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  1. #1
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    Women specific vs mens/unisex bikes

    Hi ladies. I'm looking at mountian bikes for my wife. How important is it to get a womens specific bike vs a regular unisex bike? Is there really that much difference? Is the difference in frame geometry or other things like seats and stems that are easily changed? What has been your experience with womens specific bikes? Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
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    I know we had a hard time finding a bike with enough standover clearance - even the smallest of regular frames resulted in no clearance... The women's specific equivalent frames (from the same manufacturers) were fine - but the majority of them had "curved" top tubes or similar... Yet, apparently women have a higher leg/torso relationship than men. (Although I am sure I read some research somewhere that said on average it's actually about the same for a given ethnicity).

    IMO - this is exaggerated even more with 29ers - to the point that the 5ft5" Mrs. OutLore will have her feet hit the front wheel if she's taking a tight corner, on a small framed Specialized Jett...

  3. #3
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    Fargo, the best answer is..it depends. Sorry but that is really the way it goes. Many here swear by the men's unisex and have said that they sometimes put less sturdy components on the Women Specific Design (WSD) bikes. Then there is the build and body type of the person. I am only 5'2" but I prefer the men's unisex (xs) because they typically have a longer top tube. I have a long torso and short legs so it works for me. Others will find the WSD to be a better fit. Get her to try some different bikes and don't limit yourselves to the WSD bikes. Good luck!

  4. #4
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    I have not tried one yet, and have been MTB'g for 25 years. Of course, I could be missing something and just not know it yet.

  5. #5
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    My road bike is WSD, the rest of my bikes are unisex. I always change my stems (to super short) and my saddles, so really I can't tell the difference. Aside from paint colors, but luckily my brand of choice offers pink in unisex frames, especially for cyclocross. Score for me!

    It's really best to just try a bunch of bikes and see what feels the best. I really hate when bike shops tell women that women's bikes are automatically better. In my experience, I had to change the same things on a women's bike as I do on a unisex for it to fit correctly.

    (for reference, I'm 5'8" with insanely long legs, so I fit easily on common unisex sizes)

  6. #6
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    Thank you everyone. Sounds like it could work either way. Kind of what I thought. Guess I just need to get her to sit on some bikes.

  7. #7
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    I'm 5'9". I walked into a shop and told them I needed medium frame. The first thing they put me on was a Giant's women specific. Too small for me, and just kind of a "weird" fit. The medium men's of the same bike was fine.

    So again, it depends. I know smaller women tend to like them.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray6503 View Post
    I'm 5'9". I walked into a shop and told them I needed medium frame. The first thing they put me on was a Giant's women specific. Too small for me, and just kind of a "weird" fit. The medium men's of the same bike was fine.

    So again, it depends. I know smaller women tend to like them.
    Weird, the same thing happened to me when I bought my first MTB... unfortunately, I ended up buying the women's medium frame (ironically, also a Giant) and dealt with fit issues until I got a unisex Specialized in medium

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