Once upon a time, women’s bikes were typically just the smaller versions of men’s bikes that came in “prettier” colors (think pink and the like).
They also had fewer specs, making them an underwhelming version of the “real” bikes.
Today, the market has evolved and both men’s and women’s bikes are rich in specs, colors, designs, and sizes.
If you’re out bike shopping and want to get the best bike that fits your requirement, we have rounded up the major differences between men’s vs women’s bikes for you.
This will help you understand what you need to look for in a man’s vs women’s bike, sans the marketing gimmicks, and make a good purchase decision.
The single most noticeable difference between women’s and men’s bikes is the bike fit. Bike manufacturers rely on extensive fit data while designing bike frame structures to specifically conform to male and female bodies.
On average, women are shorter and lighter than men. So, women typically have shorter torsos, narrower shoulders, smaller hands, and longer legs. Gender-specific bikes have frames built to address these different gender distinctions in body shapes.
Women’s bikes compared to men’s bikes often feature smaller bike frames with shorter stack heights, top tubes, and reach lengths.
Also, when it comes to cruiser bikes and commuter bikes meant for more casual riding, ladies’ bikes usually come with step-through frames. A step-through frame has a downward-sloping top tube and is suitable for riding when the rider is wearing a dress or a skirt.
This structural difference affects comfort and performance while cruising on a girl’s bike and allows casual riders to enjoy a more comfortable riding position.
Nowadays, bike makers are also experimenting with curved elements on not only the top tube but also other bike components.
Meanwhile, men’s bikes tend to have a top tube angle parallel to the ground. The head tube is also longer while the stack height is higher, which offers a more upright and comfortable riding position.
Keep in mind that step-through frames are not necessarily limited to women’s road bikes. They are great even for men when they are commuting with gear.
Also, note that different body types have different needs. Tall women tend to have a hard time riding women’s bikes as those are smaller in size. Taller women will do best with unisex bikes or even men’s bikes for a better fit and riding experience.
Meanwhile, shorter men can buy and ride women’s bikes for a smooth and comfortable ride.
As women have a narrower shoulder width than men, they need slightly narrower handlebars to help them ride comfortably. Women’s handlebars typically measure out to be between 38 and 40 centimeters wide to accommodate narrower shoulders.
However, women who ride mountain bikes should avoid going for narrower handlebars. Wider handlebars on a mountain bike are useful as they offer improved grip and stability on rough and rocky terrains.
Meanwhile, men’s bikes feature wide handlebars that normally have a width of 42 to 44 centimeters.
All female bodies are different than male bodies below the belt. A bike saddle that is made especially for women can have a huge impact on their biking comfort and performance.
More serious bikes for female riders feature a wider saddle that will accommodate their pelvis and sitting bones comfortably. The bike seat will also feature a cut-out or lower-pressure chamber to reduce pressure on soft tissues.
Here are other key differences between male and female bikes that you must know about:
Crank Arm Length
Most women’s bike types feature a shorter crank arm length than men’s bikes. It is one of the most overlooked yet important benefits of getting a women’s bike for petite riders.
Regardless of frame size, most bikes feature standard-size cranks. But shorter crank arms on women’s bikes serve shorter riders far better. Cranks that are too long can cause knee pain and injury, among other issues.
Women usually have smaller hands, which often causes them to struggle with reaching the brake levers on unisex bikes.
Shorter-reach brake levers have changed the game for female riders and made it easier for them to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free riding experience.
Handlebar Stem Length
The stem of a bike is the horizontal part of the handlebars that connects them to the bike frame. Generally speaking, men’s bikes have a longer handlebar stem to accommodate their long arms.
Meanwhile, as women have shorter torsos and arms, women’s bikes come with shorter handlebar stems to help them reach the stems safely and comfortably while riding.
Lighter riders need bike suspension that matches their weight. Luckily, you don’t have to especially buy a women’s bike for this purpose if you already have a unisex bike.
You can easily tune your bike suspension at home to match your weight with the help of a shock pump. There are many YouTube videos out there that will teach you how to do it. If you wish to avoid the hassle, simply head to your local bike shop and get some help.
Short riders do well with women’s bikes that not only have smaller frames but also smaller wheels.
Nowadays, many bike brands have started launching women’s bikes with smaller wheel sizes to offer a more comfortable ride.
Women’s bikes used to be smaller versions of men’s bikes with fewer features, but the market has evolved. Nowadays, both men’s and women’s bikes offer a wide range of specs, colors, and designs.
The main differences between the two are in the frame, handlebars, saddle, crank arm length, brake levers, handlebar stem length, suspension, and wheel size. Women’s bikes are designed to accommodate their shorter torsos, narrower shoulders, and longer legs. They often have step-through frames for casual riding.
Women’s handlebars are narrower, saddles are wider, and they may have shorter crank arms, reach brake levers, and handlebar stems. Smaller frames and wheels are beneficial for shorter riders.
Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic