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Dot Smith: a H-D-riding icon for International Women's Day

Let's remember the pioneers who made Harley-riding an equal-opportunity pastime

This magnificent photo is of Dot Smith on her late-thirties Harley EL Knucklehead. In the early days of Harley-Davidson's history, their products were – as you can imagine – almost exclusively bought, fettled and raced by men. But in the days when motorcycles rivalled cars as everyday transport, Harley encouraged the social side of ownership: runs, parties, races, endurance events, all with a family focus.

Women therefore had the chance to experience and enjoy motorcycles for themselves; and a few pioneers, inspired by their two-wheel adventures, paved the way for motorcycling to become an equal-opportunity sport.

A woman called Dot Robinson was a keen rider (first woman to win an AMA competition) and (along with her husband Earl) Harley dealer who, in 1941 with Linda Degeau, formed the Motor Maids: acknowledged as the first women-only motorcycle club.

Amongst the charter members was Dot Smith, pictured above, who was apparently a stunt rider during the '30s and '40s and also a member of the San Francisco Motorcycle Club (though nothing more than these facts seems to exist online to illuminate her history).

Pioneering women like the two Dots were instrumental in creating an alternative history for motorcycling: they loosened the macho grip on bikes that seemed to exist then, as well as now. And what better way to celebrate women's fight for parity in sport and life than this cracking photo of Dot Smith – a woman who could, by all accounts, out-ride most men – looking resplendent on her Knuck.

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