As more and more women are taking up cycling, we see similar questions coming up when it comes to female specific road bikes such as; whats the difference between women's road bikes and men's road bikes? Here, we take a look at this question and some of the other frequently asked questions when looking at women's bikes that hopefully will help you choose the perfect road bike.
Whats the difference between women's road bikes and men's road bikes?
When companies such as Liv bikes (The sister company to Giant road bikes) have a dedicated womens road bike, they will generally have a different shaped frame with shorter reach and a higher front end to cater for the trend that women tend to have longer legs and shorter torso for their height (of course this is not the case 100% of the time). Contact points are the other change as the saddles are usually a different shape and are wider, the handlebars narrower and the cranks shorter - all due to the different physical characteristics. In the Giant/Liv example given, there is a full range of women's bikes and for every men's bike, there is the equivalent women's bike. Another change on women's road bikes is that some come with hydraulic disc brakes will come with a lever that is easier to pull and is designed for smaller hands. The Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake lever is one such example.
Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc 2022 Women's Road Bike
Examples of men's (Giant) and women's (Liv) road bikes
The Giant TCR road racing bikes are the equivalent of the Liv Langma and are lightweight frames designed for racing and climbing, the Giant Defy road bikes are the Liv Avail Advanced are endurance road bikes designed for long distance and comfort, and the Giant Propel is the Liv Envieliv so there are plenty of options whether you are looking for performance, lightweight, comfort or commuting in the carbon road bike category. For the aluminium frame material and more affordable options; there are the Liv Avail (rim brakes), Liv Avail SL (lightweight frame and a choice of rim brakes or disc brakes) and, more on the gravel road side of the road bike category, the Liv Avail AR with more tyre clearance and luggage options transport.
Specialized Allez E5 Sport 2022 Road Bike
Would unisex bikes suit women?
Rather than having a dedicated male/female differentiation, companies like Specialized have decided to go down the unisex bikes route on their road bikes but they tend to put narrower handlebars and wider saddles on their smaller sizes of bikes. For taller women, we just have to be careful that the saddle and handlebars are comfortable. It is also not uncommon for unisex bikes to require a tweak to make them higher at the front end and a shorter reach but this is on a case by case basis and having a seat on a bike will help to answer whether this needs done.
Can women ride mens bikes?
The short answer is yes and sometimes they are the better option depending on body proportions but for most women there would need to be some adjustments made such as a different saddle, shorter stem to shorten reach and increase height on the front or narrower handlebars to make sure the bike is comfortable.
Can men ride women's bikes?
Again yes, and again, this is sometimes the better option especially for shorter men or those with different proportions. A lot of male riders prefer the more upright position the higher front end and shorter reach give.
Liv Langma Advanced 2 Disc 2022 Women's Road Bike
What are the consequences of each choice?
For women on a mens bike that has had no adjustments, the danger is that if the reach is fine, there will be too much of a drop to the handlebars which could lead to a lot of pressure through the hands and if the height is fine, then the reach might be too long so it really
Which road bike is right for me?
This would very much depend on you and the type of bike you are looking for but these questions are usually answered by having a chat with a quality bike shop to narrow down the style (road race, endurance, aero) and then sitting on and testing some to make sure they are comfortable. Racing road bikes are designed for speed at the expense of a bit of comfort and endurance road bikes reduce road vibrations on rough surfaces and have a more upright, relaxed position but are still very efficient. There are also questions about going for an aluminium, carbon or steel frame - each with their own unique characteristics.
Liv Avail Advanced 2 2022 Women's Road Bike
Which saddle is right for me?
This is a great question as this very much depends on the person it is for but generally (and, again, this is not 100% of the time) women will need a wider and differently shaped saddle in order to be confortable but saddles are something you need to perform a little trial and error with. Specialized have a very useful body geometry saddle measuring device that can measure which saddle will be best for you.
So as you can see, there are some general rules to go by but the bottom line is that everyone is different and there are no hard and fast rules for everyone. The best way to decide is to visit a knowledgeable bike shop (like us!) who can help with advice and sizing and any possible tweaks to maximise comfort. We are also more than happy to discuss which bike would best suit your needs and this can be done via our online team or any of our stores.