Former international freestyle motocross rider, Emma McFerran, explains how a riding a Harley-Davidson® Street® 500 is making this stuntwoman feel safe again
Story by Kellie Buckley
Photos by Andy Jackman
Emma McFerran has had countless motorcycle crashes during her successful career as an international freestyle motocross rider, but it was a relatively common crash on the road not long ago which has left the biggest impression on the now 31-year-old.
“The biggest thing for me was that it wasn’t my fault,” McFerran revealed. “When I crashed in freestyle, I was able to identify what I did wrong and learn from it, but this time I came around a blind corner, hit some gravel on the road and I was off before I could react.”
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Emma and her older brother Matty fell in love with motorcycling when their family moved to five-acre property in Wattle Glen on Melbourne’s north-eastern fringes. They raced motocross for a decade before Matty turned his hand to Freestyle and, as was the way of it back then, it wasn’t long before Emma followed in his tracks.
“As a kid, I always wanted to do whatever he was doing,” Emma said. Then Australia’s only female freestyle rider, the pair went on to perform all around the world with Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus and the hugely successful Crusty Demons live FMX events, before a 2016 crash in Germany left her with a broken femur.
Sidelined from riding for almost 12 months, Emma saw roadbikes as a perfect way to get back on a bike without the intensity and risk associated with freestyle motocross.
“I never really had an interest in roadbikes, but my brother had one and it was way for me to get back on a bike,” she said. “I had a little 250 custom bike for a while, but it was built for looks more than anything else. So when Harley-Davidson loaned me this Street 500, I can’t tell you how good it’s been for getting my confidence back – I’m loving it.”
And even though Emma admits she never thought she’d end up getting into roadbikes, she’s been surprised by just how inclusive and social riding a Harley® on the road can be.
“Compared to FMX where the skillset required to do it is so narrowly focused, road riding now means more of my mates can enjoy the day,” she said. “Whether they’ve got a learner licence or an unrestricted licence, we can all hang out together.”
Emma knows more than most how important trust and self-belief is to getting the most out of a day on a bike, and she credits the learner-approved Harley for regaining the self-confidence she needed after that accident on the road.
“I’ve had crashes that I shouldn’t have even survived, let alone still being able to walk after, but having gravel scrubbed out of my skin was the most tormenting thing I’ve ever been though,” she said. “The Harley-Davidson Street 500 has been so important to me and my confidence, it’s massive. It’s so comfortable, so easy to ride, I’m well protected in my Harley jacket and I just feel safe again.”
And her brother still rides with her, too. “We’re pretty much continuing the same love for bikes, just without the same risks.”