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Category Archive: women’s bikes
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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……..
Wheels. 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.
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’.
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………..
A 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.
Tonight I’m attending a ‘Performance women’s night’ at Jet Cycles in the Sydney CBD and next week I’m helping to organise an event at Ashfield Cycles. I actually started working at Ashfield Cycles a couple of weeks ago as a casual shop assistant and I’m loving it.
Here’s the details of the event next week.
Last Friday I headed to Melbourne to visit the Ausbike Expo which is the annual bike industry trade show which this year featured hundreds of new products and services for the Australian bike industry.
I spent all day working my way from stand to stand asking the eager participants if they had any products specifically designed for female cyclists or products they believed would appeal to women. Quite a few people steered me towards anything pink but I quickly explained that while pink is popular with some women cyclists it doesn’t appeal to me and I know many of my readers agree.
So here’s a few highlights of the show:
As a keen blogger one thing I do on a regular basis, usually daily, is check my web stats and look at things like how many people are visiting my site, where they are located, and what search terms they use to find me. One of the most popular search strings that appears at least once on most days is – ‘do I need a women specific road bike?’.
The searchers find me because I wrote a blog post on this topic about a year ago so I thought it would be good to revisit it.
I’m sorry to say to all those people who are looking for a definitive answer, we’ll probably never find one. It’s just not straightforward enough to obtain one. Instead I thought it might be useful if I give my view on the topic.
Straight up I need to declare that I ride a women’s specific bike – a 2011 Specialized Amira Expert, so my view is influenced by my own experience.
I’ve been asked this question by quite a few of the men who I ride with. They, like me, love cycling so much that they want to share its many benefits with those closest to them. So here’s a few tips that might help. Please excuse the stereotyping and generalising.
Be patient and understanding
Women generally approach activities like cycling differently than men. It starts early in life and patterns are set. If you cast your mind back to your childhood you’ll recall that if you were a boy and rode a bike then you probably did some daredevil stuff like riding off jumps or at the least rode around for hours on end with your mates. Girls on the other hand tend to amble along, not ride as far, generally don’t take risks and stop for a chat. Sound familiar?
So when adult women start riding a bike again they generally don’t have too many fundamental bike skills other than being able to balance. That was certainly the case with me. As I said, I’m making some generalisations here.
So if you’re a man trying to encourage your female partner to ride a bike then you need to be patient and understand that she’s probably not very confident or even competent on the bike. Don’t expect her to want to jump on a road bike, and hit the closest road for a 50 km sprint around the neighbourhood. Let her dictate the pace at which she progresses. For example, if she’s not keen on clip-in shoes to begin with then encourage her, but don’t push her into it. Perhaps it’s better to start with flat pedals and running shoes and progress to clip-ins. But keep that pedal spanner on hand if she changes her mind though.
Now I have to confess up front that I don’t commute to work so I’m not an expert on the subject but I know many other cyclists, both men and women who do and I thought it would be valuable to put a few tips together.
However I do think that commuting to work by bike is an option that many women should consider. Women tend to approach cycling differently to men (please excuse the stereotyping) and that includes bike commuting. A lot of men treat commuting like a race and constantly attempt to outdo their previous times and those of other riders. On the other hand women tend to treat it more like a practical way to get to work and are more focused on safety than speed. So naturally women have a few ‘special’ requirements.
To me it’s all in the planning. Here’s a few tips I’ve compiled to get you started.
I was thrilled when David Cook of Clarence Street Cyclery asked me if I’d like to ride the new Eddy Merckx women’s specific road bike and write a review for my blog. It’s my very first bike review so don’t be expecting any technical talk or voice of experience.
For benchmarking purposes my own current road bike is a 2011 Specialized Amira Expert which has a full carbon frame and the gearing is full Ultegra. I really love my bike but I also jumped at the opportunity to ride a different bike for a week and certainly didn’t regret this decision.
The Eddy Merckx name is synonymous with cycling and racing and they claim that this bike is designed with racing in mind. So they have incorporated ‘Female Race Geometry’ where the angle of the seat tube is kept as close to proper racing angle as possible, the top tube is made shorter and the front head tube is made larger.
The bike which I’ve just returned to Clarence Street Cyclery was an Eddy Merckx EFX-3 women’s specific road bike. It has a full carbon frame and the gearing is Ultegra. If you want all the technical specifications then go to the Eddy Merckx website . It retails for $3,999 which seems to be fairly comparable price in the marketplace.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know by now that I’m a fan of the US bike company Specialized. It’s partly because I really love their products which so far for me includes my bike, shoes, socks and gloves but also because they are great supporters of women’s cycling teams.
Many of you would have probably heard of the European based Specialized Lululemon team which is a spin-off from the ill-fated HTC Highroad team that disbanded last year (a blog post coming on that one soon) but Specialized is also working with women’s cycling in Australia at a lower level of the sport.
This includes a South Australian team called ‘Specialized Women SA’ which is led by one of its team members Liz Phillipou. They are racing a selected schedule over the next year which will include some National Road Series (NRS) races. I saw them race at the Women’s Cup run by Cycling South Australia during the recent Tour Down Under. The team won the opening race with team member Bec Werner and I was lucky enough to meet Bec the next day at the Specialized stand at the Tour Down Under village. If you want to know more about the team you can read a longer article on Cycling Central.