Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

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HappyHumber
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Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby HappyHumber » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:17 pm

CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 34: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Haven't listened to this myself yet, but just popped up in one of my reddit feeds. Just thought I'd share....
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Mububban
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Mububban » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:09 pm

That's interesting....

The change in approach, Specialized says, is based purely on new data.

The previous gender-specific approach was based on decades-old anthropomorphic data collected by the United States Army, not bicycle fitters. But since the acquisition of Retül and its digitised fit protocol in 2012, Specialized can now draw from over 40,000 sets of consistent and accurate position files.

“When I stepped in [as product manager], I asked why. And a lot of the why was ‘Oh well women have longer legs and shorter torsos’. Well, where is that based off? Why?” explained Stephanie Kaplan, Specialized road product manager. “Looking at the data that Retül had, we couldn’t find any data to support [anthropomorphic data].”

In fact, based on the more application-specific information, Specialized engineers determined that one single gender-neutral frame geometry can work just as well.



...seeing as Canyon have done exactly the opposite - they've only just this year introduced women specific designed frames, due to the data they've collected from thousands of online ordering measurements.


Neumann and her team worked closely with professional riders from Canyon-SRAM and used the company’s online Perfect Position System (PPS) — which collects fit and physiological data from Canyon customers — to design high-performance women’s race bikes

Canyon used over 60,000 data entries from its PPS system to study the biometric and anatomical differences between men and women. Unsurprisingly, the data showed that women are shorter and weigh less than men on average. Women also have shorter arms in relation to their torso (2cm on average) and narrower shoulders. However, women’s leg lengths in relation to the rest of the body do not vary significantly from men’s.



I just wish my wife was interested in road bikes, but she's happy tootling to the shops on her Mary Poppins bike :)
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby RobertL » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:40 am

Interesting that both Canyon and Specialized agree that women and men don't differ in the leg to torso length ratio - which is what I had always believed.

I would be interested to see what Specialized say about the arm length difference that Canyon mention. Maybe they think that a 2cm average arm length difference is not enough to warrant a different frame geometry? Maybe that can all be catered for with different stem lengths?

Certainly the narrower/wider shoulders will not affect the frame design - just handlebar choice.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Duck! » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:41 pm

Canyon's viewpoint seems to match Giant's, who market their women's bikes under the Liv brand name; Compared to the equivalent men's frame, the Liv models have the same seat tube length, but are shorter in the top tube.
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Calvin27 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:09 am

Out of the women I ride with it's about 50/50 who believe it's rubbishand the other half swear by it. My, I am a male and I tried a femal geometry bike and it fit like a glove.I have short arms.
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby gsxrboy » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:36 am

Calvin27 wrote:Out of the women I ride with it's about 50/50 who believe it's rubbish and the other half swear by it. Me, I am a male and I tried a femal geometry bike and it fit like a glove. I have short arms.


And often the women bikes look better too! Less likely to be black/matt black.... because the extra 80g of paint colour is so wrong and will cost sales :roll:

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby rapunzel » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:05 pm

Interesting. I have always been suspicious of the gender specific idea, but haven't tried any of the more recent versions. Re: my road bikes only, I went from male to female and back to male in terms of frame 'gender'. The female specific was always wrong in the legs despite having a far more comfortable reach. I prefer the lower body fit working well and mess around with seat / stem / bars to find a better feel up top. I have never found the 'best fit', unfortunately.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Calvin27 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:13 am

rapunzel wrote:The female specific was always wrong in the legs despite having a far more comfortable reach. I prefer the lower body fit working well and mess around with seat / stem / bars to find a better feel up top. I have never found the 'best fit', unfortunately.


I have this problem with (non female) mountain bikes. I believe it has to do with the seat tube angle and set back posts etc.
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Parker » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:07 pm

i love my gender specific bikes, I love my SWORKS Amira and my Specialized Camber Comp... the colours are heaps better than the boys, especially my Camber... it sparkles blue!!! The sworks is still just Matt Black with pink stickers but I love it.

I have been meaning to listen to the podcast.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby RonK » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:13 pm

So basically (according to Specialized), women are just not that special. :wink:
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Comedian » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:54 pm

I've listened to the podcast, and seen a lot of women with bike fit issues.

I don't think we need women specific bikes. I think we just need bike shops to stop selling women what they have on the floor because it's what they need to move. I do agree with women specific touch points though.

I think some of the problem is because shops tend to order in sizes for the floor that are not at either extreme. So, when someone who is a little short, or tall gets sold what they have because they are reluctant to order a bike to fit.

For example, a friend of mine tells me she's got a new bike. Pretty tiny lady. 165 with a tail wind. I saw her on it and though "uh oh... that looks too big". It had the shortest stem I've ever seen, and her arms were dead straight, splayed out and she couldn't properly reach the hoods. She wasn't comfortable controlling the bike and couldn't reach the brake levers. A week later and she's complaining of wrist pain and that she can't reach the levers... :evil:

And, sure enough. A very high profile shop in BNE had one of last years cannondales there that they wanted to move. It was a 50. She said that she thought it might be a bit big... but the wife of the owner fitted her so she thought it would be alright. It's a women specific bike, but it's got the shortest stem I'd ever seen that had been swapped on in the fit. It was the only size they had. A 48 would have been better.. maybe even a size down. Now I guess she's stuck with it and will have to work through the issues, or go back to her other bike.. I reckon to make it work it needs smaller handlebars, and a zero setback seatpost.. and even then it won't be ideal. :x

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Mububban » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:29 pm

Comedian wrote:A 48 would have been better.. maybe even a size down. Now I guess she's stuck with it and will have to work through the issues, or go back to her other bike..


If they sold her something that's not fit for purpose, isn't that covered under Australian consumer law and she'd be entitled to a refund?
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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Comedian » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:56 pm

Mububban wrote:
Comedian wrote:A 48 would have been better.. maybe even a size down. Now I guess she's stuck with it and will have to work through the issues, or go back to her other bike..


If they sold her something that's not fit for purpose, isn't that covered under Australian consumer law and she'd be entitled to a refund?

Why decides which bike is too big or too small? They would argue that they fitted it, and it's fit for purpose. Clearly it's not so big that she can't ride it.

The question is - Would she be better on the smaller bike? I think the answer is yes, but taking them to small claims or something like that?? All too hard. These people sold her the bike. Clearly they think it's OK.

She's since seen a known bike skills trainer here in BNE. He tilted the bars up a little.. the only way to fix it would be to change bars, and go to a 0 degree setback seatpost. The stem looks like a 60 to me... but could be a 70. I've never seen a stem so short on a road bike.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Lukeyboy » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:06 pm

Comedian wrote:
Mububban wrote:
Comedian wrote:A 48 would have been better.. maybe even a size down. Now I guess she's stuck with it and will have to work through the issues, or go back to her other bike..


If they sold her something that's not fit for purpose, isn't that covered under Australian consumer law and she'd be entitled to a refund?

Why decides which bike is too big or too small? They would argue that they fitted it, and it's fit for purpose. Clearly it's not so big that she can't ride it.

The question is - Would she be better on the smaller bike? I think the answer is yes, but taking them to small claims or something like that?? All too hard. These people sold her the bike. Clearly they think it's OK.

She's since seen a known bike skills trainer here in BNE. He tilted the bars up a little.. the only way to fix it would be to change bars, and go to a 0 degree setback seatpost. The stem looks like a 60 to me... but could be a 70. I've never seen a stem so short on a road bike.


I've seen a 30 on a road bike. Bloody Frankenstein bikes :P

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby trailgumby » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:14 pm

Comedian wrote:She's since seen a known bike skills trainer here in BNE. He tilted the bars up a little.. the only way to fix it would be to change bars, and go to a 0 degree setback seatpost. The stem looks like a 60 to me... but could be a 70. I've never seen a stem so short on a road bike.

If it needs a shorter stem, zero offset seatpost and/or a change in bars that's three strikes as far as I'm concerned. 60 is already way too short and affecting the handling adversely. It's at least 2 sizes to big, possibly 3.

She's going to have to throw some money at this unfortunately.

My suggestion would be to go to a recognised independent bike fitter with one of those fully adjustable fitting bikes and get him to suggest the correct bike sizing, and get a written report stating that size, noting her pain issues and referencing the problems with her current fit and the impossibility of fixing them with her current ride.

I would suggest she take a copy to the bike shop and a copy of the consumer guarantee from the ACCC app in hand say she's been getting pain from an incorrect bike position because the bike sizing is wrong, so she's demanding a full refund. We can talk about managing that in a separate thread.

In the interim she'll need to buy another bike (probably at a higher price :( ) while she fights with the first shop, and then get the fit finished off with the fitter. At least then she'll be pain free.

BTW, my roadie is one size too big. I had to get a zero offset seatpost to fix fit issues, but it actually works better for my glute recruitment. On the so-called correct size I'd have to run an even more rearward cleat position compared to my already rearward placement, which would mess with my muscle recruitment when I switch to the MTB.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Comedian » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:55 pm

trailgumby wrote:
Comedian wrote:She's since seen a known bike skills trainer here in BNE. He tilted the bars up a little.. the only way to fix it would be to change bars, and go to a 0 degree setback seatpost. The stem looks like a 60 to me... but could be a 70. I've never seen a stem so short on a road bike.

If it needs a shorter stem, zero offset seatpost and/or a change in bars that's three strikes as far as I'm concerned. 60 is already way too short and affecting the handling adversely. It's at least 2 sizes to big, possibly 3.

She's going to have to throw some money at this unfortunately.

My suggestion would be to go to a recognised independent bike fitter with one of those fully adjustable fitting bikes and get him to suggest the correct bike sizing, and get a written report stating that size, noting her pain issues and referencing the problems with her current fit and the impossibility of fixing them with her current ride.

I would suggest she take a copy to the bike shop and a copy of the consumer guarantee from the ACCC app in hand say she's been getting pain from an incorrect bike position because the bike sizing is wrong, so she's demanding a full refund. We can talk about managing that in a separate thread.

In the interim she'll need to buy another bike (probably at a higher price :( ) while she fights with the first shop, and then get the fit finished off with the fitter. At least then she'll be pain free.

BTW, my roadie is one size too big. I had to get a zero offset seatpost to fix fit issues, but it actually works better for my glute recruitment. On the so-called correct size I'd have to run an even more rearward cleat position compared to my already rearward placement, which would mess with my muscle recruitment when I switch to the MTB.


Thanks TG good idea.

I agree, if she has to change all that stuff to cludge a manageable fit then it was the wrong bike. It's a 51, but she would have been better on a 48 at least.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Graeme H » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:45 am

Small frame sizing can be tricky because the wheel size gets in the way.
On some models, sizes below 51 would have a shorter seat post but the same stack and reach, so the fit might not be any better. This only helps shorter riders reach the pedals.
If the stack and reach are reduced by raising the bottom bracket or tilting back the head tube, then standover height and handling are compromised.
Smaller wheels might be necessary to get a good fit.

This doesn't change the situation between your friend and the shop, just that the solution may not be as simple as providing a nominally smaller frame of the same make or series.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby Nobody » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:47 am

My limited understanding of bike fit and sizing is that small sized bike frames often have the seat tube angle increased. So if you're going to place the saddle at the same point horizontally behind the BB, then it just means you need a longer offset seatpost to fit the saddle in the same position.

With the saddle in the same position, the real difference in reach at the same stack height is often just 1 cm between medium and small sized frames (using the same wheel size).

So I agree that smaller wheels are the best answer to get better proportioned smaller frames.

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Re: Why Specialized decided to ditch gender-specific geometry

Postby baabaa » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:11 pm

Lennard Zinn has a stab at this so well worth a look.
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