This Iranian biker is about to become your new Instagram girl crush

The Iranian government has just started allowing women to ride motorcycles on off-road circuits, and Behnaz Shafiei is one of the first to hit the road. She’s also the first and only woman in the country to participate in professional road racing, and she’s been sharing her whole wild ride on Instagram.

Photograph : masoud salamat#behnazshafiei#behnazshafiei

A photo posted by بهناز شفيعي 1⤵️2⤴️3⤴️4⤴️5⤴️ (@behnaz_shafiei) on

The 26-year-old grew up in Karaj, which is near Tehran. She developed a passion for bike riding and motocross while on a family vacation when she was 15 years old, according to The Guardian. She saw a woman riding a bike on the trip and was hooked.

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Women aren’t allowed to ride motorcycles in public, so when she first started out, she snuck into town on her brother’s bike. Even still, fellow Iranians are always surprised to discover a woman beneath the helmet.

“When people find that out, they stop and say damet-garm [Persian for ‘right on’],” Shafiei told The Guardian

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The standard of living for women in Iran is slightly higher than that in neighboring middle eastern countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women are not allowed to drive at all. In Iran, women are allowed to drive, but they’re still not able to obtain licenses for riding a motorcycle, which prevents them from competing.

There is a precedent for women racing cars competitively. Laleh Seddigh is the country’s most famous female race car driver, and she regularly competes in races. Shafiei is hoping to become the motocross world’s answer to Seddigh. 

با يه لباس موتور كه ادم نميشه موتور سوار،، يه موتور سوار باس يه ورزشكار واقعي باشه 💪#behnazshafiei

A photo posted by بهناز شفيعي 1⤵️2⤴️3⤴️4⤴️5⤴️ (@behnaz_shafiei) on

That dream could come true for Shafiei sooner rather than later. The deputy head of Iran’s motorcycle and automobile federation recently told a student news agency that the agency is “working on” getting women motorcycle licenses, despite the fact that more traditional members of society are not comfortable with it. 

The dream for female bikers like Shafiei is to be able to compete at places like Azadi Sport Complex in Tehran, the biggest arena in Iran.

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“My motorbike is my love,” Shafiei told the Guardian. “Motorcycling has changed my life for good, my entire life is tied to motorbikes. If I don’t ride, I’d fall ill. It’s a way for me to empty my mind and free myself.”

Photo via Behnaz Shafiei/Instagram

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.