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What about bikes specifically designed for women?
Liz Colergook is an occupational therapist, bespoke bike maker, bike mechanic and frame builder. She shares her thoughts on the necessity of women’s specific design bikes.
With my more than thirty years of experience in cycle trade and a few years of job as an occupational therapist, I believe hybrid bikes for ladies must be specifically designed for the comfort and safety of a female body.
The sole reason why women need specifically designed bikes is the physical differences between men and women. Reasons, why a female cyclist must have specific hybrid bike womens, are:
Length of the back
Women generally have longer legs but shorter backs than men.
So, bikes for women must have specifically designed shorter top tube and handlebar stem compared to men’s bikes.
The female riders can be more comfortable in this arrangement because they can reach the saddle and handlebar easily.
Regardless of gender, anyone is bound to feel stretched if this reach is too long which can cause pain in the upper back and neck.
On the contrary, too short a reach will make the biker feel restricted which is also very inconvenient.
Size of the hand
Like backs, hands of a woman are also shorter than those of a man.
In a bike, the distance of the brake lever and the handlebar can be reduced by using small interchangeable blocks which brings them closer so the riders can grasp the handlebar easily.
If you buy a normal bike, then these dual-function brake levers will be designed according to male hand size.
As you have smaller hands, you need to purchase a women’s bike.
Height of saddle and handlebar
The saddle of the bike is needed to set significantly higher than the given height of the handlebar.
Generally, there must be a drop of minimum 25mm between the two heights.
However, according to the length and flexibility of your back, this drop may vary.
The drop can be deep if the back is long and flexible, but too deep a drop will cause strain to neck.
When you buy a women’s cycle, you also need to check out if the configuration of the stem allows the handlebars to be raised.
Width of the shoulder
A woman has narrower shoulders than a man. Therefore, bikes specifically designed for ladies must have a narrower handlebar.
If they are wide, then the rider’s arms will be spread and your body will act like a sail by trapping more air while riding, which will make riding inconvenient due to the wind resistance.
The smaller hole you punch in the air, the easily and smoothly you can ride your bike.
The shape of the saddle
Saddle in the most important component in a women’s bike. Choosing a saddle that is designed perfectly and fits is like choosing the right shoe for you.
Generally, women’s sitting bones are wider than men.
The sitting bones, technically named as ‘ischial tuberosities’, are two curved bones that are arranged like two sides of a triangle.
This bony structure of the pelvis contacts the saddle of a bike.
Remember that the contact points widen when you sit up and narrow down when you lean forward.
So, you need to choose your saddle according to your sitting style.
Women must buy specific bikes for them with wide saddles for comfortable riding.
Finally, you need to consider the height of the bottom bracket and the crank arm length. This is especially necessary with people with short height.
People under 5’5’’ should opt for a crank arm of 165mm or less. So, women who generally have a short height than men should choose a women-specific bike with the right components.
To answer the question if women need a specific bicycle, we have to say that all riders need bikes that fit well with them. We must keep in mind that all of us are different and so is our body.
Moreover, our body changes from time to time.
Sadly, most of the bicycle shops are not yet specialized in dealing with men’s and women’s bikes differently to bring out their full potential.
However, a ride becomes joyous only when the bike is adjusted to fit its rider.