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Bike Fit considerations for Women
A little bit of house keeping first - Fridays seem to be a bit tough for the weekly article with my appointment schedule at this time of the year, so I will experiment with different days in the next month or so before settling on a consistent day that works best. I *think* it will be Tuesday, but I appreciate your patience as I sort this out and get this publication up and running…
And now, to this weeks article in women in cycling!
As you likely read in the first ever article here, there is a fairly substantial discrepancy between the amount of men and women I see in my fitting studio and it is something that is important to me as women working in the cycling industry, which is still very much male dominated.
The women specific bike market has gone through many phases over the years and while the 'shrink it and pink it' approach to bike design for women seems to be mostly behind us (thankfully) with manufacturers recognizing that women come in all shapes and sizes and have different riding goals, there is still work to be done for women specifically within the bike design and fitting space.
No one wants to tolerate pain and discomfort, yet so many women tend to either put up with it, thinking that it is a normal part of cycling, or they simply stop riding because they think cycling is painful. While some women certainly seek help, many do not - which is what will be discussed in a bit more detail below.
In my fitting practice, I have been seeing an average of 65% men and 35% women each year. This has been a somewhat consistent stat since 2017 (I didn't keep track between 2006 and 2017, but I suspect that trend was even worse) and last year, I turned to social media to get some perspective from others. The responses I got were interesting:
Lack of awareness of what a bike fit is and why it is needed
Time to get it done. Appointments are lengthy and there seems to be guilt associated with taking time away from work and/or family
The feeling they do not deserve it because they are not very fast or ride a substantial amount
Not knowing who to go and see for a bike fitting
These issues go beyond discussing actual bike fitting issues like saddle related discomfort, numb hands, sore back, etc - They are about mindset and education, so instead of writing a long winded article on this, here is a different approach:
10 things I want to shout off a rooftop for all women cyclists to hear
You deserve to be comfortable on a bike, regardless of how fast you are or if you consider yourself recreational or serious
You should get the same treatment and overall bike fitting experience, attention to detail, etc regardless of your ability level, how much you ride or what bike you ride
A bike fitting an investment in YOU. You work hard, so you deserve it 100%!
You don't need to have a fancy bike to get a bike fit. I worked with a lot of cyclists whose bike was about the same price as the fitting appointment.
Speak up, share and ask questions during the bike fitting appointment. No topic should be off limit, you should feel safe, comfortable and the environment should be welcoming and non judgmental
It's OK to 'interview' a few professional bike fitters before choosing the one you want to work with. A bike fitting is an investment and its rarely a 'once and done', so pick someone you feel comfortable working with, who you can trust and build a positive working relationship with.
There is a very good chance you do not need a women specific bike, but you might need some new parts to make sure your bike fits you like an extension of yourself. Be prepared to invest in the contact points - saddle, handlebars and shoes (+ insoles). Your fitter should have no trouble guiding you through the process, should be as unbiased as possible (ie. not try and sell you something) and should be able to make recommendations that fit all budgets, big or small. One size does not fit all & there are solutions for everything!
The bike is a symmetrical object, while the human body is asymmetric and dynamic by nature. This is the puzzle that needs to be solved for pain free riding ad performance.
To build on point 8 - Everyone's body changes over time, but women bodies will go through additional changes. You should have your bike fit adjusted by a professional to meet you where you are and potentially come up with a progression plan, if and as needed (refer back to the point 6)
And because this needs to be said again - A bike fitting an investment in you. It should be fun, educational and an opportunity to learn about you and your bike. You work hard, so you deserve it 100%!
I am always curious to hear other people’s thoughts, so comment below and share your them, especially if you are a women who rides bikes… Did you get a bike fit? If yes, what prompted you to do so? If you didn’t, what has been the biggest barrier you are currently facing before getting one?
That is all for this week’s edition of Endurance Collective! I hope you found this article valuable & interesting. If you are not a subscriber yet, hit the button below and share this post with others who might be interested.
If you found this article valuable, you can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-Fi (if we’ve met, you know that I will very likely use the money to buy coffee, and/or coffee beans…)