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Thread: Mens vs Womens models: is there really much difference??

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    And a maybe more than you think. If it's an upright bike it mostly doesn't matter. On a drop bar bike where a cm either way can mean the difference between a comfortable or uncomfortable ride, yeah, a the difference in leg length between two people at the same height can be pretty significant. If you fall into the range that's accommodated on an off the shelf bike then great, you've got nothing to worry about. (I'm in the same range and usually don't even have to touch the stem length.) OTOH, I know people who have to go the custom route to get something that fits well enough for them to ride comfortably, and that gets expensive quick. It is true that most people who ride aren't in that camp, but that's also somewhat self-selecting--the people who are uncomfortable from day one tend not to stick with cycling long enough to get a custom bike that actually fits them. Anyway, the original question was about "mens" and "womens", not "too weird for anything off the shelf". As an example compare the seat tube of the size 54 specialized roubaix -- 495 -- and ruby -- 457. For roughly the same top tube length, it's got almost 40mm less seat tube. For reference, that's about the difference between the size 52 and 56 roubaix models (skipping entirely past the size 54). Now it may well be that none of this really matters and that the manufacturers could just sell small, medium, and large frames. But if the difference between a 54 and 56 is significant enough to justify having both, then it seems that there's at least as much justification for having both the roubaix and the ruby.
    I don't profess to be knowledgeable and am only chatting away here....I know and ride with the OP from time to time.

    I get what you are saying but keep in mind the original condition, a 5' 11" lady looking on CL for a bike.
    A CM might be important to some but many people could equally ride a 54 or a 56 depending on the setup. the adjustment allows them to skip 53 and 55 ect. Myself I fall right between a 56 and a 58 Tarmac but i like a smaller frame so I bet there is some other 6 foot guy that thinks he falls between a 58 and the next one up. I can ride long untroubled miles on an off the shelf bike after only saddle height and setback adjustments. Most people fall into this category.
    Perhaps there is a real or mostly marketing reason that the two frame formats noted are different. Might be why the Ruby is being marketed as more of a gran fondo format and the ST to TT ratio shift makes the frame capable of a more upright riding position within its fit range? Same frame maker, different models in name and intended gender of user but same overall intended use. The 2015 Tarmac 56 (mens racing) ST is 501 and TT is 565. The Amira 56 (women's racing) ST 510 TT 548. Add to this that the largest Amira frame is the 56. The Tarmac runs well past 56.

    From what I have been reading much of fit and fine tuning of frame size and dimensions is more for the riders fitness and intended use than human body frame dimension. Sore hands might be poor core condition rather than incorrect reach or the like. Beginners often have problems with hands that tend to go away after getting some experience and fitness. This is why Clovis is not a tape measure and a chart.

    And I think you are spot on about kids bikes. Most are so over the top they make me cringe. I call them metal things that sort of look like bikes.
    Last edited by Vicegrip; 05-28-2015 at 10:38 PM.

  2. #12
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    In the opposite direction, Terry focuses on bikes for smaller women; that is, the owner really pushes for a 24 front wheel and a 700 back wheel so that there is additional design wiggle room in the frame. She also makes 650 wheel bikes and standard 700 bikes but is pushing against the tide of trying to shrink a frame around 700 wheels. I'd be really interested in trying some of her bikes out but finding a floor model around here in my size is impossible. The cost of her custom bikes seems reasonable.

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    Comparing geometry charts is frustrating in that there is very little consistency between brands (specifically Spesh, Trek, and Giant) in their variation between men's and women's models. The most glaring is in that in this multi-use flatbar class XL for women tends to fall between M and L for men. Apparently tall women are out of luck!
    She rode a men's XL Gary Fisher (my gravel grinder for C&O with the twins) and liked it so we'll try the Spesh Sirrus XL and hopefully that will work. And yes, I hear you about the flatbar Vicegrip. It's a confidence thing at this point so the drop bar bike will have to be next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by APKhaos View Post
    Comparing geometry charts is frustrating in that there is very little consistency between brands (specifically Spesh, Trek, and Giant) in their variation between men's and women's models. The most glaring is in that in this multi-use flatbar class XL for women tends to fall between M and L for men. Apparently tall women are out of luck!
    She rode a men's XL Gary Fisher (my gravel grinder for C&O with the twins) and liked it so we'll try the Spesh Sirrus XL and hopefully that will work. And yes, I hear you about the flatbar Vicegrip. It's a confidence thing at this point so the drop bar bike will have to be next.
    Definitely just ignore the label and try a bunch of things to find what works. For a flatbar bike the differences tend to be more along the lines of "doesn't have a top tube so a woman doesn't have to indelicately raise her leg" (i.e., cosmetic) than anything fit related because the fit just doesn't matter as much. And yeah, tall women aren't a demographic that bike manufacturers care about any more than short men.

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    A few months ago I tried out a mix of specialized, trek and raleigh upright bikes. I'm 5'8", so not as tall as your friend, but still taller than average for a woman. I finally took a measuring tape to the bikes I was trying (salesperson thought I was crazy) Frame sizes/tube lengths and all of that stuff was identical for almost every one between the mens and womens models. Saddles and handlebars were different though. I ended up going for a "unisex" raleigh, but I had to change the saddle out. That is one point where mens and womens items are very different. The mens saddle caused me tons of pain. I've never been able to use one for long.

    I think as other commenters have said, road bikes are where there appear to be more differences. When getting my current "mens" road bike fitted I was told it would work fine, but my next one needed to be a womens one since my legs are long, and it'd make the fit much better. On my road bike I had to change out the handlebars (stock ones were too wide and thick for my build and hand size), and the saddle which I expected.
    Last edited by Emm; 05-29-2015 at 09:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by APKhaos View Post
    Comparing geometry charts is frustrating in that there is very little consistency between brands (specifically Spesh, Trek, and Giant) in their variation between men's and women's models. The most glaring is in that in this multi-use flatbar class XL for women tends to fall between M and L for men. Apparently tall women are out of luck!
    She rode a men's XL Gary Fisher (my gravel grinder for C&O with the twins) and liked it so we'll try the Spesh Sirrus XL and hopefully that will work. And yes, I hear you about the flatbar Vicegrip. It's a confidence thing at this point so the drop bar bike will have to be next.
    smart to take care not to scare off a new rider. Got to let the hook set .

    If the road bike desire arise the SST can be shod with a bit fatter tire, the stem flipped and spacers moved around to soften up the ride a bit. I also have shorter stems if needed.

  7. #17
    Amalitza Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    Theoretically, women's bikes are designed better for womens different body proportions (longer legs and shorter torso than a man of equal height).
    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    As an example compare the seat tube of the size 54 specialized roubaix -- 495 -- and ruby -- 457. For roughly the same top tube length, it's got almost 40mm less seat tube. For reference, that's about the difference between the size 52 and 56 roubaix models (skipping entirely past the size 54). Now it may well be that none of this really matters and that the manufacturers could just sell small, medium, and large frames. But if the difference between a 54 and 56 is significant enough to justify having both, then it seems that there's at least as much justification for having both the roubaix and the ruby.
    So the solution for "longer legs/shorter torso" is a shorter seat tube compared to top tube? okaaayyyy...

    There is a pretty good chance that a men's or non-gender-specific bike will come with a saddle that's too narrow for a 5'11" woman. Saddles are likely to get switched out anyway for personal preference, so I wouldn't consider it a reason to not buy the bike. But it's something for her to be aware of as something that might be uncomfortable and will need to be replaced (rather than just, ugh, riding the bike for more than 30 minutes hurts, guess this is not the sport for me).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amalitza View Post
    So the solution for "longer legs/shorter torso" is a shorter seat tube compared to top tube? okaaayyyy...

    There is a pretty good chance that a men's or non-gender-specific bike will come with a saddle that's too narrow for a 5'11" woman. Saddles are likely to get switched out anyway for personal preference, so I wouldn't consider it a reason to not buy the bike. But it's something for her to be aware of as something that might be uncomfortable and will need to be replaced (rather than just, ugh, riding the bike for more than 30 minutes hurts, guess this is not the sport for me).
    Agree 100% on the saddle issue. Was thinking of asking about comfy women's saddles but there were so many ways for that discussion to go wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amalitza View Post
    So the solution for "longer legs/shorter torso" is a shorter seat tube compared to top tube? okaaayyyy...
    I'm just pointing out that the frames are different. Figuring out whether it's different in a way that's useful is the purpose of test rides. Terry's said that the research is actually the opposite of the long leg/short torso idea--that women actually have shorter legs and longer torsos--and that the real difference is in the center of mass. A lot of the "womens" designs I've seen basically just put the rider into a somewhat more upright position, whether by shortening the top tube or raising the bars. My feeling that people should just try a variety of bikes and see what feels like is a bit of a reaction to the many competing storylines for "what women need". I just don't believe that there's any real science that says there's one good design for men and a simple transformation of that which is correct for women.

    Agree that the saddle is probably wrong, but that's often true for men also--replacing the saddle is the first thing I do on a new bike. Ideally they'd be like pedals and just not even come with the bike, except that then nobody could even throw a leg over at the shop without risking injury.
    Last edited by mstone; 05-29-2015 at 02:45 PM.

  10. #20
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    Probably the range of sizes within standard ("men's") bikes is wide, and women-specific bikes add some more range to the smaller end. But obviously there will be a fair number of women who are fine with the standard sizes. I have seen some women specific design bikes that say they have things like smaller brake handles or different geometry though, so it's probably more than just size. Really doesn't matter - you test ride and pick what feels right.

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