Khadijah Vakily

Name: Khadijah Vakily
Age: 26
Country: Canada
Languages: English, Farsi
Years Riding: 4
Height: 5 ft 6.5”
Inseam: 27.5”
Current Motorcycles: Honda Rebel
Past motorcycles: N/A
Kms Per Year: 6000 km
Website: twitter.com/khadijahvakily
In the News: https://muslimlink.ca/in-focus/muslimah-on-a-motorcycle


Please introduce yourself. 
Hi! I’m a freelance journalist and videographer. I’ve taught in college as a professor for over 4 years and enjoy filming and editing. I also love watching anime, and have been an avid reader since a young age. 

Describe your path into motorcycling. My earliest memory about motorcycles is gawking through the car window into shops where big, bright bikes were on display. I had originally planned on getting an off-road vehicle like an ATV, when I had an a-ha moment of—why don’t I get a motorcycle? It took a bit of convincing to have my parents think the same, but soon I was off to buy my first vehicle.

After four years of riding, it still takes people by surprise that I own a motorcycle, partly because I’m female and partly because I’m a visible Muslim. Especially in my area, there are already very few female riders and not really any other female Muslim riders that I have met, so I kind of stand out. People often associate bikes with dangerous thrill-seeking behaviour, but I find I’m more aware on a motorcycle and ready to react quickly compared to when I’m in the comfort of a car.

Some have it set in their mind that wearing hijab and riding a motorcycle can’t go hand in hand, and to that I think why not? Enjoying motorcycle-riding does not stop me from following my faith.

Khadijah Vakily, a Canadian Muslimah on a motorcycle, poses with her Honda Rebel

Khadijah Vakily, a Canadian Muslimah on a motorcycle, poses with her Honda Rebel


Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in? 
When going for my M2, I attended a motorcycle safety course with my younger brother. I was the only girl in the class, and was quite nervous. We spend the weekend going through drills, learning how to navigate tight corners, shifting gears effectively, hard stops and proper safety.

After passing our final tests to earn our M2 licenses, the head teacher pulled me aside to let me know that he considered me to be confident, safe and smart, and that I was one of the only students he would feel comfortable to already head out and ride alongside on the highway.

This was a tremendous confidence booster as it showed that despite my trepidation at my previous inexperience, my focus and attention to detail had shone through. I took great pride in ranking near the top of the class.  

Tell us a good story! In my first year of riding, I was going for a spin around town, when suddenly the bike started to slow down. I revved the throttle, trying in vain to build up some speed but the whole thing slowed to a halt and shut off as I pulled to the side of the road. I was flustered and confused – what was going wrong?

I carefully placed my helmet on side of the road as I had read it was supposed to be a distress signal and called my dad trying to explain where I was and what was going on. “Maybe you’re out of gas?” he suggested. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what it was! At least I knew how to turn on the reserve to get to a refueling station. So that’s an embarrassing rookie mistake I try to forget!

Now that I’m more experienced my drives have become extended – the longest ride I’ve taken has been across province lines to Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, QC, so I make sure to keep checking my gas tank!

Is there any other kind of motorcycling that you’d like to try your hand at? Motocross fascinates me. I love the thought of doing stunts or racing on a dirtbike but don’t see that coming to fruition…at least for now.   

As a Muslim woman, have you received any criticism from within your community for motorcycling, and if so, how did you navigate that? I’m sure not everyone agrees with it, but I haven’t personally or openly received any criticism. The main reaction I’ve received is surprise—surprise that I’m interested in riding, and occasionally surprise that my family has not had much issue with it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Muslim women who might want to get into riding but face resistance from their families? For potential riders unsure on how to bring up the topic, I would advise people to do their research and then have an honest conversation. If you can back up your thoughts with information on statistics regarding female riders, the type of bike you’d be interested in, show that you are serious about motorcycle safety and that you don’t have to compromise on issues of modesty, it will make people more open-minded about the idea. It all illustrates that you have put a good deal of thought into it and that’s it’s not some passing phase, so you will be taken more seriously as well.

Often it seems like people are hesitant about the idea of girls riding more because they worry people in the community might view it in a negative light, rather than there actually being a religious or safety issue. That is also important to point out and differentiate between, because there’s always “people in the community” who will find something to take offense with, even if you’re following all their expectations to the letter. Getting family to separate their concerns from that of the hypothetical community voice will make for a more productive conversation.

Have you made any close female friendships due to motorcycling? No, though most of my female friends have come with me for a spin on the backseat.

Khadijah Vakily takes a family member for a ride

Khadijah Vakily takes a family member for a ride

If you could change one thing about the world of motorcycling, what would it be?
I suppose I wish good bikes were more affordable…or more specifically, I wish insurance was cheaper. I’m looking to upgrade my ride but have been deterred by high insurance rates.

What’s your dream bike? It would look like a cross between the Yamaha Bolt and the Harley-Davidson Night Rod—either all black or army green. Underglow lights sometimes come off as tacky, but if there’s way to add some white lighting and still look classy that would be ideal. I hate overly loud exhausts, so a full case or resonator muffler is a must.

I think the thought of an automatic bike is quite interesting. Automatic bikes may arguably take away from the whole motorcycling experience a bit but the ease of adjusting speed without gear shifting would probably still win out.

Khadijah's Honda Rebel

Khadijah’s Honda Rebel


RIDING IN CANADA

What’s a great Sunday morning ride in your area? My favorite Sunday ride is going towards Ingleside, riding on Country Road 2 along the St. Lawrence River so a cool breeze could hit us from over the water. This route will also take us through the Long Sault Parkway, a series of eleven islands connected by a paved roadway. The islands were created after the flooding of the St. Lawrence River in the 1950s, with a display on Macdonell Island chronicling the villages that were swallowed up by water (known as the Lost Villages).

Mike Jacobs of Tourism Northern Ontario has labelled the parkway as one of the Top 30 Motorcycle Roads in Ontario. This scenic cruise will allow you to see plenty of interesting flora and waterfowl along the way.  

What’s the best part about riding in your country? Canada has a variety of geographical terrain, from the mountainous areas of British Columbia, to the prairies of Manitoba, each province is different. In my town in Ontario, it’s mainly farmland and flat roads through the urban areas.

What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way that is typical to your region? Who doesn’t love a good poutine? In my city alone there are over a dozen places you can find this delight of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. Canadian riders also love their Tim Hortons. During riding season every Tims in town will have a sizable crowd of bikers who have pulled over for coffee.   

Khadijah Vakily by the St. Lawrence River

Khadijah Vakily by the St. Lawrence River (Image by Entelechy_Media)

Is it safe to ride at night where you live? I’d say yes, for the most part. City roads are generally well-lit. The country roads don’t have the same amount of streetlights, but being surrounded by darkness encourages you to not outride your headlight and keep at safe speeds.  

Are any motorcycle related sports popular where you live and do women actively participate in them? Not specifically in my town that I’m aware of, though I think there are some who go to Quebec for motocross events.  

How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists? Because there tend to be fewer female riders, the riders I’ve interacted with have mostly been male. My personal experience is that I’ve always found these male motorcyclists to be very helpful. Advice or technical help is given without being condescending, and in a way they seem to be rooting for me.   

Do female and male motorcyclists have the same amount of freedom to pursue motorcycling activities? I would say so.

Khadijah's helmet with customized Legend of Zelda decal

Khadijah’s helmet with customized Legend of Zelda decal

 



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