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Thread: Female Frames

  1. #1
    eto
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    Female Frames

    My wife and I have recently gotten into MTB, and she's been riding a $300 Diamondback Response that she got a few years ago. Now she's wanting something with better components and a lot lighter, so we're buying her a new bike in a couple weeks. I was wondering, though, how many of you ride the women's frame style bikes or just go with the men's frames? There just seems to be so much better of a selection in my local LBSs with men's frames, and I just don't see any reason for a female frame for her. Her inseam is longer than mine even though she's two inches shorter, so standover height isn't really a problem.

    Also, if you have any recommendations for an XC style hardtail in the $800-900 price range we'd appreciate it. Thanks!

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    Depends on Geometery

    Frames designed for woman have come a long way and I wouldn't rule them out just yet. Even though your riding partner may not be cursed with a short inseam, other specs on Woman Specific Design bikes are built for the way most female bodies are. Like shorter top tube lengths, chain stays,seat tube angles etc etc, and greater stand over heights. Building female designed bikes probably started out to be a lot of hype but through the years bike companies have realized there is a whole rider population that doesn't fit normal bikes too well. Make no mistake about it, not having a bike that fits you is one of the biggest mistakes riders make; not just stand over height either. That's not to say that all woman riders need to be on a WSD bike either. All riders, men and women need a bike that fits, be it normal or WSD. Although if a dude shows up on a Santa Cruz Juliana, he'd better have some mad skills to back it up. But WSD bikes do help more women riders find bikes better suited to them. Don't give up on WSD bikes, study them and compare all the different geometery between the ones you like. Getting sized by your LBS would help a lot and they may be able to order or make the sale for you easier too. Some companies that are putting up strong bikes for the "better half" riders are Trek, Specialized, and Santa Cruz which is what my wife rides. I think Trek makes some hard tails too in WSD but don't quote me; most main stream companies are going to full suspension. Another great place to look are the classifieds here at mtbr.com. Good Luck!
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    Are you sure a HT??

    I agree with pretty much everything Spine Shank had to say.....One thing to keep in mind however is FS may be a better choice. My wife wasn't really "into" mtbing until she started riding around on a full squishy, then things started to change. The bikes are soooo much more comfortable, take away a lot of the pounding and 9 times out of 10 will make you a better rider. If you look in the mtbr classifieds & ebay, you'll find several WSD FS bikes that will fit into your price range (you may need to give it a couple of weeks for the right one to come along). Good Luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    My wife and I have recently gotten into MTB, and she's been riding a $300 Diamondback Response that she got a few years ago. Now she's wanting something with better components and a lot lighter, so we're buying her a new bike in a couple weeks. I was wondering, though, how many of you ride the women's frame style bikes or just go with the men's frames? There just seems to be so much better of a selection in my local LBSs with men's frames, and I just don't see any reason for a female frame for her. Her inseam is longer than mine even though she's two inches shorter, so standover height isn't really a problem.

    Also, if you have any recommendations for an XC style hardtail in the $800-900 price range we'd appreciate it. Thanks!
    I type for my shut up and ride-type wife:

    For starters dual suspension made all the difference in the world for what my wife calls "real trails". I'm not so strong on that, but dual suspension made a huge difference with happy she was on longer rides and after rides.

    While generalizations exist, remember that women come in different shapes and sizes just like men. My wife prefers her She brand seat, but woman-specific marketing and models are wrong for her due to long arms and legs.

    Be lucky that actual bike dimensions are published even if they give female sizing a catchy name because I'll never figure out why my tall wife wears 8 and shorter women 14???? I do have her shopping notes on 34D or 36C figured out, but won't get closer than my lycra road shorts and trying to answer my daughter's question on why Mama and Grandpa have boobies, but not me.

    What she should really do is test ride as many models and times as possible and not just on a flat parking lot if possible. Equally important is make sure that suspension (hard tail or dual) are properly adjusted. I look up the right shock and fork settings for my weight before I go to shop if I'm serious so I know the bike is dialed in.

    Have fun shopping and more fun riding.

  5. #5
    eto
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    Thanks for all the advice everyone. Fortunately, my wife is already hooked on MTB. If riding her crappy Diamondback hasn't turned her off, I doubt anything will! The reason we're thinking hardtail is because we're in FL (no real hardcore trails that we ride), and I get the impression we'll get a better hardtail for the 800-900 dollar pricepoint than we'd get in a FS for the price. Basically we want to get a good intermediate level bike that we'll be happy with a while and that will match our skill levels. Maybe if we get advanced enough we'll look into a FS, but I really hesitate to get a bargain basement FS bike. I'd rather wait until we can afford a higher end FS bike.


    As for the female specific frames, I didn't realize the dropped top tube served any purpose other than standover height. That's interesting and gives us something to think about. What I'm worried about is that there are so few in stock at our LBSes. They say they can order them, but I'm hesitant to order something she hasn't ridden herself yet. I think what we're going to do is drive a couple hours to Orlando tomorrow and let her look around. They probably have a lot better selection to try out. That's the bad thing about smaller towns I guess.

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    FIT is #1. Toptube length is more important than standover, IMO. Standover of only an inch is enough if the toptube length is right on. Of course, more standover is nice but not as critical as TT length.

    Since she has longer legs but is shorter than you, tells me she has a shorter torso, exactly what WSD accounts for. Having said that, I ride a unisex bike aka mens model.

    Try as many bikes as possible. The more the better. Measure the TT on her current bike. If the TT is too long make sure her next bike has a shorter one, etc.

    Getting an FS is a good idea. Jamis makes a couple models under $1k, or check used. I will never ride offroad on a HT again, it just beats me up too much. FS' are a lot more fun. And no backaches.

    Have fun shopping!

    Rita

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    eto
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    This is an interesting difference between the sexes! When I talk to guys or read advice on the forum, it seems guys are far more likely to suggest a hardtail for a "learning" type bike in the sub $1k range. Now all the women are really pushing a FS. Could it be that men are willing to put up with the rough ride of a hardtail...and ergo women are smarter??? :-)

  8. #8
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    Don't go just for the "women's" frames...most of the frames that are "women specific" are no different or have very little difference proportionally from many of the "men's" frames.

    I have owned a Jamis Dakota and a Kona Kikapu Deluxe; both were extremely comfortable for me and fit me well. Neither frame was made specifically for women. I tried a few women specific frames thinking that proportionally they would work out better (since I have a short torso, too). I still prefer my previous Jamis and current Kona bike.

    I'm riding the Kona now; love the FS, by the way! Easier on the bod, that's for sure. After starting out on a hardtail, I will never go back...

    You've got to try them ALL, to know for sure what really fits and feels comfortable to ride.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    ........As for the female specific frames, I didn't realize the dropped top tube served any purpose other than standover height. That's interesting and gives us something to think about....

    Actually, the top tube length is measured in an imaginary horizontal line between the headtube and it's intersection with the seatpost. It doesn't matter if the 'real' top tube is really inclined or not.....

    Maybe browse this from Titus...

    http://www.titusti.com/womenfit.html
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbharping
    Don't go just for the "women's" frames...most of the frames that are "women specific" are no different or have very little difference proportionally from many of the "men's" frames.

    I have owned a Jamis Dakota and a Kona Kikapu Deluxe; both were extremely comfortable for me and fit me well. Neither frame was made specifically for women. I tried a few women specific frames thinking that proportionally they would work out better (since I have a short torso, too). I still prefer my previous Jamis and current Kona bike.

    I'm riding the Kona now; love the FS, by the way! Easier on the bod, that's for sure. After starting out on a hardtail, I will never go back...

    You've got to try them ALL, to know for sure what really fits and feels comfortable to ride.
    I agree. I'm riding a Kona as well, and it fits me perfectly. I am 5'8" with a 34" inseam. I started out on a Fisher Tassajara, then a Cannondale F600, then a Santa Cruz Blur. I'm happiest on my Kona.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    This is an interesting difference between the sexes! When I talk to guys or read advice on the forum, it seems guys are far more likely to suggest a hardtail for a "learning" type bike in the sub $1k range. Now all the women are really pushing a FS. Could it be that men are willing to put up with the rough ride of a hardtail...and ergo women are smarter??? :-)
    I am female and am definately in the "you get a better skills base learning on a hardtail" camp. IMO, learning on a FS really promotes lazy butt syndrome, where you just sit on the bike and let the suspension take all the hits, not really learning how to use your body with the bike.

    Part of the thinking too is that budget priced FS bikes are just heavy, you get a whole lot more bang for the buck with a similarly priced HT.

    I'm on a 15" Kona non-women's frame, btw.

    formica
    Last edited by formica; 08-15-2005 at 07:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    This is an interesting difference between the sexes! When I talk to guys or read advice on the forum, it seems guys are far more likely to suggest a hardtail for a "learning" type bike in the sub $1k range. Now all the women are really pushing a FS. Could it be that men are willing to put up with the rough ride of a hardtail...and ergo women are smarter??? :-)
    My wife's favorite bike is an old Fat Chance fully rigid and full of parts most of you have probably never heard of or seen, but for single track trail riding love got better with the first Horst type bikes, and now the modern 5" trail bike. She can't stand the lack of simplicity, but she values the ride that gives her confidence and no pain in arms, back and hips the next day. My love life will be over if that Fat Chance is ever sold, but same would go for real single track riding if there was no squish.

    A variant of when Mom's happy everybody is happy is when Mom's comfy and feels safe.......

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    This is an interesting difference between the sexes! When I talk to guys or read advice on the forum, it seems guys are far more likely to suggest a hardtail for a "learning" type bike in the sub $1k range. Now all the women are really pushing a FS. Could it be that men are willing to put up with the rough ride of a hardtail...and ergo women are smarter??? :-)
    I'm a women who would wholeheartedly suggest getting a HT rather than a FS if you're looking at new bikes and that's your budget. Regardless of the arguments on which inspire better bike handling, a new FS in that price range is going to be heavier and have lower-quality components that are going to be annoying in the not-too-distant future. Now, if you can manage a great deal on a used FS that fits perfectly, that's another thing to consider. But if you're mostly riding on easy terrain, a FS is probably unnecessary.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otter
    I agree with pretty much everything Spine Shank had to say.....One thing to keep in mind however is FS may be a better choice. My wife wasn't really "into" mtbing until she started riding around on a full squishy, then things started to change. The bikes are soooo much more comfortable, take away a lot of the pounding and 9 times out of 10 will make you a better rider. If you look in the mtbr classifieds & ebay, you'll find several WSD FS bikes that will fit into your price range (you may need to give it a couple of weeks for the right one to come along). Good Luck!
    at the $800-$900 price range HT is the way to go - if you want to go with a new bike. also, for learning skills you can't beat a HT. besides, she would probably be better off being able to test ride. it's tough to buy a new bike sight unseen when you're new to the sport and don't really have a good idea of what you want or what you think a bike should feel like.

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    I'm a 5' 5" tall woman and when I bought my last bike I test rode every bike I could find. I ended up with a Gary Fisher Sugar. As I get older and after all my crashes over the years, I've decided that I like full squish, but I definately learned the most on my rigid Bianchi way back in the day. My advice - try everything, buy the one that makes you giggle.
    I'll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike... - Susan B. Anthony 1896

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    Quote Originally Posted by eto
    This is an interesting difference between the sexes! When I talk to guys or read advice on the forum, it seems guys are far more likely to suggest a hardtail for a "learning" type bike in the sub $1k range. Now all the women are really pushing a FS. Could it be that men are willing to put up with the rough ride of a hardtail...and ergo women are smarter??? :-)
    Go for the hardtail. In your budget you'll be able to get her a really nice one that she will find so much more comfy than her old one (lighter too). A good steel frame is more compliant than aluminium, but you may struggle to find one at your pricepoint.
    I'm in the HT learning camp too, irrespective of gender, it's the best way to improve.
    And yes, women are smarter.
    Enjoy the ride.

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    Another dude weighing in here.

    I'd counsel FS as well, except for the fact that you say you don't ride super rough, or super steep trails. At any price point, and especially under 1K, a hardtail will be lighter.

    The women specific designs seem to make a bigger difference for smaller women. Trek and Specialized both make good WSD bikes. My wife says her Trek 8000 WSD hardtail fit her the best of any bike she has had, but the men's small Stumpjumper FSR has made her a much more confident and better rider. She tried the women;s Specialized FS bikes, but the men;s small fit her the best.

    I am not convinced it fits worse than her Trek, only slightly different from what she was used to, but I'm not the one riding it am I? One thing is for sure, she is cleaning some pretty tough stuff these days...

  18. #18
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    Ok, I would think that a HT is a LOT better to start with than a FS, as many have said.

    If you start with a FS, the first rides are easier, but when (or if) she decides to tackle harder sections, she won't have the basics. I've seen this with a friend of mine. He decided he wanted to start with the very best bike (because if he didn't, maybe the bike would be to heavy and he wouldn't like riding). So, when he started, I thought that he was learning faster than I did. Ok, was a little jealous, but since I'm male, I'm a little entitled to a little ego now and then. But now, his learning curve has flattened, I think. He isn't riding harder sections than before.

    But again, if she just wants to ride bike trails or easy stuff, maybe a FS will do good, but really think on a good HT.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzozaya1969
    Ok, I would think that a HT is a LOT better to start with than a FS, as many have said.

    If you start with a FS, the first rides are easier, but when (or if) she decides to tackle harder sections, she won't have the basics. I've seen this with a friend of mine. He decided he wanted to start with the very best bike (because if he didn't, maybe the bike would be to heavy and he wouldn't like riding). So, when he started, I thought that he was learning faster than I did. Ok, was a little jealous, but since I'm male, I'm a little entitled to a little ego now and then. But now, his learning curve has flattened, I think. He isn't riding harder sections than before.

    But again, if she just wants to ride bike trails or easy stuff, maybe a FS will do good, but really think on a good HT.

    I would recommend a HT in this particular situation, due to price range, local terrain, etc.

    BUT there's nothing wrong with learning on a FS bike if you're going to be riding more technical terrain right from the start. When I learned, I was trying to follow guys who had been riding for years and they all had long travel bikes and all they rode was rocky, rough terrain. I would have been a mess trying to keep up on a hardtail if I was the only one I rode with who had one. Likewise, if I started and decided to buy a freeride bike and then try to hang with a bunch of XC racers, it would be a sufferfest in the other direction. Buy the bike appropriate for the terrain and type of riding you want to do, and then take some time to learn to ride it. You can learn on any bike if you devote some time and effort to learning basic skills. Even riding a DH bike (or a motorcycle for that matter), you learn to stand up and use your arms and legs for suspension - you can learn those techniques on anything - it's just a matter of doing it.

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    Depends on how tall she is....

    I just wanted to point out one thing I hadn't heard mentioned. The WSD bikes I've come across come in S and M sizes only. I am shopping for bikes right now and as I am 5'9" and most of the brands I am taking a 19" or L size frame, WSD is just not an option for me. If she's pretty tall you can just forget it. I have proportions that would make WSD really useful for me, I have the same inseam as my 6' tall hubby but shorter torso and about 3" shorter arms. I guess women are only supposed to come in S or M and not L. The Trek catalog even says, "Whether your 4'9" or 5'8", WSD fits your body." Well, I guess if you are over 5'8" you are SOL.

    Also Titus does have a really good article on their website about women's sizing. Not that I could actually afford to buy one but the info was very useful.

    Monica

  21. #21
    eto
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    My wife is a bit over 5'8 and after trying several bikes, the one that stood out for her was a Cannondale F600 in a medium frame. It fit her really well. Another LBS has ordered in a Specialized for her to try out--I can't remember if it was a Stumpjumper or Rockhopper. She's going to try that out and make a decision. I hope the Specialized works for her, because I really like the shop that carries it. But we'll see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by r39205
    I just wanted to point out one thing I hadn't heard mentioned. The WSD bikes I've come across come in S and M sizes only. I am shopping for bikes right now and as I am 5'9" and most of the brands I am taking a 19" or L size frame, WSD is just not an option for me. If she's pretty tall you can just forget it. I have proportions that would make WSD really useful for me, I have the same inseam as my 6' tall hubby but shorter torso and about 3" shorter arms. I guess women are only supposed to come in S or M and not L. The Trek catalog even says, "Whether your 4'9" or 5'8", WSD fits your body." Well, I guess if you are over 5'8" you are SOL.

    Also Titus does have a really good article on their website about women's sizing. Not that I could actually afford to buy one but the info was very useful.

    Monica
    Ever look at the Juliana SL? Comes in large and is quite a bit cheaper than the Titus.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otter
    Ever look at the Juliana SL? Comes in large and is quite a bit cheaper than the Titus.
    Juliana's come in size large but Santa Cruz sizes their WSD frames differently than their mens' frames. I ride a medium Juliana which SC says is a 16" frame where their men's small is a 17" frame. Therefore the large Juliana (18") may not be large enough for taller women although SC has sizing charts for women up to 6' tall.

    Just thought I'd throw that out there since I don't think it's commonly known. I test rode a small Juliana because I was riding small framed bikes and it was way too small for me. The medium fits perfectly and that's when I learned about their women's frame sizing. I'm on my fourth season with it and pushing the 5000 mile mark on the frame without any problems! I love my Juliana!

    Good luck!
    Lori

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by r39205
    I just wanted to point out one thing I hadn't heard mentioned. The WSD bikes I've come across come in S and M sizes only. I am shopping for bikes right now and as I am 5'9" and most of the brands I am taking a 19" or L size frame, WSD is just not an option for me. If she's pretty tall you can just forget it. I have proportions that would make WSD really useful for me, I have the same inseam as my 6' tall hubby but shorter torso and about 3" shorter arms. I guess women are only supposed to come in S or M and not L. The Trek catalog even says, "Whether your 4'9" or 5'8", WSD fits your body." Well, I guess if you are over 5'8" you are SOL.

    Also Titus does have a really good article on their website about women's sizing. Not that I could actually afford to buy one but the info was very useful.

    Monica
    In response to some of the other comments...
    I have your same issue- tall with women's short torso..I've ridden a C'dale and a SC.

    Cannondale F600- it was a good fit. I got rid of it to move to Full Susp.

    Santa Cruz Blur- a size L would have been a good fit (unfortunately I went with the M and it didn't work for me). I wouldn't look at the Juliana...the Blur or Superlight would fit you better.

    Again, the standard non-WSD Kona frames come in several sizes so you can really get close to your optimal fit. I settled on the 19".

  25. #25
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    During my research for a bike for my wife I came across this cool site on how to get general sizing determined prior to trying the bike itself.

    Mountain Bike Sizing

  26. #26
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    thumbs up for Kona

    I love my Kona. I worked at my LBS when I was looking and was able to try lots of bikes, at 5' 4 with 29 stand over, I looked at women specific but the reach was way too short for me. Womens specific isnt the answer for all women.

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