It’s not that you wouldn’t know MyMyRider is a place to buy a motorcycle. The dozens of bikes in the window are a dead giveaway — as is the constant stream of helmet-wearing greasers on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But with the vintage prints on the walls, the squishy couches, the plants, it owes more — if we’re talking decor inspiration — to Pinterest than to Mad Max. Part boutique, part mechanic, this shop is one of the only places in Paris explicitly aimed at female bikers, and the only one with an atelier moto, a mechanic’s workshop.
About 17 percent of France’s estimated 2.5 million motorcyclists are women, up from an estimated 1.5 percent in 1970. More than that, in a sector where ridership is falling, women are one of the only groups growing in number. That’s the market MyMyRider was established to capture two years ago, when founder Myriam Amrouni gave up a 19-year career at Air France to turn her weekend hobby into a livelihood.
Blame it on Venice Beach. Amrouni, 47, traces her road into the motorcycle business back to her 2015 discovery of Los Angeles’ Deus Ex Machina motorcycle shop, one of a worldwide chain of motorcycle boutiques. Already a motarde, the feminine form of the French word for biker, she was inspired: “When I went to traditional garages, they’d assume I was an idiot,” she says. But at Deus, the atmosphere was welcoming and chic. “I wanted to create the same type of garage here.” That same year, she ditched her day job and retrained as a mechanic so she could open up her own motorcycle shop. Now she runs a steady business, aided by an employee, Sophie, and her big, sleepy shop dog, Marley, who occasionally opens one eye when he hears the shop door open.
“This is an incredible place,” says a woman identifying herself as Marie-Aline, one of several bikers of both genders who come through the door that afternoon. Marie-Aline specifically cites the community atmosphere and the encouragement to learn and ask questions as something that sets MyMyRider apart. Amrouni says many of her customers are men, even though the shop focuses its boutique aspect on products sized and designed for women, partly because the atmosphere isn’t that of a traditional motorcycle mechanic. “Here, we have more contact with our customers,” she says. “It’s more relaxed, more participative.”
But even with cozy ateliers like this, Paris isn’t the easiest place to ride a motorcycle. Some of the bikers who troop through MyMyRider that afternoon mention that the city is expensive and small, and that its fashion tastes aren’t necessarily geared toward the practical leather armor bikers necessarily don. Women in Paris, especially, Amrouni says, tend to ride scooters rather than motorcycles. Scooters are smaller, slower and have the advantage that one can ride them to work without changing out of business casual. “With our bikes, you can’t do it in a skirt, you can’t do it in heels,” Amrouni laughs. “We don’t dress like we do for ‘the look,’ you know.”
Explore the world
This year, OZY is going Around the World, bringing you untold stories from every single country on the map, one day at a time, to introduce you to new people, new trends and new places.