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Woman Specific Designs(24 posts)

Woman Specific Designsaquaman
Apr 15, 2002 3:19 PM
My wife wants her first road bike. Being that she is a newbie, I can't justify having a custom bike built, so am looking for a decent stock bike. Some manufacturers now have "woman specific design" bikes, e.g., Trek and Lemond. They supposedly fit women better than unisex bikes. One drawback is that the Trek family of bikes are in XS, S, M, L, etc. frames. What is your opinion of WSD bikes? Can a woman do just as well with a more traditional unisex bike?
re: Woman Specific Designslaffeaux
Apr 15, 2002 3:53 PM
I'm not sure how XS, S, M, and L is a draw back. Would 14", 16", 18", and 20" be any better? It's the same number of sizes just different random labels (which is what the numbers are anyway).

However, there's some merit ot the WSD bikes. The top tubes are shorter, which is good if you have long legs (regardless of if your a guy or a girl). She should ride a WSD and a male version of the bike to see which she prefers. Not all woman will want the WSD. It seems to work for shorter woman better than taller.
What are her measurements? And I don't mean...Ahimsa
Apr 15, 2002 3:55 PM
...bust waist hips.

Get her a standard fitting at the LBS based on her measurements and see what ya get. Simple enough.

You will find that most bikes are "unisex". She will most likely just need a smaller model if she is petite, that's all.

More important than the frame being "women specific" is the saddle, according to my wife. What works for me and "the boys" doesn't feel to hot with her female plumbing.

Brake reach for small hands can be an issue too.


A. (Please, let's get some female riders to chime in on this one....please?)
Gotcher woman specific ride right here...retro
Apr 15, 2002 4:03 PM
Have you checked Terry? Georgena Terry makes bikes and accessories for women only. Haven't seen a catalog in awhile, but it seems to me she had a frame or two in the cheap-enough-for-a-newbie category. I think the Web site is
Depends on her sizeMelMo
Apr 15, 2002 4:06 PM
See the thread below about 650 v. 700 wheels for possibly helpful information. I didn't try the Trek or LeMond WSD when I was bike shopping (any of the 4 times I've done so...but that's another story). I looked at the Bianchi WSD, but it only came in teensy sizes. I ride a 51 cm w/700 wheels now, unisex, but I had to hunt like hell to find one w/out screwed up angles or an absurdly long TT for the height. You might do well looking at touring bikes, because even though they may have apparently longer TT, I found that the more relaxed angles made for a more comfy ride (less weight on hands). I would suggest she try out as many bikes as she can, and don't let the salespeople bully her into something THEY think she wants, like a comfort bike, or a steep angled racing bike, or a WSD if she doesn't like it.
re: Woman Specific DesignsSpinchick
Apr 15, 2002 4:07 PM
Whatever fits, fits. I personally don't believe most women need WSD. Have her get sized to determine her needs. IMHO, WSDs are marketing ploys that have little to do with the actual needs of most women. That said, if she can't find a stock size to fit her, by all means she should try some of the WSDs. You never know til you ride it.
Rock on, Spinchickjtolleson
Apr 15, 2002 4:30 PM
WSD marketing (SOME of it) has its own sexism problem, and to mean, Georgina Terry is the worst offender. Our little sensitive backs needing those upright handlebars! Our feminity requiring 650 cc wheels on a 55 cm bike! What's with that. And her prices are too high for what she offers. If you want to check out WSD, go Trek, Canny, Bianchi before assuming you need to feed the Terry monster.

CERTAIN female riders will benefit from WSD design if they need a short tt AND narrower bars AND have smaller hands, etc. If it fits, go for it! But for many women, they just need a good fitting, like anyone else needs a good fitting. Some bikes will work, some won't. A good LBS will work with you.

OK, as a woman rider, this is a subject I have feelings about! : )
preach on sistah...heloise
Apr 15, 2002 6:21 PM
yet another female rider who is less-than-thrilled with the whole "wsd" thang.

bikes should fit RIDERS not GENDERS.

some MEN have long legs and short torsos...go figure?!

IF(did/does) road bikes in short/regular TT lengths. That's the way i would do it if "i" owned a bike company.

personally, at 5'2", i just "upgraded" to a larger (50cm) frame so i can be flat flat flat in the drops. if my abs and back are strong enough, why not?

"womens" bikes are designed to keep women sllloooow(IMHO).
Apr 16, 2002 12:11 PM
Heloise wrote: "womens" bikes are designed to keep women sllloooow(IMHO).

I was with you until this statement. What are you talking about? What led you to believe that such conspiracy exists?
kudos on the Terry rantlonefrontranger
Apr 15, 2002 8:50 PM
I have ranted on Terry before, and choose not to do so again here. Suffice to say that I wholeheartedly agree.

As far as fit issues, yes I am a small female and I do actually need a shorter top tube. Hence I have 2 Colnagos and a custom TT frame. Built 'em all up with high-end components (mostly Record) with my own two little delicate female hands, out of my own pocketbook. Some women buy Italian shoes, I buy Italian bikes. Some women buy jewelry, I buy titanium and carbon sparklies for my babies.
Am I a sexist pig?Len J
Apr 16, 2002 4:29 AM
I have to tell you all that I was surprised at the Terry Rant's, and the consistancy of them.

I have heard numerous women (over the last 20 years) complain about not being able to get a good fit and believed that the WSD sizing was a response to that. I (Obviously) incorrectly believed that WSD sizing was a recognition of the physical differences and a recognition that there were significant numbers of women riding. I thought this was a good thing, a movement towards inclusion. It is obvious from these posts that some (seems like all the women on the board) women saw this as condescending and degrading and manipulative.

I would never have seen this side of it (as a man). I guess that makes me a sexist pig! It is amazing how easy it is to take your view of the world and assume that it is everyone else's. Thanks Ladies for the perspective.

Apr 16, 2002 5:13 AM
at least not from what I've gleaned from your posts.

Some more perspective: Of all the women cyclists I know, only one rides a WSD. Mostly, they're just not necessary.
Apr 16, 2002 5:25 AM
I agree with don't come across as a pig. Rather, you seem pretty intelligent and perceptive.
As for WSD: yes, I ride a WSD Cannondale, but only because I need that shorter top tube (and no, I would never buy a Terry!). If you don't need the short top tube, WSD is mostly a gimmick.
I'll say this for Terry-they are still in business.MB1
Apr 16, 2002 5:55 AM
In a business that is not easy to be in. So they have found a niche and keep on going. Just think of all the other bike companies that have come and gone since Terry started.

BTW i don't care for Terry's bikes or marketing much either.
I'll say this for Terry-they are still in business.heloise
Apr 16, 2002 6:07 AM

We sell lots of their clothing and accessories. I have one of their skorts, as do many of my friends.

I'd be curious to see the stats on how many bikes they sell every year. I've lived in three distinct geographical regions(West Coast, South, Midwest), have worked in shops, and been on countless "girl rides" and i have NEVER seen a Terry bicycle in person! What's up with that?
No dummies they...MB1
Apr 16, 2002 6:15 AM
Miss M buys their clothes and accessories. I think their bikes are a hobby/business and their parts/clothing/accessories keep them in business. They also seem to have a moderatly successful womens touring company (although they only market it as a sideline).

Like I said earlier, my hats off to them for staying in business and seeming to thrive.
Great saddlesjtolleson
Apr 16, 2002 8:17 AM
Terry's innovations in saddles, now copied by a huge chunk of the market, ARE something to be proud of. As are women specific shorts (from many manufacturers).

And as noted below, their return policy is excellent. I'll try not to be blind to the benefits Ms. Terry has brought to our sport, but I have issues with whether some of the blessings are actually curses.

The future may tell us all something.
Apr 16, 2002 6:48 AM
Aye, my Wife also has a WSD C'dale because she needed a shorter top tube. She felt too steched otherwise. She's 5'1", 110lbs. We did try to fit her on several other bikes, treks, lemonds, giant, c'dale (wsd's and non-wsd's). The main point is to try several bikes and figure out what is best for her. Don't feel limited to the WSD's.
No, & more on WSDlonefrontranger
Apr 16, 2002 10:07 AM
Trek did a believable job of marketing WSD to smaller women, those of us who typically have more trouble finding a correct fit, and the issues they addressed with their reproportioned levers, bars and top tubes are real issues for many women. I also agree that 650 wheels are a better option for anything smaller than the typical stock sizes (50cm or thereabouts) because of the radical changes in geometry needed to fit the larger wheels.

That being said, I've never owned a 650c or WSD bike, even tho I'm on the cusp of "stock" (49cm) because I found superb fit and handling with my Colnagos and my custom Morgul Bismark frame.

My beef with WSD is that back when Trek introduced that line, they tended to 'cheap out' on the components, and they still don't offer an OCLV WSD bike to my knowledge. C'mon, as if there aren't serious women roadies and racers out there who want a great racing bike! They've since been rectifying this as the popularity of this line has grown. I, however, refuse to compromise, which is why I went Italian. For whatever reason, the Italian framebuilders seem to acknowledge that there are vertically challenged racers out there; most Italian builders build stock frames to 44cm and often the ones below 50 or 49 come with a 650c option. The penalty is the price, but you know you're getting a quality product.

I know I'm in a serious demographic minority - a small woman who buys full-on top of the line racing equipment. It would be nice if we had more serious options though, and not painted pink or stenciled in flowers, either. For instance, I'd have owned a Kestrel long before this had they supplied their frames in anything smaller than 50cm, but I could never find one.
Sounds like they are damned if they do & damned if they don't.Len J
Apr 16, 2002 10:17 AM
Your comment:"I know I'm in a serious demographic minority - a small woman who buys full-on top of the line racing equipment." sums up the (Unfortunate) economics of Trek's decision. They directed their WSD line at the Heart of the market (read, where the volume is). Unfortunate for those women, like yourself, that buy the higher zoot bikes. A large co like Trek has a hard time dealing with smaller fragments of the market.

As to the OCLV issue, I would suppose it's a function of development costs versus estimated sales units. I don't know enough to guess at how specificly unique the developement of a WSD OCLV would be. As I write this, I would suspect that there selling most of thier OCLV cpacity as is, which would also preclude a new model.

Just my .02

*Fit* *Fit* *Fit*koolaid
Apr 15, 2002 4:28 PM
Have your wife look at Harletts links for women post in the non cycling discussions. There is a section on fit that I just looked through. It will give her a good idea of what size she needs.
Try CannondaleChaz_cycles
Apr 15, 2002 11:02 PM
Cannondale has women specific bikes now try them.
Nobody ever went broke selling customers the products they want.Spoke Wrench
Apr 16, 2002 5:52 AM
I've never had a woman test ride a Terry bike and not buy it. Georgena Terry will ship a bicycle to virtually any LBS in the country for the customer to test ride and will pay for the return shipping if the customer rejects it. Try to negotiate a deal like that from Trek or Cannondale.
re: Woman Specific Designssimstress
Apr 16, 2002 12:00 PM
WSD bikes are supposed to accommodate women's relatively different proportions, ie, longer legs/shorter torso, narrower shoulders, wider sit-bones. They also typically come with a triple crankset. Some women have more male-like proportions and may fit fine on a unisex frame. Sometimes the women's version of a bike has lesser components than the men's, yet both versions are sold at the same price. Be aware of that.

Trek's XS/S/M/L designation is meaningless. Here are the corresponding frame sizes: XS 43cm, S 47cm, M 51cm, L 54cm. Check the web site for geometry.

When I was bike shopping, I tried both WSD and unisex bikes. I thought I would need a WSD bike because I am short and have a short torso. I learned that I could get a good fit on a unisex frame because of my long arms and legs, so I researched unisex frames. It's nice to have proportions that allow me to pick from the wider range of unisex bikes.

At the time, I was also shopping for a LBS, as Austin has many choices. The shop I settled on was happy to order the small size I needed. They also swapped the saddle for the one I wanted, and would have swapped the stem and bars had I needed those changed as well. I don't subscribe to the notion that one needs a WSD bike to get an appropriate saddle or bars. I also wanted a double crankset; some shops wanted to charge me for changing from a triple to a double.

Many seasoned riders have remarked that I look very comfortable on my bike-- testament to a proper fitting by a good LBS. Yeah, I think some women will do just fine with a unisex bike.