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5ft9in (175cm) - men's or women's MTB?

larkimlarkim Posts: 2,412
edited January 2017 in Women
My wife is looking to get a bike which will allow her to stop borrowing my bike when our kids go round trail centres like Llandegla.

She's not fast (yet) or aggressive (yet) on a bike, and in truth will only probably be used in anger 3 or 4 times a year at a trail centre, with much of the rest of the time around firetracks, forest parks (eg. Delamere) etc etc.

At that sort of height, is it worth looking at women's specific MTBs, or is it better to find a "unisex" or "men's" frame which fits well? At Decathlon yesterday, she tried out the 340 in the M (165cm to 175cm) and L (175cm to 185cm) frames, and prefered the feel of the M (I think she is long in the leg, shorter in the body, so I suppose a shorter top tube would make sense, as she is on the cusp of those two sizes, going by Decathlon's sizing guide.

Her spec is (at least) cable discs, (at least) 24 spd, (at least) 100mm travel with lockout forks, and it MUST have a comfortable seat! Not sure how we can achieve the final criteria (any help gratefully received!), but I reckon the rest we can nail for around £330-£400.

Thoughts and help gratefully received!

2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)


  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    It sounds like a women's mountain bike would fit better as they are more upright, have less reach and much more stand over height. As ever the bike that fits is the bike that fits whichever type it is, so try a few more test rides.
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,412
    Thanks - other than her being female, what characteristics lead you to think that a women's bike would fit better? What you've described as features of women's bikes I understand, but I don't get the advantage of better stand over height when she is already moderately tall and long legged (relative to me anyway!). And, with the greatest of respect to women-kind, I think I've got more issues with contact in that area than she has (or perhaps I just don't understand!!)

    You are of course right that the best fit is the best fit, but I suspect she (and I) are both sufficiently inexperienced in these matters to know what feels "right" in a shop (or even a short test ride) would also feel right slugging uphill or haring downhill on a trail.
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #3s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
    2018 Voodoo Maji (wife's)
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    My wife found stand over height very poor on normal XC mountain bikes. She much preferred the additional stand over height and riding position on a women's specific mountain bike. She is about 5ft3 though :)

    Also the controls (brakes /gears) are setup for smaller hands with less reach. You just have to try a few bikes to get what you want.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    It really depends on the model. Women's specific branding, brand to brand, varies enormously. For some it's just narrow grips and a hole in the saddle. Others tweak the geometry to what on average will suit the percentile.

    Best to go and sit on a few and see what suits.
  • I think that at 175 you are in a position to go for either womenspecific bikes or male/both sexes bikes. I have never tried a womenspecific bike so I don´t know. Can´t see why it should be so much diffrence. There must be a greater variation in body composition (handsize, leg lengt, back lengt, arm lengt etc ect) between individuals (off the same height) than it is between sexes of the same height. That´s why I think womens bikes are more a sales argument than a real deal.
  • mobilekatmobilekat Posts: 245
    At 5ft 8 I have only ever ridden men's bikes, I do have 'long arms', and 'long legs', which helps.
    But have always found you get way more bike for your money if you buy a blokes bike!

    Main thing is get her to go and sit on some!
    Wheeze..... Gasp..... Ruddy hills.......
  • I would recommend going to somewhere like Glentress and test-riding a few bikes - that way you will be able to work out what suits you best. That's how I got started mountain biking - you could stay somewhere like this: - I've slept in these quite a lot in the past and they're very comfortable. You could even go for the whole weekend, spending both days riding and one night in the Wigwams...
  • JBAJBA Posts: 2,823
    You're two and a half years late, RichardSmart. She probably has a bike by now.
    “Life has been unfaithful
    And it all promised so so much”

    Giant Trance 2 27.5 2016 ¦ Sonder Broken Road 2021¦ Giant Revolt Advanced 2 2019 ¦ Giant Toughtroad SLR 1 2019 ¦ Giant Anthem 3 2015 ¦ Specialized Myka Comp FSR 2009
  • Absolutely - but my advice definitely stands for anyone else in the same situation ;).
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