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General Question

mowens's avatar

What the hell is the difference between a men's bike and a woman's bike?

Asked by mowens (8350points) May 22nd, 2014

I want to buy a bike, and avoid an embarrassing purchase.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

kevbo's avatar

in addition to the responses below, a women’s bike is probably less likely to get stolen.

mowens's avatar

Hahahaha, Well I am a male… I see a nice bike I want to buy, but everyone else can seem to look at a bike and know.

El_Cadejo's avatar

There are quite a few differences that have to do with men and women being built differently. This site explains most of them. At the end of the day though, if the bike feels comfortable to you and you like it, who the hell cares what “gender” it is.

RocketGuy's avatar

But why does the men’s bike have the bar across the top? see: http://www.huffy.com/images/products/large/54430_Lg.png Wouldn’t be safer if that bar were in the women’s bike position? (I crash all the time, so I know all about that bar.)

jerv's avatar

@RocketGuy That’s a matter of structural rigidity. The higher bar on a men’s bike offers greater strength to resist changing shape… and you do not want the frame changing shape on you. After you crash, are your headtube and seattube still in the same positions relative to each other? With a women’s bike, it’s less likely that they would remain so; ditto if you jump your bike.

Of course, there are topbar pads for exactly that reason.

JLeslie's avatar

Besides what has been mentioned already, the lowr bars on the women’s bike allow a woman to ride with a skirt on. I had always thought this was the main reason for the difference between girl and boy bikes historically, but it seems structurally there are reasons also.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I agree about that dang bar @RocketGuy. I don’t care what kind of stability it allegedly adds, when you land on that stupid thing with your you know whats it hurts like a sumbich!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

One of the differences in male and female bikes is the size of the frames. I bought a bike recently and I was getting extremely frustrated browsing bikes for women, because I was trying to shop for bikes according to my height (like you’re supposed to – inseam, specifically), and 95% of the “female” bikes had frames that were too small for me since I’m 5’9’’. I also learned that many bikes designed for males have the width of the handlebars set farther apart than a lot of bikes designed for females, because men have wider shoulders in most cases.

jerv's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I have similar issues since most guys are closer to your height than mine. While 6’0” isn’t egregiously tall, it’s enough that most men’s frames are small. Depending on who makes it, I take a 19–21½’ frame, but many shops have a limited selection above 17½”, at least for mountain bikes.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@jerv Oh, wow. Yeah, another confusing thing for people is that inseam can still vary to a big degree, even if someone is tall or short. Just depends on how long your legs are compared to your torso. 21½? You must have a long inseam! I got a “female” bike that luckily allowed me to customize my frame size (which was 18, I believe) and my inseam is 32½ inches. What is your inseam? Something around 34?

jerv's avatar

@DrasticDreamer About there, yes.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Women’s bikes are pink and purple and men’s bikes are black, gray, and red. Duh!

Just kidding. :)

If you like the bike, get it. If it’s not quite obviously a woman’s bike or has streamers coming out of the handlebars, I doubt anything embarrassing will happen. If you’re really worried about it, ask one of the salespeople at the store you buy it from. Bikes are usually separated in stores anyway, right?

jca's avatar

I am tall (5 foot 9) and the last time I bought a bike, I was with a male friend and he got the taller version of the bike. I liked riding his so much more. Next time I buy a bike, I’m going that route.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The man’s bike is made of harder metal.

It use to be that womens’ bikes were lacking the metal bar across the top, because it was “unladylike” to make women straddle the bike to get on.

That more or less disappeared in serious bikes around 1971.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I toured for years. If you’re going to buy an adult bike, buy the “male” bike design with the crossbar no matter what your sex. The “female” design is archaic and inefficient and was made for women during a time that is thankfully long past.

You want the stability the crossbar affords under torque and there is less chance of frame failure under stress. The crossbar facilitates much more efficient transfer of energy from the pedal to the street because there is less loss in frame give-way’ or wobble. You will get a lot less fatigued and travel a lot farther with less energy on the male design, on rough terrain and on long rides, especially on tours with full front and back panniers, bar pack, tent and sleeping bag. If the cross bar makes your genitals tingle at the thought of landing on them, get a thick wrap-around neoprene pad for the length of it—they snap or velcro right on. Don’t buy a female design. They belong in museums next to the penny farthings and boneshakers and they are just as ridiculous.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’ll parrot what was said above and add that it is critically important that you size and adjust the bike appropriately. Most average height males will want around a 18 or 19” frame. All “real” bikes are basically unisex. It may still be possible to get a Huffy or some wally world equivalent in the “feminine” design.

ucme's avatar

There really isn’t any difference, unless you were born in the forties & ride around on an antique wearing a skirt. In which case, have a word with yourself.

Crazydawg's avatar

A women’s bike doesn’t have the ball busting center bar.

josie's avatar

As stated above, I think the idea of a difference in frame design comes from an increasingly obsolete notion of how ladies should mount or dismount a bike. I suspect that once upon a time it was considered unladylike or impractical (due to a dress) for a woman to haul one leg up and over the bike in order to get into the seat. So they made a design to step through instead.

Once upon a time ladies rode a horse side saddle too. Now they all swing their leg up and over.

Just one of those notions that seems to hang on. My grandpa used to shake a half pint milk carton before he opened it out of habit from some distant time when it was not homogenized. My grandma would give us a fresh orange at Christmas because they were so rare in the Depression that getting one was considered a super treat. They still call the front part of the car a dashboard. They still make the “glove compartment”. They still call the storage area in the back a “trunk”.

Actually, it’s sort of quaint when you think about it.

kritiper's avatar

Men’s bike, top bar between seat and handlebars. Women’s bike, no bar. What @JLeslie said about riding with skirts is true.

kritiper's avatar

@josie You want quaint?? Our family calls the glove compartment “the jockey box.”

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