You see it all the time: people cycling around town with the seat to short looking like their squatted over the toilet seat. Bicycle fit is complicated enough, but it’s even harder for women. Many women end up riding men’s bikes, which are designed for men’s wider shoulders and taller statures. Furthermore, seats can be especially uncomfortable for women who have comparatively wider pelvic areas (though now that I think about it, I hear more men complaining about their bike seats than women). Anyone riding a poorly fit bike will experience pains after cycling for a couple hours. And as Merry says on Cranky Fitness, this is the time of year when you want to go out for a long cycle ride:
If I sound preachy it’s because I think it’s really, really cool to go for a long bicycle ride out in the country where there aren’t a lot of cars but there is a lot of nature. You get to see things you never when you’re driving a car, plus it’s easy on your knees and you can get a workout while sitting down!
In her post, Merry covers the often ignored subject of bicycle fit, making welcome mention of some chick-specific factoids we girlies should consider when sizing up our bicycles.
It’s true there’s a vas deferens between men and women. (That joke never gets old, at least not to me.) To quote the WOMBATS website (Women’s Mountainbike And Tea Society), women often have shorter torsos and longer legs than a man of the same height. Just because you and your boyfriend are the same height doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortable riding his bicycle.
Bicycling Sizing is COMPLICATED, at least for my feeble brain which relied on the very capable folks at Austin’s University Cyclery to size my bike. But if you’re more patient than I am, or you don’t have access to a bike shop with a kick-ass mechanic, then check out these excellent resources for bike fitting:
Bike Sizing For All
- Sheldon Brown’s Revisionist Theory of Bike Sizing
- Colorado Cyclist’s Article on Bicycle Fitting
- Edward Zimmerman’s Frame Fitting Site with Online Calculations
Bike Sizing For Girls
- Bike Fit a la WOMBAT
- Myra and Simon’s Bicycle Fitting for Small Women
- Women’s Saddles and Bicycle Fit by Pamela Blalock
- Myra & Simon’s Buying a bike that fits a woman
Since we’re talking about bike fitting, I have to make special mention of my Jamis Nova, pictured above. You might notice that that front tire is smaller than the rear tire. Why? It all boils down to my being vertically challenged. The bike has a really small frame, and as a result a bigger tire would result in my toe hitting the wheel wheel whenever I made a turn (this is called “toe overlap”). I think it’s cool that Jamis makes a small bike for shorties like me who like to tour, and I’m extra happy that I was able to meet a mechanic who was able to recommend it (a fellow female shorty at the aforementioned Cyclery – it was the last bike shop I visited when bike shopping in Austin, and by far the best and most capable). Terry, the “first and last name in women’s cycling”, uses the same technique. Myra & Simon get into this in more detail on their site.
And in case you can’t tell, I’m ga-ga for my Jamis Nova, who even carry a whole line of bikes designed for women. I’ve taken my Jamis across France and Wisconsin, up and down Texas‘ Hill Country, and a countless number of times through London and Austin. I’ve never experienced achy knees or a sore bum, just miles of good times and sunshine, with the odd goat and rain storm thrown in for good measure.
Who Says Size Doesn’t Matter? [Cranky Fitness]