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Category Archive: women’s bikes
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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.
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Specialized Amira Pro
This 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.
Before 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.
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.
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.
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.