Buying a women’s road bike – where to look for advice?

My girlfriend is currently in the process of trying to buy herself a road bike. Were she looking at men’s bikes then she’d have a huge array of brands, equipment and parts to chose from. As she’s a woman, she’s forced to accept that the industry seems to believe there’s no need to cater for half the population properly.

It’s not that she hasn’t been able to find something she likes. With her eye for style and a desire for a bike that she wants to look at and enjoy riding, she has settled on the Bianchi Dama Bianca She

Any excellent choice both on the choice of brand and appearance. The alternative was the Specialized Dolce Elite but some unknown reason they’ve chosen to change the paintjob from a clean white to the uninspiring and frankly a bit ugly nail varnish red (I’m assuming that’s what they’re attempting, although I’ve been told “If it was red that would be fine. But it’s burgundy, who wants that?”).

Beyond that the issues are multiple and incredibly frustrating for me, as someone trying to help her with the process using my knowledge, and her, as someone who just wants to buy a bike she likes and ride it.

Let’s deal with her issues first, as these are the most important.

Do you have it in stock?

Bianchi seem to be having a bit of a nightmare getting this season’s models into stores. Evans are going to phone once they’ve got the size and model in. Apparently they are planning only to bring in six (yes, 6, six) of the 53cm size into their shops in the current order. 4 are pre-sold, so if we want one we’re going to have to be lucky and keep chasing them.

The rise of the euro

Since we first looked at the bike the euro has risen strongly against the pound. It’s affecting the whole bike industry and it’s why the bike has jumped from a price of around 675 GBP to 871 GBP. This is hitting everyone hard and seems to be coming without warning from retailers.

Complete lack of a site reviewing women’s bikes

Pretty much any bike that goes to market for men will have a review somewhere online, no matter how incomplete or partisan it may be. I’ve done a few searches now in similar terms and come up with next to nothing. What really annoyed me was the almost complete absence of an English language site that focuses on cycling for women. There used to be but that now only redirects to RoadcyclingUK where I could only find review of a 2006 Specialized Dolce.

Arguably it’s like there being no male equivalent of Net-a-porter for men but, as a wider point, it’s the lack of choice that bugs me. There’s probably five bikes to choose from at that price point for a woman compared to dozens for a man. How on earth are we meant to get more women cycling if they can’t find a bike they like?

Lack of choice

I’ve already touched on this but my girlfriend has been reading this and pointed out the things I was perhaps ignoring: she just wants to buy a bike and be able to ride it, not worry about buying several hundred quid of modifications to make it right.

Off-the-peg is what the vast majority of hobby cyclists will buy as their first serious bike. If you want to go boutique brand/custom built it is going to cost you much more in any case and that is a big financial commitment if you are still trying to decide if cycling is for you.

The specification on lots of the bikes I looked over was lower than the male equivalent in some cases which could be down to the lack of volume to offset cost, or the premium on “women specific” design.

Now that I’ve got this bee in my bonnet I really want to hear from people in the bike industry, both manufacturers and retailers, as well as women cyclists about the hurdles that seem to exist to them getting into the sport and recreation of cycling.

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