Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

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Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Morahan1 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:30 am

Hey Ladies (and the occasional gentleman),

I have posted a general question about what bike to buy in the buying a bike/parts forum, but I am interested in a women’s perspective of what is important to look for when buying a mountain bike.

I am looking at buying a mountain bike for fire trail riding and recreational mountain bike riding. I am still a beginner but I live near the Blue Mountains NSW and believe there are some great rides around here... so who knows where I will end up.

My question really is about the importance of buying a women’s bike vs a men’s/unisex bike. Is it really important?

A lot of sales people talk about the women specific geometry. I have been looking at the Trek Cali S, which is apparently designed specifically for women rather than modifying it to suit women.

Is there merit in the claims that a women’s specific bike is better or is it all a marketing tool?

Thanks for your input,

Maria
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by BNA » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:35 pm

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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Venus62 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:35 pm

Hi Maria

This may not help in your mountain bike decision making, but I've just gone through the motions of buying a road bike and was initially looking at women-specific bikes. I was told that some have shorter top tubes with respect to frame size to take into account that women tend to be longer in the legs and shorter in the torso compared to a man of the same height. Others told me that some women's bikes were simply "prettier" but with lowers specs than the equivalent men's bike. In the end the decision was taken away, as the woman specific bikes I was looking at didn't come in a large enough frame size to suit my height. So I am the happy owner of a men's (or should I say "unisex"?) bike.

Good luck with your decision.
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby geekgirl » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:02 pm

I agree with Venus - frame and componentry are the most important. I have always ended up with 'unisex' bikes because I'm too large for the female ones although my current regular mtn bike is 8 years old, so there wasn't much of a choice last time around. I also have a younger folding mtb - but that's different criteria again! Basically I'd go for lots of clearance and the best componentry you can afford for the styles of riding you'll be doing. The boards hold a wealth of material about details such as shifters vs.?grip shifters. Personally I like the thumb shifter style - got SRAMs on the newbie which is taking some getting used to after the shimanos as I find them softer. Then there's them brakes ... Good luck! There's lots of fun in looking :)
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby geekgirl » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:12 pm

Sorry forgot to add - keep shopping around for someone who will listen to your needs in the shop - it can be hard (sometimes) to find people who advise in your best interests. You don't have a location listed but check out the stores other women here on the boards recommend shopping at. Sometimes there's a gender bias and sometimes it's purely sales. Having recently moved myself and being a well seasoned cyclist it's interesting checking out the different approaches by sales people when I've gone in from anything from a service to a new spare part or bike. I've encountered the full gamut of late!
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Morahan1 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:01 am

Thanks Venus 62 and Geek Girl,

I am quite tall myself, which a few sales people have said allows me to buy a unisex bike. But not too tall that I can't buy a women’s bike. You have both put my mind to rest. I think I will try and bike both and see which I feel more comfortable on.

I was considering the Trek Cali S or the Giant Talon 0 W but I am now leaning toward the Talon which does a women’s and a men’s/unisex model. Same components just different geometry in the frame, and a different saddle.

I am looking forward to giving them both a ride.

Once again, thanks for you help.


EDIT: Spelling
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Morahan1 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:19 am

geekgirl wrote: You don't have a location listed but check out the stores other women here on the boards recommend shopping at. Sometimes there's a gender bias and sometimes it's purely sales.


I am in the Lower Blue Mountains NSW but work in the City so have been visiting a number of stores in Sydney. It is surprising to see that Giant and Clarence Street Cyclery in Sydney both have women’s stores attached to the main store. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Obviously there is a lot of women specific apparel and accessories which is nice, but then at the same time it does feel a little bit like they are removing you from the main store with the bigger range.

So far I have had a great experience with sales staff at most stores. My local bike store in Penrith has been great. The owner is so enthusiastic.
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby macski » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:28 am

Best advice is try the bikes you are interested in. I tried the Giant Talon in both the men's and women's versions. The smallest men's was a little too big for me. The smallest women's was about the right size. Both felt like steering an ocean liner. I bought the Cali S and am happy with it. The sales guff tells me that Trek redesigned the head tube area for 29ers but not all companies did. They might be right. Certainly the Cali didn't feel so much like an ocean liner - much more responsive.
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Morahan1 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:37 pm

Thanks Macski,

I have been trying to test ride a number of bikes, but no where seem to stock the bikes I am interested in.
I saw the cali, but I want the Cali S if I were to get a Trek. I cant find a specialized jett except for in clarence street cycles in the city, and I don't want to test ride a bike in the middle of the city with pedestrians and cars everywhere.

It took me about 3 Giant stores to find a women's Talon 0 and they only had the medium which felt good, but I would love to compare with the small to be sure I am buying the right size.

I should have tried the Cali. Even though the components are different do you think I would be able to get a feel for the Cali S from riding the lower spec model?

I learnt something today... apparently you cant just walk into any bike shop and walk out with a bike the same day... at least not this close to Christmas.
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby macski » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:38 pm

As far as I know the only difference between the Cali and the Cali S is the components - frame is the same so you should be able to get a feel for whether you like the riding position and feel.

I took mine for its first ride yesterday (except for the test ride) and I loved it even more. One word of caution- the brakes are very effective compared to road brakes. I didn't have any issues for most of the ride but almost stood the bike on its end when something unexpected happened in front of me and I pulled on the brakes quite hard.
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby Mulger bill » Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:23 pm

macski wrote:As far as I know the only difference between the Cali and the Cali S is the components - frame is the same so you should be able to get a feel for whether you like the riding position and feel.

I took mine for its first ride yesterday (except for the test ride) and I loved it even more. One word of caution- the brakes are very effective compared to road brakes. I didn't have any issues for most of the ride but almost stood the bike on its end when something unexpected happened in front of me and I pulled on the brakes quite hard.


Agree with that, it's fairly common across most ranges.

Mac, I'm glad you got over that without getting dirty. You'll have to move around the bike a bit more on an MTB to keep the tyres biting. Have fun :)

Shaun
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby macski » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:55 pm

Thanks Shaun - went on another ride today on a fire trail which was more challenging than I was expecting. Stayed upright again though :)

Although the guy in the LBS did say to me 'when you fall off this bike, not if but when'.

You're right about having to move around a lot more to keep balanced and to compensate for uneven terrain, rocks, logs and wash-aways. But it was big fun!
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby dlindqvist » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:16 pm

I'm very new to mountain biking but just wanted to say that I think what is important is getting an actual bike fit and taking your time, as opposed to women's vs mens bikes. I unfortunately ignored the whole 'women's' bike thing because I have a sever disliking for 'pretty' pink and purple bikes, but ended up buying a man's bike that does not fit me even though it seemed comfortable at the time riding around the car park of the shop.
The main issue for me was that height wise it was perfect but after 3 rides realised the handbars are way too far away and too wide even though I have the saddle pushed forward as far as it can go, resulting in sore back and shoulders. Reach is really is as important as the height, I didn't even think of this when I was buying.Now I need to decide whether to try modifying the bike or cut my losses and sell/buy a bike that fits me. Given my inexperience I should have gone to a more reputable bike shop with good customer service etc, despite all my research online.

Good luck!
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Re: Womens Mountain Bike - what is important

Postby ovie68 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:53 am

dlindqvist wrote:The main issue for me was that height wise it was perfect but after 3 rides realised the handbars are way too far away and too wide even though I have the saddle pushed forward as far as it can go, resulting in sore back and shoulders. Reach is really is as important as the height, I didn't even think of this when I was buying.Now I need to decide whether to try modifying the bike or cut my losses and sell/buy a bike that fits me.


I had the same issue with the handle bars being too wide. The bike shop just cut then down for me, just a few centimetres made a big difference. It's worth a try.
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