Motorcycling is a multi-sensory experience, the scent of the air, the toned-down hues of the desert as the sun sets, and even the sounds are often new to me. Motorcycling allows me to take all of it in at once and I enjoy exploring the unknown this way.
While she calls Crown Heights home and travels to a private Bushwick garage to work on her bikes, not even NYC's current snow-blown and icy weather conditions can dampen Scarlett Großelanghorst's enthusiasm for her latest challenge.
With creativity, ingenuity, perseverance and plain nose-to-the-ground hard work in her arsenal, the Brooklyn-based fashion designer and motorcycle enthusiast is tackling new boundaries thanks to a Royal Enfield North America racing team initiative.
One of a septet of women riders recruited to modify and race prep the company’s café racer market entry — the 650cc Continental GT — the 34-year-old will also be participating in a series of exhibition races this summer.
“The title ‘Build.Train.Race.’ just had me right away,” says Großelanghorst, who received her bike, sans petrol, in late January, and submitted a build proposal this past week. “I’m (particularly) excited about the ‘Build’ aspect because I usually only do maintenance, repairs, and ‘necessary’ bolt-on customizations. So, doing the research to conceptually turn a street bike into a race bike is definitely taking it to the next level for me.”
Breaking in the Continental GT after firing it up for the first time, with the requisite burnout requires a bit of research into the effects of ABS braking — Rahoul Ghose
I’m (particularly) excited about the ‘Build’ aspect because I usually only do maintenance, repairs, and ‘necessary’ bolt-on customizations. So, doing the research to conceptually turn a street bike into a race bike is definitely taking it to the next level for me.
B E G I N N I N G S
If the individual is a composite of their life experiences, then Großelanghorst (the ‘ß’ is a German combination of the letter ‘s’ and ‘z’) has already built an enviable biography of achievements.
Born in Palm Desert, California, Großelanghorst actually grew up in Germany, where she studied fashion design in a small city in the south.
“The city had a castle and four bars total. It was truly a place with little distraction.”
Fast forward some years, and her fashion designer dream was realized: her own business featuring a lingerie line called ‘Lost in wonderland’.
“I was 25 when I had my first booth in Europe’s largest lingerie trade show in Paris. It was quite a trip. I firmly believe in quality over quantity and sustainable, lean supply chains. I bought all my raw materials in Europe and manufactured in Europe. Looking back, I am surprised how well everything went considering that I had little to no experience. I even had boutiques in America and Canada that sold my line.”
Großelanghorst’s adventuresome spirit also saw her living and working in China’s third largest city, Guangzhou, for half a year in her late 20s, before returning to Berlin and then taking a chance on New York City, close to five years ago.
“Guangzhou is very densely populated, industrial, and — for lack of a better word — crazy in many different ways. Life there was very unique, especially because I don’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin.”
NYC presented its own challenges, with Großelanghorst starting from scratch in her new home and taking on another dream of hers … riding motorcycles.
L I F E O N T W O W H E E L S
Watching Großelanghorst, at 5’7”, control her current ride — a KTM 990 Adventure — you’d think she’d been riding for decades.
“I expect my motorcycle to be able to take me across trails, different terrain, and long distances. My inner Autobahn speed freak likes to go fast. So big adventure bikes it is, I guess. I like when engines, in cars and motorcycles alike, feel raw, and unrestrained. Compared to my former ‘07 BMW R1200GS which is an incredibly well-behaved work-horse, my KTM feels as if the bike was holding a blade to my throat and saying, ‘C’mon f*cker, let’s go’. I like that a lot.”
Her past bikes also include a feisty yellow Ducati 900ss, which you may have seen when she was profiled as part of the johnnypuetz Productions series Escape in the City: Women Riding Motorcycles in NYC.
“I have always been fascinated with motorcycles and wanted to ride. While I did my motorcycle driver’s license in Germany, my mom managed to talk me out of it. Here in NYC, it seemed to be the perfect time to start riding. It gave me the flexibility and freedom to leave the city without having to deal with parking a car and being stuck in traffic. Looking at where I am now, motorcycles gave me so much more than I had ever expected.”
“I have enjoyed riding in California and Utah the most so far. The vegetation in New York and Pennsylvania is pretty similar to Germany. The desert, however, is foreign to me. Motorcycling is a multi-sensory experience, the scent of the air, the toned-down hues of the desert as the sun sets, and even the sounds are often new to me. Motorcycling allows me to take all of it in at once and I enjoy exploring the unknown this way.”
When you're in a cold garage and unable to use your plug-in heater ... improvise with a warming engine cover — Rahoul Ghose
Taking a step back here, imagine you enter the motorcycle world as a woman who wants to learn how to work on your bike. You have all the people who know what they are doing, you have all the forums, you have YouTube ... And then there’s you, with your first few tools and a ton of insecurity in the middle of all of this.
F I T T I N G I N & T H E ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Großelanghorst’s foray into the moto world, combined with her fashion background, has already produced one significant venture: the fashion-tech start-up Fitted Gloves.
“Have you ever worn motorcycle gloves for an entire day that have a crappy fit,” she says, breaking into passionate promo mode. “And that’s not even the manufacturer’s fault. Some people are lucky that off-the-rack gloves fit their hands well. And then there are others. People with extremely large hands, small hands, partially missing and completely missing fingers, and the list goes on.”
Großelanghorst’s partner, Jay Meany, had been working on the company even before the couple met.
“After we started dating, it rapidly became clear our different backgrounds complimented each other perfectly. He works in tech; I work in fashion.” The concept of Fitted Gloves is simple: Place your order, take a picture of your hand, and after approximately three weeks you get custom-sized motorcycle gloves.
“People are already doing this with shirts and suits so you might be asking why doesn’t this exist for gloves or motorcycle gloves? One of the reasons might be that hands and functional gloves are extremely complex and the number of variables feels nearly infinite sometimes. And there’s the challenge that ‘good fit’ is subjective to a degree.”
The pair been working on this project for multiple years, in addition to their full-time jobs, and have run into every possible challenge.
“Finding a manufacturer in the US was impossible due to the complexity of the product and most factories are also not into the idea of sewing single pairs per size. We are currently at a point where we have a prototype that seems to scale successfully across all sizes. Right now, we are running tests with edge-cases (very small and very large hands) and hope to start our friends and family roll-out in Q2. Our first model will be a lightly armored street glove.“
HIGHLIGHTING W O M E N B U I L D E R S
Enter Royal Enfield, the company’s Build.Train.Race. program and the 650cc parallel twin Continental GT, Großelanghorst’s first ‘new’ motorcycle. It was an opportunity that meant a great deal to her for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the chance to be part of a women’s build movement.
“Royal Enfield created the Build.Train.Race. program to support the female riding community by showing that wrenching and racing is accessible,” Großelanghorst says. “When I started riding, I entered a world where people speak about motorcycle customizations in a way that sometimes sounds borderline fetishistic. Especially when you hang with dudes. Many women spend lots of time working on their bikes, but we are usually not so vocal about it. Taking a step back here, imagine you enter the motorcycle world as a woman who wants to learn how to work on your bike. You have all the people who know what they are doing, you have all the forums, you have YouTube ... And then there’s you, with your first few tools and a ton of insecurity in the middle of all of this.”
“I believe the psychological wrenching-entry-barrier for women would be way lower if there were more female bikers who would say: ‘Look, I actually only vaguely know what I am doing, but I’m rolling with it and I’ll figure it out’. And in my opinion, this is the point that Royal Enfield’s BTR program is communicating. All seven of us in the BTR Road Race program have dipped our toes into working on bikes. But a project like converting a street bike into a race bike? Uhm… nope. But you know what? We’re all doing it and we’re all sharing our ups and downs during the process. We are humans, we make mistakes, but most importantly, we will figure it out.”
Großelanghorst saw the Royal Enfield call for builders in Instagram and submitted a couple of personal videos before being interviewed online and accepted to complete what will be her first build.
Work begins on Scarlett Großelanghorst's Royal Enfield cafe racer, prep for a special race series this summer. — Rahoul Ghose
You’ll laugh, but my favorite Instagram pictures are the ones of people standing next to their adventure bikes that are lying on the ground. I love knowing that I’m not the only person who is learning and making mistakes. It feels more honest than all the glamorous perfect pictures.
"I hoped for the best, expected nothing, and am super stoked to have been given this opportunity. Visually, I do like the classic cafe racer look a lot. From a utilitarian perspective, I like that it has ABS and a slipper clutch. It’s handy for racing, and I never had one on a bike before.”
Großelanghorst has plans to upgrade the $6K Continental GT’s suspension, braking system, controls, exhaust and gearing … “shed all the parts that a race bike doesn’t need, dyno it, and invest some energy into details that are not necessary but that will help me on the track.”
“Royal Enfield is supporting us a lot. Melissa Paris, a professional racer and builder, is our build-coach. And, Royal Enfield has relationships with multiple companies that will support us with parts. My partner also has many years of experience in building motorcycles, and multiple members of the local biker community have offered their support as well. Right now, everything is a bit daunting. It’s a lot to learn. But I know that I have the best support possible and I love the challenge of being pushed into the cold water and having to figure everything out.”
Großelanghorst also has a build class she completed at Motorgrrl garage in Williamsburg under her belt, and on the racing side, several moto courses.
“I’ve dipped my toes into this and that, but nothing I would call real race experience. I’ve done exactly one track day and visited a few riding-style specific motorcycle schools. At times American Supercamp and SoCal Supermoto felt a bit like a race, but in a pretty rowdy, unmannered, yet extremely fun way.”
M A K I N G A L A S T I N G I M P R E S S I O N
Whether it’s the build or testing her finished result on the track, the RENA program is also giving Großelanghorst, a longtime member of The Miss-Fires CC/MC, the chance to impact how the industry sees women riders.
“I see a lot of motorcycle brands trying to capture a percentage of the growing female biker community, but the way this is approached does matter deeply to me as a woman. I am aware that, at the end of the day, this is marketing. But unlike MV Agusta’s (tone deaf) ad — displaying a naked woman on a motorcycle — Royal Enfield is not objectifying women. Royal Enfield is actively empowering women. They are creating a unifying shared experience, regardless of if you are part of the program or not. You’ll laugh, but my favorite Instagram pictures are the ones of people standing next to their adventure bikes that are lying on the ground. I love knowing that I’m not the only person who is learning and making mistakes. It feels more honest than all the glamorous perfect pictures.”
“Speaking about honesty, the BTR program feels very honest to me because is conducted by women for women. The sentiment behind it is believable. And IMHO this is how you build a lasting loyal base. As a woman, I will forever think of (Royal Enfield) as the only motorcycle brand … as far as I know … that actually got out there and actively tried to motivate female bikers to get their hands dirty and risk something. And that is cool. Really cool.”
“It’s just such a rare opportunity to have this amount of professional support. I love having due dates for specific deliverables such as the build-plan submission, the finish date for the build, etc. Because I am being pushed, I simply cannot afford to get hung up on maybes, what-ifs and ‘I’m not sures’. I’m doing it. I have a deadline. I will get it done. That’s it.”
Scarlett Großelanghorst's new Continental 650 GT, in its stock, pre-built state. The race modifications will continue unitl mid-April — Rahoul Ghose
As a woman, I will forever think of (Royal Enfield) as the only motorcycle brand … as far as I know … that actually got out there and actively tried to motivate female bikers to get their hands dirty and risk something. And that is cool. Really cool.
S P O N S O R S N E E D E D
Großelanghorst is currently looking for parts sponsors for her build, which will be completed over the next few months before she begins race training.
“I am currently working on a sponsor deck and a strategic approach for what I need. Turning a street bike into a race bike is definitely not cheap. And I’m not even going full premium on everything. You know how it is with motorcycles … You get a new one, you start with tiny customizations and all of a sudden you look at your bank account. That’s the moment you decide that you will not, never ever, calculate how much money you dumped into your bike.”
You can follow Großelanghorst's build and race adventures on Instagram at: @scarlett_g_m. For more on Fitted Gloves, visit fittedgloves.com or @Fitted_MFG.
We look forward to seeing Großelanghorst on the track, cutting in and out of corners as fast as her ride, training and steely nerves allow. Royal Enfield’s BTR program will be racing with the MotoAmerica series at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota (July 30-August 1), Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania (August 13-15), and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama (September 17-19). Additionally, the BTR participants (and their Royal Enfields) will be interacting with fans at the opening round of the MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, April 30-May 2.
A B O U T R O Y A L E N F I E L D
The oldest motorcycle company in continuous production in the world, Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. A division of Eicher Motors Limited, Royal Enfield has created the mid-size motorcycle segment in India with its unique and distinctive modern classic motorcycles. With its manufacturing base in Chennai, India, Royal Enfield has been able to grow its production rapidly against a surge in demand for its motorcycles. Royal Enfield is a leading player in the global middleweight motorcycle market.
Royal Enfield North America (RENA) is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is developing a growing network of more than 125 dealers in North America, including the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. RENA currently offers the Himalayan and the all-new 650 Twins: INT 650 and Continental GT 650 motorcycles along with a range of genuine motorcycle accessories and apparel. For more information on Royal Enfield North America, please visit: