Empowering women in cycling

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Open Forum : DIY Projects

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Originally, I posed this question over at CommuteByBike.com, with amazing feedback, but want to include all the ladies that may not read a commuting targeted blog.

Every so often I’ll be coming to you, the readers, to learn what exactly you want to covered.   Hopefully this will keep you all engaged and excited about the Commute By Bike content.  If you see the words “Open Forum” in the title, stop in and give your feedback!

The Open Forum this week is what type of do it yourself (DIY) projects you would like to see covered.   It could be as basic as changing a flat, setting up your in home mechanic stand or making your bike reflective.

The microphone is on and let us know what you want to learn!

Winter Clothing Essentials

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It is a wonderful time of year, some places in the US have received snow already, and others are only now finishing the changing of the leaves.  This is also the time of year you need to decide if you are investing in extra winter clothes or going to invest on an indoor trainer.

Here are my essentials :

Defeet Un-DBase Layer

A good base layer, this will be snug and close to your skin.  The goal is to pull moisture from your skin so that you don’t get cold and wet as you ride harder.  Base layers can be sleeveless, short sleeve or long sleeve. It is completely up to you what you pick.

Tip : If your sports bra doesn’t wick put your base layer on first.

Gita WarmersArm Warmer and Knee Warmers

Your knees are precious and your arms get cold easily. If your ride starts off in the cool morning and warms off you can quickly take your these off and put them in a jersey pocket.  I personally run knee warmers under 65, and run arm/knee with a combination vest well into the late fall.

Wool Socks

I love wool socks, and will live in them from November through March. They manage moisture well, and keep you toasty warm.  Personally, I wear the 6″ through the winter as it comes close to touching my knee warmers and then ski style ones that come up to my knees when its snowing or a cold rain.

Tip: Put a plastic bag over your socks before you put your feet in your shoes.  It will help keep the wind chill down and warmth in.

Gore Bike WearWindproof Vest

Keeping the chill off your body is key.  A good vest will keep your chest and core warm by keeping your body heat in and the windchill out.  There are many different vest out these days, some with Windstopper, others that pack very small, and others that have a layer of thermal fleece.

Gloves

I have three different types of gloves I wear through out the winter.  A basic mountain bike glove that is good down to 40 degrees or so.  A basic cycling liner glove that keeps the heat in and has a brushed top that keeps the wind out.  Finally a good winter glove that is thermal, wind and waterproof with insides that wick off my sweat as my hands heat up.

This is only the essentials that I recommend to every woman.  Depending what weather and how cold you can endure the extras like jackets, knickers, tights, jerseys and such are all going to be personal preference. I hope to get you through picking those this winter as well.

Thanks for reading and please leave your feedback below.

Q & A : What Makes a Bike a Women’s Bike?

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Question : What Makes a Bicycle a Women’s Bicycle?

This is a broad question with  long answer so maybe take a seat.

In the old days…

Masi Soulville Mixte 7Many women rode their bikes with skirts (much like they rode horses side saddle.)  When bicyles were designed for women they came out with a dropped top tube design.  The most popular of these were the “mixte” or step through.  The design is still carried in many lines.  Personally I think it is much easier to get on and off a step through frame, though some people don’t like the look.  Another advantage of the step through is for tight clothing, or tight hips.  I have successfully sold step through bikes in black or grey to gentleman with bad hip joints.

For a very long time this step through design is all women rode and men had a diamond frame with taller top tube.  Even now many people visit bike shops and shop for bikes based on this very traditional thought process.

Modern time and modern designs…

These days bikes are designed differently.  Most mid to high end womens bicycles have many other features that make them womens, and almost none of them are a step through design.

Some key thoughts going into the designs of modern womens bicycles :

  • Most women have longer legs over longer upper body.  This makes so when they ride a traditional “squared” geometry, their seat is too high and length or top tube of the bike is too long . Making for a very stretched out, painful, ride.
  • Women come in all sizes, but often smaller sizes than men.
  • Most women have narrower shoulder width than men, which means narrower handlebars.
  • Most women have breast or chest to worry about when getting into a more aggressive fitting.  This also means more weight on the upper body.

Details by Bike…

Road bikes have a couple key differences :

  • Shorter top tube of the bicycle. I touched on this above but many women have longer upper body and shorter legs.  A shorter top tube allows them the length of the bike they need without needing to raise the seat on a smaller sized bike.
  • Taller head tube.  A taller head tube allows the bikes front end to sit up higher. This allows for a more upright fit, if you decide, and less weight on your hands and more on your rear.  It also makes it so you don’t have to rock your pelvic bone and hips so far forward to get the proper fit alignment on your back.
  • Womens seat. These seats tend to be shorter, wider in the back and a medically designed cut out to relieve pressure.
  • Narrower & shorter handlebars. Women tend to have narrower shoulders, so they need a narrower handlebar.  Another thing a womens handlebar addresses is the “reach” down to the drops.  Womens tend to be shorter, so easier to get into an aggressive position.
  • Different steering angles.  When you shorten or lengthen a bike, it changes the handling.  Many manufactures have fixed this by changing the angle that the fork and seat tube sit at.

Mountain bikes carry many of the above differences plus some extra :

  • L2010 Trek Fuel EX 5 WSDighter weighted suspension.  Suspension works two ways, coil or air activated.  With air you can easily change the feel of suspension with a shock pump.  With coil if you are below or above the recommended weight for that coil, you need to replace it.  Many womens mountain bikes if they come with coil suspension are set up with the lighter suspension coil.
  • Lower stand over.  Allowing women to feel more confident on the bike.

There are many other things I can talk about in this topic, which in the future I plan to, but for now try to read through everything above and let me know your questions.  Many things have to do with brand specific designs and thoughts.  One thing that happened when womens bikes first hit the market was an overwhelming feeling of “fru-fru” and that the product managers just didn’t get it.  The bikes were mostly pink or baby blue and hit some of the above design thoughts but not all.  They wanted to put a band aid over the issue.  Granted, I partially feel that the band aid is still there for many but hopefully it is slowly being pealed off.

Next in this series will be  “Do I Need a Womens Bike?” question.  If you have questions or comments about that topic please let me know.

Riding Tips : More Than Zero

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Our first guest post from another Bike Shop Girl, Sarah Matchett.  Sarah is a USA Cycling coach based out of my shop, Cool Breeze Cyclery in North Carolina.  Sarah recently competed in the UCI World Duathlon Championships, placing 10th overall in women (non-elite.)

Sarah Matchett
I’m often asked how I keep doing what I do.  5 a.m. mornings, endless miles on the trainer, in the pool.  Worn out running shoes… worn out dog.  Folks think I have some secret knowledge, or extra gear that keeps me uninjured, motivated, strong and healthy.  The truth is, there is no secret gear.  No magic pill, no religious practice, no expensive bike part that will bring you the results you want.  There is simply, moving your body, more than zero, every day.

Continue reading →

Batavus BUB on the Way

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A very well talked about bike at Interbike in the upright, euro style, bikes was the Batavus BUB, or Batavus Utility Bike.  The bike has a “paper clip” look to it but holds all the function and design that we know of Batavus.

From Bespoke :
The Batavus BUB is the classic omafiets-meets-Rem Koolhaus. Expressively modern, the Batavus BUB (Batavus Utility Bike) deconstructs the classic Batavus omafiets while constructing a more cosmopolitan – yet equally iconic – iteration of the classic Batavus bike.  True to the essence of the original, classic Batavus bike, the BUB keeps clothing clean, the rider comfortable, and maintenance to an absolute minimum while eschewing nostalgia. The Batavus BUB design presupposes the currents present in Dutch architecture, urbanism, and contemporary design and establishes itself as a new icon.

At a mere $550 the BUB is pure Dutch quality. Everything is present. The chain is completely covered. The gears and brakes are completely internal. The riding position is straight-up, allowing for clear safety sightlines and less visits to the chiropractor. The frame is light enough to take indoors, but durable enough to be stored outside all year in a tough Northeast winter. Like an Eames chair, the design is thoroughly urbane, recalling the clever tricks of Dutch architects and a measure of frivolity admist stern Calvinist practicality. A smashing success in previews throughout Europe, the BUB challenges North American designers to innovate function into form while pushing the native Dutch bike industry to challenge its inbred insularity.

Shortly, Bike Shop Girl will have a BUB for our reviewing pleasure.  Be bopping downtown, the daily commute and the daily life is what the review will be about.  If you have request, questions or any thing else you would like out of the review please let us know!

Links for your reading/research pleasure:

Los Angelos Cycle Chic
Bespoke
Joe Bike