Difference between Men and Women’s Bikes
Difference between Men and Women’s Bikes
Most of the things around us are gendered. Speak of toys, colors, perfumes, clothing and even language choices, there’s a marked difference in what is masculine and feminine.
The same applies to bikes. Manufacturers work with three major categories: male, female and unisex. Gender-specific bikes are designed to be structurally different.
They differ in their frames and the various components attached to it. The dissimilarity has nothing to do with social norms or conditioning. They are the result of the difference between the male and female bodies.
This article goes over the major points of distinction between male and female bikes. We’ve also added tips to select the best bike for your gender.
The handlebar is the bar that helps you steer your bike. It, along with the grips, impacts stability and handling. The handlebars on a man and woman’s bike differ in their width.
The average width of the handlebar is anywhere between 38 and 40 centimeters on a woman’s bike and 42 and 44 centimeters on a man’s bike.
With a few exceptions, the upper body in women is narrower than in men. Hence, a narrow steering bar is the preferred option on a woman’s bike; it is wider on bikes built for males.
To add, the handlebars on a woman’s bike are positioned slightly higher than on a man’s bike. Women with wide shoulders can always settle for bikes with adjustable handlebars.
The right size grips on the handlebar give you better control of your bike. They provide padding to keep your hands well-cushioned and to prevent cramps especially on long rides. Grips are made in varying sizes.
Men’s grips are thicker and larger in size accounting for the fact that men have bigger hands than women. Not only this, the grips on a man’s bike are spaced further apart. Grips are an adjustable bike component.
Bike Seat –
Saddles are gender specific. They are important as they affect riding comfort. In comparison to the shoulder width, women have a wide pelvis. The sit bones are wider than that in men. This difference is reflected in the size and design of the saddle.
A typical man’s bicycle saddle is long and narrow. Women’s bikes are fitted with a shorter, wider saddles. Nowadays, bike manufacturers make unisex saddles too. They offer optimum comfort irrespective of the gender of the rider.
The variations in gender-specific bikes are more pronounced in the structure of the frame. There is a marked difference in the geometry of both bikes and, yet again, it is influenced by the male and female anatomy.
The V-shaped step-through frame is a standout feature on a girl’s bike as opposed to the dominant triangle present on a man’s bike frame.
Women’s bikes have smaller, lighter frames than those of their male counterparts. A man’s bike with a stronger frame is designed to handle more weight and to accommodate a taller body.
Another major difference is the angle and placement of the top tube on a bike. The top tube connects the bike saddle to the handlebar.
Speaking of the proportion of torso to leg length, women have a shorter torso and longer legs. A women specific design generally has a shorter top tube. A shorter top tube means less distance between the seat and the handlebar.
Because women have shorter bodies and shorter hands, a shorter handle-to-saddle length is ideal. It enables them to reach the handlebars comfortably. The top tube on a woman’s bike is also placed lower than on a man’s bike, dipping slightly as it moves from the handlebars towards the seat.
The sloping top tube gives women more stand over clearance. The top tube is arranged horizontally, parallel to the ground, and higher on a man’s bike.
Interestingly, the placement and angling of the top tube has a strong connection to fashion. The top tube on a woman’s bike was designed keeping in mind women riders who wore skirts or dresses. The step-through frame ensured that women didn’t have to kick their legs over to get on or off the bike.
The lower placed top tube increases the ease of mounting a bike for women. As for men who have always worn trousers, a high top tube doesn’t cause much mounting trouble. A lot of modern-day women’s bikes are forgoing the slanted crossbar for added stability.
Smaller hands often make it difficult to reach brake levers positioned too far. Therefore, it goes without saying, that a woman’s bike features shorter reach brake levers. On the contrary, the brake levers have a longer reach on men’s bikes. Wider grips and brake levers are more suited to their longer and bigger hands.
To the uninformed, the handlebar stem seems like a relatively insignificant part on your bike. It is just another tube that connects the handlebar to the bike’s fork steer tube. You are mistaken. The stem plays an important role in how your bike handles.
A longer stem increases reach. Men being taller and given their longer arms, their bikes need longer stems. It keeps taller riders from having to lean forward uncomfortably when riding. In consideration of the fact that women have shorter torsos and hands, bikes designed for them include shorter stems.
Crank arms –
The crank set on a bike includes the crank arms, crank shaft and chain rings. The crank arm is the lever that attaches the pedal to the rotating shaft. The main difference here is the length of the crank arm. Contrary to popular belief, crank arms are not of a uniform size.
They vary in length depending on the type of bike, that is whether it is a mountain bike or a road bike. It also varies according to the gender of the rider.
The appropriate crank length is directly proportional to height of the rider. Taller male riders require a longer crank to be able to pedal comfortably and safely. Women have shorter inseams than men do and hence benefit from shorter crank arms.
The average length of the crank is 165mm on a woman’s bike and goes up to 170 -175mm on men’s bikes. Going too short or too long with the crank length affects comfort, stability and performance.
You risk your leg slipping the pedal. If you feel the strain when pedaling, it is likely the wrong length. Another cue is a nagging knee or back ache which could be caused by longer crank arms.
Angle of the head and seat tube –
Talking about differences in physiology between male and female bodies, we must consider how they are proportioned. The average man is taller than a woman.
But proportionally, a woman has longer legs and a shorter torso compared to her male counterpart. This does not necessarily mean that she is taller; thus, a small-sized male bike could be tall even for a tall woman.
A bike built to fit female proportions features a shorter and sloping top tube. This can cause the front wheel and the toes to overlap if the head tube is not of the correct length and angle.
To prevent this, manufacturers increase the length and angle of the head tube on women specific bike designs. Attached to the front wheel, this head tube pushes the wheel more forward compared to men bicycles, resulting in improved stability.
The seat tube extends upwards from the bottom bracket and joins the saddle. The seat tube on a man’s bike is at a shallower angle which pushes the seat back. The horizontally aligned top tube on a man’s bike is responsible for the more relaxed seat tube angle.
As opposed to this, the shorter, slanting top tube on a woman’s bike means a steeper angle compared to a man’s bike. These adjustments on a women specific design increase stability and convenience of pedaling.
Even without talking about the components that are fitted to a frame, a major point of distinction between men and women’s bikes is the size of the frame.
Women’s bikes are made in a smaller size to accommodate a petite physique. The female bikes sizes are usually the smaller sizes in the line-up of men’s bikes. They are built for shorter men. Men’s bikes tend to have a heavier frame than female bicycles.
A Buyer’s Guide
There is no strict rule on sticking to gender specific bikes. It is perfectly alright for one to choose a bike designed for their counterpart. However, knowing how the components on each differ will help you understand what to expect helping you make rational decision.
Now that we’ve outlined the major differences between men and women’s bikes, here are a few tips to decide the bike that would be the best fit your body and budget.
Bicycle brands size up their bikes differently. Determining the right bike size starts with measuring select body parts.
This includes the length of your inner leg and your height. Many manufacturers have an online size guide that might be able to recommend a suitable bike based on these dimensions.
Riding comfort is also of utmost importance when buying a bike. Testing bikes is the only way to ensure this. Check the reach, that is the distance between the handle and the saddle.
When you sit on your bike, your back should be straight, and your hands should reach comfortably to the handlebars. If, when siting, you slouch or bend forward uncomfortably, it is likely that the distance is too much or too little.
What is the correct handlebar width? The best way to tell is to place your hands on the handlebar. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. The handlebar stem is a fixed component on the bike.
Unlike a bike seat that can be raised or lowered to increase riding comfort, the stem is not adjustable. Hence, it is essential to check the stem length when purchasing a bike. Check the saddle. It should fit your sit bones perfectly for the highest level of comfort.
If you want to get the best bike, you should also consider getting the right type of bike. There are road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes each built to be used of a specific terrain. They are also built with a specific focus in mind such as some for speed or others for comfort and endurance.
Road bikes are meant for daily use on roads and pavements. They are great for a ride around the city and known for their speed. Mountain bikes are built for rugged use. The right type of bike is contingent on where you ride and what you are looking to achieve with your bike.
You might also want to check the other specs on the bike such a build material, suspension, wheels, brakes and gearing.
Finally, consider your budget. You can get decent quality bikes, specific to your gender at various price points. Higher-end models include more accessories or might be built from lighter weight materials.
Bikes are targeted towards different genders. However, choosing a bike is a personal choice. Therefore, it is not necessary that a female specific design would be the best fit for a woman.
Some find the perfect riding companion in a unisex model. If you prefer a unisex bike over a gender specific model, you can customize it to suit your body shape.
Not only this, we also tend to generalize men as being taller and bigger built than women. But there are always going to be exceptions. Two people of the same gender could display variations in height or body proportions.
Thus, a gender specific bike that is suitable to one, may not necessarily be the best for the other. Getting a bike with a proper fit might sometimes involve making adjustments. There are many frame components that can be adjusted such as the handlebar, type of saddle or seat height.
The structural differences in men and women’s bikes are incorporated to address each gender’s typical physiological differences. The features only help you narrow your choices. Secure the best driving experience by choosing a bike that’s safe, stable and comfortable.