Elleaze Hill

Today we have another rider from the UK, Ellie Hill who rides a gorgeous BMW F800ST. She gives us the lowdown about riding in Sheffield, being leader of the South Yorkshire Lady Bikers, and other little bit and pieces that form her riding experience. Enjoy!

Women Who Ride: British motorcyclist Ellie Hill on her BMW F800ST

Name: Ellie Hill
Age: 23
Country: United Kingdom (Sheffield)
Languages: English
Years Riding: 5
Height: 5′ 11″
Inseam: 34”
Current Motorcycle(s): BMW F800ST, Suzuki GN 125
Past Motorcycle(s): Yamaha DT50, Suzuki GN 125, Yamaha YBR125, Kawasaki ER-5, Honda CBF600S
Gear: Scorpion Exo 1000 Fantasy, Frank Thomas Venus Lady Rider Jacket, Merlin Jade Textile Trousers, Alpinestars Stella Gloves, Sidi Rain Evo Boots
Miles/Year: 6000 miles

 

Hi Ellie, tell us something about yourself? My name is Ellie, short for Elleaze (yes very strange spelling!), I’m 23 and reside in Sheffield, South Yorkshire where I have finally settled. I have lived in many different locations throughout the UK and Germany, like Edinburgh and Salisbury, as my Dad was in the British Army.

I started riding in 2009 and back then I was always the quiet and shy type and didn’t have many friends or social skills. Motorcycling has really helped me grow and I am the complete opposite person to who I was when I first got onto my first bike that winter five years ago. I have met so many fantastic people throughout the years allowing me to experience great roads, rides, rallies, groups and clubs. I now have much more confidence which has also helped me in my career.

I work full time for a local hospice in Sheffield as an IT Technician, so yes I am a bit of a geek too! I have worked in IT since I was only 16, but this is the first position I have truly had where I wake up every morning happy to go work. It’s nice to be able to contribute more than you can in an average IT job; here I get to really feel like I am part of helping people in their last steps of life.

My goal is to see and explore more regions and countries on the bike! This year I have planned to tour Scotland, with next year heading into France, then beyond!

What bike did you first start on and why?
My first road legal bike was a 1996 Suzuki GN 125. My Dad had always said to me “When you have the money to buy yourself a bike, you can have one.” which was his great plan to delay me, or so he thought. A couple of weeks later I showed him the GN 125 for a whopping £120, sold as seen and a non-runner. I had very little budget, so I was keen to get something cheap no matter the bike, as long as it was legal. Luckily he gave in to me and let me purchase the bike. On the way home we going down a fairly steep hill and my Dad gave it a bump start, from then on the little bike ran perfectly! I had walked away with an absolute bargain!

Tell us more about your current bike. I never wanted a BMW as it just didn’t appeal to me. My dad, mother and husband all owned BMWs and were really trying to convince me. I avoided these bikes for a good couple of years. However, one day I took my husband’s F800S out for a spin. It was completely different to ride compared to my Honda CBF600S. It was faster, more agile and lots of fun but I found the position really put me off.

So it happened that I was in my local BMW Motorcycle dealer, when an F800ST caught my eye (full fairing and more upright riding position) they offered me the keys for a test ride. It took me only 30 minutes to fall in love with the bike! It was just so much fun compared to my previous bike, and really showed me how my CBF600S was really not for me!

Women Who Ride: Ellie Hill cuddles her BMW F800ST

Ellie Hill cuddles her BMW F800ST

Do you have an achievement that you’re particularly proud of? I am one of the leaders for a group called South Yorkshire Lady Bikers, started by our founder Emma Hague. This group only really started to grow around the end of last summer and we have had so many positive comments from the ladies in our group saying how lovely, friendly and encouraging we are, and most of all we always have a great laugh. We started up the group due to a lack of free local lady only groups.

I feel this is my biggest biking achievement as there is nothing better than being told how much you’ve helped someone improve their confidence, aided with their riding ability, or just given them the chance to make more friends. I’d like to think I’ve helped a lot of people get into biking, I’ve always done my best to encourage new motorcyclists and include them as best I can. I go out of my way to take out the learner bikers and less confident riders, which over in the UK can be a rare occurrence. I always see ride outs and groups posting “Over 400 cc only” or “No Learners” and this made me very grateful to have had my parents to guide me and take me out, and would like to think people can always turn to me to help if I can!

Women Who Ride: The South Yorkshire Lady Bikers rideout

The South Yorkshire Lady Bikers rideout

Can you tell us a good story from your rides? I always remember while away at a rally last May, we had ventured just over the border in Wales and decided to go over the “Black Mountains”. On the way up there we took a lovely single track twisty road surrounded by stunning views. However on the way down the other side the roads started to get much harder to ride on with muddy tracks and streams running across our path. My husband was riding in front of me and then came to a stop.

I could just see the tail of his bike from just around the corner and when I came around the corner, I couldn’t believe what I saw there , there was a cow having a standoff with my husband in the middle of the road with no way of going around! I pulled up beside him and all I could do was laugh at him, he was totally unimpressed, and to make matters worse it didn’t help when our friends caught up and joined in giggling away and taking photographs! We had no clue what to do, we were facing downhill with a Landrover behind us. Josh, my husband, decided to move forward a little bit and the cow initially moved towards him, but luckily it soon started backing off down the hill. We had to follow this cow down the road with it turning around giving my husband the evil eyes every few hundred yards. After following the cow for about a ¼ of a mile, it finally found a patch of tasty grass and cleared the road so that we could continue with our ride!

Have you formed any close female friendships due to motorcycling? When I had been riding only a couple of years, I found that I had no female biker friends until I met my friend Laura off a motorcycle social networking site. She instantly took me under her wing and started to introduce me to rallies, a thing at this point I had absolutely no idea about! After being introduced to my first one, I was hooked!

Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
I think Guy Martin has to be mine; he has balls of steel and is a top bloke! Tea lover like myself!

Is there anything in the current motorcycling industry that you would like to see change?
One thing always sticks in my mind, I was at the Motorcycle Live Show down in Birmingham last year and one of the sales men from one of the dealers came up to me and handed me a leaflet “Can you give this to your boyfriend?” automatically assuming that I wasn’t a rider.

I think the motorcycling industry needs to be a little more open to us female riders. I am in no way saying that all companies are like this. But there are so many times I’ve been disregarded as a rider due to my gender. Buck up, guys!!

What do you think would attract more girls and women into motorcycling?
I think a bit more focus on lady riders in the media. I understand that it is a male dominated sport, however by adding that little bit for the ladies such as advertisements and maybe some reviews etc.. It would encourage them!

Have you had any mentors, male or female, who contributed to your growth as a motorcyclist? I must say without my Dad I don’t think I would be riding. When I first started riding, I was ready to almost give up and it scared the life out of me. However my Dad has brought me over the years by helping with IAM training and giving me the support to improve my confidence. He’ll never admit it but I can now give him a run for his money ;)

The other is my friend Laura, without her I would have never got into rally’s or joined my current MCC and would have not got the touring bug!

Do you think that the media effectively advertises to female motorcyclists?
When you flick through a motorcycle magazine or on an online website, you hardly see reviews, articles or pictures from or of women unless they are semi naked sprawled over a bike. It doesn’t really encourage women to get into motorcycles. Where are all the lovely men spiraled over bikes, eh?

Any final words for your readers? I always get the typical “Why do you ride a motorcycle it’s dangerous?!” The thing is motorcycling isn’t about falling off and hurting yourself, because in reality it isn’t a very common occurrence. There are some schemes (at least here in the UK) where they are giving free test rides if you’re thinking about it have a go! I have met so many fantastic people through riding. It’s more than just riding a bike, it’s a lifestyle!

RIDING IN THE UK

EllieHill_landscape

What’s the best part about riding in the UK? One of the best things about riding in the UK is although you may live in a city, you are never too far away from a picturesque countryside. Scotland has some of the greatest roads and would be the place I’d recommend to all those coming to the UK, the road up to Fort William is stunning and the highlands, even though I’ve not been myself, are meant to be fantastic.

Our cities are bustling places steeped in history, for example there are villages that have not changed their character for centuries and still have fortified walls. The country side has much to offer any visitor, we have stunning mountain ranges, majestic hills, rolling farmland, wild heaths and moors, exquisite lakes, streams and Valleys, all of which are packed with wonderful wildlife. The UK’s history dates back thousands of years and we have many historic sites scattered throughout our many National Parks. For one, Stonehenge is thought to date back to 3200 BC.

How does the motorcycle license test work? First, you must complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before being allowed out on the road. At 16 you can ride a 50cc scooter/moped L-plates and at 17 or above a 125 geared motorcycle or scooter with L plates.

To move up to a full licence, you must take a theory test followed by a two-part practical test comprising Module 1, an off-road manoeuvring test, and Module 2, the on-road exam. Only when you are 19 or older are you allowed to go for your full licence, which covers motorcycles up to a power output of 47bhp. You can restrict a motorcycle to 47bhp (as long as their unrestricted power output is no more than 94bhp). 2 years later, you are required to take an additional test to allow you to ride any bike unrestricted.

At 24 you are allowed to ride any motorcycle unrestricted once you’re passed your full motorcycle test. It’s hard to keep with the changes to motorcycle licences, they seem to change their mind every year or so!

What is the traffic like and how does it affect motorcycle riding?  Living in the fourth largest city in the UK can be an absolute nightmare, you constantly have to be on your guard and I would always recommend wearing full motorcycle gear, even when nipping to the shops. However, you can ride outside of the cities and find some gorgeous twisty roads with very little traffic.

What is your classic Sunday ride? 
Normally on a Sunday I head into Derbyshire which is a gorgeous part of our county side on the doorstep of Sheffield, this route is only small one but is great for an afternoon blast on the bike. Lovely ride past some of the reservoirs, stop off at Glossop for a cuppa tea, off down into Matlock (Seaside in land we call it) and then back home!

When I am not off to the seaside I’m probably doing this route! http://goo.gl/maps/hEEJN

EllieRoute

How popular are motorcycle related sports in your country and do women actively participate in them? Motorcycle sports do seem to have a keen following; however this is usually isolated to bikers. Most non-riders may have never heard of the likes of MotoGP .

Women in motorcycle sports are pretty rare. I believe there are a couple of ladies in the TT and one lady in our British Superbikes. But I am noticing more and more ladies are hitting the track days!

Is motorcycle theft a problem? This is really close to my heart at the moment as my BMW F800ST was stolen off a friend’s private drive only last weekend. Many of my local motorcycling social groups always seems to bear the bad news of poor person’s pride and joy being stolen, however I never thought it would happen to me. I am however a very lucky lady and can’t count my blessings enough that we managed to find her the night she was stolen. We found her only a few hundred yards away in a nearby wood without a single scratch on her. It took five of my male friends to pull her away from the downward slope towards a river and back up a very steep muddy path. Once we had the bike back on the road I actually cried and gave her a hug!

Do you have access to high quality motorcycling gear in your part of the world? Motorcycle gear in the UK is very easily attainable with majority of motorcycle dealers selling a range of gear. The only down sides is there seems to be lack in ladies’ clothing. I find being a tall lady generally means I am looking at men’s trousers for the length!

How are women riders treated? I always feel patronised when riding a motorcycle; a lot of fellow riders and people who work within the motorcycle industry don’t expect female riders. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some really encouraging individuals, however when pulling up to a bike shop, people stare at you going “Is that a chick on a motorcycle.. Can’t be!” I’ve lost count of how many times people have come up to me and asked “Are you ok with that bike, do you need a hand?”, “Isn’t that a big bike for a lass?” Countless number of men talk down to me when I join in a conversation about bikes, assuming that I lack knowledge even though I am an experienced rider and they do not seem to take me seriously.

Are men in the motorcycling community welcoming to you?
Motorcycle is a male dominated sports and hobby; there aren’t many female riders on the road. I find that there are some really welcoming men who want to encourage more females into riding but on the other hand there are those which just look down on you. There are some individuals who are set in their ways and think women riders are rubbish and incapable of riding! Seriously guys, this is modern times!

SAMSUNG CSC

What are the best months for riding there? The best months tend be May – September as it tends to warm up a little bit and the chance of snow and ice has gone! However living in the UK always carries a risk of rain no matter the season!!

Is there a motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly? Everything Thursday night there is a local café which hosts a bike night only 10 mile away, so this is a great catch up with all my friends and local clubs! Also, there are a couple of rallies for me which is a must go to every year!

EllieHill_bikenight

Do female and male motorcyclists have the same amount of freedom to pursue motorcycling activities? I would say so yes, there is nothing stopping women from taking part in the same activities as men, however I think confidence can keep some ladies back. I think this is due to most activities manly being dominated by men. favicon



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