Diaries Magazine

Buying a Bike That Fits a Woman

By Blairbarnes

Buying a Bike That Fits a Woman

Buying a bicycle can be a challenge! This is particularly the case for women as the obvious physical differences between women and men can make it hard for women to find the ideal bike for them or the right fit in a male dominated bike world.

Buying a women's bike is definitely not as straightforward as buying a men's bike. This is largely because bike manufacturers have only recently woken up to the fact that men are not the only people who cycle.

We've spoken to the experts at Cyclefit and, in consultation with some of GGB's female friends, we have created the following guide of what to look for in a woman's bike and useful pointers on women's bike sizing. We hope it's helpful.

Get specific

Despite the fact that many women ride smaller versions of men's bikes the obvious (and not so obvious) physical differences between women and men mean that men's bike frames tend to be unsuitable for women. As a result, when you are buying a bike there are many advantages in looking at women-specific bikes.

Step through bikes were the original bikes designed for women back in the last century. However, now there are frames and bikes designed for women who want road bikes, mountain bikes, Dutch bikes or Mixte hybrid bikes.

Whatever style of women's bike you want, getting the right women's bike size and adjusting it to fit your physique is critical to the comfort and handling of the bike.

Basic physiology and impact on women's bikes

Bear with us, as we know we all come in different shapes and sizes but women generally have shorter upper bodies than men, with a shorter torso and shorter arms. Conversely, women have longer femurs (thigh bones) and longer legs than a man of the same height as well as wider hips. Women's hands and feet are also generally smaller than men's, while their shoulders are narrower.

One simple example of how this plays into comfort for a woman riding a bike is the saddle. Wider hips mean bigger sit bones. This requires a wider saddle on a women's bike than typically supplied on a man's bike. An illustration of this is the saddle sizes offered by Specialized. They tend to offer saddles in two sizes for men and women. Men get saddles of 130mm and 143mm. Women's saddles are 155mm and 175mm. (Of course, saddles can be easily changed, so, if you prefer to stick with your men's bike you may want to consider replacing the saddle).

Step-Through Frame Bikes/Hybrids

Bike fitting is less of an issue for step-through frame bikes because there is either no top tube or, in the case of a Mixte frame, the tube is heavily slanted. As the riding position on these bikes is upright the best fit is determined by the reach to the handlebars. The head tube on a step through frame tends to be quite long so to maintain an upright riding position.

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