It’s not a ‘lady’s bike’, it’s a women’s bike

Is this company really trying to sell to women?
Is this company really trying to sell to women?

There’s been quite a lot of discussion of late about how to make bike shops and cycling in general more attractive for women, and while I’ve not weighed in to the various discussions until now I thought I’d put in my views.I’m reasonably well qualified to do so. I work in a bike shop and although I’m relatively new to it (two years) it gives me a unique perspective because I can still remember back to when I was a customer of women’s cycling gear.

One of my own issues is actually about the use of the word ‘lady’ instead of my preference for the word ‘woman’. My blog isn’t called ‘Ladies Who Cycle’ and that’s a very deliberate decision on my part. To me the word ‘lady’ is verging on being derogatory because the way in which it is used, often infers that women are inferior when it comes to riding a bike.

Total Women’s Cycling which is a UK-based women’s cycling site recently wrote about a cycling brand that launched a new range of women’s bikes suggesting that women only like to amble along on mountain bikes. Read it for yourself if you want to know more but it’s quite extraordinary. Unsurprisingly the bike range is called ‘MBT Lady’.

It’s great to see that the major brands of bike and gear that produce lots of women’s specific bikes and kit actually use ‘women’ rather than ‘ladies’ in all their communications. However there are major organisations like Wiggle and Assos that persist in using ‘Ladies’. I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything else from a company like Assos that uses promotional photographs like the one shown here. Who are they trying to target????

The League of American Bicyclists produced an interesting report which was published recently and details research that it undertook about what bike shops need to do to attract more women. It’s US research but much of it applies to the Australian market. Interestingly 62 per cent of the female cyclists they surveyed had not visited a bike shop in 2014. If you want to read the whole report you’ll find it here. If you don’t have time to read the whole report then Bicycling magazine published a summary which you can read here.

I also enjoyed reading a great blog post from ‘Bike Shop Girl’ aka Arleigh Jenkins who wrote about how to fix the bike industry. She’s also US-based but much of what she argues is applicable in Australia too. In short, Arleigh says that more business training and professionalism needs to occur in the bike industry and just hiring more women won’t fix the issues.

In summary, for me the Australian bike industry is moving in the right direction and this has been helped by the entry of the large bike manufacturers like Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale and more. They have lifted the professionalism of the industry a couple of notches but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I’d love to here the views of others.


  1. I own a bike shop and personally have been frustrated with the range available for women. There isn’t much choice and it is often geared towards women who are size 8-12. We try hard to have a large range available and offer to buy in whatever ladies chose from the brochures. We give all feedback to suppliers and Zoot have made some awesome adjustments to their range

  2. Hi Nicole. That’s an interesting ad for women…. Personally, I am with you – I’d buy a bike for women over a lady’s bike. Your post made me think of the good experiences I’ve had in bike shops – and I think what makes a difference for me is a) the salesperson approaches me like I’m the customer (not just hanging on to the man) and b) they acknowledge that my body needs something different to his body…. the fact that i’m small shouldn’t mean ‘oh no, i dont think we have anything in your size…’ – the best experiences I’ve had have meant that the salesperson directs me to the women’s section of the shop… women’s bikes, women’s nicks, women’s accessories. i dont think it’s that hard to have some shelving set up for the women… and that it doesn’t have to be PINK….

  3. Ha Ha all of above true. One of the local bike shops said to me when I went in for something “Oh, you X’s partner. You should get….” they had never seen me riding!! Recently I was preparing to do the Outback Odyssey & thought I would be able to try more gear in Sydney. I went to a shop with my husband. A very pleasant young man approached and asked my husband “How may I help you?” My husband said we were after women’s gear. He asked him what exactly. Eventually I entered the conversation to point out that though this might come as a surprise, the women’s gear would be for me. to give credit, he was very apologetic & our son, previously employed in the bike industry, says that many male partners are very overbearing and even if he tried to talk to the woman, he was interrupted.
    I find it quite difficult to explain my needs in many situations – an older rider, not athletic, but liking a bit of adrenaline – and have found some very supportive retailers.

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