What’s the difference between women’s and unisex/men’s bikes?
Nearly every bike company makes bikes specifically targeted at women. Some will have a distinct frame design that the companies say suit female riders better, while others will have a unisex frame.
All will have contact points (the points where the rider touches the bike) that are designed for women, such as a women’s specific saddle.
Because each brand has its own approach to women’s bike design, there isn’t a universal consensus on what makes a bike women’s specific. However, there are a few features most will have in common:
What are these design differences based on?
Bike companies have carried out research into physiological differences between male and female bike riders, and some conclude there are significant enough differences between the riders of each gender to warrant a specific frame design.
Meanwhile, others conclude a unisex bike fitted to the rider is a better solution.
Do I need a women’s bike?
Some women have a better fit on women’s specific models, while others find no difference between women’s and unisex bikes, or prefer unisex bikes completely.
It’s worth testing out a few bikes, if you can, to compare how different brands or different sizes fit because there are always slight differences in the way brands size up their bikes.
Having a bike-fit will ensure your bike is right for you, whatever type you go for. A bike-fit is where an experienced bike-fitter takes measurements including leg length, flexibility and how far you reach forward when seated. They will also observe as you ride the bike on a static trainer.
From this, they can adjust elements of the bike, such as saddle height, handlebar reach, etc, to give you the best fit possible.
This may require swapping out certain parts for others, such as handlebars with a deep drop to a pair with a shallower drop, or a long stem to one that’s slightly shorter.
What size women’s bicycle do I need?
Most bikes are sized as Small, Medium, Large, etc (usually mountain bikes and some hybrid bikes), or numerically as centimetres or inches (e.g. 54cm, 17in, etc).
Like clothes, sizing isn’t consistent across brands so don’t expect one brand’s Medium to feel exactly the same as another’s.
Most brands have an online size guide that will recommend a size based on your height, or other areas such as your inner leg length. This is where you should start.
Try to demo the bike if you can, so you can see how it feels when you ride it. This is particularly important if you sit between sizes because it will help you work out which size to go for.
For more information we have created a simple guide to women’s bike sizes that may help.
How can I get my bike to fit better?
If you want to make the bike you already have fit better, or adapt a unisex bike, there are some simple changes you can make.
The six most common tweaks for a better bike fit are:
Many of these adaptations are easy to do yourself, or if you buy a bike from a shop then the staff should be able to help.
Reference: Bike Radar