffed it on pavement!) The helmets are as functional as they are aerodynamic. Gloves, body armor – it all comes from the designs of a rider who knows the road as well as she knows fashion and safety.
How important has Karen Davidson been, in changing the way riders dress? In 1991, the Council of Fashion Designers of America in New York bestowed a prestigious industry award to Karen and Harley-Davidson for fashion influence. Leathers, boots, and helmets — the most important piece of safety equipment – all come under Karen’s design direction. Sales totals at H-D MotorClothes have grown tenfold since 1989. Female riders who used to have to “make-do” with men’s jackets in size “small” now have options that offer creativity as well as protection. Male riders also appreciate the artistry and safety features of clothing and accessories designed by a rider who understands riders’ wants and needs.
Karen encourages women to ride, and not just so they can buy leather jackets. She calls riding a Harley-Davidson “a unique and exhilarating experience.” Karen says, “When a woman sees another woman riding a motorcycle, she thinks ‘If she can do it, so can I!’”
No matter your age, experienced or beginning, as women interested in motorcycling, we seek role models and mentors. Karen Davidson has found her own path in life in the world of motorcycling and she encourages women to tell their stories of how motorcycling has helped change their lives. This connection and learning is what motivates other riders and is a source of inspiration.
Please join the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s® Biker Belles™ event and charity ride on Wednesday August 8th during the Sturgis Rally and join others for a day of celebrating real women, real stories and real fun. 100% of rider contributions go directly to the charities.
For more information please visit www.bikerbelles.com
or call 605-347-9000
to see how your story can be shared and inspire others along the road.
Karen and Bill Davidson with Toni Woodruff in Daytona