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The reasons for this vary – some brands say their research suggests women have a shorter wingspan (arms), meaning a shorter reach is ideal, others suggest women’s lower upper body mass and centre of gravity make this a more suitable option, whilst some explain that women position their pelvis differently to avoid soft tissue compression.Some say the reason is that their focus groups and studies suggest many women want to ride in a more upright position.This applies more to hybrid bikes and mountain bikes.Sizes: A unisex frame, with female components, marketed as the women’s version will usually be available in smaller sizes.Shifters are often ready wound in to suit smaller hands (though you can do this for free at home on Shimano or SRAM shifters).Stem: whilst frames built from ‘the ground up’ to suit women often have a shorter reach, those providing a unisex frame will nearly always fit a shorter stem.There’s more information further down the page which explains the different approaches brands take when creating women’s bikes, and how to make sure you choose the very best bike for you.
Other brands choose not to create a female specific frame, but instead to offer the same chassis as the unisex bikes, but with components adjusted to better suit the average woman’s requirements.
In an ideal world, the brand will scale down other elements of the geometry and aspects such as fork angle will change too.
Saddle: Women frequently report saddle discomfort putting them off cycling.
Most riders will swap the saddle on their bike early on – but a women’s model will come with a women’s saddle – giving a slightly higher chance of getting on with the perch on first rides.
Many women choose to buy a standard unisex frame, and adjust the components above to suit.
However, going for a model with these components already tweaked can make the first few months of bike ownership much cheaper – especially for beginners who don’t have the standard cyclist’s garage full of spare stems, handlebars and saddles.