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Relevance of female v. male bikes?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Relevance of female v. male bikes?

Old 09-09-04, 01:45 PM
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iamdoingthat
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Relevance of female v. male bikes?

Hi everyone, new user here.

I was just curious if a male riding a female bike would be severly uncomfortable or disadvantaged because he is riding a woman's bike? As far as I can see, only the top tube is shaped differently, but assuming the frame is the right size, is there any reason not to?

I ask because almost all of the bargains on road bikes in this area are women's bikes, and being small (5'7") they would fit too. If I can get over the emotional trauma of riding a woman's bike, is there any other reason not to buy one?

Thanks, and sorry for my blatant ignorance.
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Old 09-09-04, 02:07 PM
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No one has to know if you pull the streamers off the handlebars

::ducks::
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Old 09-09-04, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by iamdoingthat
Hi everyone, new user here.

I was just curious if a male riding a female bike would be severly uncomfortable or disadvantaged because he is riding a woman's bike? As far as I can see, only the top tube is shaped differently, but assuming the frame is the right size, is there any reason not to?

I ask because almost all of the bargains on road bikes in this area are women's bikes, and being small (5'7") they would fit too. If I can get over the emotional trauma of riding a woman's bike, is there any other reason not to buy one?

Thanks, and sorry for my blatant ignorance.
As long as it fits and isn't pink.
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Old 09-09-04, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by JBehrmann
No one has to know if you pull the streamers off the handlebars

::ducks::

Yeah but the pink paint with the white flowers always give them away!

I'm not sure there is a difference unless some manufactures are offering bikes that come with more female style components. There are female specific seats and they might come with a shorter stem and a smaller bar width than the same bike would if it were Male specific.
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Old 09-09-04, 02:19 PM
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WSD bikes (women's specific design) are supposed to have geometry that fits better for women, but the sloping top tube is a separate thing - that's "compact geometry" which if found on entire brands of bikes like Lemond, Giant, Specialized and Bianchi.
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Old 09-09-04, 03:15 PM
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WSD bicycles are designed with proportionally shorter top tube, a taller head tube, and a longer seat tube to provide superior ergonomics for women, who typically have longer legs and shorter torsos than men. These bikes also include shorter stems, women's saddles, and narrower handlebars.

Last edited by edmaverik; 09-09-04 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 09-09-04, 03:35 PM
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women's frames are designed that way because of the natural way many women mount the bike. but a man can ride a womens and if the women can mount like a man then she can ride a mens frame.
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Old 09-09-04, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 2Rodies
Yeah but the pink paint with the white flowers always give them away!
. . .
That and the fact that they are trailed by all the male bikes "in season". . .

Where do you think all those kids bikes come from?
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Old 09-09-04, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by edmaverik
WSD bicycles are designed with ............., a taller head tube, and a longer seat tube ............... Lastly, WSD bikes are from 47 to 51cm.
Wrong.
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Old 09-09-04, 05:59 PM
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Depends on what they are refering to when they say ladies' frame - does the top tube slope WAY down or does it look mostly like a mens' frame? Either way you can certainly ride one, especially if you are short in the torso.

I have long disagreed with the term "Ladies' bike" when talking about a bike that has a short top tube length - I'm all lady and I'm ALL torso. I find these bikes horribly uncomfortable. I need a short stand over, long top tube bike with a fairly wide bar compared to most women. Just trying to say that nobody is built exactly like anybody else, no matter what else you may have in common - like gender.

I do have a few male customers that have what I call a "traditional ladies' bike" with the step-through frame design because of mobility issues and/or child seats mounted on the back. Since a lot more ladies' bikes are coming in bolder colors these days it doesn't look like they are out riding mom's bike.
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Old 09-09-04, 06:30 PM
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Quoted from the Titus Bicycles website:

For shorter females (5'5" and under), it is time to go looking for a female specific bike! A true women's specific design will use tubing that is smaller in diameter and lighter than that used on larger sizes of the same model. The result will be a markedly lighter frame with better ride quality. On women specific suspension bikes, shocks have their suspension tuned for lighter riders.

When it comes to fit, a true woman specific design will feature adjusted angles and geometry to fit a female's body dimensions. Aside from a shorter top tube needed for a comfortable reach and increased standover, the seat angle should be steeper to accommodate a woman's shorter femur length. The steeper seat angle position allows a woman to be positioned properly over the pedals.

The seat tube angle should be between 74 and 75 degrees. The average seat angle for both road and mountain non-female specific designs is typically between 72 and 73.5 degrees. This steeper seat angle also contributes to better handling. A steeper seat angle results in a longer, more stable wheelbase. The short top tube on female specific designs shortens the wheelbase, making it less stable. Anything that can be done to get the wheelbase a little more stretched out on a small frame will result in a more stable, better handling bike. This rule also applies to the front of the bike. There is nothing more disconcerting on a mountain bike than having overlap between a rider's toes and the front tire. Overlap on a road bike is sometimes unavoidable. On a mountain bike, it negatively affects your entire cycling experience. Having overlap will keep you from being able to negotiate tight turns. The bike will feel twitchy at high speeds, and the front tire will be so close to the cranks that even mid-sized drop-offs could result in a trip over the bars. Because of this, a properly designed bike with woman specific geometry should have a more relaxed (slacker) head angle. The slacker head angle will put the front wheel farther away from your feet, lengthen the wheelbase and result in better handling. A standard mountain frame typically has a head angle of 71 to 71.5 degrees. Women specific designs should be between 69.5 and 70.5 degrees. On road bikes the angle should be between 71.5 and 72.5 degrees.

If you want to read the entire article go to http://www.titusti.com/womenfit.html

Kathi
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Old 09-09-04, 07:47 PM
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i read something from bianchi that said WSD bikes are completely stupid, a total marketing gimmick. the idea being there's no standard size for women. bikes don't fit gender, they fit riders. there's as much variation in body geometry between any two women as there is between a man and a woman. i kinda bought it, actually. think of the women you know. can you honestly say they all fit a specific physiological profile (other than, generally, being shorter)?
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Old 09-09-04, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pgreene
i read something from bianchi that said WSD bikes are completely stupid, a total marketing gimmick. the idea being there's no standard size for women. bikes don't fit gender, they fit riders. there's as much variation in body geometry between any two women as there is between a man and a woman. i kinda bought it, actually. think of the women you know. can you honestly say they all fit a specific physiological profile (other than, generally, being shorter)?
Buy it or not,but there really are WS geometrys that fit some women better than any anything standard. It's usually the 650 wheels and shorter TT that makes it work.Mabe you would feel beter if they called it somethng different?
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Old 09-10-04, 09:02 AM
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It's not what the bike is called its the geometry that matters. When Cannondale came out with smaller bikes they were simply called compacts (not the same as today's compacts) in sizes 45-49 cm. Trek coined the term WSD, then Cannondale changed their name to Feminique. Note that Aegis just calls their small frame the Swift (for riders 5'6" and under). However, the frame only comes in sizes 44-48.

When I got my Swift there was a very short guy on a tour I was on. He took a spin on my 44cm frame and fell in love with it.

In the mtn biking world most small frames have the slacker seat tube angles as mentioned in the Titus article. But as the article states just shortening the tt and not changing the st or ht angles affect handling and toe overlap.

I have a 14" Voodoo mtn bike 1995 vintage. It has a shorter tt but the st and ht angles are the same as the bigger bikes. I didn't notice much difference because I wasn't a hard core roadie in those days, but I did feel that the Voodoo wasn't very quick in handling. There were some other issues like a too long stem and too low handlebars. For the last 4 years I've averaged around 2,000 miles on my road bike and because I spent so much time on it when I would ride the mtn bike it just didn't feel right. I was too far away from the pedals, I felt like I was on a recumbant bike. I believed it was the st angle but wasn't sure.

So I searched for a new mtn bike and not a Cannondale or Trek WSD. I found Titus and they were about the only high end mtn bike company that designed a stock frame correctly for a small rider. At Christmas I found a Titus RacerX (no WSD in the name) in a xs all build up and ready to ride. The bike fit perfectly (similiar geometry to my road bike). I now have the same riding position, especially up and over the pedals as my road bike. There is such a difference in handling and power on this bike. Because I have a correct fit on my bike I ride the trails more aggressively and confidently.

So, to me it doesn't matter what the bike is called, it matters that it has the correct geometry for a small rider. And you guys can critize all you want, I know from experience that the special geometry works.

Kathi
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Old 09-10-04, 09:10 AM
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women's frames are designed that way because of the natural way many women mount the bike
Huh?

.....
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Old 09-10-04, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by larue
women's frames are designed that way because of the natural way many women mount the bike. but a man can ride a womens and if the women can mount like a man then she can ride a mens frame.
I've seen guys do it that way too.Maybe they are 'girlly men'.Also maybe better to steer clear of this 'mounting' business?
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Old 09-10-04, 09:32 AM
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Laggard, I wondered about that too. How do I get on a bike differently than a man? My partner and I mount our bikes exactly the same way.

Maybe I'm feeling cranky today but why is it when companies develop a product for people other than the average male it is treated with suspicion, misunderstood and rejected? The same thing happens in the ski industry with women's skis. Men are always debating the need for such a product.

I for one am happy that some bicycle and ski companies recognize that one size doesn't fit all, that some of us are 5'2" or less and are trying to meet our needs. Both sports were much more difficult for me before the advent of specialized products for small people.

So if it doesn't meet your needs don't knock it, obviously, someone has a need for it or it wouldn't be selling!

Kathi
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Old 09-10-04, 10:28 AM
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Well, I do agree that there is a need for short top tube bikes, I just wish the manyfacturers didn't call them all "women's" bikes. I have short torso male customers who would greatly benefit from the fit of these bikes but would never come in my store again if I even mentioned that they should consider one of these bikes.

I am glad that the manufacturers are seeing the need to design bikes better for women, as we are a valid user group and have been largely overlooked. But sometimes I do feel they carry it too far. Specialized has a women's tire. I know, I've heard about all the benefits it gives a smaller rider. Maybe someone else did find it was better for them, I just think it's the silliest thing I've ever heard of.
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Old 09-10-04, 10:57 AM
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Someone tell us: How do women mount a bike differently than men?
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Old 09-10-04, 11:08 AM
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Well, certain "women's" bikes have the top tube that slopes way down low, allowing a woman to sit on the saddle and kick their leg over the top tube. I think most people go over the back. Maybe this is considered un lady like. I dunno.
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Old 09-13-04, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Laggard
Someone tell us: How do women mount a bike differently than men?
Well, a "ladies" bike has the severely sloped top tube, and I always assumed that's from back-in-the-day when women would wear a long skirt, and not be able to throw her leg over the back of the seat (because of impropriety and fabric restrictions), so a woman mounts her bike by stepping over the top tube and sitting down on the seat.

Whereas a men's bike, with the straight top tube, can be mounted like a horse. Toss your leg over the rear and hop onto the seat.

But thanks for all of the information folks. It seems that the distinction between ladies and mens bikes is more about size/weight than gender. The whole "longer legs, shorter torso" argument seems to be used whenever there are gender specific models, but who knows if there's any truth to it. I'll just "ride it and see how it is."
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Old 09-13-04, 01:06 PM
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I think if the bike fits and you like it buy it!
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Old 09-13-04, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by pgreene
i read something from bianchi that said WSD bikes are completely stupid, a total marketing gimmick. the idea being there's no standard size for women. bikes don't fit gender, they fit riders. there's as much variation in body geometry between any two women as there is between a man and a woman. i kinda bought it, actually. think of the women you know. can you honestly say they all fit a specific physiological profile (other than, generally, being shorter)?
This is so true. The whole WSD thing is a pile of crap. For years, you could get a racing bike with 24" high-pressure wheels and tires...if was for riders under 5' tall (junior rides). I bet they still sell them in Europe. It was just a downsized racing bike. It is the same with 'women's saddle'. All the racing and fast women riders I know use a standard (men's?) saddle. It’s a marketing ploy.

Standard road frames can fit any rider from about 5’2 to about 6’7”. Standard geometry calls for the seat tube to get steeper and the head to get slacker as the bike gets smaller. This keeps the wheelbase as constant as possible. Under that 5’ or so in height one may want to consider a 650 c wheeled bike and over 6’7” tall,…well… you will just not fit right because they don’t make crank arms long enough and if one had custom crank arms made to the proper length, the arms would hit the ground, or hit the front wheel…and so on..and so on…and so on…
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Old 09-13-04, 03:14 PM
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Duh, it's an ancient design from back in the day when women generally still wore skirts for everything and it was hard to mount a standard bike frame with a skirt on.
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Old 09-14-04, 02:36 AM
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Well, it depends on what you mean by women's bike. The mixte frame does not have a top tube going along the top of the frame's triangle. The idea with this was to make an open space so women could get on a bike and ride it whilst they were wearing long skirts. Bicycling was very popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century and that was a concession to the style demand that women always wear long skirts. I have heard that bloomers were invented so that women could ride bicycles more conveniently and still look sort of acceptable according to the fashion of the times. If that is true, cycling made a small but important contribution to the early part of the women's liberation movement.

I understand that women tend to have different proportions then men. Women, for their height, tend to have shorter torsos and longer legs then men. This means that if a woman is sized on a "man's" bike, she will tend to have to reach too far for the handlebars. However, I think for most women, this problem can be solved by swapping out the stem for a shorter one. From what I have heard, women designed bikes are most essential for petite women (5'2" or shorter) who have a very difficult time getting a proper fit on a standard designed bike if they can find one that small in the first place.
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