Forum home Mountain biking forum Women

Women Specific Bikes?

ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
edited March 2009 in Women
I'm just curious how much of this is marketing rubbish, while I appreciate women would benefit from a different bike, do they actually get a different bike for their money? Take Trek for example, big main stream brand, pretty much leading a full range of "WSD" bikes. Here goes their sales jargon:

"WSD Bikes are engineered specifically for women. Each bike puts you in a more natural riding position by redistributing weight more evenly between hips and hands. That means more comfort, better control and optimal power."

Now comparing a decent bike, the 8000 (first) to the 8000 WSD (second) for example. In both examples I'm using the 15.5" bike as reference:

Head angle: 71.0 / 71.0
Seat Angle: 73.5 / 73.5
EFF Top Tube: 55.5 / 55.5
Chain Stay: 42.4 / 42.4
Bottom Bracket: 29.7 / 29.7
Offset: 4.0 / 4.0
Wheelbase: 103.0 / 103.0
Actual Frame Size: 71.7 / 71.7
Trail: 7.2 / 7.2
Standover: 71.7 / 71.7
Head Tube: 9.0 / 9.0

So basically, exactly the same frame, to the mm. The ONLY difference I can see is the saddle, a larger rotor on the front on the mans.

It just seems a bit of a con really, it's so easy to find bargains on blokes bikes yet womens bikes always cost a fortune. We were pondering a full sus for the missus next year and they have a range of about 3, all covered in flowers. I could find a Trek Ex8 mans 2008 for about £1300, the lady version is £1600-1700 everywhere.


  • natlnatl Posts: 4
    from what I've seen (I've been looking at the geometry of womens full sus) there is no difference between the mens and womens bikes IN ANY BRAND (that I've been able to find at least, and I looked pretty hard).

    What is different are the colour schemes - some of the top end bikes are spectacularly non-girly they're FUGLY.

    What is bdoes tend to give you is a size choise between the mens your choices might become Women (S), Women (M) Men (S) Women (L) Men (M) Men (L)

    meaning that you have more chance of getting a perfectly fit bike...although its just as likely to be a mens as a womens, depending on your height/stature. I'm 5"6 and not exactly petite, so could end up with a womens large or mens medium, simply depends which fits better.
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    To their credit, I noticed Specialized frames differed from the mans versions, shorter top tubes as you'd expect.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I've seen plenty of WSD designes with differing geometry, components, fork travel - lots of changes. None of this means it will definitely be any better, but is more likely to be.

    It is something else to test - certainly not a con.
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    Ah, I know some do. I was just marvelling at the fact Trek, with a very limited range of WSD bikes, would release some which were exactly the same frame, geometry, forks and components as the mans. Even though they have the self righteous blurb at the start.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I wonder if Trek have made an error on the site? I have seen stuff of theirs before that is quite different geo.
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    Possibly, I know Cannondales women specific section had some really obvious flaws recently too. The "weight" value for all bikes was exactly the same as their top end £4k full sus bikes, they basically claimed the lady Prophet equivilent was about 22lbs :?
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Does make you wonder hopw these mistakes happen. In fact I look at some manufacturers websites and think they were designed by a monkey on its dinner break. Internet such a big driver of ino and sales, yet we get sites like the RockShox one (incredibly poor), Carrera (isn't one) plus the above.

    Make an effort, how long does it take?!!!

    /end rant
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    supersonic wrote:
    I wonder if Trek have made an error on the site? I have seen stuff of theirs before that is quite different geo.

    I actually emailed them and asked them. I know from personal experience that their WSD hardtails have different geometry to the male counterparts, and that's confirmed on the I did wonder.

    I got this response:
    You are correct, the EX8 & EX8 WSD have the same geometry. The WSD isn’t just about the geometry. it also considers things like the brakes, grips and saddles (all of which are more suitable for a women on the EX8). As for the geometry, I would always strongly recommend going into a store and getting properly sized for the bike you want.

    Whereas I couldn't agree more with the last sentence, I'm a bit surprised that their WSD full susser is identical to the blokes bike but with smaller rotors and different grips and saddles. Oh, and the paint job! ;) Seems a bit cheeky when the marketing blurb on the site says:
    WSD Bikes are engineered specifically for women. Each bike puts you in a more natural riding position by redistributing weight more evenly between hips and hands.

    Unless you're looking at their full sussers. It just goes to show kids...ignore the labels, and try 'em out!
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Yes, I am quite dissapointed with that!
  • To the OP - sorry I only just saw the post. You may be interested in this: ... fo/pid/101

    Don't know what size it is though!
  • Toasty, I have just posted this comment to your blog:


    I’m glad I came across this post. I’d like to address your concerns about the geometry differences/similarity between the WSD and standard Fuel EX bikes, and point out some additional information:

    Your post does not mention the fact that in the WSD EX line (and the Top Fuel line), there are 2 sizes that are not included in the standard size run. These sizes will fit women who are seeking a shorter top tube length. For example, if a woman typically rides a 17.5″ standard geometry frame, but feels stretched out on that bike even with a short stem, then riding the 16.5″ WSD bike will decrease the reach and put her in a more anatomical postion, while keeping her in the range of sizes that she needs. On the standard frame side, the only option would be to go from a 17.5″ frame, down to a 15.5″ frame. So, there really is no ‘illusion of choice’, as you say, since women will be able to choose from two frame sizes in order to find the desired reach, before needing to do additional dialing in such as swapping stems.

    The ride of a WSD bike feels very different to that of a standard bike, despite the effective top tube length being the same. When I am setting women up at demos, I let them know that the fit is going to feel very unlike what they are used to riding. If you were to ride a 15.5″ standard frame, and then a WSD frame of the same size, you would notice the difference in fit between the two bikes. Hence, we are not simply mimicking the fit of a standard frame, and simply calling it a WSD bike.

    Hopefully, you will get to ride one of the WSD EX8s yourself, and you will then notice the fit difference. Even moreso, I hope that you will be able to tell the overwhelming good ride quality that the EX line brings to the trail.

    You can find the UK demo schedule by visiting

    Please feel free to contact a member of the US WSD demo staff by choosing the “Contact Us” button on the page. We’d be happy to answer any additional questions, or to provide more information.


    Additionally, I would like to add that up until the 2009 model year, we did have varying geometry on our WSD bikes. After researching the needs of riders, and surveying dealers to see what they were selling to women, our product department decided to offer the two WSD exclusive sizes, rather than simply continuing to run shorter top tubes. Even with the shorter top tube bikes, we were limited in our ability to size women in a way that we felt was providing them with the best fit possible. The two additional sizes provide us with more flexibility, without forcing women on a bike that isn't the proper size for them.

    Please keep in mind that it is an investment to produce the tooling necessary to manufacture additional size bikes. This is very costly, particularly for bikes such as the Top Fuel, which is an all carbon frame. If we weren't committed to providing women with the best in class product, and the best fit possible, we would simply 'pink and shrink' and not provide more options to women riders.

    We continue to offer more WSD bikes across the entire Trek family of bikes than any other manufacturer. We were the first manufacturer to have a women's demo program on the road (in the US), and when others have eliminated, or curtailed their product lines and demo programs for women, we have expanded ours.

    While we recognize that we are not the only company providing options for women riders, we stand committed to provide women with the best experience possible, both from a product standpoint, and with superior customer service.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    But the mens 15.5 and womens 15.5 have exactly the same geometry! As do the 17.5 mens and 17.5 womens.

    There are (of course welcome) additional sizes. But there is no escaping that for a listed frame (seat) tube size the bikes are the same geo.
  • Sonic,

    I acknowledged that there was no difference in the geometry in my post, as well as pointing out the two additional sizes that are exlusive to the WSD line.

    I went on to explain that by simply shortening the top tube length, as we have done up until this model year, we were running into difficulties getting the best fit possible for women. Based on our research, we thought a better option would be to offer the two additional sizes to women.

    So, we did change the geometry of the bikes up until the 2009 model year. It was only after gauging the reaction to the geometry differences that we opted to offer the same geometry on two sizes, but add two additional sizes only to the WSD line.

    I would also like to point out that in the road bike line, the WSD geometry is different to that of either fit option in the standard bike line, i.e. we do have shorter top tube/different head angle bikes in the road line.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    It doesn't really come across like that on the website, and I think your comments should be added to clarify. From the website

    ""WSD Bikes are engineered specifically for women. Each bike puts you in a more natural riding position by redistributing weight more evenly between hips and hands. That means more comfort, better control and optimal power."

    That can give the impression the frames (as with a lot of other manufacturers) are different, when in fact is a choice of components and set up that is the making the difference. Now I am not saying that is a bad thing, far from it, I would recommend both men and women tailor the fit, components and set up to their liking! But people are looking and seeing these figures being the same (and being confused), so I think adding your research and findings would be beneficial, to say why they are this way.


  • As Toasty mentioned, we do still alter the frame geometry on several of our WSD models on the mountain bike side, and ALL of the road bikes.

    Therefore the information provided on the website is accurate. It is only for the top of the line WSD mountain bikes that we are doing the two unique sizes. And, as I also mentioned before, the fit on ALL of the WSD mountain bikes is very different to that of the standard bikes, despite the same geometry. One only has to ride the two bikes to see that at work.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    But again, this causes confusion. The budget bike riders prefer different frame geometry to expensive bike riders?

    As I mentioned, I am not saying one is better than the other etc, but how the site can come across as somewhat confusing!
  • Actually, yes that is true, which is why we've only done this with the higher end bikes. Our dealers were telling us that nearly all of the more experienced riders they talked to wanted bikes wanted standard geometry, while women who were buying less expensive bikes were flocking to the shorter top tube bikes. This could be because the more experienced riders, who are typically the ones buying high end bikes, have more core strength than average riders, or because they don't experience the type of pain that most women feel when they ride bikes that are too stretched out.

    Having two additional sizes is still in keeping with the ethos of WSD, since it gives that high end shopper the OPTION to choose between a bike with more reach, or one with less, while still benefiting from the overall fit characteristics of a WSD bike.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Excellent! That makes it much clearer, and I have to say I am impressed that you have researched different budgets and riders, not just women as a whole.

    Thankyou for taking the time to post.
  • We have VERY vocal dealers. Finding out what they need/want for customers isn't hard. I think our product folks might wish it was a bit harder at times. :D
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I'll stop nitpicking now hehe ;-)

    I wish more company employees/PR would post to be honest, as gives a much more personal feel to the outfit and genuine customer service and care. Some can appear quite faceless.
  • That feeling is easy to understand. I've been pretty religious about posting on forums in the past, but it depends entirely on my schedule, which has me on the road pretty constantly between March and November. This is my down time, so if I'm not traveling to the UK to visit friends (I used to live there and had a stint at Singletrack), then I'm usually on the couch taking it easy. :)

    The other reason I think industry people tend to shy away from forums, is that there is so much misinformation that persists on the boards that honestly, it gets frustrating trying to correct things all the time. It's particularly bad in my area, which is products for women. Plus, as I'm sure you well know, once people make their minds up about things, it can be very hard to change them without sounding like someone who is just preaching the party line, rather than someone who genuinely wants to help people be better riders.

    In the end, even though Trek is who I represent, and I feel strongly about our approach to getting more women on bikes, it's really the bigger picture of enabling women and helping them join this lifestyle that is the objective. If that means they get something other than a Trek, so be it. As long as their decision was based on correct information, and the bike they chose is what they think is best for them, there's no way that's wrong.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I think another reason (for why we don't see more industry posters) would be the antagonistic way in which some forumites can respond, and in a manner that is not worth a response or a conducive discussion.

    Us at Bike Radar, and indeed the magazines, share the same idealogy which is a genuine approach to help find all riders, of all abilities and budgets to find the correct bike and equipment. Whether that is Trek or not ;-).

    We try and encourage constructive discussion on these boards, and I hope you understood the angle of my approach to this thread. Not necessarily my own point of view, but a possible perception.

    And just to prove I am not anti Trek lol, I thought the 2008 Trek 4500 was a superbly specced bike and was a top recommendation at the 400 pound mark!
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    Cheers Chris, good seeing someone defending their products, I'm sure this kind of feedback gives a lot of people confidence in the brand.

    The blog you posted on was my wifes, she's considering getting a new full sus this coming year and I was just curious what the difference between mens and females top end bikes was. The EX8 was picked as that's the kind of price range/travel we're considering.

    The UK site seems fair enough in retrospect, I think my issue comes from the misinformation on the USA site. Take the following page for example:

    The model used in the example is an EX8, stating:

    A shorter top tube evenly redistributes weight between hips and hands to eliminate lower back pain and reduce neck and shoulder stress.


    A steeper seat tube balances weight over pedals to maximize efficiency and create exceptionally powerful pedal strokes.

    While this may have been true last year, it doesnt apply to the 2009 model. As you mention, the cost to manufacture lots of different models is quite high. When being told one thing and sold another it can feel a bit like these details are being slipped under the carpet to save a few pounds here and there.

    The other thing is, we could probably find a blokes EX8 for a couple of hundred quid less than the womens. Without a bit of research I'd have happily paid a few hundred more assuming we were getting women specific geometry. Besides, knowing they're about the same gives us lots more colour options! ;)

    Sorry, I'm nitpicking too really. The spec on her current 4500 wsd was very well thought out, we switching in a set of discs afterwards and it's been a good little runner :)
  • Ah!

    Ok, well in this case what's happening is that the bikes pictured on the fit page are the 2008 bikes, and not the 2009 bikes. I can totally see where the confusion is, and it seems to me what you've run into is the lag in getting information updated. Fair point, absolutely. I'll drop a note to the office about that one.

    In the end, I hope your wife gets a ride on the bike. All bias aside (which I'm sure will seem like a load of bollox), the EX is an exceptional ride. It has consistently been reviewed extremely well on both sides of the pond.

    As always, if you need more info, I'm happy to help.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    9 minutes, christ you lot are fast. I'm sure we'll have a demo on one at some point soon.

    Thanks again! :)
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    I'm the wife! *wave*

    I'm actually planning on demoing a Fuel at the Bike Radar demo day next month, so we'll see how that goes. ;)

    Cheers for clearing up the confusion, and for taking the time to give us an insight into the research done!
  • I was looking on Trek's website and comparing the WSD Mad 5.5 & reg 5.5. In the spec area it said it came in a 58cm so I flipped over to the geo part and it had no measurements for 58cm! Does it come in a 58cm size in the womens? I noticed that with all the wsd vs non wsd madone sizes.... :?: :!: :?: and second of all why don't they make WSD bikes in bigger in a 19.5" mtb or 58cm road?
    Ride like someone has a gun to your head. B-)
  • Supermodel: We do make 58cm 5.2, 5.5, and 6.5 Madones. I see that the geometry isn't included in the chart, so I've let our product manager know. Apologies.

    We don't extend the sizes beyond 58cm road/18" mountain simply because the demand isn't there to justify the production costs required to produce the tooling for those sizes. I wish I had a better answer for you, but it all comes down to the basics of supply and demand.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • there is a lovely WLS bike out from cube in 09, nice paint job, and i like the mens version. looks like the geometry is quite different: the bike comes in 15/17 inches.


    gotta admit that looks nice!
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