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Girl Beginner - What bike?

edited August 2009 in Road beginners
I give up. All the bike mags are focused on road bikes for blokes -so much advice!. As a beginner (switching from mountain bike) I'm trying to find a woman's bike, circa £800 so that I can join my husband on his rides. I'm not intending to do racing but we do long rides so comfort is important, plus we live in Yorkshire and there are (big) hills everywhere. Hardly anywhere seems to stock more than one bike so trying them out is next to impossible. Like the look of the Specialised Dolce Sport 27 and the Elite but not really sure. What else can I look at? Bianchi/Scott/Cannondale? Any advice gratefully received! Cheers, Fiona


  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Why not go to a good bike shop and see what you can build up. That way you can spec the woman specific brake/gear shifters stc. That way you can get a smaller frame, which may not be specifically for women but the bars, stem, cranks can all be fitted for your build.
  • OwenBOwenB Posts: 606
    My girlfriend bought a Giant Avail recently and she thinks it's brilliant. I'm not a spec expert so can't say how it compares to other brands.
    But she tried it against the Specialized Dolce and a Trek 1.7 male version and it was best for her, plus the dealer offered her a bit of a bargain and she's been really happy with it.

    It's a triple so there's plenty of gears to go at, we live in hilly country too so need plenty
  • LittleB0bLittleB0b Posts: 416
    Hi Fiona

    You totally have my sympathy as this time last year i was going through the same thing. Searching the internet for ideas and advice, drawing up shortlists, crossing most of them off as they couldn't be found anywhere.

    I spent a lot of time in bike shops being ignored (glasgow branch of Evans managed to ignore me for 4 hours, my being ignored even had a lunch break) - or being steered towards 'girly communters' (given that i dress like a tomboy - that might have been a clue that i really don't do pink).

    I started off pretty certain that I wanted a WSD bike - as i have a typical woman's figure (long legs -short torso, tiny short arms, and diddy hands), Anyway in the end i bought a Trek 1.9, but not the WSD one.

    The break came finding a shop that while taking into account that i was a novice treated me like i was half serious about the idea (i am after all going to have to keep up with the other half on his full carbon). They measured me and went through some options - and with a few modificaions the 1.9 came out as the best fit.

    I went for the regular 1.9 as the WSD only comes with triple - which i thought was condescending beyond words (i might have gone for a triple given choice, but i hated not being given the option- that's just me though). A compact has been OK so far - I have only had to stop for a break on one hill.

    To summerise - your choice will likely come down to what you can find somewhere in your size. Don't rule out standard bikes. A good shop will probably offer to change handle bars or saddle for you to ones with a better fit.

    God luck!

  • andrewjosephandrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    My wife wanted a change from mtb'ing so she bought an 05 Specialized Dolce and loves it (bought in 2007 at greatly reduced price).

    That said, she has changed a few things:
    brakes/shifters to Shimano Ultegra S600, (shorter reach),
    ultegra 9speed cassette:
    changed bars to Bontrager womens FITT, (less drop, curve more suited to small hands).

    Still experimenting with a short adjustable stem to get the best fit.

    So even a decent spec womens specific bike needed changes to get perfect.
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • skyd0gskyd0g Posts: 2,540
    I wouldn't look exclusively at triples and rule out bikes with compact chainsets, as compacts offer just about the same range of gears as a triple. Especially if you have a 12-27 cassette on the rear. :wink:
    Cycling weakly
  • Hi FChristi.

    If you live in Yorkshire then I would try Triangle in Horsforth. They specialise in equipment for Triathletes so range of bikes is not huge - Bianchi and Viner. However, after trawling most of the bike shops in and around Leeds I found the advice and bike I was sold good.

    Good luck with getting your roadbike. The riding around Yorkshire is fantastic.
  • bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 2,058
    WSD specific bikes tend to be overpriced with censored groupsets.

    IMO you're better off getting a non-WSD frame in the correct size and getting it specced to your budget.
  • leedsmjhleedsmjh Posts: 194
    I'd recommend having a look at the Cannondale Synapse Feminine which is a very comfortable, responsive and fun bike.

    The frame geometry is the same as the men's Synapse but it will have a women's saddle and women's handlebars which will be narrower and (hopefully) designed for smaller hands to be able to reach the brakes properly in the drops.

    Evans have the Tiagra specced one on special at about your price range (though only in 51cm).

    It's quite common for WSD frames to have the same geometry as sportive-type or relaxed geometry "men's" bikes so you could look at those but expect to want to change the saddle and possibly handlebars.
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    Interesting comments - I am looking for a bike for a girl and wasn't really sure whether a WSD is that necessary.
    Contador is the Greatest
  • CiBCiB Posts: 6,098
    Twenty3C in Stony Stratford, just north of Milton Keynes is a good LBS that sells decent quality cycles & kit, but more importantly for you it's jointly run by a knowledgeable young lady and genuine roadie + competitor, so even though it's a bit out of your way you could do worse than give her a call to discuss what might suit. You could even treat yourself to a day out in t'grim sarf if you fancy buying from her. :)

    Off beam a bit but when I was scratting about last year trying to find a decent road bike for a 12 y-o boy at a sensible price, Roy Pink Cycles in Newport Pagnell suggested looking at the range of ladies bikes that he had in stock. IIRC they were Giant, might have been Trek, but as the Boy Wonder turned his nose up at the very idea we didn't follow it through.
  • If you're around North Yorkshire I'd recommend Boneshakers in Harrogate.

    My partner was after her first road bike and got measured up there and they were really helpful.

    Probably more importantly they went out of their way to redo the measurements and make the necessary adjustments when she told them during the post-sales checkup that she was getting some discomfort, after which it's been much better.
  • jeepiejeepie Posts: 495
    My sister just bought a Bianchi via Nirone with Mirage and loves it. She had to change the saddle though due to her wider sit bones, but apart from that it's been great. Get the bike shop to throw in the saddle change and you are good to go!
  • NuggsNuggs Posts: 1,804
    WSD specific bikes tend to be overpriced with censored groupsets.

    IMO you're better off getting a non-WSD frame in the correct size and getting it specced to your budget.

    Check out the Kinesis website. They have just brought out a new women's frame (I have a Racelight which I love), which could be built up to your own spec.

    I'd also encourage you to look at SRAM groupsets (expensive but very good) as they allow adjustment for smaller hands.
  • BlondeBlonde Posts: 3,188
    I don't ride women's specific bikes (I have four bikes as they are all just standard "men's" models) and you may find you don't need a women's bike particularly. Some are just the same as the men's model but in a different colour and not actually WSD at all, anyway. Even if you have long legs in relation to your torso, there is no reason why you can't use a men's off the peg bike, but you may need to chose a frame that has a longer head tube than some other models, and you should have the fork steerer cut to your required length. I'd suggest you go for a proper bike fitting before buying anything. Once you know the dimensions you need you'll be in a position to chose anything that can be made to have those dimensions when it is built up, with the stem and bars on etc. Apart from the quality of the bike, how comfortable it is will mostly be determined by how well the bike fits you. BTW I use Shimano STI gear/brake levers, because I prefer to have the levers closer and they have a rubber shim which makes that possible - Campagnolo are not adjustable in this way as far as I know. I also use shallow-drop, non-anatomical (traditional/curved) handlebars as the shallow drop is more useable for me and the curved bar also puts the levers nearer to your hands for better control over braking. These parts can be specified for any bike frame/fork, so there is no need to chose a particular frame because of the components it is usually built up with. I have only ever bought frame and forks and then had the bike built up to my own specification.
    RE: Chain sets/gearing: If I was going for a new bike now I might consider a compact rather than a triple chain set but I am still really in two minds about that. It really depends how close you like your gears to be to each other (and with how much overlap between chain rings). Compacts won't have so much overlap, so you'll carry less weight about for the same gearing, but on the other hand you have to change up/down the cassette a lot more to get the next gear along when you change chain rings, which isn't as smooth and can result in rather sudden loss of forward momentum on ascents (you will know what I mean if you have ever ridden behind a compact rider, when the road goes up, they change into the small ring without corresponding changes to smaller sprockets on the cassette and seem to suddenly be coming backwards at your front wheel!) Remember that whatever type of chain set you get, you can change the size of the rings (and your cassette) to suit the exact gearing you require - it's best to use use a gear calculator. Pay no attention to anyone who tells you that one type is better than another, as whatever type you go for, you simply chose the gears you want to ride in (and where you want them to be on the rings/cassette - the only thing to remember when choosing a chain set/sprocket combination is that the gears you use most of the time should result in the fewest chain ring changes (ie you don't want the two gears you mostly use to be either side of a chain ring change or you'll be forever changing between rings).
  • jimbo36jimbo36 Posts: 11
    Hi Fiona
    depending on where u live in Yorkshire I'm at northallerton
    and cowley cycles are quite good with good advise or Arthur
    Caygills at Richmond have an amazing choice of equipment
    and are always willing to give advice and barter on prices.

    I've just started out road riding after doing a lot of mountain
    biking when I was younger so opted for a Giant Defy to start
    me off. Nice machine at a good price.

    Hope u get sorted and enjoy riding and you are right there's
    some great hills to sweat up :) in North Yorkshire gonna try
    Sutton bank when I'm brave enough

    Great - thanks for all the advice. Am now off to trawl the Yorkshire bike shops for the weekend - Milton Keynes is my back up. :) Fiona
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