Though all bicycles may look the same, there are so many features that could be used to differentiate men’s bicycles from women’s bicycles.
What’s the difference between Men’s and Women’s Bikes? Quite a bit if you look closely. Though most bicycles are meant to cater to similar things, the styles within may be tweaked to cater to differing needs.
The type of fit, the features, the comfort; there are so many variables when looking for a bicycle, that is enough to put your head in a spin.
Would you like a city bike or a hybrid? Or a wide-tired one with a metal frame? Maybe a sleek one with an aluminum suspension feature?
There are so many questions you might need to be answered, but the most important one deals with your gender. Do you really need a bike made for women?
Male or female, the features added to a bicycle go beyond just color and aesthetics. And although unisex bicycles do exist, it comes down to focusing on what you need out of a bicycle.
The Big Difference Between Men and Women’s Bikes
The biggest difference between male and female bicycles is the type of fit the bicycle is designed for. For example, women tend to have larger hips and longer legs, shorter torso, and narrower shoulders.
This difference in fit for the two populations comes from years of anthropometric data of the people in this country and around the world and their average heights and statures.
In general, women have shorter average heights than men. So, to accommodate that in the design, some features of the bicycles may be altered. Similarly, men usually weigh more than women and so that data goes into changing the handling techniques and weight of the bicycles designed.
It again needs to be stated that none of these bicycles are said to be better than the others in terms of performance, handling, or riding. Therefore, is a mere distinction created to cater to a specific part of the population and to make the rider feel more comfortable and in control.
However, you will find that a person, regardless of their gender, may feel comfortable with a bicycle initially designed for people of the opposite gender solely on their preference.
Any woman or man may find a unisex or male/female bike better for her or his use.
7 Factors Affecting Fit
The following components affect the fit of a bike.
Reach is said to be the distance between the seat and the handlebars. For shorter people, this distance is better if kept smaller.
This allows for the level of comfort of the trip to be enhanced for the driver.
Since women’s bodies usually have shorter torsos, a smaller reach height will make it easier for them to control the handlebars. A difference of a centimeter matters to find the correct position, all so that everyone can experience biking the same way.
This distance is usually not adjustable so it is better to look for a bicycle that allows for a reach that is fit for you.
A way to determine good reach is to see if you have to bend forward too much when riding a bicycle. If that is the case, in the long term, it can prove to be a cause for great discomfort.
The stack is the distance between the top tube of the bicycle to the center of the frame.
In women’s bicycles, this distance tends to be a little shorter, to allow for a greater amount of control over the bicycle and the ride.
Men’s hands tend to be bigger and the fingers longer, for this reason, the grips on their bikes are designed to have a greater diameter and are big enough to allow for them to be comfortably held by the hand.
Similarly, women’s hands are smaller so they are usually less in diameter and happen to have softer grips to allow for less callousing of the hands.
Grips allow for a greater amount of control of the bicycle and are easily adjustable to suit the needs of the individual.
Ø4. The Saddle or Seat
Generally, a woman’s bicycle has a shorter and wider saddle to allow for more comfortable seating.
But, nowadays, female performance bicyclers often prefer a smaller and longer seat to allow for a greater pedaling motion.
Still, seats are interchangeable and if you like everything about a bike apart from its seat, talk to the dealer and they can almost always, easily replace the saddle.
On average, women have narrower shoulders than men. Due to this, bicycle manufacturers cater to this by creating a shorter handlebar by decreasing its width.
This allows for less fatigue in the shoulder area for women. If you experience sore shoulders after riding a bike, it is a clear indication of the size of the handlebar being either too big or too small for you.
Men often have a higher suspension in bikes because of their higher weight in comparison to women.
Similarly, shorter bikers have lighter suspensions according to their weight to allow for a more comfortable riding experience.
Similar to seats, suspensions are adjustable too, so if you seem to be facing a problem, it’s better if you get it adjusted.
Ø7. Brake Levers
Shorter people typically have smaller hands which makes it harder for the people to comfortably control the bicycle.
In order to comfortably reach and use the brake levers, some bikes include in their design levers that have adjustment screws, which let you reduce lever reach to make them more comfortable.
You may also replace the levers with short-reach levers by asking the dealers or doing it yourself.
The Original Purpose Of a Woman Specific Bicycle Design
Back in the day, girls who wanted to ride a bike had to be extremely careful when getting on the bike. They had to roll up their skirt sleeves to get on and this could result in showing underwear or too much of their legs.
To avoid these scandals, some bicycle engineers and manufacturers came up with the invention of women’s specific bikes.
The process was simple, they needed to weld one end of the horizontal bar of the frame at the bottom of the vertical bar. Like that, it would make it easier for ladies to be able to pass the leg to the other side of the bike without having to raise it too much.
This was the main idea that has remained to this day in many manufacturers, although is basically for leisure bikes or touring cycling. Then later other factors were included such as different frame dimensions and bigger saddles to improve comfort and stability for women riders.
The Future of Bicycle Shopping
In 2019, a movement emerged with the idea that a women’s specific bike is not necessarily due to the difference between male and female anatomy but simply the difference in body types in general for both men and women.
Now, when they talk about smaller bikes design don’t think it is only based on shorter frames. Rather, there is talk of bicycles bringing different dimensions on contact points adapted to different physiognomies. That means a narrower handlebar, smaller diameter grips, and specific saddles.
Therefore, giants in the bicycle industries such as Trek, Specialized and Yeti, are rethinking how they design their bikes. Instead of a male / female approach, they are producing more of a unisex line with some fine-tuning.
Again, the different dimensions will allow for bikes to be adjusted according to the requirements of the people and for their needs to be met in the best possible way.
If you stop to consider the number of people in the world and how different we can all be, but at the same time similar regardless of gender, then the perfect bike for a specific individual could be similar to someone of the opposite sex just on the fact that they share similar physiognomy.
Lastly, if you are looking for a new bike, it is important to ask and check all the features you want according to your own figure, weight, and size with the help of these design sensibilities.
At the end of the day, the important part is choosing a bike that fits you and allows you to ride comfortably independently of gender.