Mountain Biking - Need a woman's advice please
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05-03-08, 08:28 PM
Hi there! This will be a bit long, but I want people do know I've done my research, searched WSD on these boards (which was somewhat helpful), checked the FAQs and am still curious what women are riding.
This year I turn 30 and want to find a new thrill outside of my house. I haven't ridden a bike in years, and even then it was casually/for short distances.
I'm looking to ride for exercise on paved trails by my home but I want a bike that I can continue to enjoy in other ways once I get bitten by 'the bug'. I'm starting to veer away from the hybrid/fitness because I would like a bike I could also bring camping/to the lake and not worry about hitting unpaved trails. I'm not planning to do any heavy trails or anything.
I visited the bike shops in my area and most enjoyed the following 3:
Hybrid: Giant Cypress ($360)--I liked this one because it put me in a comfortable position over the handlebars and shifting was smooth. It seemed sturdy enough to take it on somewhat rocky paths.
Fitness: Trek 7.3 FX WSD ($529)/7.2 FX WSD ($459)--I liked these because they shifted easily and they were highly recommended by the people at the shop. I couldn't really tell which one I liked better, which made me lean more toward the 7.2 to save some dough.
Mountain: Trek 3700 WSD ($329)/3900 WSD ($369)--I could only try the 3700 out since the 3900 was too small, but this felt like a perfect fit. My arms and legs felt that they were in the perfect position and I LOVE the shifter. I'm leaning heavily toward ordering the 3900 in my size because the shifting should be a bit better, but the information I've gotten from this forum about the men's 3900 says that I might be better off trying something else. I'd love to get the 3700 because I wouldn't have to wait for it to arrive.
I'd like to see what the other ladies are riding. Is there anything comparable in comfort/size/style to the Trek 3700/3900 that others are riding? I'd be willing to drive to a futher store to try one out, as long as I knew what I was hoping to see at others stores.
Thanks for reading, and any advice you have for a new rider.
05-03-08, 09:03 PM
I'm not a woman (no matter what everyone says), but I'd like to point out that you should try the non-WSD bikes as well if you haven't already. A standard men's bike may fit you better than the WSD equivalent.
05-04-08, 05:50 AM
What negative feedback have you heard on the 3700/3900? It's a solid bike that will last for years if you treat it right. And since it doesn't look like you plan on throwing the thing off 10 foot cliffs then it should take anything you can dish out.
That Giant hybrid should be able to handle some light trail work and will likely be faster and more enjoyable on the street than a full mountain bike. Front suspension is nice on a rough trail but it works against you on the road where you really want a rigid front fork. If most of your riding will be on pavement or groomed trails then a hybrid would be perfect while still offering some offroad capability for the rare trail.
Also, don't forget tires. Knobbie dirt tires are noisy and slow on the street, slick tires are much better but don't offer good grip on dirt.
05-04-08, 01:47 PM
Thanks to both of you for the replies.
I've tried a handful of men's bikes also, but the women's bikes seemed more comfortable. I'm pretty sure the Giant is a men/woman's bike. I'm only 5'5", but I'm flexible in trying whichever bike is going to work best for me.
Chris, you've put the Giant back in the running, as I don't know how much a regular mountain bike would affect me for what I'll mostly be doing, which is riding on paved bike paths. I want to be sure that whatever I decide on, it will be something that I'll want to use a lot!
My boyfriend does not have a bike either but he's interested in going right for a rugged mountain bike, which makes me lean toward doing the same.
Thanks for the advice. Today I'm visiting 3 more shops a bit further out and will try several men's bikes too.
05-04-08, 01:51 PM
I am making a copy of this thread and putting it in the Women's Forum so that you might get more feedback. :)
05-04-08, 02:13 PM
You can definitely use a mountain bike on paved roads. I used to take my hardtail on 50 mile road rides before I bought a road bike, and other than the fact that I was slow, it worked fine. You can also put slicks on it, which will make it a little faster, and they'll wear less quickly. Personally, if you're only buying one bike, and you have any thoughts at all of doing trails, I would go this route, since a mountain bike can do paved roads, but a comfort or hybrid or whatever those other bikes are...well, I guess it could do some trails, but I'm definitely not daring enough to attempt that.
Definitely try men's bikes too. I was just shopping for a new bike, and I tried out a ridiculous number of bikes, two of which were women-specific. Both of them just felt ******** under me...I can't even tell you what it was about them exactly, but both bikes' geometries just felt off. The eventual choice? A Yeti...and Yeti employs all of two women, has no women-specific bikes, and doesn't touch the subject of fit for women in their facts. Yet one of their bikes fit me perfectly...way better than any of the women-specific bikes I looked at. And even if you fit one women-specific bike, it doesn't mean you'll fit every women-specific bike, even by the same company. My road bike is a Specialized Ruby (WSD)...so I figured the Specialized Safire (WSD mountain bike) would be great. Was the worst fit of any bike I looked at.
And for the record, my hardtail is also a unisex bike, and while it's not a bad fit, it's not quite as perfect as the Yeti I just ordered. So if one unisex bike doesn't fit you, don't assume that all unisex bikes won't fit you and you have to go WSD.
05-04-08, 03:06 PM
Generally speaking, WSD become required when a woman has long legs in proportion to her height. For example, I am 5'8" with a 29" inseam and have been able to ride most bikes meant for my height. An acquaintance of mine is 5'8" with a 33" inseam and has never been able to ride anything but WSD bikes since she stopped growing. YMMV.
05-04-08, 05:28 PM
Some information on women's specific bikes.
05-04-08, 08:41 PM
just got a friend (who is a girl) on a 3700 wsd for road riding. She was concerned about price (first "real" bike) and it just seems like you get more bang for the buck with a mountain bike over a hybrid imo. For a few months i rode slicks-only on trails and was fine...then I learned the bike I was riding had slicks. You don't notice too bad unless you hit loose soil or mud (which it doesn't sound you are aiming for).
If you have the money though, a decent set of 700x38c tires with one of the FX series will hold up to the paths it seems like you intend to ride and will do alot better on the streets then the mtb will.
it kinda depends on you what you mean by unpaved. if you mean gravel and cinder trails and tow paths then i would get a hybrid/fitness, anything with roots/ hiking trail i would go mtb... or course once you are "bitten" by the bug you will need one of each ;)
I had a Trek 3700, the men's version. I bought a KHS Alite 300 after that. Both were around $400.
The Trek was great. The components worked very well and the shifting was dependable, at least for the first 1000 miles.
The KHS Alite sucked horribly. Over the course of a year I probably spent more money getting it repaired than I did buying it in the first place. After a year of the same abuse I put the Trek through, it was next to unridable.
With both bikes, I had the shop swap out the stock shock-absorber fork for a rigid one. The shocks on these bikes are trash.
If you're going to buy a cheap bike, I would recommend the Trek 3700, simply because my experience with it was very positive. It's definitely a good value. I rode that bike all the time and I rode it hard. I didn't realize how much I liked it until it was stolen.
Best of luck to you in your search for the right bike. Report back with pics once you get it :)
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