When buying a new bike, one decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to buy a men’s, women’s, or unisex model. This guide explains the difference between men’s Vs women’s bikes. We cover fit, sizing, frame geometry, component choices, cosmetic differences, and much more. Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the right bike for you, regardless of your gender.
In the past, women’s bikes were simply smaller than men’s bikes. They were also painted in traditionally feminine colors, such as pink or purple. Oftentimes, they came equipped with lower-end components as well. Women’s bikes were designed for gentle recreational riding, not performance. Many models also had a lower top tube to allow for riding in a skirt.
Things have changed in recent years. These days, women’s bikes offer the same build quality and performance as men’s models. Manufacturers vary the frame geometry and component selection to better suit female riders. This allows for a better fit and a more comfortable riding position for women. Some manufacturers have done away with men’s and women’s bikes and simply offer unisex models.
What is the Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Bikes?
Men’s and Women’s bikes may look similar, but there are a few significant differences that can affect performance and rider comfort. The main difference between men’s and women’s bikes is the fit and sizing.
The frame size and geometry of men’s and women’s bikes are different because men and women have different body sizes. Their proportions are also slightly different.
Women are shorter than men, on average. Women also tend to have proportionately shorter torsos and longer legs than men. In addition, women also have narrower shoulders than men. Women have smaller hands than men. This all affects the fit of the bike. Of course, these are all generalizations. Everyone’s body is different.
To accommodate for these differences, the frame sizes of women’s bike frames are different. A size large women’s frame will be smaller than a size large men’s frame. Women’s frames are smaller to accommodate the height difference. Sometimes the top tube of women’s bikes is sloping to increase standover clearance.
Oftentimes, the frame geometry of men’s and women’s bikes is also slightly different. Women’s bikes tend to have a shorter stack height to help accommodate for the height difference between men and women. In addition, women’s bikes have a shorter reach to accommodate for the difference in torso length. The shorter reach makes it easier for women to comfortably reach the handlebars.
Sometimes, the components installed on women’s bikes are also different. For example, women’s frames usually have shorter crank arms to accommodate shorter legs. Some women’s bikes come with narrower handlebars to accommodate narrower shoulders. Women’s bikes may come with smaller diameter grips and shorter reach brake levers to accommodate smaller hands. Women’s saddles are often fitted to accommodate different sit bone widths that women have. Some women’s bikes also come with smaller-diameter wheels. This helps improve fit for shorter riders. I’ll explain all of these differences in-depth in the following sections.
Men’s and women’s bikes are often marketed differently as well. Men’s bikes are often marketed as powerful, rugged, and performance-oriented while women’s bikes are typically advertised as lightweight and elegant. In addition, the colors chosen in marketing materials will often be gender-specific. Women’s bikes are often painted in traditionally feminine colors while men’s bikes are painted in traditionally masculine colors.
Women’s Bikes Don’t Fit All Women
It’s important to note that the different frame geometries, frame sizes, and component choices of men’s and women’s bikes are based on averages. Women’s bikes are made for women with an average body type.
An average woman is shorter than an average man with a short torso length, long legs, narrow shoulders, and small hands. Men’s bikes are made for taller people with broad shoulders, and larger hands. Of course, not all people fit these descriptions. People come in all shapes and sizes.
Your individual body shape and size will play a role in whether you choose a men’s or women’s bike. For example, some women are tall. Some women have short legs and wide shoulders. A particularly tall woman might fit better on a men’s bike. Some shorter men may fit better on a women’s bike.
People come in all shapes and sizes. So do bikes. All bikes are really unisex. There is nothing preventing a woman from riding a man’s bike or a man from riding a women’s bike. You want to ride the bike that fits you best, regardless of who it was designed for. It’s better to choose a bike that best fits your body rather than a bike that is designed for your gender. Choose the bike that fits you.
Men’s Vs Women’s Bikes
In the following sections, I’ll outline the main differences between men’s and women’s bikes to help you decide which will fit you best. We’ll cover frame sizing, frame geometry, and the various components that affect bike fit.
Probably the biggest difference between men’s and women’s bikes is the size of the frame. Women’s bike frames are smaller than men’s bike frames.
Women’s frames need to be smaller because women are typically shorter than men. The average height of a woman in the U.S. is 5’4”. To compare, the average height of a man in the U.S. is 5’9”. Women do tend to have proportionately longer legs than men. They still have shorter inseam lengths due to their shorter overall height. For this reason, women’s bike frames need to be smaller to fit properly.
The main benefit of selecting a women’s frame is the smaller frame sizes that are available. The smallest men’s frame may be too large for a petite woman or even a shorter man. A small size small women’s frame will be significantly smaller than a size small men’s frame.
Petite women sometimes have trouble finding a frame that is small enough to fit their bodies. Many manufacturers don’t offer frames that are small enough. In this case, the only option left is to look at kids’ frames.
Taller women can have the opposite problem. Women’s frames may be too small. If you are a taller woman, you may not need a woman’s frame. In fact, a woman’s frame may be too small for you. In that case, you may be better off choosing a unisex frame or a men’s frame.
It’s also important to note that frame sizes are not consistent across brands. A small-sized frame from one brand could be the same size as a medium-sized frame from another brand. When comparing bikes from different brands, it’s better to compare the frame measurements. You can usually find these in the specifications section on the manufacturer’s website. You can also ask your local bike shop to help you compare.
Regardless of your height, you can find a suitable frame, even if you are particularly tall or short. Sometimes a few components need to be adjusted or swapped out to dial in the fit.
Frame Geometry of Men’s Vs Women’s Bikes
Men’s and women’s bikes have slightly different frame geometries. This is necessary because men’s and women’s bodies have different proportions.
Women’s bikes usually have a shorter stack height than men’s bikes. Stack height is the vertical distance from the middle of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube. The shorter stack height helps to accommodate the height difference between men and women.
Women’s bikes also have a shorter reach than men’s bikes. Reach is the horizontal distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the head tube. The shorter reach helps to accommodate the shorter torso length that women usually have.
Not all women’s frames account for differences in proportions. Some frames are simply scaled down in size. The women’s frame is exactly the same as the men’s, just smaller. These frames are usually lower-end. Quality manufacturers take both body shape and size into consideration when building frames.
Some women’s frames also have a downward-sloping top tube. The purpose of the lower top tube was so women could ride their bikes while wearing a dress or skirt. These days, the sloping top tube is done mainly for aesthetic reasons as well as for tradition. Many women’s bikes also don’t have a sloping top tube these days.
Component Choices for Men’s and Women’s Bikes
Women’s bikes often use slightly different-sized components than men’s bikes. This is done to accommodate the size difference between women and men. In this section, I’ll outline a few important considerations when it comes to components for men’s and women’s bikes.
Crank Arm Length
Women’s bikes often come with shorter crank arms than men’s bikes. Standard crank arms measure 170, 172.5, or 175mm. Crank arms on women’s bikes may measure 160-165mm. Extra short crank arms are also available all the way down to 150mm.
This may not seem like a major difference but it can play a big role in comfort and efficiency. Women’s bikes often come with shorter crank arms because women tend to be shorter than men. Even though women have proportionately longer legs, their legs are still shorter than men’s legs, on average. The shorter cranks make the pedal rotation better fit a shorter rider’s body.
If the cranks are too long, they can cause knee pain and other issues. The bike will also be less efficient to ride. Shorter riders can’t achieve a good pedal stroke with long crank arms.
This is one of the most overlooked, but most important differences between men’s and women’s bikes. The crank length is particularly important for very short riders. Standard cranks are too long for many women.
It’s important to note that many women’s bikes come with standard-sized crank arms. If you’re a short rider, you may need to replace the crank arms with a shorter model.
For more in-depth info on crank arm length, check out this great article.
Seats for Men’s and Women’s Bikes
The seats on women’s bikes are shaped for women’s anatomy. Women’s saddles tend to be slightly shorter and wider. Men’s saddles are narrower. This is because women have wider sit bones than men. A saddle that is designed for your anatomy can greatly improve comfort by providing support where it’s needed.
The ideal saddle also depends on the type of riding you do. Competitive cyclists often opt for a narrower saddle, regardless of their gender. This allows for a bit more freedom of pedaling movement. Narrower saddles can also reduce the friction on the insides of your legs. This is helpful if you ride a bike with an aggressive ride position. Recreational riders often prefer a wider saddle for additional comfort. Saddle width is a personal choice.
Many bike manufacturers include a basic unisex saddle with all of their bikes. They know that most riders swap the saddle out for a model that suits their preference. If you like everything about a bike but the saddle, don’t let that turn you away. You can easily swap it out for a female-specific model.
Women typically have narrower shoulders than men. For this reason, narrower handlebars often fit women better.
One indication that the handlebars may be too wide is if your shoulders start to get sore while riding. In this case, it’s best to swap out your handlebars for a narrower size.
For mountain biking, women tend to feel more comfortable with handlebars that measure 680-740mm wide bars. To compare, men’s bikes come with 740-800mm wide bars. In many cases, it is possible to cut handlebars down to size if they’re too wide.
If you plan to ride a mountain bike, you don’t want the handlebars to be too narrow. The reason is that the wide bars provide leverage that allows you to turn the wheel quickly and easily. This allows you to steer more precisely. It’s much easier to control the bike and navigate obstacles when the handlebars are wide.
For road biking, most women use handlebars that measure around 36-40cm wide. Men tend to use slightly wider drop bars that measure 38-44cm wide. Ideally, drop bars should be as wide as the distance between your AC joints (this is the joint where your collarbone and shoulder blade meet on top of your shoulders.)
For more info on handlebars, check out my guide to drop bars Vs flat bars and my guide to 17 different types of handlebars.
Women typically have shorter arms and shorter torsos than men. Swapping out the stem for a shorter or longer length stem of the simplest ways to dial in a bike’s fit. The stem is the piece that connects the bike’s handlebars to the steerer tube of the fork.
A shorter stem can reduce the distance from the handlebars to the saddle. A different stem can also be used to raise the handlebars up a couple of inches. This can make the riding position more comfortable for some riders.
Handlebar geometry is also something you might consider. You may need to consider both the stem and handlebar together to get the best fit.
Most bike shops will swap out the stem for free when you buy a new bike.
Women usually have smaller hands than men. This can make it hard to reach and operate standard brake levers. There are two ways to solve this issue.
Some women’s bikes come with shorter reach brake levers. These levers reduce the distance from the handlebar grip to the lever, making the levers easier to reach. Some brake levers also have adjustment screws that allow you to change the reach distance. You can simply reduce the distance to your fit your fingers.
Having brake levers with the proper reach greatly improves comfort. You don’t have to stretch your hands as far to reach the brakes. It can also reduce your braking distance. When the brake levers are in the proper place, you won’t have to move your hand as much to grip the lever. This allows you to stop faster, more precisely, and more reliably.
Handlebar grips for Men’s and Women’s Bikes
Women’s hands tend to be smaller than men’s. For this reason, narrower grips can be a more comfortable choice for some women and men with smaller hands.
Most mountain bike grips measure 30mm or 32mm in diameter. Consider using a grip with a narrower diameter if you have small hands. Narrow grips might measure 28mm in diameter.
Using grips with the proper diameter can improve comfort. You’re less likely to develop hand numbness or cramping when the grips aren’t too big.
This choice comes down to personal preference. Many riders prefer a narrower grip because they offer better control. Forearm fatigue is also less likely. Some riders feel more comfortable with a larger grip. Larger grips can offer more cushioning.
For more info, check out my guide to handlebar grips.
Men’s and women’s bikes usually come with a similar suspension setup. You may have to adjust the suspension for the weight of the rider.
Due to their smaller size, women weigh less than men, on average. An average adult man weighs around 160-180 pounds. An average adult woman weighs around 120-140 pounds. The suspension needs to be tuned for women’s lighter weight.
In most cases, the stock suspension will be too stiff for an average-weight woman. Most mountain bikes come with suspension that is tuned for a rider that weighs 160-180 pounds. It will need to be softened to accommodate a lighter rider.
Suspension systems are adjustable for different rider weights. Exactly how you’ll adjust the suspension depends on the suspension design that your bike uses.
If your bike comes with a coil fork or coil rear shock, you may have to replace the coil with a softer spring. This can cost a bit of money. If your bike comes with an air fork or air shock, you can easily adjust it with a shock pump by simply changing the air pressure in the air chamber.
Any bike shop can adjust your suspension for you. You can also adjust your own suspension at home if you have the proper tools. Air suspension is much easier to adjust than coil suspension because you don’t need to swap out any parts. You simply add or remove air with a pump.
If the suspension is too stiff, the ride will feel rough. The bike will bounce off obstacles rather than absorb the impact. This makes the bike uncomfortable to ride on rough terrain. If the suspension is too stiff, the bike also won’t handle as well. It’s hard to control a bike that’s bouncing around excessively. Traction will also suffer. The suspension is designed to hold the tires on the ground. The tires can’t get enough grip when they’re bouncing off obstacles. A poorly adjusted suspension system slows you down.
When the suspension is properly adjusted, it will absorb impacts and keep the tires firmly planted on the ground. This allows you to ride faster and corner harder. The ride will also be more comfortable.
For more in-depth info on bike suspension, check out my guides: Coil Vs Air Forks and Coil Vs Air Shocks.
Wheel Size for Men’s and Women’s Bikes
The wheel size is almost as important as the frame size. Bikes with smaller frames need smaller diameter wheels as well to maintain their proportions. Think about it. It doesn’t make sense to have a small frame with large wheels. The whole bike needs to be scaled down.
Large wheels on a small frame can throw off the bike’s geometry. For example, the wheel size can affect the bottom bracket height and trail (how far the tire contact patch ‘trails’ behind the steering axis). This affects the ride quality and handling. Large wheels on a small bike can also look kind of funny. If the wheels are too large, toe overlap also becomes an issue. This is when your toes rub on the front wheel when you turn. It’s annoying and it slows you down.
Large wheels can also make the bike difficult to ride for a smaller person. Large wheels turn slower. They’re also heavier. This makes it more difficult to navigate technical terrain. A petite woman may have trouble handling a bike with large wheels. It may feel cumbersome. Smaller wheels make the bike much more manageable.
The three most common wheel sizes listed from largest to smallest include 700c, 650B, and 26”.
700c wheels have an ISO size of 622mm. In mountain biking, this size is called 29er or 29”. 700c and 29” wheels have the same diameter. This is the current standard wheel size. Most adult bikes come with 700c wheels.
650B wheels have an ISO size of 684mm. In mountain biking, 650B wheels are called 27.5” wheels. Both have the same diameter. These wheels are about 1.5” smaller in diameter than 700c wheels. Many women’s mountain bikes come with 650B wheels.
26” wheels have an ISO size of 559mm. This size is less common these days but can be a good choice for very small frames. 26” wheels are about 2.5” smaller in diameter than 700c wheels. Some smaller women’s bikes come with 26” wheels.
For women’s bikes, smaller 650B or 26” wheels are often a better choice than larger 700c or 29” wheels. 700c wheels are often too large for small women’s frames.
There are a couple of benefits of running small wheels. Smaller wheels are lighter because the rims and tires contain less material. The reduced weight allows you to accelerate faster. Smaller and light wheels spin up faster. It also allows you to ride more efficiently because you’re carrying less weight around. Smaller wheels also create less drag. This also increases efficiency.
There are some drawbacks to running smaller wheels. First, they don’t offer quite as much traction. This is because the contact patch is smaller due to the shorter circumference of the wheel. Less tread touches the ground. In addition, smaller-diameter wheels don’t roll over obstacles as easily as larger-diameter wheels because the angle of attack is steeper. If you hit a rock or root, the wheel will have a harder time rolling over it.
In the past, pretty much all adult frames came with 700c wheels. These days, manufacturers usually offer smaller wheels on their smaller-sized bikes. For example, size medium and size large bikes may come with 700c wheels while size small may come with 650b. Many women’s bikes come with 650b wheels rather than 700c.
If you’re shorter than around 5’6” (168 cm) you’re probably better off with 650b or 26” wheels. If you’re a taller woman, you may prefer larger 700c wheels.
For more in-depth info on wheel sizes, check out my guides: 700c Vs 26” wheels and 700c Vs 650B wheels.
When it comes to bikes, there’s no denying the impact of style. Men’s and women’s bikes often have different styling. Women’s bikes tend to come in brighter colors. Men’s bikes often come in more neutral colors. Additionally, many women’s bikes come with accessories such as baskets. Traditional women’s bikes also often feature a downward-sloping top tube. This is a holdover from when women used to ride in skirts.
Many manufacturers are now trending towards unisex bikes rather than separate models for men and women. These new designs focus on providing a high level of comfort and utility for all bikers regardless of gender.
The Importance of Bike Fit
Bike fit is crucial. A poorly fitting bike can cause a number of problems. If your bike is too small, it’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable to ride. If your bike is too large, it will feel cumbersome and unmanageable. A poorly fitting bike can also cause injuries. If you ride long distance on a poorly fitted bike, you could suffer knee or back pain.
The bike’s fit can also affect your performance. If a bike doesn’t fit you properly, you can’t create as much power. Your legs aren’t in the optimal power-producing position. The handling can also suffer if your torso and arms aren’t in the proper position due to the bike’s fit. If you’re leaning too far over the handlebars or if you’re seated too far away from the handlebars, you may have trouble steering precisely. This is an issue. Particularly if you intend to ride competitively.
Before buying a bike, it’s important to take a test ride to ensure that it fits you properly. You can’t really go by the frame size alone because every manufacturer is a bit different. A small sized frame from one manufacturer could be the same as a medium sized frame from another manufacturer.
When trying a bike out, first check the standover height. There should be at least 1-2” of space between the top tube and your body when your feet are flat on the ground with the bike between your legs. If the bike has a downward-sloping top tube, this test won’t tell you anything.
Next, check the seat height. When your leg is at the bottom of the downstroke, it should be 80-90% extended. There should be a slight bend in your knee. You may need to adjust the seat height to achieve this position. If the seat won’t go low or high enough, the bike isn’t your size.
Next, consider your upper body position. You need to feel comfortable reaching the handlebars. The ideal handlebar position depends on the type of bike you’re riding and your personal preference. If you’re buying a road bike, you’ll want your torso at about a 45-degree angle relative to the ground. For mountain bikes, city bikes, and hybrids, a more upright riding position is preferable.
If the fit isn’t perfect, you can make some minor adjustments to improve it. For example, you can install a stem that is 20-30mm longer or shorter. You can move the seat forward or backward a couple of centimeters. You can also raise and lower the seat. In addition, you could also replace the handlebars or seat tube if necessary.
If you make too many adjustments, you can change the ride characteristics of the bike. For example, the stem length affects handling. Generally, you don’t want a stem longer than 90mm or shorter than around 60mm. The seat position can affect your pedal stroke. You don’t want the seat too far forward or back. For more info, check out this great guide to bike fit.
If you plan to ride daily or ride long distances, it may be worthwhile to pay for a professional bike fitting. A professional fitter can help you choose the ideal frame size and make some adjustments to ensure that it fits you perfectly. Another option is to buy a custom frame that was made for your body. This is a significantly more expensive option but it can be worthwhile if you have an oddly proportioned body.
How to Improve Fit and Comfort
When buying a new bike, pretty much all riders, regardless of gender, have to swap out some components to improve the fit or comfort of the bike. This is expected. If one part doesn’t fit you right, don’t worry. The bike may still fit you just fine.
Most bike components can be easily swapped out. You can customize a women’s, men’s, or unisex bike to suit your needs based on your body type.
For example, if the saddle is uncomfortable, you can swap it out for a women’s specific model. If the handlebars are a bit too low or far forward, you can swap out the stem. Most bike shops will do this for free when you buy a bike. If the handlebars are too wide, you can swap them for a narrower set or cut the existing bars shorter. If the suspension is too stiff, it can be adjusted. You can also swap out the crank arms for shorter models if they are too long. This is a costlier upgrade but it is easily doable.
It is also possible to customize the looks of your bike. For example, maybe a men’s bike ends up fitting you best but it doesn’t really suit your aesthetic taste. Maybe you want your bike to appear a bit more feminine. To achieve this, you could install colorful grips or handlebar tape. You could mount a basket to the handlebars. You could even paint or wrap the frame to change the color of the bike.
Making Adjustments After Choosing a Bike
It can take a bit of time to dial in the perfect fit. After buying a new bike, adjust it the best you can and ride it for a couple of weeks. During the first couple of weeks, assess the fit. Make minor adjustments to see what works and what doesn’t work. Try moving the saddle up and forward a bit. Install a shorter stem. Swap out the grips.
You can also return to the bike shop where you bought your bike and talk about the fit. A good bike shop will swap out your stem or make minor adjustments to your new bike for free. They may even swap the bike out for a different size model if the one you bought doesn’t fit right.
The Problem with Some Women’s Bikes
Some manufacturers simply reduce the frame size and paint it a pretty color to create their women’s bikes. They install the exact same components that they use on their men’s bikes. This is sometimes referred to as ‘shrink it and pink it.’ This is common in lower-end brands. Many department store bikes and Amazon bikes are like this.
Some companies take it a step further. They go as far as to install lower-quality components on their women’s bikes. Some companies charge a premium for women’s bikes. This is probably because fewer are sold so they can’t benefit as much from economies of scale.
These bikes don’t really solve many of the problems that women face while riding a men’s bike. The handlebars are still too wide. The crank arms are still too long. Fit may still be an issue because the geometry is unchanged. For this reason, cheap bikes should be avoided if you’re looking for a bike specifically designed for women.
Higher-end manufacturers take women’s body shapes, proportions, and sizes into consideration to create bikes that are truly designed to fit women. If you’re looking for a bike that is designed for the ground up for women’s bodies, you’re better off looking at bikes from premium manufacturers.
A Note About Step Through Frames on Women’s Bikes
Historically, women’s bikes featured a downward-sloping top tube with a step-through frame. This design goes back to the days when women always wore long skirts and dresses rather than pants. The step through frame design made it possible for women to ride while wearing a skirt or dress. The top tube wouldn’t get in the way.
Some modern women’s bikes still maintain this classic design. This is mostly for aesthetic or traditional purposes. People associate a downward sloping top tube with women’s bikes. Some women like this distinction. A downward-sloping top tube is one easy way to distinguish a women’s bike from a men’s bike.
Step through frames do still have utility. Some riders, both men and women, appreciate a step through frame because it makes it easier to mount and dismount the bike. You don’t have to lift your leg way up over the top tube. You can simply step into the bike. This can be helpful for older riders and those with mobility issues. It’s also nice if you have to get on and off your bike frequently. Women who ride in skirts and dresses may also appreciate this feature. For a city bike, commuter bike, or casual bike, you may want to consider a model with a step through frame.
Do Men and Women Even Need Different Bikes?
The differences in body proportions between men and women are pretty minor. In fact, a man and woman of the same height have more or less the same proportions, in most cases. Limb length is around the same. Women may have slightly shorter torsos and slightly longer legs. The differences usually aren’t great enough to justify completely different frames.
There are more significant differences in body proportions between tall people and short people. Shorter people tend to have a longer torso-to-leg ratio than taller people. This isn’t gender specific. This is the reason that different frame sizes are needed. The range in sizes and body proportions between men is greater than the difference in size and proportion between the average man and woman.
You can accommodate slightly different body proportions by simply swapping out components. For example, you can install a shorter stem, narrower handlebars, and shorter crank arms. With these modifications, a men’s or unisex bike may fit a woman just as well as a women’s specific bike. Every rider, regardless of gender, will need to make some modifications to make their bike fit.
Many riders find that there is no need for men and women to ride different bikes. Some companies don’t even offer separate men’s and women’s bikes these days. All of their bikes are unisex.
According to this article, Cervélo doesn’t build women’s framesets. That’s because “It’s based on the theory that women have long legs and a short torso. The only problem with the theory is that it’s just not true,” The article goes on to explain that women’s framesets often come with a shorter and steeper geometry and an upright riding position. They’re not designed for performance. The company focuses on making high-performance bikes specifically for smaller people, regardless of their gender.
Many manufacturers are moving away from offering separate men’s and women’s bikes in their lineup. Instead, they are transitioning to gender-neutral bikes. For example, instead of offering four different men’s sizes and four different women’s sizes, they may offer a single unisex model with 6 different sizes. This seems to be where the industry is moving.
In this case, the components are sized appropriately for the frame. For example, the extra small and small frames may come with compact handlebars, shorter crank arms, and 26” wheels. The large and extra-large models may come with extra-wide handlebars, longer crank arms, and 700c wheels.
The benefit of this is that there is a smaller difference between sizes. The step between a small and medium frame is smaller. Riders are less likely to fall between two sizes. This allows a greater range of riders to fit the bike. Riders also don’t have to worry about choosing between a men’s or women’s bike because they’re all the same.
The drawback is that the bikes may require a bit more modification to fit female riders. You still may need to swap out the saddle, stem, grips, crank arms, etc. to get a good fit. It really depends on the bike.
Men Can Also Ride Women’s Bikes
Some men may find that a women’s bike fits them better. For example, a shorter man may find that women’s bikes fit them best. Boys who are too big for kids’ bikes but not big enough for adult men’s bikes may fit best on a women’s bike.
Pros and Cons of Women’s Bikes
- Better fit- Women’s bikes can offer some women a better fit. A properly made woman’s bike will feature shorter crank arms that fit shorter legs and narrower handlebars that fit women’s narrower shoulders.
- Smaller frame sizes are available- If you are a particularly petite woman, unisex and men’s frames may be too large. Women’s frames come in smaller sizes. A women’s size small frame is smaller than a men’s size small frame.
- Looks- Women’s bikes are designed to look feminine. They may have bright paint, a step-through frame, and a wicker basket. Some women prefer this aesthetic.
- Low top tube- Some women’s bikes come with a low top tube. This allows you to ride while wearing a skirt or dress. This could come in handy if you’re buying a city bike or commuter. The low top tube also makes it easier to mount and dismount the bike.
- They’re made for women- Some women like the idea of riding a bike that was made for them. They may not feel comfortable riding a bike that was made for men.
- Women’s bikes are often more expensive- Women’s bikes often cost more than comparable men’s bikes. This probably has to do with supply and demand. The price difference is minimal but it does exist.
- Lower-end components- Women’s bikes sometimes come equipped with lower-end components than comparable men’s bikes. For example, the men’s model might come with Shimano 105 and the women’s model might come with Shimano Tiagra components. This is annoying.
- Women’s bikes don’t fit some women- Some women find that unisex bikes or men’s bikes offer a better fit.
- Ride position- Women’s frames tend to have a more upright ride position due to the differences in geometry. This can make the bike slower and less efficient. Riders who care about performance prefer a more aggressive ride position. Riders who care about comfort may prefer the more upright ride position.
- Aesthetics- Women’s bikes are often painted a feminine color such as pink. They may also have a low top tube that makes the bike identifiable as a woman’s bike. Many woman riders don’t want a feminine-looking bike. They just want a bike.
Pros and Cons of Men’s Bikes
- More bike options- There are more men’s bikes on the market than women’s. This is because more men cycle than women. You can find any type of bike that you want including mountain bikes, road bikes, folding bikes, recumbent bikes, fat bikes, and more. There are a wide range of frame types available for riders of different heights, body shapes, and physical abilities.
- Cheaper- Oftentimes, men’s bikes cost less than comparable women’s bikes. This may be because more men’s bikes are produced.
- Higher quality components- Men’s bikes are designed with performance in mind. They often come with better quality components than comparable women’s bikes.
- Aesthetics- Men’s bikes feature a standard diamond frame.
- May be too large for some riders- Men’s bikes are larger than women’s models. Shorter riders may not fit men’s frames.
- More durable- Men’s bikes often feature beefier frames and components that are more durable and long-lasting.
- The difference between sizes can be large- If you fall between sizes, you may have to choose a different model.
Who Should Ride a Women’s Bike?
Women’s bikes are designed for shorter riders with a short torso length, long legs, narrow shoulders, and small hands. If your body fits this description, a women’s bike will probably suit you best.
If you care about aesthetics, you may also prefer riding a women’s bike. Many women’s bikes are painted in bright and pretty colors and offer the traditional downward-sloping top tube. Some women want to ride a more feminine-looking bike. Some women avoid these bikes.
Who Should Ride a Men’s Bike?
If you’re a taller rider, you’ll probably fit better on a men’s bike. Women’s bikes are designed for shorter riders. You may have to make some modifications to dial in the fit. For example, you might have to change the stem, seat, handlebars, etc.
If you prefer a more neutral-looking bike, you may be better off buying a men’s bike. Many women’s bikes are painted bright ‘girly’ colors, like pink or purple. Men’s bikes are often available in less flashy colors like black or grey.
Men’s bikes are really unisex bikes. It’s always worth trying out men’s models when shopping for a bike. If a men’s bike fits you better, you should ride a men’s bike, regardless of your gender.
Final Thoughts About Men’s vs Women’s Bikes
The main differences between men’s and women’s bikes are fit and sizing. At the end of the day, all that really matters is that the bike fits your body. You’ll want to take your height, shoulder width, and leg length into consideration when choosing a bike.
For most women, a men’s or unisex bike will fit fine. Some women fit better on women’s specific bikes. Most men fit best on a men’s bike.
In most cases, you’ll have to make some minor modifications to make the bike fit you perfectly. You may have to install a different seat. You may have to install wider or more narrow handlebars or a shorter or longer stem. In addition, you might also have to adjust the suspension to suit your weight. These are all relatively minor adjustments.
When buying a bike, it’s a good idea to try out several different bikes to find which one fits best. It may be a men’s bike or it may be a women’s bike. Whichever bike you choose, I hope this guide has helped you in making your decision.
Do you ride a men’s or a women’s bike? Share your experience in the comments below!
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