Welcome to women on wheels
There are plenty of options available for female cyclists. Don’t feel that you have to buy a women-specific bike – you might be more at home on a unisex bike with a different saddle and handlebars.
We are all built in different shapes and sizes and finding the right bike for your body will make sure you’re happy, comfortable and confident.
Don't think in terms of men's bikes and women's bikes, but in terms of unisex bikes and women-specific bikes. The main point to remember with women-specific bikes is they offer you an extension to the unisex bikes you can choose from, not an alternative.
Unisex bikes There are a lot of women, from beginners to professionals, riding unisex bikes. It’s a personal choice, but the main consideration is what will be comfortable for you.
If you’re fairly tall, the longer reach of a unisex/men’s frame might suit you better. You can always swap in a couple of components, such as narrower handlebars and a women's saddle.
Women-specific bikes Thankfully, there’s a lot more choice than shoppers with baskets for female cyclists these days. Bike brands have woken up to the fact that many women don't prefer delicate shades, and while you’ll still encounter a lot of pinks and pastels, there are frames with more muted colour schemes available.
Manufacturers will point out geometry differences, such as a taller head tube for a more comfortable, upright posture, a shorter reach to reduce a stretched-out feeling and step-through options to make getting on and off the bike easier. Again, the bike needs to fit well and work with your body shape.
Women’s specific road bikes tend to be available in smaller frame sizes than unisex road bikes and have shorter stems to reduce the reach to the bars.
It's all about tailoring the contact points - handlebars will be a little narrower than on unisex bikes and you get a women-specific saddle. Brakes and shifters sometimes come with shims or inserts that you can use to make the controls easier to reach and use as well.
Mountain bikes designed for female riders sometimes have a top tube with a kinked appearance which helps to reduce the reach.
Whereas unisex bikes commonly now have 27.5" or 29" wheels, in women's bikes 26” is still commonly used, although you can get a 29er in many models to roll better over obstacles. 27.5” wheels sit somewhere in the middle, giving you a nimble ride with some of the faster-rolling advantages of 29ers.
There isn’t a lot of difference between women’s and unisex hybrid bikes. The main difference is that the women's bikes are available in smaller sizes.
You’ll find similar features such as flat handlebars, relaxed geometry and eyelets for panniers and mudguards on both genders of bike, but women's hybrids will have women-specific saddles and perhaps narrower bars and widths.
More traditional women's hybrids have a step-through frame - sometimes known as a Dutch or loop frame - which is ideal if you plan to ride while wearing a skirt.
Along with women's specific bikes, you'll also find an array of accompanying accessories to improve your ride in terms of comfort and performance.
Again, you might find a men's jacket comes in the colour you want or men's shoes have the wider fit you need - feel free to wear what you want, no one will notice the difference.
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