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How different are women's bikes?

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How different are women's bikes?

Old 02-14-12, 12:02 PM
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Arboleda
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How different are women's bikes?

My wife may be interested in getting started. We'd buy something under $1500 under it becomes clear that she'll stick with it.

Does buying a bike designed for a woman really make much difference versus buying a men's bike?

Can any women speak to this?
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Old 02-14-12, 12:11 PM
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Bicycling Mag this month addresses female specific bikes. Just a thought.
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Old 02-14-12, 12:48 PM
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Mostly they are in softer colors.

Seriously, aside from marketing, it's this: Many women have their height in their legs as opposed to torso. This makes traditional men's bikes too long in the top tube if they are right in the seat tube height. Women of this proportion end up having a very short, awkward stem, or riding a bike that doesn't fit. Women's specific bikes attempt to solve this with different frame geometry.
Because many women are smaller than the traditional bikes designed for average sized men, there are issues of toe overlap and just making a small enough bike that some manufacturers try to address. Sometimes it's smaller wheels, sometimes a smaller front wheel.

Sometimes it's just paint and marketing; "pink it and shrink it."
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Old 02-14-12, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
Mostly they are in softer colors.

Seriously, aside from marketing, it's this: Many women have their height in their legs as opposed to torso. This makes traditional men's bikes too long in the top tube if they are right in the seat tube height. Women of this proportion end up having a very short, awkward stem, or riding a bike that doesn't fit. Women's specific bikes attempt to solve this with different frame geometry.
Because many women are smaller than the traditional bikes designed for average sized men, there are issues of toe overlap and just making a small enough bike that some manufacturers try to address. Sometimes it's smaller wheels, sometimes a smaller front wheel.

Sometimes it's just paint and marketing; "pink it and shrink it."
Very good writeup. Look at the geometry, and most of all ride them to see what fits best. In most cases you'll see a short top-tube, and in previous years Shimano Short reach shifters (I haven't seen these with the current generation, with SRAM they have reach adjust so it doesn't matter).

The toe overlap is a problem on smaller sizes (Men's and Women's). I'd suggest getting your wife to test-ride a bunch of different bikes and see what she likes. If you're not sure that she'll stick with it, consider something used (you can always upgrade later). If you're close in size, get something you might ride if she doesn't like it?
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Old 02-14-12, 12:59 PM
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Other Features

Some WSDs also include:
- shorter reach brake levers
- narrower handlebars, and
- saddles tailored for female anatomy.

All of which you can add yourself later.

If you can find a woman's bike to compare to a man's bike in a similar frame size, that might help her to determine what is a comfortable fit for her. If she has a longer torso, a man's frame might be just fine.

If she's a taller woman, you'll have more options. Good luck.
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Old 02-14-12, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
Mostly they are in softer colors.

Seriously, aside from marketing, it's this: Many women have their height in their legs as opposed to torso. This makes traditional men's bikes too long in the top tube if they are right in the seat tube height. Women of this proportion end up having a very short, awkward stem, or riding a bike that doesn't fit. Women's specific bikes attempt to solve this with different frame geometry.
Because many women are smaller than the traditional bikes designed for average sized men, there are issues of toe overlap and just making a small enough bike that some manufacturers try to address. Sometimes it's smaller wheels, sometimes a smaller front wheel.

Sometimes it's just paint and marketing; "pink it and shrink it."
Beat me to it
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Old 02-14-12, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by SuncoastChad View Post
Bicycling Mag this month addresses female specific bikes. Just a thought.
read the article. Boils down to "ride what fits".
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Old 02-14-12, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
Mostly they are in softer colors.

Seriously, aside from marketing, it's this: Many women have their height in their legs as opposed to torso. This makes traditional men's bikes too long in the top tube if they are right in the seat tube height. Women of this proportion end up having a very short, awkward stem, or riding a bike that doesn't fit. Women's specific bikes attempt to solve this with different frame geometry.
Because many women are smaller than the traditional bikes designed for average sized men, there are issues of toe overlap and just making a small enough bike that some manufacturers try to address. Sometimes it's smaller wheels, sometimes a smaller front wheel.

Sometimes it's just paint and marketing; "pink it and shrink it."
The article in Bicycling mag actually deals with different center of gravity (kinda duh!). Anyway, if OP's wife is 5'5" and taller, flexible enough and has some upper body/core strength, she can try anything and find what fits, regardless of color scheme.

Anecdotal reference point - 5'7" middle age female, light Athena, my noble steed is 2008 Tricross Comp in 54cm size, stock, except BG Jett saddle (that one is women-specific).
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