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What's the Deal with: Women's Bikes

What's the Deal with: Women's Bikes

We all know that women and men are built differently, and so are their bicycles. If you think about basic gender differences, especially in the pelvis it makes sense.

Here are a some of the elements that tend to be different about bikes designed for women:

  • Saddles: Seat (aka saddles) have shorter "noses" and wider rears.
  • Gear Levers: These tend to be shorter on women's bikes, since women have smaller hands.
  • Handle Bars: The bar tends to be shorter to accommodate the narrowness of women's shoulders.
  • Frame: These tend to be shorter since women have shorter torsos.

All this said, I know many women with lovely broad shoulders and who are taller than many men I know. So you can throw out the gender labels on bicycles. Do think about these things on your bike or bikes that you are test riding. You can build a bike too and pick out your own "peripherals" so the bike is custom to your hand/shoulder/torso size.


susanec susanec 10 years
I'm due to go back and get a new stem but we knew the first one was temporary. Now I have a better idea what will work and what needs tweaking. And happily my hips have held out really well so it's just the reach that needs a little work. Small victories.
SU3 SU3 10 years
Definitely agree. I was fitted for my first bike (which actually took a couple hours, honestly!), but after riding it for several weeks... I had to go back and get fitted again because I was feeling some stress on my shoulders. Turns out the frame wasn't the appropriate tube length for my height. I was having a hard time reaching the handle bars because I'm kinda' short - so I had to be re-fitted. When you go, I suggest asking them all and any questions that you have because it helps them fit the bike towards your needs. I also found it really interesting to watch them compute everything! :D
Arthur Arthur 10 years
purplesugar, susanec is right: there's alot that can be done with a fitting. Here are some thoughts for you: if you haven't had a well fit bike before, don't worry too much about what feels right to you. weird as it is, a properly fit road bike may not feel right to someone who is not used to it, you'll get used to it, and will be able to bike stronger longer when the fit is right. if you bought the bike new, the bike store *better* be willing to work on the fit and get it to fit or else take the bike back an give you one that will. there are a couple things that they can do beside just raising and lowering the seat post, including: moving the saddle back or forward, raising the handle bars, rotating the handle bars, replacing the head tube to a different size (very commonly needed). When I got my current road bike, it was the first road bike I had owned in 15 years as I had just been mountain biking. I got a quick fitting, went out and rode a couple hundred miles in a few weeks and came back and got it re-fitted, changed the head tube, etc. A couple weeks later I went back again and tweaked some more.
susanec susanec 10 years
Take it in and have it fitted. Depending on the style of bike it is, there's a lot that they can do.
purplesugar purplesugar 10 years
dang Arthur, I could have used that advice a couple weeks ago when I bought my Trek! Your comment sounds eerily similar to my experience- and what do you know, I feel like my seat is too close to the petals yet don't feel like I can raise it much farther from the ground! >:I
Arthur Arthur 10 years
the big manufacturers (cannondale, giant, specialized, trek) all make Woman Specific Designs (WSD). If you go into a bike store, unless they happen to be overstocked in WSD bikes, they will tell you that it is just marketing and doesn't matter. DONT BELIEVE THEM! make sure you try a WSD bike before you settle on a ride. The basic geometry is made for the greater ratio of leg to torso that most women have. Nothing like a good fittin' bike!!
GeikoSera GeikoSera 10 years
I have a woman's "build" bike from Terry ( and it fits like a DREAM! It's so comfy!
rocketgirl rocketgirl 10 years
I have a men's bike because my torso is proportionally longer than most women. I ride my bike to class frequently, and quite a few guys here have the same bike. I get some weird looks from them when they see mine, but the bike is comfortable since it fits me properly.
BearBoyLvr BearBoyLvr 10 years
I ride my bike to and from work every day in the warm months. It's about 5 miles each way, and it offers me some time to get energized, enjoy the nice weather, and get some exercise in, too, especially since my job involves sitting at a computer 8 hours a day. I highly recommend it if it's possible for you!
susanec susanec 10 years
I think it's really important to have a bike fit and to have a chance to play around with things like saddles, especially if you have any physical challenges. I have osteoarthritis in both my hips and the favorite women's saddle of my local bike shop (okay, just one of the ladies there) was horrible for me because it put too much pressure on my joints, a narrow saddle is much better. But for her, since she's had several children, a wider saddle was great.
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