The debate about ladies’ bikes has gone on for some time; for women, usually centring on the question, ‘Should I get one?’ But how can female cyclists know whether or not to buy a ladies’ bike when the answer seems to depend on whom you ask? As it turns out, only comfort can help you make an informed decision.
Because the male anatomy differs significantly from that of the average female, bicycles require a perfect fit for optimum efficiency, performance and rider comfort, even the subtlest tweaks to frame geometry and setup can have a major impact on all three.
Positioning in the saddle will help determine the right bike for you. Because women generally have shorter torsos than men, they will have to stretch farther to reach the handlebars on a standard bike. Ladies’ bikes feature a shorter horizontal top tube, which may not matter much for short, sporadic rides but will keep you comfortable on longer trips.
The handlebar, one of the three contact points between rider and machine, also deserves important consideration. The stem, a horizontal bar that connects the headset to the handlebar, is longer on a standard bike. A shorter stem working in conjunction with a shorter top tube on the frame allows the average female rider to sit comfortably in the saddle. You could also replace the stem on a men’s bike with something shorter.
The handlebar itself is also wider on a men’s bike, to accommodate wider shoulders. Women may experience pain on long rides if they have to extend their shoulders just to manage a proper grip with their hands. On a ladies’ road bike, too, the brake levers are designed to work with smaller hands and shorter fingers.
The saddle is another contact point and here too the differences are subtle but important. Women’s saddles should ideally be slightly wider to relieve pressure and accommodate a wider gap between their sitting bones. But saddles are easily interchangeable.
Backpeddling’s qualified staff can help you find the right bike for your unique needs. Visit www.backpeddling.com to browse their extensive collection of men’s and ladies’ bikes.