Increasing numbers of bike and cycle clothing manufacturers are recognising the growing numbers of
Compared with a men’s insert the padding is seamless and more padded at the front as well as being narrower and shorter. Shorts come in different lengths and colours – not just plain black. If you are shy of wearing Lycra there are several styles of leisure short which have a loose cut outer and still have a tight mesh and padded insert for comfort inside. These are favoured by commuters, mountain bikers and leisure riders as you can look relaxed off the bike but still have the benefit of properly fitted shorts.
Saddles are possibly even more important than shorts and if you are buying a new bike fitting a decent women’s saddle should be your first move – do it before your first ride. Women’s saddles are shorter and wider than men’s. They have a less pronounced nose and are wider at the back to support the sit bones of the pelvis. Women’s saddles are more padded than men’s, some have cut-outs to relieve pressure on your soft tissues and prevent any rubbing.
The style of riding you intend to do can influence your choice of saddle, occasional cyclists and leisure riders may find a broad well padded saddle best as you tend to sit more upright and your bottom is unaccustomed to sitting on a saddle. Mountain bikers need narrower saddles so that they are able to shift their weight around easily when riding technical terrain. Fatter more padded saddles conversely can be more uncomfortable as they lead to chaffing and rubbing and don’t support the sit bones. A correctly fitting narrow saddle which allows your weight to be taken through your sit bones helps alleviate weight bearing by your soft tissue.
Women have different body geometry to men. They are not just smaller (on average) but they are also differently proportioned. Women in general have longer legs to their upper bodies. In terms of bike design this means that while you can get your leg extension right when in the saddle the handle bars may be too far away resulting in you being stretched out. If you are built with relatively long legs (not all women are) then try a women’s specific bike. The top tube will have been slightly shortened to bring the handle bars closer to you while maintaining the right length for your legs. Another difference with women’s bikes is that they frequently have a greater stand-over height than men’s – there is more space between your crotch and the top tube when stood with feet flat on the floor. This can make getting on and off easier and inspires confidence. Contrary to popular belief women’s specific bikes are not limited to ‘shopper bikes’ with wicker baskets. Many manufacturers have woken up to the idea that not all women are novices and are designing top of the range race bikes which meet women’s needs. The frame is not the only part of a women’s bike which is different. Brake levers should be nearer the bar for smaller hands and easier to use because of the less amount of leverage and weaker hands. Bars are narrower to reflect narrower shoulders and the shape of the bar may be different as
Clothing, Shoes, Helmets & Glasses
Women’s clothing comes in a variety of styles and now meets the needs of every female bike rider. For cycle clothing to be at it’s most effective it needs to fit properly, especially the layers which are worn next to the skin. There is a wide range of women’s under wear including base layers and wicking crop tops. There is no point using technical garments for your outer layers if you wear a non-wicking bra.
Jerseys are designed to be shorter and fit over hips and bust, as are waterproof jackets. Several companies produce gloves for smaller hands. Women’s fit shoes are shaped slightly differently to men’s. Frequently women have a narrower foot,
particularly the heel.
The worst thing o have when you are pedalling is a shoe that is too big as your heel can lift out causing blisters and diminishing the power to the pedal. Shoes built specifically for women take into account these anatomical differences so shoes are well fitting.
Most manufacturers now include women’s specific helmets within their ranges, these are available in a wide range of sizes. Glasses are an essential bit of safety kit and not just there for pose value. For glasses to really protect your eyes they need to be close fitting and wrap around your face. If you have a narrow face consider looking for women’s glasses.
Everyday there are more and more Women Cycling, what are you waiting for? let’s enjoy cycling!