Pioneer Women

Louise Scherbyn

Louise Scherbyn Louise Scherbyn, founder member and first WIMA International President. WIMA was founded in the USA, way back in the early 1950s, by Louise Scherbyn (pictured here with her white Indian Scout). Her interest in motorcycling started in the early 1920s but went only as far as sitting astride a 1921 Indian motorcycle belonging to her sister's boyfriend and, later in 1924, experiencing her first ride in a sidecar. Louise married a motorcyclist and became a pillion rider on a Harley Davidson. This was followed by an Indian Chief with sidecar. In 1932 her husband encouraged her to learn to ride herself. Initially, she was concerned about the effect riding would have on her reputation. She held a good position in the Kodak company and wondered what the office would think about her "putting about" the city on a motorcycle. Luckily, she was not put off and was soon the proud possessor of a 1932 Indian Scout. Many miles of motorcycle travel all over the USA and Canada were to follow, with Louise staying loyal to the Indian marque. She lays claim to being the first American woman to reach the far north, Timagami Forest of Canada, a trip which in 1937 was made on many dirt and gravel roads. She also took part in Enduro and other events but her main love was touring.

Louise became active in many motoring clubs including the AMA, the Canadian Motorcycle Association and the British Pathfinders Club, and was an associate editor of one of America's leading motorcycle publications. She became very interested in motorcycling activities for women in the 1940's as the number of women riders increased. She had been involved with an organisation called the Motor Maids, which seems to have been more display team than motorcycle club. They would do formation rides around the track at the start of race meetings, kitted out in smart blue uniforms and on immaculately kept machines.

During the Second World War, Louise corresponded with women from other countries and an idea began to grow. "I believed there should be a worldwide organisation for all women motorcyclists," she said in a magazine interview in 1952. "Why not unite as a body in exchanging ideas and opinions, problems and advice? And with this came the initial step of the founding of the Women's International Motorcycle Association. With the help of every member and some wonderful friends, the WIMA has now grown today to be the largest women's motorcycle organisation in the world. And that, girls, is how it all began."

She donated her motorcycle and other memorabilia to the Indian Motorcycle Museum, Springfield, MA, USA where they are on display. Louise died on 18th June 2003.