Who are some of the biking women you should know about for IWD 2022?


To celebrate International Women's Day, Motolegends have compiled a list of historical and influential motorcycling women.

Kiara Fontanesi, GasGas. Credit: GasGas Media/Alessio Barbanti.

THE first woman on Motolegends’ list is Elspeth Beard, who in 1983 began the journey which would see her become the first British woman to round the world on a motorcycle. Beard also visited Pakistan, and rode through the mountains there educating women and helping them learn about the freedom that motorcycles can offer.

The list also features Beryl Swain, who became the first woman to complete a solo TT at the Isle of Man. This led to the undesired outcome of her licence being revoked due to the apparent horror of the possibility of a woman being hurt racing a motorcycle, especially on a course as dangerous as the Isle of Man’s Mountain Course. 

Veenu Paliwal held the distinction for a period of time of being the only woman in her home city of Jaipur to ride a motorcycle. Paliwal made a documentary on motorcycling, and divorced her husband who took issue with her riding, before being tragically killed during a 10,000km ride in India. 

There are also a trio of motocross riders who have made the list: Ashley Fiolek; Kiara Fontanesi; and Courtney Duncan. 
Fiolek differs from the other two in that she raced in America, not the European-based Women’s Motocross World Championship, an MXGP support class.

Fiolek holds the distinction of being the first deaf professional motocross racer, as well as being the first woman to make the cover of the coveted TransWorld Motocross magazine. She became WMX Pro National champion in 2008 in the US and was the first woman to race for the factory American Honda team, and is also an X Games gold medalist - the first deaf person to achieve such success.

Fontanesi and Duncan both found their respective success in Europe, with Duncan making the transition from her native New Zealand to compete in the Women’s Motocross World Championship. Fontanesi became MXW’s first breakout star, winning six titles and even wildcarding in the MX2 Grand Prix class. 

While Fontanesi’s decision to have children has interrupted her racing career in recent years, Courtney Duncan has become MXW’s new star, winning three successive titles in 2019, 2020 and 2021. 

Maria Costello MBE and Jenny Tinmouth also make Motolegends’ list, with Tinmouth being the fastest woman to ever lap the Isle of Man TT circuit, and the first woman to ride for Honda UK’s British Superbike team; and Costello was the rider who preceded Tinmouth in being the fastest woman around the Mountain Course, while also being the only woman to have a podium finish at the TT.

The full Motolegends list is available to view here.