As an occupational therapist as well as a woman in the cycle trade for more than 30 years, I believe I can share my opinions on why women’s bikes must be specifically designed, that may be helpful for you. I have understood human anatomy well by working in the NHS and social care. Now it is clear to me why some people struggle to mount and dismount, and why someone takes longer to learn to ride.
Women need to use a specifically designed hybrid bike for ladies due to similar reasons, such as:
Height of saddle and handlebar
Women generally have longer legs and shorter backs. So, the saddle in a women’s bike should be set higher than the handlebar. Normally, the difference of this height should be minimum 25mm, but it depends on the length and flexibility of the rider’s back. The longer and more sensitive your back is, the more difference of this height can be. So, in a bike specifically made for women must have the configuration of raising handlebars as required.
Back length of the riders
Contrary to women, men have longer back and shorter legs. This can be considered an important reason to make bikes differently for both genders. Women’s bikes are designed with shorter top tube and handlebar stem comparing to men’s cycles. It assures a comfortable ride by keeping the horizontal distance ideal between saddle and handlebar. If this distance is too long, then the rider may suffer from a strenuous pain in the upper back, neck, upper arms and shoulders. On the other hand, if the distance is too short, then it will cause cramps.
Size of the hand
Another reason for women to use specifically built hybrid bikes for ladies is the small sized hands of women than men. These bikes are designed with small interchangeable rubber blocks that come to use in shortening the distance between the brake lever and handlebar. The closer these two are, the easier it is for the rider to grasp. If you have small hands, then you need larger brake adjustment blocks for your convenience.
The shape of the saddle
Choosing the right saddle is no less than choosing the right shoes for yourself. It is one of the most important components in a hybrid bicycle. As we know, women’s sitting bones are wider compared to men. These two curved bones, placed like two sides of a triangle, called ‘ischial tuberosities’ together, are the bony structures of the pelvis that comes into contact with the saddle. Now you should know that the distance between these contact points gets wider when the rider sits up, and they become narrower when the rider leans forward. You will decide what kind of saddle you require based on your riding style.
Other two important factors for women to use hybrid bikes specifically for ladies are the bottom bracket height and crank arm length. These factors are more important if the rider is a short person. A crank arm around 165mm crank arm will make it more comfortable to ride a bike for anyone with a height under 5’5″. Moreover, the build-up of the hybrid gearing depends on various factors like strength, age and flexibility of the rider as well as the surface of the terrain. I have seen many manufacturers providing the same gearing as men hoping that the buyer would not notice it. I do not appreciate this; women need to be more careful.
So, if anyone still has a question if there is any need for a hybrid bike specifically for ladies, I simply want to say that every person needs a bicycle that suits him or her well. We are all different from each other and so are our bodies, and every unique person deserves the best.
Article contributed by Sophie Vang