"TEAM MARI Motor Cycle Lesson" is a riding school for women only. It was born from the riding courses started by pioneering woman racer Mari Igata in 1989, and which have continued for a quarter of a century to the present day, being held at Saitama, Motegi, Suzuka and other locations. Bridgestone endorses the concept of this school and has continued to offer its support.
"Many women riders, and not only beginners, handle their bikes awkwardly and often fall. There is a tendency to think that this is because women have less muscle and smaller frames than men, but that is not necessarily the case. In other words, it's just that they haven't learned proper riding technique. We want to do something about this unfortunate and dangerous situation, which is why we hold these lessons regularly in different locations" says Tomo Igata, who has been the overall director of "TEAM MARI Motor Cycle Lesson" since 2004. During lessons, the sight of her managing a large bike with perfect ease while instructing, despite her petite frame (she is 160 cm tall and weighs 49 kg) adds undeniable persuasive force to her words. Just as she says, bikes are not about physical strength…
"The lessons themselves are not that demanding. We split the attendees into beginners -to-intermediate and intermediate-to-advanced classes and in each class female instructors do their best to give detailed advice to each rider, depending on the individual's level of skill and their mental state. In other words, we make an effort with the content of the lessons to ensure that whether the attendee is a total beginner or a veteran rider, she will definitely learn suitable techniques for women that she can apply naturally and enjoyably to her own riding. Many people attend once then come back to take part again many times and we think it's because they feel the attraction of this way of doing things."
And in fact, when we asked the women who attended this course at Motegi for their impressions, typical comments were "The instructors and the riders are all women so I felt at ease learning and it was fun" and "Each time I steadily get better at my own pace, which makes me happy." Several of those present were repeat customers who had attended more than 10 times.
"We really hope that this leads to the appearance of more women riders who can handle a large bike gracefully. We would love women who have recently got their license or women who have just bought a large bike and are feeling a little nervous to come and attend a few of these lessons. That's because as you get more practice you will certainly become able to ride on the roads with more safety and grace."
TEAM MARI leader, Tomo Igata. In 1994-95 Tomo Igata was the first Japanese woman to fully compete in the world championship GP125 cc class and has been a highly-ranked prize winner.