Women's Road Bikes

share ideas, ask questions and talk to other women in the sport
Jammy_Dodger87
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 14:40 pm

Women's Road Bikes

Postby Jammy_Dodger87 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 15:02 pm

Hi all,

I've been looking to buy a road bike for the last 4 months and am really struggling with conflicting advice and ideas. I'm looking for a road bike for long, potentially very hilly, rides with a budget of up to ~£1200.

I am 5ft 3" and have a "typical" women's geometry; slightly longer legs than a man of my (tiny) stature, and a shorter reach. As such, I have always made sure to go for female specific bikes with a female geom. frame. However, recently I've been told that there's no need, so long as the stem length and handlebars are swapped over, I could go for a men's frame? However, I'm wondering why companies look into women's specific geometric frames if this is the case? I'm still inclined to think that for a road bike, I'd best keep to a ladies specific bike? Please, any thoughts on this would be wonderful.

Further to this, the main reason I've still not got a road bike after months of searching - aluminium or carbon. Yes, the age old question, which is over-asked. For the budget I have, my other half thinks I would be better off buying an aluminium frame with better components i.e. 105s. I am uncertain whether it would be better to go carbon - I have looked at the Specialized Ruby (which is £1200 with Sora, or £1500 with Tiagra) - although it was a 20lb bike, which to me seems heavy for carbon, which makes me think, what with one of the main ideas of carbon bikes being that they're lighter, kind of defeats the idea of getting one? T'other I've looked at is the Giant Avail Composite 3, kitted in Tiagra for £1250 (without peddles, and weighs ~18.5lbs). However, the one I tested today was a size too big and they said they'd only order in the smaller frame size if I bought it (annoyingly). So, I was thinking of getting carbon with more basic components and then upgrading in the summer of next year.
So, I'm just interested to hear opinions from lovely people out there with road bike experience; go for aluminium with better components, or carbon with cheaper to upgrade at a later date?

Thanks in advance for all your opinions, and for making it through this essay!

User avatar
Crankbrother
Posts: 1678
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 21:42 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby Crankbrother » Wed Nov 28, 2012 23:28 pm

My gf is also 5'3" and gets on fine with her 48cm Cannondale Synapse ... It was the standard version but she bought women's bars, a shorter (90mm) stem and a women's saddle ... The saddle and bar tape were white to give it a bit mor feminine edge ...

She also changed the crankset to a 48/34 compact which she found better than the previous triples she had used ...

Ended up £1200 all told ... Which for a £1500 bike and £300 worth of changes/upgrades is pretty decent ...

leedsmjh
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:16 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby leedsmjh » Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:32 pm

Something to bear in mind is that for many manufacturers the womens bike geometry and sportive bike geometry are similar if not identical.
If you have small hands then I'd recommend you try the different types of brake/shifters to see which ones suit as they tend to be different sizes. You want to be able to comfortably use the brakes from both the hoods and the bars.

jane90
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 19:12 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby jane90 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 15:49 pm

I can't really offer any advice as I've only been cycling a few months and I'm a bit taller, I'm 5'11, but as I'm about to buy a new bike myself I've been doing a bit of research and came across a couple of articles by an Australian bike fitter:

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/wp- ... issues.pdf
http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/wp- ... issues.pdf

who says that the main feature of women specific bikes is that they have steeper seat tube angles to get a shorter top tube which don't, in his opinion, make any difference wherase the right choices of saddle and handlebars are more important (he goes into the reasons why in the articles). He seems to be well qualified but whether it's good advice. probably other people on the forum are better able to judge than me.

It is, though, also the advice I've been given at a couple of my LBS's who have suggested a few bikes for me to test-ride when the weather improves a bit, all of which are men's bikes.

mw22
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 21:25 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby mw22 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 09:38 am

I recently got my GF a Canyon Ultimate AL.
Great spec, very light (7.7kg), hers came with an 11-32 casette with a compact chainset - so ideal for going uphills.
They also offered free exchance on saddle for a female specific one.
She's 5,6" and got hers in a 53". So the 50" may be suitable for you.

Delivery was within a week!

Mike
Road: Kuota Kebel 2009
MTB: Cube Ltd Race 2010
CX: Focus Mares Disc 2009

jane90
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 19:12 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby jane90 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 13:11 pm

Hi Mike,

Apologies for the slight hijack but I've also still been very interested in Canyon bikes, despite being advised by others on the forum to play safe and go for a bike I've actually been able to test-ride. Looking at the Canyon site you seem to be able to get a much better bike for the money than the ones I've been pointed to at my LBS's and I do like the look of them. DId your GF use the online sizing chart? I'd be very interested to know if it turned out to be accurate or if there were any problems. I can see that there's an option to change saddle but not the handlebars, although they do ask for your shoulder measurement; so did they take that into account in sending the right size?

Many thanks.

mw22
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 21:25 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby mw22 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 13:32 pm

Yes - we used the online sizing chart for her.
She'd never had a road bike before (so anything was going to seem quite different for her) and seemed to be between sizes on alot of bikes. TBH I dont think Canyon was much different, I think had she got a 50" it wouldve still fitted but been on the smaller size - likewise she seems comfortable on the 53" - looks a little long to me, but shes had no issues.
Her biggest concern was reach on the brake leavers whilst on the hoods - but seems to have been a non-issue.

Didn't have any problems. They didnt have a cover for the headset (its a hollow unit) but have said they will ship that (free) when available. Its an optional part anyway.
Need to add on shipment and the £15 or so for the box they ship it in.
I got tracking details the whole way and it arrived on time (well on the correct day - they had a big time window).

I've no idea if they swapped handlebar size - happy to measure it if it would be any help?

Let me know if you want anything else.

Mike
Road: Kuota Kebel 2009

MTB: Cube Ltd Race 2010

CX: Focus Mares Disc 2009

jane90
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 19:12 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby jane90 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 17:06 pm

Thank you, Mike, that's really interesting. It sounds like they've fitted appropriate handlebars already if she's not had an issue with it, which is good to know. I can feel myself more and more tempted to do the whole online thing but I won't make up my mind until I've tested a few alternatives at my LBS. Apologies again for the thread hijack.

Alibran
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 19:00 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby Alibran » Fri Nov 30, 2012 19:48 pm

I'm 5'2" and definitely the typical female build.

My first road bike was a 48cm Trek 1.2WSD (which has now been replaced by the Lexa), and after it was written off in a crash, I discovered it had a very short effective top tube. Teamed with very compact bars and a 75mm stem, it was perfect for me.

I searched around for a replacement bike, but struggled to find anything locally because very few women cycle in this part of Spain, so was forced to buy online. Since my rides are also very hilly (I live in a mountainous area), I wanted a wide range of gears for long climbs and equally long descents. Then I made my life even more complicated by deciding I wanted a steel frame and a bike that would be capable of touring in the future.

I ended up buying a 42cm unisex road/cyclocross/light touring frame and building the bike up with the bars and STI levers off my old Trek, and a triple chainset and wide range mountain bike cassette.

So, to answer your question about type of bike, it's quite possible to find a unisex bike/frame to suit, but you'll possibly need to go "down" a size or two to get a short enough effective top tube, and you may also need to replace the stem and bars, and possibly the brakes/shifters. Personally, if I was looking to buy a complete bike, I'd go for a female specific model, which is what I did when I bought my first proper mountain bike recently.

As for alu or carbon, I can't comment really because I don't have any experience of carbon or any interest in it. My preference is for steel, but if I can't have steel (as was the case when buying a female specific MTB), I'll settle for alu.

Jammy_Dodger87
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 14:40 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby Jammy_Dodger87 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:10 am

Thank you all so much! I think I'm going to go with an aluminium frame with some top notch components rather than a carbon bike with basic ones.

I've recently been told that the wheels make a massive difference, so I think I'll spend the extra money there.

Looking at some more bikes today, Bianchi, Specialized an Trek. I was tempted to build my own bike, or through Ribbles but I think for my first bike is rather have one Ivan test out itst.

Thanks again!

suzyb
Posts: 3286
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 16:26 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby suzyb » Sat Dec 01, 2012 14:02 pm

I'll lend my thoughts in here as well as I see several mentions of swapping handlebars for women specific ones. You might not necessarily need to do that.

I got a bike fit a couple of years ago and actually got my women specific (narrower) bars swapped for wider ones.

ChrisAOnABike
Posts: 1761
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:52 am

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby ChrisAOnABike » Sat Dec 01, 2012 15:11 pm

Jammy_Dodger87 wrote:I think I'm going to go with an aluminium frame with some top notch components rather than a carbon bike with basic ones.

The only (very) limited contribution I can make here (since I'm pretty new to it all) is that it might depend on how top-notch is top-notch.

I test-rode two Giant Defys during the search for my new bike recently. One was a Defy 1, aluminium frame and 105 groupset. The other was a Defy 3, virtually identical apart from Tiagra and carbon.

Not that I'm an expert or anything, but the difference was very marginal between the two in terms of shifting or braking. I preferred the feel of the ride on the carbon frame though, so I bought the Defy 3.

AIUI, the difference between Sora and 105 is much bigger than between Tiagra and 105.
Is the gorilla tired yet?

Alibran
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 19:00 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby Alibran » Sat Dec 01, 2012 16:18 pm

suzyb wrote:I'll lend my thoughts in here as well as I see several mentions of swapping handlebars for women specific ones. You might not necessarily need to do that.

I got a bike fit a couple of years ago and actually got my women specific (narrower) bars swapped for wider ones.


It isn't just about the width, though. There's also the reach and drop to take into account. Women specific bars have a shorter reach and drop than standard bars (although they may be similar to compact bars because that's pretty much what they are). I'm quite broad across the shoulders, so I'd actually like to swap my 38cm bars for 40cm, but haven't managed to find anything in that width that's compact enough for me.

mallott
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 17:24 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby mallott » Sun Dec 02, 2012 08:30 am


jibberjim
Posts: 2806
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 20:46 pm
Contact:

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby jibberjim » Sun Dec 02, 2012 09:14 am

Firstly,for the a typical UK person you're not the norm, It's men that actually have longer legs see pubmed - this is assuming you're under 70, pre-war it was the case, but things change and the difference is tiny on average anyway, there's more difference between individuals. Also if you're not of a typical UK decent it will be different - basically there is more variation between populations than between men and women. So it might be reasonable to say you have a typical Frisian (say) body shape, but it make no sense to say you have a typical womans.

The reality is that the "womens specific bike" is really about function - women tend to want more practical bikes for riding, and men want bikes which look aggressive and pro-like. There's begin to be a move to provide a more balanced approach with there now being mens "sportive" bikes which are the same geometry as the womens specific range.

The reason for WSD is purely marketing - it's so they can put a womens saddle, short reach bars and make the test ride with numpty bike staff feel like it's almost right, when in reality it's very minor differences that contribute to that and not the frame or pinkness of the bike.

There's no reason or likelyhood that a womens specific frame is the right choice for an individual (or a wrong one) although you normally get less for your money in womens specific. Sportive bikes may be an option but they do tend to limit adjustability - ie you can go less aggressive with a flipped stem on a "normal" geometry bike, but not so easily on a sportive one.

There are issues with bikes in small sizes (and apply to a 5'3" male as much as a female) and the compromises done to make the bike work in that size are real, but no more applicable to men or women, Canyon, Cervelo etc. who only make bikes not "womens bikes" and "mens bikes" are probably actually better at resolving those problems.
Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/

suzyb
Posts: 3286
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 16:26 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby suzyb » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:11 am

Alibran wrote:
suzyb wrote:I'll lend my thoughts in here as well as I see several mentions of swapping handlebars for women specific ones. You might not necessarily need to do that.

I got a bike fit a couple of years ago and actually got my women specific (narrower) bars swapped for wider ones.


It isn't just about the width, though. There's also the reach and drop to take into account. Women specific bars have a shorter reach and drop than standard bars (although they may be similar to compact bars because that's pretty much what they are). I'm quite broad across the shoulders, so I'd actually like to swap my 38cm bars for 40cm, but haven't managed to find anything in that width that's compact enough for me.

Forgot about that :/

I think the bars I have are a shallower drop. Can't recall exactly, it was just something I noticed on the receipt.

jibberjim wrote:There are issues with bikes in small sizes (and apply to a 5'3" male as much as a female) and the compromises done to make the bike work in that size are real, but no more applicable to men or women, Canyon, Cervelo etc. who only make bikes not "womens bikes" and "mens bikes" are probably actually better at resolving those problems.

Surely any bike manufacturers used to making small frame bikes will be good at resolving the issues.

jibberjim
Posts: 2806
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 20:46 pm
Contact:

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby jibberjim » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:27 am

suzyb wrote:Surely any bike manufacturers used to making small frame bikes will be good at resolving the issues.


No, they often optimise for things which aren't relevant - like very slow speed handling (avoiding toe overlap) compromising others.
Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/

Jammy_Dodger87
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 14:40 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby Jammy_Dodger87 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 17:19 pm

jibberjim wrote:Firstly,for the a typical UK person you're not the norm, It's men that actually have longer legs see pubmed - this is assuming you're under 70, pre-war it was the case, but things change and the difference is tiny on average anyway, there's more difference between individuals. Also if you're not of a typical UK decent it will be different - basically there is more variation between populations than between men and women. So it might be reasonable to say you have a typical Frisian (say) body shape, but it make no sense to say you have a typical


I've read that study (and many others) about the biomechanics of limb length in relation to cycling. And, as with all scientific studies, they are refuted within 6 months time with new "evidence" claiming the opposite. However, it seems that bike manufacturers seem to still believe that women have a shorter leg length on average - although as you say the differences seem marginal. I've been reading up on the geometrics of the frames and comparing the men's and women's frames, and it appears as though there's really millimetres of difference is the frames other than some manufacturers employing the slopped top tube for example, and it seems as though makes such as Bianchi don't even have female specific frames, they just change the stem, h'bars and cranks.. I spoke to a local road cycling club and the ladies there said they've men's frames, and the best advice was to just test out the bikes (obviously :) ). I've got a few more test rides coming up this week, so we'll see how that goes!

Thanks everybody. Fingers crossed I'll be out on the roads this side of Christmas!

suzyb
Posts: 3286
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 16:26 pm

Re: Women's Road Bikes

Postby suzyb » Sun Dec 02, 2012 20:56 pm

jibberjim wrote:
suzyb wrote:Surely any bike manufacturers used to making small frame bikes will be good at resolving the issues.


No, they often optimise for things which aren't relevant - like very slow speed handling (avoiding toe overlap) compromising others.

:roll:

Sadly I don't have much choice but to buy a women's specific model because they are the ones that come in the really small sizes.


Return to “Womens cycling forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests