Although you can buy a specific women’s bike, any advice for women in this regard should start with the main point: it is not necessary to limit your choice only to women’s models.
Just as for men, any woman needs to choose a bicycle that will be comfortable for her and that will best suit her build, whatever it might be. Typically, women are shorter and lighter than men, often with proportionally shorter torsos and longer legs, although this can vary significantly.
Mountain Bike for Women
Most manufacturers now offer models designed for women, but their approach to design may differ. Some construct frames based on the “short torso, long legs” template. Others make contact points on the body more comfortable for women, reducing the size and weight of the bike without compromising its operational properties.
Both approaches work well and apply to any bike – whether you need a reliable hardtail for long cruises or a lightweight superbike for conquering the Alpine slopes, the criteria for comfort remain the same.
Where to Buy?
It’s quite difficult to determine the correct frame size and geometry in an online store, given the various body proportions, as I mentioned above.
The best way to find out if a bike is comfortable is to sit on it and take a short ride.
Consultants in sports stores should have the necessary experience to immediately tell if the size and shape of a model you’re interested in are suitable for you. And most consultants who are cyclists themselves can help you choose the right bike at the first attempt.
If you feel the service is not good enough or you are simply not allowed to try out bikes, you should go somewhere else.
Size and Comfort
When buying your second (third, fourth…) bike, everything is much simpler since you have an idea of what you find most comfortable. But if it’s your first one, you might have to spend a bit more time on the purchase, and it’s crucial not to make a mistake.
It’s very important that the bicycle fits your physique. On a bike that’s too big, you’ll feel insecure because it will be challenging to maneuver safely. On one that’s too small, turning and pedaling efficiently will be difficult. You should look for a bike where, without getting off the saddle (which is in a median position), you can easily reach the ground with your foot and comfortably position your hands on the handlebars (it’s worth noting that the question of proper cyclist posture is very broad and can vary depending on your riding style).
If you’re getting a bike with suspension (i.e., shock absorbers), you need to ensure the springs are adjusted for your weight. Most women’s models come with suspension specifically adjusted for the rider’s lighter weight, and they offer a small degree of adjustability, both on coil forks (found on most inexpensive bikes) and on air ones.
Having chosen a bicycle that meets the main requirements, we move on to the finer details.
Grips and saddles in most cases have special female versions, but as with the bike itself, it’s not mandatory to choose them. However, it’s worth considering them.
Women’s saddles are widened at the back to support the pelvic bones, and their nose is shortened and equipped with a soft surface or a groove to reduce pressure on the sensitive areas.
There are many methods and calculators for selecting the necessary sizes, but finding the perfect fit can only be achieved through trial and error. It’s worth noting that many professional female cyclists use narrower male saddles, which allow for easier maneuvering.
Most women’s bikes come with shortened handlebars and narrower grips. If you have broad shoulders, it’s better to choose a handlebar of regular length.
Girls often have an issue with brake levers as tiny fingers simply can’t reach them. However, there are some brake models with adjustable lever positions. Brake handles – and sometimes shifters – can be adjusted to make reaching them easier.
The above can – and should – be determined during the purchase. In a good store, they’ll offer all this to you without unnecessary talk, as the main thing is to ensure you’re satisfied. As you gain more experience, you’ll also be able to make desired adjustments, aiming to get the most out of your bike.
On market we have two specific female models for sale:
- El Camino Girly is suitable for beginner female riders. It’s primarily designed for cross-country discipline.
- Commencal Meta AM Girly is a full-suspension bike suitable for serious freeriding.