I am a little confused about sizing. I have read some guides that put the standover height only 1'' less than my inseam whereas others suggest 3-5 inches. Is this really just personal preference or will I get slammed into the bike if I get one that is too big? I am also wondering about top tube length. I am a 5'3'' woman. I have a women's specific road bike (Specialized Ruby Expert) and love it. My commuter is a Marin Fairfax (unisex). Does anyone have suggestions on sizing. My dilemma is that I like to get deals on my bikes rather than paying full price at a LBS (i.e I don't always have access to the bikes before I try them out). Just wondering if anyone had any commentary on women's specific vs. small men's bikes. Thanks!
You also have to take top tube length into consideration. I am a 5'4" woman and I have a really long inseam but a short upper body. There are some bike fit websites around that might explain things better. My hardtail was a M but I am going with a S for my full suspension because I think the handling will be better.
My wife tried both a WSD Medium Epic and a men's small. They were very close, but the WSD just felt better to her so that's what she got. I can't describe it and neither could she; just that they were very close, but the WSD was better. Don't know if that helps or not. For what it's worth, her road bike is unisex and she's pretty comfy on that, too.
I think 1" standover is for road bikes, and 3 to 5" standover is for mountain bikes. My mountain bike has about .5" standover, a faux pas, i know, but i love the bike. So those measurements are guidelines but variable. If you will be riding really rough hardcore stuff the bike with more standover room will be easier to manuever and recover from crashes.
There is a way to judge if top tube length is right for you but I forget what it is. I think TT length is one of the main differences in WSD to men's bikes. I've been told Gary Fishers and Treks have the same geometry except for TT length. I tried several Gary Fishers and they all felt terrible to me. Tried several Trek's and liked them. (which sucks because Gary Fishers have way cooler paint jobs)
My wife is 5'4" and also has a long inseam and short upper body. She said she felt good on a 16" Trek 3700. we rode quite a bit. The bike fit fine but quality was an issue as we rode pretty rough stuff. So when it came time to replace it she went for a 16" Trek Fuel EX 7 WSD and said it felt worlds better. She said it actually "felt" like the same size, but just seem to make her back/neck/arms etc.. feel better, but her angles and breathing room seemed the same.
Oh and as far as savings, yes, sadly, men's bikes often have better sales because the stores buy more of them then need to get rid of them for new models.
The WSD bikes are great if you're built like a typical woman...longer legs and shorter arms compared to men...these bikes offer a shorter top tube and longer seat tube when compared to the unisex designs.
My 5'8" daughter fits this profile and rides a WSD and tells me that its the most comfortable bike she has owned...no more back pain
My 5'5" wife has a longer torso and shorter legs and can't ride a WSD so a small traditional frame works best
check out the pics of their bikes and note the difference in seat hight and top tube/seat tube length...I would suggest that you have to sit and ride the bike before you can determine what works best for you...it gets more complicated as each manufacturer has different specs...a 17" Trek is very different from a 17" Giant, and the saddle on my 17" XC bike comes up to my wife's shoulder