Category Archives: women’s bikes

Women’s product highlights from the 2015 Specialized launch

 

2015 Dolce Elite

2015 Dolce Elite

Over the last few days I’ve been lucky enough to attend the annual Specialized dealer launch held this year on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast.

I’ve seen a plethora of product – the whole 2015 range and I’ve been impressed by the range of women’s specific offerings. Specialized has nominated women’s specific products as one of its key areas of focus for the next few years.

In the presentation I attended they divided the market into a number of experiences (a little bit cheesy I know but it sort of made sense). The ‘experiences’ are: fitness; endurance road; triathlon/performance road; sport trail; and performance XC. For each of these there are a number of bikes and accessories.

Here’s a few highlights for both bikes and accessories (complete with Iphone pics – see the Specialized.com website for better shots):

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How to find the right saddle for women who cycle

My saddle choice - Specialized Oura

My saddle choice – Specialized Oura

For me it’s a no brainer that women need different bike saddles than men. Nowhere on the body is it more evident that women have different needs to men, than in the area of the body that makes contact with the bike seat, known as the saddle.

The saddle is the key contact area of the bike. It takes most of your weight and therefore it is crucially important to having a comfortable seat.

If you buy a women’s specific bike then chances are it will already be fitted with a women’s specific saddle but it’s not necessarily the right one for you. My recommendation when you buy a new bike is to try the supplied saddle first, but be prepared to change it if it proves to be uncomfortable.

In my experience, everyone will feel a degree of discomfort when they first start riding a road bike because it’s a new activity and your whole body needs to adapt. However, if after a month or so you are still uncomfortable then you should seek help.

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Don’t be left out, there are plenty of road bikes for short women

S-Works Amira is available in a 44 cm frame size

S-Works Amira is available in a 44 cm frame size

About this time last year I wrote a blog post about road bikes that are specifically built for short women, and ever since my monitoring has shown that this is a really popular topic. So I thought I should update the information for all you shorties.

I’m a relatively short woman at 160 cm (5 foot 3 inches) but I’ve met quite a few female road cyclists who are shorter than me and one of them mentioned to me that she and other short stature women have trouble finding bikes to ‘fit’.

A lot of people are dubious about the whole women’s specific bike concept and question whether it’s just marketing hype but I’m a real believer in the philosophy. Read my past posts on this subject and make up your own mind. From my perspective the women’s specific bike becomes more important the shorter you are, so women who measure in at 5 foot or below should really consider a women’s specific bike. Thankfully plenty of bike manufacturers have responded to the short end of the market and many produce extra small road bikes.

To give you an idea of the sizing Specialized produces a sizing chart which suggests that a 44 cm Dolce, Ruby, Alias or Amira (the women’s specific road bike models) will suit a women who is 143-152 cm or 4”8’ to 5”0’.

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Great Christmas present ideas for female cyclists

This year’s Christmas list is a little extravagant and is really a bike bling wish list for me. I guarantee that if the special women in your life is a dedicated road cyclist, then she’ll love these suggestions or something similar in her favourite colours. My favourite bike colours are unashamedly white, red & black in combination.

Specialized Amira Pro

Amira Pro Race 2014This gorgeous bike has a carbon frame and is powered by SRAM Force gearing and includes Roval Rapide carbon wheels. It’s also available in a Specialized-lululemon team replica version and is a bargain at $5,699.

 

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The frame is the most important part of a road bike

Bike frameBefore I worked in the bike industry (a mere one year ago), I was of the view that if you wanted to buy a road bike then your focus should be on the gearing of the bike, but the more I learn about road bikes, the more I realise that the frame is far more important than the gearing which plays a secondary role.

Just like many road bike buyers, when I bought my current carbon-framed bike I used the level of gearing on the bike as the key determinate. I first decided whether I wanted an aluminium or carbon frame and then I decided that I wanted Ultegra level gearing or better. Once that decision was made, I set about developing a short list of bikes that met this criteria. I also decided that I wanted to buy a women’s specific bike. You can read more about this topic in a couple of previous blog posts I’ve written.

But back to the frame. Just to give you an example which concerns a friend of mine (a male friend). He cracked his carbon bike frame recently. Lets call the brand M. I believe the frame had a manufacturing fault and over time the weak point gave way and it literally snapped and tossed him off, just behind me on a weekend ride.

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What does a girl need to get started in road cycling?

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Professional rider Amanda Spratt

Obviously the most important thing to get into road cycling is a bike but there’s also a few other items that will enhance the experience for any budding roadie, both women and men.

A road bike

You can spend any where from about $800 to $20,000 on a road bike, even cheaper if you opt for a second hand or low quality one. However, like all manufactured items in our modern world, you do tend to get what you pay for, so stretch your budget just a little and you’ll enjoy the riding experience much more. I suggest you consider spending at least $1,500 (that’s Australian dollars) on your first road bike. For that you’ll get an alloy frame and entry level gearing like Shimano Sora and Tiagra or perhaps a mix of Shimano 105 and other options.

My first bike was a Jamis brand bike and cost me around $1,500. It served me well for about two and a half years before I decided to upgrade to a carbon bike. I’ve still got that bike and occasionally ride it out on the road, or more often on my indoor trainer.

I would recommend that you consider a women’s specific road bike. I’ve written a couple of posts on this subject previously that might help.

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Finding the right saddle for female cyclists

Specialized Ruby Expert saddle

Specialized Ruby Expert saddle

Finding the right saddle should be a high priority for all female cyclists. I’m a strong advocate of women-specific saddles, like I am of women specific bikes, because women have very different anatomy to men and therefore have very different needs. The good news is that if you buy a women- specific bike then it will already be fitted with a women’s saddle so you’re already part the way there. I was really lucky that my Specialized road bike came with a saddle (pictured) that suited me and I’m still using it, two and a half years later.

One potential area of discomfort for women is caused by putting pressure on the front of your private parts. The soft tissue at the front really isn’t meant to be bear weight. We have sit bones, aka ischial tuberosities, for that job. But on a bike, in a bent-over riding position, your body weight is shared between the two sit bones and the pubic bone in the front, which means there is pressure on the soft tissue (the perineum) at the front. Read my previous post on secret women’s business for a few other tips on how to look after that area when riding.

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Should I really buy those carbon wheels?

I confess that I know very little about wheels so when my friend and fellow bike rider Tegan Cox offered to write a guest blog post I coudn’t refuse. Over to you Tegan……..

Roval wheelsWheels. Bikes come with them so why do they need any further consideration? I know when I started riding a bike I didn’t have an opinion on what went on beneath me. Then I started in triathlon and the bike bling in transition was clear indication that wheels are not just for turning and keeping your face off the ground.

Most entry-level bikes come with solid but somewhat heavy wheels that are not necessarily performance orientated. You might look at going for a more expensive, lighter wheel if you want to find some speed and time advantages, make going up hill easier.

For triathlon and time trialling you might look for a deeper rimmed wheel for improved aerodynamics, which may (or may not in my case) deliver speed advantages and improved efficiency.

Or you might just want something that looks and sounds awesome.

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Road bikes for short women

My dream bike - S-Works Amira comes in a 44 cm size

My dream bike – S-Works Amira comes in a 44 cm size

I’m a relatively short woman at 160 cm (5 foot 3 inches) but I’ve met quite a few female road cyclists who are shorter than me and one of them mentioned to me that she and other short stature women have trouble finding bikes to ‘fit’.

A lot of people are dubious about the whole women’s specific bike concept and question whether it’s just marketing hype but I’m a real believer in the philosophy. Read my past posts on this subject and make up your own mind. From my perspective the women’s specific bike becomes more important the shorter you are, so women who measure in at 5 foot or below should really consider a women’s specific bike. Thankfully plenty of bike manufacturers have responded to the short end of the market and many produce 44 cm bikes.

To give you an idea of the sizing Specialized produces a sizing chart which suggests that a 44 cm Dolce, Ruby or Amira (the women’s specific road bike models) will suit a women who is 143-152 cm or 4”8’ to 5”0’.

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Young women tour America’s West Coast by bike

A couple of weeks ago, keen cyclist and occasional writer Andrew Stephen contacted me and offered to write a guest blog post for Women Who Cycle. I jumped at the opportunity to bring you another perspective on women’s cycling. Here’s Andrew’s thought provoking interview of some adventurous young female cyclists………..

 

Guest blog post imageA few years back two women quit their jobs, left Minnesota and their families, and took off on the bike tour of a lifetime from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, CA (about 650 miles or 1,046 km). We spoke to them about struggling to shed the myths of female safety on the road, overcoming heartbreak and addiction, assuming new moral codes – the reality of touring for young women in search of the unknown.

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