Some Impressive Women-Specific Hybrid Bikes Now Available
It's gratifying to see the efforts that major bike manufacturers have made to address the huge market that exists in quality performance bikes for women. This is particularly noticeable – and refreshing – in the hybrid bike market.
The tactic that designers have used is to keep the majority of components the same between their equivalent models for men and women-wheels, gears, forks and so on, while other features are modified for the two versions.
This seems to be the sensible choice, as it allows the manufacturers to profit from economies of scale, while keeping their manufacturing as simple and as organized as possible. It can also help us to make sense of their otherwise quite complicated ranges. Making sense of model names, numbers and specifications from various makers is complicated enough …
As a result, there are definite areas of difference between the versions for men and women: –
- Frame geometry likely to be the difference that most people would notice first. Women may no longer be sporting the long dresses that made a step-through frame indispensable at one time, but such geometry is still a noticeable element. It may be not so exaggerated, but certainly a sloping top tube is a popular feature.
- The saddle is generally somewhat broader and shaped differently on a woman's bike. It's just a fact that we have differences in that area … Hybrid bikes are predominantly for leisure use, hence comfort is a priority.
- The handlebar for women is frequently wider, along with more shape (more bend and rise).
- The two gender versions within the same range are often of different colors, though that's only aesthetic naturally. You're not going to find the female version in pretty pink for instance – perish the thought.
When navigating your way around the different ranges from different manufacturers, you'll find that they will adopt different approaches to their marketing.
Some, like Specialized, have introduced women-specific range names. The models within these ranges will have corresponding versions within the men's collections. Hence the Ariel is the sister range to the Crosstrail – bikes that those who enjoy getting off the beaten track will most value. Likewise, the Vita range of more road-going bikes is analogous to their top-selling Sirrus models.
Other manufacturers, such as Scott, have taken a different strategy. Their Sportster range is defined by model numbers, every model being made available for both men and women, under the same number.
Some ladies bikes have no equivalent for men – such as the Pashley Princess Sovereign and the Dawes Duchess for example. However it's true to say that these are not really modern hybrids; They are more retro-inspired.
So there's no excuse – there's a bike available for everybody. Simply get cycling.