How essential is WSD?

lesley_x

Über Member
Location
Glasgow
I'm in the market for a new road bike. There is an astonishing lack of choice for WSD unless you want something flowery with curly writing, which I don't. I like the aggro look of mens bikes. In Evan's yesterday there must have been 40-50 mens road bikes sitting, and there were 3 women's
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I'm frustrated by the lack of choice and I'm wondering... how essential is it to get a woman's specific design road bike? Does anyone here ride a mens and find it comfortable? I'm 5'5

So how essential do you think WSD is? I am going to go for test rides of both
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Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
Mrs A had exactly the same problem when looking for a roadbike. She is only five foot nowt so she really struggled. She eventually went for a Giant who are one of the manufacturers who do seem to produce small womens' bikes in "sensible" colours. Trek also do a similar range.

However, if you feel comfy on a mans' bike, why not go for it. You've only yourself to please.
 

Spinney

Bimbleur extraordinaire
Location
Under the Edge
I bought a touring bike last year, and it didn't even occur to me to look for a woman's bike. I don't know what the difference is these days, apart from some bikes that have a low, diagonal cross bar so you can ride it in a skirt! If you are after a road bike, I would think the main thing is to get one that fits you properly. I got mine from a place where the chap spent nearly half an hour measuring me up - and the bike is great (not cheap, mind, but comfy)

Edit: I am 5'6", and the frame they gave me was not the smallest, so I don't think your height should be a problem. It probably depends on how long your legs are!
 

zacklaws

Veteran
Location
Beverley
I do not think colour comes into the design of WSD bikes, its all to do with the difference in a Females body, usually longer legs and shorter Torso, so a WSD has a shorter top tube, otherwise if you not got long legs but have a normal torso, then you can manage with a mans bike as many females do.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
I think unless you are particularly short then you don't have to go for WSD - but at the 5' nothing end of the height range it makes more of a difference. I would look at both and choose the one I liked best.
 

surfdude

Veteran
Location
cornwall
my wife is 5ft 6 and tried some mens bikes and found them a bit to long so got a womens giant and she loves it .its a white and gold and looks lush and not to girly it is a giant avail hope this helps. she also found the bars on mens bikes to wide
 

jig-sore

Formerly the anorak
Location
Rugby
boardman have just bought out a woman's road bike, its white with small pink flashes but seems like a good bike.

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Baggy

Cake connoisseur
I'm 5'4" and don't have a WSD bike - though I've put narrower bars and new saddles on, and also needed a shorter stem fitting on my last bike.

When I was buying a road bike recently I tried a WSD, but it felt very similar to the non-WSD Kona I ended up buying. The Kona has shorter cranks and narrower bars fitted, which makes sense as the frame is only 49cm, maybe some other manufaturers do this too.
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
The whole thing about women having longer legs & shorter bodies than men is a bit of an urban myth.
Any difference between the average woman and the average man is considerably less than the difference between different women
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
The whole thing about women having longer legs & shorter bodies than men is a bit of an urban myth.
Any difference between the average woman and the average man is considerably less than the difference between different women

I take your point that within the subset of women there is a large range, but I think in general the proportion thing holds true - I'm just under 5'6" and yet I often notice that I have a similar leg length to men on here who are much taller than I am - I've got about 31.5" inside leg - which means the top half of me is a lot shorter - so I end up with my seat post out along way. And I wouldn't say my legs were excessively long either.
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
The whole thing about women having longer legs & shorter bodies than men is a bit of an urban myth.
Any difference between the average woman and the average man is considerably less than the difference between different women

Agree with this.

I lost the reference for an article from a proper survey that indeed measured men and women and found that on average men and womens dimensionly are pretty much the same.
IIRC, Mike Burrows used this evidence when he designed the 'Compact Frame' for Giant which originally came in only 3 sizes.
However...
There are are a few caveats to the above. Firstly women's articulation at the hips differs slightly c/w with men (IIRC women's hips do not rotate quite as far as mens) and combined with more sensitive undercarriage means that shorter Top-Tubes can be a benefit.
Also, in the overall population, women tend to be smaller sized than men meaning they need smaller frames, narrower bars and shorter reach brakes, so for small or petite women WSD offers more benefits.
But...
For most women there is no reason why a 'mens' bike shouldn't fit perfectly wel, the fact that zillions of women ride 'mens' bikes would demonstrate the fact.
Choice is waaay better too.
 

Fiona N

Veteran
I'd suggest going and getting a bike fitting. Places with a jig will set it up so that it gives your 'optimal' position (obviously this will vary according to what sort of riding you're doing - time trailling compared to racing, for example) and from this you get the parameters you need to consider when buying a bike such as seat height, saddle offset from bottom bracket, saddle to handlebar distance, handlebar drop from saddle height, etc.). If you buy the bike from the same place, it's usual that the bike fitting is free (or the cost is discounted from the new bike) so it needn't be a big cost.
 
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