Gizem Özcan

GizemOzcan_featured2

Name: Gizem Özcan
Age: 25
Country: Turkey
Languages: Turkish, English
Years Riding: 1
Height: 174
Inseam:  84 cm
Current motorcycles: 2013 Honda CRF250L
Past motorcycles: 2008 Hyosung XRXg 125 SM
Gear: Nishua Enduro Carbon Helmet, Difi Aerotex four seasons jacket, Dainese Knee V E1 N Guards, Spidi TXR Gloves, Berik 1052 waterproof boots, Knox Kompakt Spine Protector
Kms Per Year: 10,000 km
Website: Gizmo VLogs
Published: To Let Myself Go (Turkish) 

 

Please introduce yourself. I am a 25-year-old motorcycle enthusiast from Turkey. I graduated with a major in molecular biology and genetics. I am currently doing a Master of Science in biochemistry. I have mostly worked for R&D companies.

The most important things in my life are motorcycles, music, and nature. They make a good base for adventure! My childhood was spent in the forests. I spent more time with animals than with other kids. I love solitude and self-sufficiency. Getting into motorcycling while living in a semi-Middle Eastern country as a woman seemed like a good challenge. My biggest and only dream is to travel the world on a motorcycle.

Describe your path into motorcycling. When I was twelve, father got himself an 80 cc scooter. He helped me learn how to balance and ride it and soon I was cruising around our home on it. He got into an accident – he was not wearing protective gear – and decided to stop riding. But I was already infected with the riding bug!

Women Who Ride Gizem Özcan - The first ride

Gizem Özcan – The first ride

I went to university and every time I saw riders, something stirred in my heart. My friends and I founded a motorcycle community in our university, called Riders of Bilkent. It was the first among Turkey’s universities. We were planning to organize seminars about motorcycles, riding training with certificated trainers, even technical contests like Gymkhana. I didn’t have a bike, licence, or any proper information about motorcycles at that time. However, they wanted me as their founder and first chair. I was a little terrified. My friends pushed me and I just had to learn about people, education, motorcycles, everything. Friends are always supportive. These were motorcycle people, the most supportive and friendly. And this become how I learnt 90% of my information about the motorcycle world.

My parents are also adventurers. I remember crazy mountain trips together – our off-road jeep, huge tent, fishing rods, and wanderings in nature. But after my father’s accident, he didn’t want me riding anymore. I was stubborn. I saved money for two years and step by step I got my license and equipment. Finally when I started working, I got my my first bike, a second hand Hyosung XRX 125 SM.

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan with her Hyosung XRX 125 SM

Gizem Özcan with her Hyosung XRX 125 SM

The first time I rode into traffic was on a Suzuki DRZ400 SM with broken lights at night. It is a very aggressive bike. Fortunately, there was no accident but I still think that the guy who convinced me to ride his bike in those conditions wanted to kill me.

After that experience I rode my own bike in more secure areas for a long time. Once I got used to traffic, I bought an action cam and started recording my trips and made small clips from them. I started to record everything. This is how I created my motovlog Gizmo VLogs.

After a few months, I did a solo ride to my special childhood place in the forests and spent the night there. I only had the trees and wind for company, and the small ticking sounds of animals. Oh, what a great birthday gift it was! It was a good trip down memory lane.

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan at her favorite childhood place

Gizem Özcan at her favorite childhood place

Describe your current motorcycle. My current motorcyle is a 2013 Honda CRF250L. After my Hyosung, it is quite young, durable and modern looking. I was pushing  my old supermoto into damaged roads and off road, soI decided to get an enduro, which is capable of transforming into a supermoto.  But at that time I don’t have plans for making a supermoto from my CRF. As I mentioned before, traveling the world with my motorcycle is my biggest dream, and the CRF may fit into this dream. In my opinion it is a modest, yet perfectly sufficient adventure bike. 

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan on her Honda CRF250L

Gizem Özcan on her Honda CRF250L

Tell us a good story. We were riding to Gürleyik falls, 450km west of the city I live in. I was on my 125cc Hyosung. There were around twenty motorcycles of different sizes. Some if the big bikes went ahead and the smaller ones and the ones who wanted to ride at a relaxed pace followed.

The plan was clear. We had planned break points at every 150-200 km and whenever there was a turn, the last one would wait for the ones behind until the entire group had turned. On the way, I had trouble with my helmet lock, which took me a few minutes to fix. A friend riding a Honda CB125 waited for me.

We continued our ride, hoping that someone was waiting for us at the next turn. After twenty minutes of riding on the highway, we realized that there was no one waiting. We continued for about 50 km. Eventually we ended up in a small town which I remembered from the map was certainly after our pre-defined rural area turn.

Then we checked our phones, trying to find a shortcut to the village roads. The roads on the shortcut were too damaged, I was sure that the big-CC group would never would ride on them. There were no one on the horizon. Nevertheless, we didn’t want to go back. Adventure was calling! We had  very low signal on our phones and the GPS data we received was nonsense. We continued our ride, relying on our instincts. The gas in my bike was low, but I had a spare bottle of gas.

The road we were on was cut up by a river all of a sudden! We stopped, looking at each other, then laughed. I had waterproof boots, so first I walked across and decided that it is not that slippery or deep. We crossed that river without falling.

Eventually we found Gürleyik Falls where we found the others. They were terrified  that something had happened to us. We explained our story, laughed and enjoyed our wonderful camps pot at the Falls. 

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan - First river crossing

Gizem Özcan – First river crossing

Is there any other kind of motorcycling that you’d like to try your hand at? I really want to be comfortable on cruisers and sportbikes. I’ve tried them and their weight and riding positions made me nervous. They are very different from supermotos or dirtbikes. Still, the fun of riding them is different and must be tasted. 

Have you made any close female friendships due to motorcycling? Yes. Even though it sounds strange even to the people live in big cities of Turkey, there are many female motorcycle riders. Of course the percentage is low, but there are enough of us to make close friendships, trips, second-hand gear exchange, bike swaps etc.  

Do you have any motorcycling heroes? All of the adventurers! Men and women, all of them. I host them in my flat when they happen to be in Ankara, Turkey, on their trips and listen to their stories. If these adventurers are from Turkey, I help them with everything I can. I also organize seminars at the university for them to talk about adventures.

Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike? I do basic maintenance like oil changes, filter changes, brake pads and small modifications. I had many problems with my previous bike so I had to learn what to do when for example your brake liquid empties out. It is fun to do! Because your bike is your precious, being able to tend it, and see that it is fixed or upgraded is just beautiful!

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan works on her bike

Gizem Özcan works on her bike

If you could design your dream motorcycle, what would it look, sound and feel like? It would be like a Scrambler, with knobbies and a classy look. Aggressive with minimal headlights. With a deep roar. Yes. 

RIDING IN TURKEY

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan motorcycling in Turkey

Gizem Özcan motorcycling in Turkey

If I were to visit you and we went riding for one short morning ride, where would you take me? Lake Eymir, it is a small lake located 25 km outside Ankara. It belongs to the Middle East Technical University and the university works hard to protect the nature in these area. You can even see deer sometimes. There are small cafes around the lake and it’s really pretty to look at. [Link to Route]

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan rides her Hyosung

Gizem Özcan rides her Hyosung

What’s the best part about riding where you live? The 150-300 km radius around Ankara has great places to see. There are lots of  waterfalls and mountains, you can ride 300 km through amazing forests and reach the sea. And Cappadocia is just 400 km away.

Women Who Ride: Motorcycling and Nature

Motorcycling and Nature

What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way? Kebabs! Kebabs of all types that must be tasted. I guarantee you won’t regret it! 

How does the topography of the place you live affect the kind of motorcycling you choose to do? Traffic jams and damaged roads are the main problems in Ankara. You can’t help but ride on the sidewalk during heavy traffic jams. These directly affect my choice of motorcycle. I wanted a tall, good-accelerating but low oil-consuming bike with good suspension.

Is it safe to ride at night where you live? Yes, as long as you are careful enough to be visible. 

Is motorcycle theft a problem? Unfortunately it is a big problem. Motorcycle parts make good money so small bikes and more expensive bikes are in danger of getting stolen.

Do you have access to high quality women’s motorcycling gear in your part of the world? Yes, there are many dealers around the city. If not, you can order it from shops in Istanbul. There’s a shop that specifically sells women’s gear. But generally in the motorcycling world women’s gear seems to be small sized men’s gear in pink. I would like to see more gear specifically designed for women.

What kinds of motorcycling events are held regularly? As the country’s first university motorcycle community, Riders of Bilkent holds weekly biker nights at cafes. We also organize Gymkhana races once or twice a year.

Women Who Ride: Gizem Özcan with her motorcycling friends

Gizem Özcan with her motorcycling friends

How are women motorcycle riders treated? People are surprised to see a woman on a motorcycle, and seem confused about how a woman dares to ride. But people also love and appreciate you. I think this is a bit of an overrated issue. You’re just another human being destined to ride. That’s it. I think it’s encouraging for new women riders to find out there’s no difference between men and women when you’re on the bike.   favicon



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