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Bike Pointers / How many of you ride women specific bikes?

AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
edited April 2009 in Women

I havent had a bike for a few years and looking for my first decent Mountain bike. I had a Saracen Awol last time and didnt get on with it very well.

I'm looking to spend around the 500 mark to get a good hardtail. I like the idea of a full susser and saw this Specialized Myka FRS Comp 08 Model deal but a lot of people are saying hard tail is best and you learn more from starting out on one. Don't know if you agree on that? I havent ridden a bike for a few years and I'm still new to it all so I'm looking for a decent starting point.

Hard Tails I'm looking at are the Specialized Myka Elite 08 Model The 08 Myka Expert seems to have better parts but still Mechanical Discs as apposed to Hydraulics. And I don't like the look of the paint job.

So if I went up a grade I'd go for the 09 Myka Expert and try to get a good deal. It's much better looking and has Hydraulics as well as the better parts.

At my level are Hydraulics really important? Or would Mechanical Discs do the job fine? If I wanted to upgrade the bike to Hydraulics in the future can I do that on any bike or is it costly?

And the difference in parts, I'm really looking at the gears and forks. If I'm getting Rockshox at this stage, does it really matter what level of rockshox I get? Tora's or Darts? Or are the Dart 3's pretty good?

At the moment I'm tempted by the 08 Myka Elite deal. I'm trying to read up on the parts to make sure I get a decent bike but being new I don't know I would even notice the difference.

I've looked at some trek's also but I'm not sure I'm gonna stretch that far at the moment.

I'm looking at women specific bikes because I've been told it's really worth it these day's. Shorter top tubes and suspension set up with less weight in mind etc. But I'm curious of how many of you actually ride women specific bikes? Or do you ride mens bikes fine and find no difference?

Also what frame sizes do you ride? I've heard its better to go smaller and I'm looking at 15" at the moment. I'm about 5'6".

Any advice appreciated!


  • Hi Rachel,

    It's always great to hear from more women getting into biking - we need more of us!

    The best thing you can do is find a good local shop and try out the bikes you're looking at. It's well worth hiring them for a day (and you should get the cost back on buying) to get out and ride properly. You'll get a feel for what's right. Does it feel comfortable or are you too stretched/too cramped. The staff in the shop should also advise you on fit.

    I don't ride a female specific bike, but know women who do and swear by it.

    A hardtail is a good way to hone skills (and cheaper to buy when you're starting out), but a full sus will make it easier to up keep with faster riders. I started out on a hardtail, got a full sus as I got more into it and now have one of each! I would def have hydraulic brakes though. Again try to test some to see the difference.

    Another good idea can be to buy a good frame with a more basic set up and upgrade as you can afford it - that's what I did with my first full sus - get the best frame you can afford and as you start to realise the brakes not performing so well is holding you back etc etc upgrade them. You'll also find lots of mtb blokes are v quick to upgrade so you can buy 2nd hand kit cheaply off them!

    It can also be a good idea to look at a skills course locally to help build your confidence and meet more riders.

    Good luck!

  • I don't ride a female specific bike either. :P

    There is nothing wrong with them per se (I'd especially recommend a women's bike if the geometry feels amazing on you), but you are severely limiting your choices by looking at women-specific models only, moreso at a 500squid budget.

    I agree with sara's suggestion to go for a good frame and upgrade components along the way. But the quality and type of components you need depends on what style of riding you wish to do.

    Do you know what type of riding you want to do?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Thanks for the advice!

    I'm not sure what you'd class my kind of riding as really. Maybe just general cross sountry? When I had my bike a few years back I just used to ride generally over Cannock Chase where ever I could. And then a track was built which I rode once and loved but havent been on since due to selling my heffer of a bike! I've missed it and am getting into my fitness now so I really want a bike for good this time.

    I like the idea of getting a good frame and upgrading parts as I learn and feel the need to. I'm definitly getting an Alu frame but the differences between each one I'm not sure on.

    It doesnt sound like women specific is so important then, I'll aim to try some bikes out. There are some good bikes for women but not a great choice!

    A skills course sounds great, I didnt even think there would be skills courses for riding but I'll definilty do some research on that.
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    Burntwood? Someone from my old hometown! \o/

    As for the women specific/bloke bike conundrum...I think a lot of it depends on your proportions and preferences. Personally, my choice is limited by the fact I'm 5ft 2 - there are a lot of bloke bikes I'd love to try out, but the frames just aren't small enough. :(

    I'd recommend the following courses of action!

    * There's a Specialized Concept Store in Birmingham, in the Fort Dunlop park. You can test ride Specialized bikes here, and see if the geometry suits. I wouldn't swear to it, but I'm fairly certain they let you demo bikes for a couple of days, so you could actually try it out over the Chase to see what it feels like in its natural habitat.

    * Demo Days! There's loads of demo days going on next month over Cannock Chase, so it's an ideal opportunity to try out different bikes. There's:

    Sunday 15th February: MBR Demo Day
    Sunday 22nd February: Bike Radar Demo Day
    Sunday 1st March: Leisure Lakes Demo Day

    Although bizarrely, I can only find reference to these in the strange, arcane medium of 'printed magazines', and not on the interwebs.

    * Swinnerton Cycles - the bike shop at the Birches Valley Forest Centre stocks a decent number of bikes and brands, and are generally pretty good in getting in any model and size bike from their list of manufacters. You'll have to book it and pay a deposit for the postage, but I think that gets refunded if you buy the bike, plus it's a small price to pay for getting something that really works for you.

    With a £500 budget, I'd suggest getting a hardtail - any full suspension will have much lower components on. Cheaper forks and rear shocks are often non-adjustable, so if you're on the lighter side and riding a bloke's bike, they won't even register your presence.
  • RDM:

    I'd like to throw in my 2p here. I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that women's specific bikes aren't worth it, UNLESS you are dealing with a manufacturer that doesn't actually change their frame geometry. In that case, I would say that since there is no difference in geometry between standard and women's frames, then no, a women's bike wouldn't matter.

    *Puts on Trek hat*

    However, at Trek, we actually adjust the frame geometry on our WSD bikes in order to address fundamental differences in anatomy between men and women. We are not built the same as men, and hence our center of gravity is located in our lower back, whereas men carry their COG around their sternum. Because of this, when women are put into the same riding position as men, the result is often low back pain and/or neck and shoulder pain. By changing the frame geometry, we are placing the woman in a more anatomically correct riding position, which removes pressure from the lower back, and reduces the reach to prevent neck and shoulder pain.

    There are 3 benefits to this:

    1) More comfort on the bike
    2) Better breathing
    3) Most importantly, more power output and more efficiency on the bike

    All of that means you can ride longer.

    WSD bikes are not the be all and end all for every woman out there. However, I have put thousands of women on WSD bikes over the course of the last 5 years, and by far the vast majority of them have a much better riding experience, and feel more comfortable on the bike.

    So, please don't dismiss the idea of trying a woman's bike. At least not a WSD one, anyway. Trek isn't the only manufacture who is actually changing frame geometry, but there are many more brands that claim to have 'women's bikes', that don't actually do anything to address the differences in anatomy.

    Now, for your £500 bike, I would suggest the 4500 WSD at £450:

    This a great bike for the money, but if you have a bit more you can spend the next bike up would be the 6300 at £675:

    There are a significant number of upgrades from the 4500 to the 6300, namely better wheels, a better fork, and disc brakes. It is worth the extra money, but the 4500 is still a good bike for the money.

    Also, as an aside-and this is going to sound incredibly biased, but please understand that it's not meant to be-the level of customer service at the Birmingham Specialized concept store may not be to your satisfaction. I would encourage you to shop around and see what other bikes are out there, but you may be better served by looking around for a store with a known reputation for a high level of service.

    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Thanks for the advice again. I havent been to the Specialized Concept store yet due to being busy / crappy weather. But it would be nice to get a proper look at the range.

    I've been to Swinnertons and got some good advice also, sat on a gents Giant which is supposed to be a good bike and their current rental bike. But the look of it doesnt really blow my skirt up.

    And thanks Chris, it's good to hear from you as I'm pretty sure I've narrowed my likings down to Specialized and Trek. I went to sit on some mens and womens Treks a couple of weeks a go but didnt buy because I couldn't feel a difference or decide on the womens v's mens frame issue. Other than that I had fantastic advice a the shop I went to. (Bridgetown Cycles, Cannock).

    I'm interested in the 6300 D WSD and the 6700 D WSD bikes. The latter is a bit out of my price range though! So I'd likely be going for the 6300.

    I read in another post that Trek alter the geometry in the lower spec womens bikes but in the higher spec womens bikes they dont. Because women at that level want to be more stretched out? Are the above frames altered for womens geometry?

    I'm not interested in the bikes below that spec because they have a very girly look to them and I'd like the Hydraulics and Deore.

    I'm happy to go for a womens frame if it feels right but it seems like you have to pay a lot more money for the same level of kit on a mans bike.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    It still should come down to what feels best for you - 'altered' or not. Keep trying them until you find something that feels right, and a good shop will change things like saddles, stems, bars etc to tailor the fit. Whether that be on mens or womens geometry. Geometry varies so much anyway between brands and models that you'll find even WSD between them is not the same.

    Essentially what womens geometry does is provide a set up that seems to suit more rather than less women, but this is by no means set in stone. Obviously having a more suitable saddle and a lighter sprung fork is part of this and can minimise parts you might have to swap. Good set up is essential though for anyone, and testing.
  • Rachel,

    Bridgetown is a great shop! I was in to visit them and help with a software install back in December. Great store.

    It's great that you've had a chance to shop around for some bikes. You might not feel much difference between the fit just by sitting on the bikes, but here are a couple of things to look for:

    1) Reach: when you are holding the handlebars in a normal riding position, your shoulders should be relaxed (not hunched), and you should have a nice bend in your elbows, rather than your arms being straight or worse, locked out. If you feel like your shoulders are raised in order to grab the bars, then this is not a good fit.

    2) Lean: you want to be able to use your core muscles to support you, rather than your lower back. So, with your hands on the bars in a normal riding position, take your hands off the bars and hold yourself in that position. Evaluate where you feel the support. If you feel like your low back muscles are doing most of the work, then this is not a good fit. You also want to avoid sitting in a position with your back hunched. You should have a relatively straight back.

    Regarding your question about the difference in geometry between high and low end bikes:

    On our top of the line full suspension bikes, we have added two additional frame sizes to the women's line that aren't available in the standard line. This gives women two bike sizes to choose from, depending on the reach they want. Below the top of the line the frame geometry is altered. I did elaborate on this in this thread:

    Also, FYI there is NO difference in price between our WSD bikes, and our standard bikes.
    Trek UK Media Maven
    Twitter: @TrekBikesUK
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Okay thanks again Chris. We talked about the bend in the arms at Bridgetown cycles and my arms had a very slight bend in them. I'll make a note of those pointers though and think about them when I next sit on a few. I'm eager to buy a bike now but don't want to spend a lot of money and after a while feel the bike isnt so comfortable.
  • miss notaxmiss notax Posts: 2,572
    I don't ride a female specific bike.... I ride a small framed santa cruz which fits me perfectly! I agree with the others in that you should try loads of bikes irrespective of shape etc and see what suits you best!
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away....

    Riding a gorgeous ano orange Turner Burner!

    Sponsor the CC2CC at
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Thanks for your input Sarah :)
  • I don't ride a women specific bike either - I have a Kona Caldera, but also use my other half's GT Avalanche from time to time.
  • I've ridden two women specific bikes now but had a dabble on friends (lads) bikes and I have to say I much prefer mine (but then I just think Im bias :wink: )

    When I upgraded my hardtail to a full sus I looked at both Specialized and Trek and ended up going with the Trek EX5.5 with upgraded forks and I totally love it.

    I'm only 5ft 3 so I think womens bikes are actually better for me but I think it just comes down to preference really.......oh and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm partial to a bit of pink. Not that it actually improves my riding of course lol :wink:
  • Ditch WitchDitch Witch Posts: 837
    I don't, mainly because I'm quite mannish in proportions in that I'm 5'11" and have a long body and short legs (relatively speaking). Men's bikes just fit me better.
    I ride like a girl
    Start: 16.5.x Now: 14.10.8 Goal: 11.7.x
    Specialized HardRock Pro Disc 04
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    I'm going to be going for a Specialized BG fit session on a small Stumpjumper FSR Elite on Saturday. Really hoping this one fits, getting a bit sick of demoing bikes now!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Thanks for the input guys, I've got a bike now. Had it a week and I love it. I dont think I'm experienced enough to feel the difference between different forks etc and different fits of bike. I just needed to get a bike and get going! I rented a a mens giant xtc4.5 which seemed fine although thinking about it afterwards I was probably quite stretched out which might be an ache after a while and the front end felt 'lose'. I decided to go with a womens bike. Seems a shame to poo poo the research and design that goes into womens bikes now. Some of the manufacturers seem to be making a big effort and we want that to carry on. Although I'm not tiny, I'm average height of 5'6", I still fit within the rules. My arms are shorter than all the guys I know and I'm 8 stone, whereas a slim guy of the same height would be heavier. So I got the Specialized Myka HT Expert. Frames nice and light, no pink or flowers in site and its got a bit of bling; white calipers and levers! Hydralic disc brakes and RockShox Tora S-lite la femme forks which I'm real happy with. They actually respond under my weight.


  • Ditch WitchDitch Witch Posts: 837
    Sweet ride :D Have fun!
    I ride like a girl
    Start: 16.5.x Now: 14.10.8 Goal: 11.7.x
    Specialized HardRock Pro Disc 04
  • kazziekazzie Posts: 23
    That bike looks very familier :wink: I have one of those myself, it rides like a dream. Great choice of new bike!
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