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  1. #1
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    Men's Geometry vs. Women's Specific Design

    Hey frame guys, I need help.

    This question isn't about building a frame, but rather helping me with geometry.

    Even though my wife says she doesn't like mountain biking, I think I have her bit slightly. This weekend we did a decent fire road climb of 2,500' and that was her first MTB ride, ever. She did it on an old, steel 1988 KHS Montana Pro. She hated going downhill with it, but she did it. BTW, it's the biggest climb she's ever done, too.

    She has a knee injury that seems to come up with certain bikes - that was until I bought her a Specialized Vita (Medium). She rides up and down a local hill without any knee problems whatsoever, so I'm leaning toward the idea WSD works for her. We don't know what make her knee hurt on certain bikes, but we do know that the Vita doesn't produce pain. Other bikes do.

    So, here's my dilemma.

    I want to build her a bike. I have ALL the components to make a very nice XC bike minus a frame. Well, shopping around, it's very difficult to find a WSD frame unless going China Direct - and she doesn't like the looks of those. I'm on a budget, so I can't go boutique - I'm thinking a BikeIsland $150 special.

    I was looking at a 16" Motobecane 400ht. Here are the specs:



    Here is the geo of her Vita (she rides a Medium):

    Men's Geometry vs. Women's Specific Design-specialized-vita-geometry-data.jpg

    I understand that there will be changes due to the wheel difference and road geometry vs. mountain geometry, suspension corrected, etc.

    So, my question is, in your frame building expertise opinion, do you think a 16" will work? And micro adjust with components? What is your opinion about WSD? Do you think that most women ride men's frames, and WSD is a scam? Not trolling, but looking for honest answers.

    It'd be nice if more WSD frames were available, and not just completes. Thanks in advance, guys.

  2. #2
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    Your SO needs a professional fitting. Start there and then worry about the frame/parts/etc. You might also want to do some more nice dirt road rides with good views, with a bottle of wine in your pack for the top sort of stuff before pushing her to start riding singletrack with you on some bike you kludged together out of old parts.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  3. #3
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    Thanks Walt. We're not really into wine and such, and singletrack is pretty much out of the question, anyway. We ere going to get her Vita fitted, but she doesn't have any pain with it. Hmmm... It's just too bad more companies don't offer WSD frames - most wsd stuff I see is only available as a complete. I'd rather start with that and go to fitting.

  4. #4
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    I think WSD pretty much means more pink in the paint job. And maybe a little shorter top tube. I haven't fitted a lot of women, but on average their proportions are about the same as men. And men are going for shorter top tubes nowadays

  5. #5
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    Gah!!

    You have this backwards: you do NOT want to start with a bike and "get it fit". You want to get a fit to figure out where your butt, hands, and feet need to be relative to each other and the bottom bracket, THEN go shop for a bike that can easily be set up that way and which offers the parts/price/etc you want.

    WSD is a bunch of crap (though the fact that the bike industry actually cares about people with two X chromosomes these days is a good thing), women are all different shapes and sizes just like men. If you get a good fitting the info will let you make an informed choice about what bike to buy for the rest of your life. Worth $100 or so? I'd say so.

    At the very least you can carefully measure her position on her current bike and replicate that on other bikes. It's not the bikes that are hurting her knees, it's the position being different.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Thanks Walt. We're not really into wine and such, and singletrack is pretty much out of the question, anyway. We ere going to get her Vita fitted, but she doesn't have any pain with it. Hmmm... It's just too bad more companies don't offer WSD frames - most wsd stuff I see is only available as a complete. I'd rather start with that and go to fitting.
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    I was just about to reply in the form that Walt just posted. GAH.

    To add, you have so far been comparing bikes to bikes, but you do not state whether you have set up each bike in an identical way, particularly around the seat pedal relationship. If you have not, then it is random chance of finding the right combination, with a bike being credited for more than it is.

    You need to be aware that in the smaller bike section, some are fitted 165mm crank length thru 170 to 175mm. this is 1 variable. the seats are not the same, they can place the rider over the BB, others further back, and the pedals vary, and if they incline a foot a fraction of degrees inwards or outwards it will affect the knee. This without correct seat height.

    I use Strawberry Cycles fitting site, even though it is a road bike fit. Theseat heights given are spot on and you can play with the seat positioning, which will give you the correct seat angle, and don't be put off if it suggests an ultra steep seat angle.

    Also, the Specialized Vita that you suggest looks like a Monster-cross waiting to happen and depending on trails you ride could be quite O/K if of a smooth variety. My reservation lies in the fork off-set/stability ratio. I would prefer 40-42mm with a short front centre.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    ...........snip......... And men are going for shorter top tubes nowadays
    I thought the "trend" was for longer top tubes and shorter stems/wider bars.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  8. #8
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    +1 on fitting, or at least measuring. For instance, the fore/aft saddle position *could* account for all of the knee pain issues and explain why some bikes work and others don't. If you don't know why the bike that fits does, then there's no way to determine what else would. In the specs listed, the seat tube angle is different by 2 degrees. You can get this much difference effectively by changing the rail position on the posts and/or swapping to a post with a different set back.

    Note, I'm not saying that's necessarily the pertinent variable, just trying to give an example.

  9. #9
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    I had my Mrs fitted to her bike which was not WSD. It's very gimmicky, I had knee pain that the right fitment adjusted and made riding a pleasure. It's worth it along with your time on the technical drawings. Try her on 29ers too & back to back comparison on test bikes.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldybikes View Post
    +1 on fitting, or at least measuring. For instance, the fore/aft saddle position *could* account for all of the knee pain issues and explain why some bikes work and others don't. If you don't know why the bike that fits does, then there's no way to determine what else would. In the specs listed, the seat tube angle is different by 2 degrees. You can get this much difference effectively by changing the rail position on the posts and/or swapping to a post with a different set back.

    Note, I'm not saying that's necessarily the pertinent variable, just trying to give an example.
    Thanks for all your responses.

    As noted, the bike she rode this weekend was a 1988 Montana Pro. I took all the measurements of her Vita, and tried my best to match. Reach was a little compromised because of the width of the handlebar on the KHS, as opposed to the width on the Vita, but a 3/4" rise of the stem worked that math pretty well.

    She did complain of some knee pain, but only on that day (and believe me, I know the levels of pain based on the times she mentions it), but this was the biggest and longest climb she's ever done on a bicycle - so it may be that, too. No pain the day after, or else I would've heard about it.

    So yeah, I may build, try to "mimic" what she has going on with the Vita, and take it from there with micro adjustments and a pro fitting if she still has problems. And, like what you guys have said, I'm starting to wonder about the true validity of WSD.

  11. #11
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    Women are different then men so you need to pay attention to a lot of things to get a bike that fits and handles well for them.

    In terms of stock bike Specialized seems to do a good job.
    Specialized Bicycle Components
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  12. #12
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    Btw the shop shortened her reach by changing the stem, got the seat right height, a larger bike as her legs were long.

    Test: get your tacx turbo trainer, put each bike on it and get her to try it, check her angles & knee to feet positioning. A pro shop will know how to measure and change bike to suit her. Often it's not the knee that is the issue it's the fit.

  13. #13
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    The Vita geo looks like a typical poor job of trying to fit 700c wheels on a small frame: a really steep seat tube angle to reduce the top tube spec length (on paper, which won't make a difference once she slides her seat back where she probably wants it), and a slack front end in an attempt to avoid toe clip overlap. I wouldn't base a mountain bike on trying to copy this sort of road bike geo.
    FS: Chinese carbony goodness, trade for a steel frame?

  14. #14
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    So a couple of years ago the wife wanted to buy a new Trek WSD FS bike. So I compaired the published geometry specs for the frames between WSD and "mens" Guess what, no differance in measurements at all. Went to the LBS with my tape measure and protractor. Got a WSD and a "mens" bikes (same size) side by side and did the measurements. Yep they were the same. So we got the "mens" 9.9 (better group) and a Terry saddle. The bike shop guy didn't even know they were the same. He had bought into the whole WSD thing. Its been said before WSD means more pink in the paint job.

    Tim

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    The Vita geo looks like a typical poor job of trying to fit 700c wheels on a small frame: a really steep seat tube angle to reduce the top tube spec length (on paper, which won't make a difference once she slides her seat back where she probably wants it), and a slack front end in an attempt to avoid toe clip overlap. I wouldn't base a mountain bike on trying to copy this sort of road bike geo.
    Well, it fits her well so that all that counts.

    I wasn't comparing the geo, I was comparing the TT length/reach/seat-to-pedal, etc. I know geometry will be different. I just want to "mimic" how her Vita sits when I build her MTB.

    So, I ended up ordering a Motobecane 400HT from bikeisland. Good reviews on the frame, plus I've loved every MB I've owned. We'll have to do a bit of fudging here and there to get the fit right since she's so finicky. In the end, I may have to get a pro fit, but I know enough to get it "close".

  16. #16
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    WSD is BS beyond seats.
    look at this stack of nothing but Women's bikes.
    Not much similar bike to bike.
    - Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    steve garro el jefe/el solo. coconino cycles www.coconinocycles.com www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  17. #17
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    Glad to see you choose the MB, it has the shorter offset I mentioned, ti will give better stability on the faster downhill sections than the Vita.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

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