Amateur female cyclists often get confused if they need a women-specific bike or not. Men and women have quite different physiologies. Women are usually shorter, carry less muscle mass and have narrower shoulders than men. Considering these factors, the bike industry has introduced hybrid bikes for women, configured with specific features. However, there are some controversies, whether women need specific bikes or not.
No matter what the type of the bike is, one needs to make sure that the bike suits his or her physic perfectly. There are a few key factors that differentiate the unisex and women-specific bikes.
The size of the frame is decided by considering the height of the seat tube. The length of the top tube is important as the distance between saddle and handlebar depends on its length. Feeling comfortable on the frame is essential to avoid back, wrist and neck pain. Women-specific bikes are equipped with shorter top tubes.
The more comfortable the saddle is, the more pleasant your ride will be. It provides support to the seat bones. The retailers can suggest you the right fit for your sit bones by measuring you. Bikes are designed with different saddles for road cycling or mountain biking. Demo saddles are available also to make sure the suitability.
You should ride in an ideal position to ensure the maximum power while pedaling. The seat posts are designed to help you get that position. With the best fit, you can achieve the most comfortable angle between your saddle and the bottom bracket.
Cranks refer to the arms that attach the pedals to the central spindle. Usually, crancks come with 165, 170, 172.5- and 175-mm length. You should choose the bike that has cranks of medium length. If your height is short or average, then it is better to opt for the length of 165 to 175 mm.
Try to get a handlebar of the width of your shoulder to achieve the maximum control and comfort. Too narrow handlebar will lead you to lack leverage for steering and too wide bar will lead you to feel uncomfortable while biking. In the case of mountain bikes, the bars are comparatively wider.
The too short or too long stem may cause neck pain, lower back pain or pain in wrists. For a better fit, you can change the stem length of a bike. You need to bend slightly to reach the handlebars comfortably. Short stems affect the proper handling of the bike. However, you need to remember that the stems of road and hybrid bikes should be shorter than the mountain bikes.
Mostly, women are lighter in weight than men. The bike can keep a better proportion if the rider is lighter. The total weight of the bike can be controlled if it is equipped with lightweight wheels. However, lightweight and good quality wheels are expensive.
Most of the hybrid and mountain bikes are configured with the suspension to help the rider move over uneven terrain. It can be set up to suit riders with different body weight.
Women-specific bikes are designed by keeping in mind about the physic of average women. However, the bike should be chosen considering the suitability instead of gender.