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Customer Service : Bike Shop Failure

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Last week I attempted to purchase a lock at the shop down the street from work. Prior to riding down to the shop and wasting a lunch hour I first tried to message them on twitter, following it up with an email to the owner asking what type of locks they had. Quickly, the owner responded but I can honestly say his email didn’t lead me to wanting to purchase a lock from them. “We have a mixed bag of random locks (eleven81, Surelock, Kryponite, etc.). Nothing all that exciting but hey there are locks. Those Knog locks sure look interesting.”

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Commuting : How Not to Wear Spandex

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Originally posted at our sister site : CommuteByBike.com

My tri-modal commute to Charlotte has partially changed my perspective of commuting concerns. One of these concerns is clothing which I’ll be deep diving in the next few articles.

Photo Credit : Outlier

Photo Credit : Outlier

Business Attire and Dress Codes

Since I now work back in the marketing and advertising industry there is more of a dress code than what you find in the bike industry. There are days that one is able to wear khakis or even jeans, but on the days that there is a slight chance of a meeting or client call those clothes won’t cut it.

Dress clothes, especially nice ones, don’t wear well for riding a bike and sweating. They also don’t do well with being shoved into a messenger bag. While I’m looking into a better solution of carrying the business attire, laptop and paperwork I still haven’t found it.

Shopping for Bike Friendly Dress Codes

While my better half cringes when we go shopping, I’ve been shopping for styling clothes that are “bikeable.” If I was a guy, this would be easy but it seems like the idea of technical fabrics and womens dress codes are very rare.

Thankfully the mornings have been cooler so I can pull off the 2.5 mile bike ride from the bus to work by simply rolling up my pants legs and pedaling slowly not to sweat. This won’t always be the answer, especially when it’s raining! (Currently those days I walk.)

Bikeable Work Clothes

What do you use? What brands or fabrics wear well and still can allow you to walk into a board meeting?

Essentials Purchases for Your First Triathlon

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This week on Bike Shop Girl we are covering triathlons and the basics of getting started in this quickly growing sport.  We began the series with “Talk of Triathlons” and then moved on to “Basic Things to Know About Triathlons.”

Today we are covering the essential equipment or gear I feel with get you across the finish more comfortable and confident.  At the end I will also list things that aren’t essential but a good long term investment.

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Basic Things to Know about Triathlons

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Triathlons are an amazing sport to set a goal for, keep your training varied and there are several short tri’s that anyone with basic athletic or active body can complete.  Across the country women’s only triathlon events are picking up full steam.  Locally, we have the Rambling Rose Series.  This series quickly sells out and is a great attraction to those women simply trying to finish their first tri or testing out this new sport.  The distances are short : 250 yard swim, 9 mile bike and 2 mile run.

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Talk of Triathlons

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If you live in United States and bicycle, there is a high chance you know about triathlons.  Maybe you’ve participated in one, have a friend who has or have been asked to do the bike portion of the triathlon.

This week we will talk about the basics to know of triathlons, motivation to continue your training and finally what to be prepared for in your first triathlon.

Before we start our series, let us know what you would like to know and what questions you may have!

Women in the Bike Industry, Who is to Blame?

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There is a hot debate going on at Bike Hugger.  Two articles are to be mentioned : The first is “Women as Outcast’s in Cycling Industry.”  The author goes on to tell about how it was very difficult for his wife to find a bike that truly fit her, even after trying several different types of bikes and bike shops.  He ends his story with a suggestion that every shop have a key individual for fitting problems. The follow up to the above article is “It’s Women’s Fault.”  After a tweet, that mentioned that women are walking into the bike shop without knowledge.  Changing blame from the bike industry, to the shoppers themselves.

How Original

My original thought to this was, how ironic that both of these articles are wrote by a gentleman.  A well rounded, educated, cycling, gentleman – but a guy. My brain then went in full tilt as these are things I deal with daily running a bike shop, and monthly in the cycling culture surrounding the internet.  Cycling is a double edge sword when it comes to education, training, customer service and what I will call “the boys club.” Many people walk into a bike shop every day, not knowing what they want or why they want it.  Apparently, all customers can be broken down into 2 of 4 personality types.   All the sales training classes, education and personal experience I have had.. its true!  Here’s the catch, it doesn’t matter if they are male or female!! Why do companies such as the Ikea or Apple excel in a hard economy?  They know how to educate their staff, keep a store and help their customers.  Sure, it sounds great and easy but it isn’t.  The bike industry is a hard one to walk into, most employees are paid less than a comparable job in a different industry, the learning curve is steep, products change daily and that damn internet is telling customers all our secrets. (Half joking on that last one.)

Why do women notice?

Women notice how a store is kept, customer service, knowledge and experience because they tend to be shoppers.  They are sensitized to all of the above thanks to shopping with companies that have their act together.  Walk into your local Gap or Brookstone, follow by walking into three of your local bike shops and then tell me your feelings as you left each one.

Women Spend Money

Make two different fitting bikes, create a line of women’s clothing and now multiple it by 2 because you need choices for a woman to pick between.  Create a buzz, a community, a clean store with knowledgable, well kept employees and you’ll see the bikes and clothing. Why? Because women want to buy those things, they want to be better cyclist, outfit their bike and body and feel GOOD about it.  Make them feel good, give them a reason for purchasing and they will buy it.

The Boys Club

I’ve worked in the industry for a long time and have a pretty thick skin.  Still there are things that once in a blue moon will kick me off my rocker.   If you want to become your local area’s “women’s shop” I would recommend to hire 2 women that know something or another about bikes, and can learn.  Pay them $2 more per hour than their male counterpart, believe me they will earn it and will deal with more crap than $2 per hour can make up for.  If you happen to be a bike shop owner or manager, don’t let the boys club get out of hand.  A joke here or there is good thing, but comments about female customers, employees or female products should be stopped quickly.

There is No Easy Answer

Changes need to happen from both ends.  Bike manufactures need to stop painting bikes pink for floor models, and need to give more choices to women.  They also need to encourage training, merchandising and demo’s.   Bike shop managers and owners need to take large jumps forward from human resources to store design.  Create a shop you would be proud to show to your mother for a week at a time, not just for a drive by visit.

Join the conversation on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BikeShopGirlcom.

Clipless Pedal Advantages and Disadvantages

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We recently talked about the different types of pedals, and left the conversation with the question “Do I Need Clipless Pedals?”

Advantages of Clipless Pedals

There are three main advantages that I tell every customer thinking of getting a pair of shoes and clipless pedals.

  • You will be more efficient and faster on the bike. You are able to use the whole pedal stroke, not only the down stroke.  Pulling up and making round circles with your pedaling technique will allow you to keep a higher cruising speed or get up those hills faster with less effort.
  • The sole of a cycling shoe is stiffer and does not flex as much to cause arch or foot pain.
  • You are in a locked position in the pedals for a more dynamic fitting on your bike.

Disadvantages of Clipless Pedals

In my mind the advantages out way the disadvantages, clipless pedals will make you a stronger cyclist.

  • You are locked in and need to be educated how to “un-clip” your pedals
  • There is a learning curve, try to learn on a trainer or in a quite community
  • Your bike fit is now more important and you could injure yourself if you aren’t properly adjusted from toes up to your shoulders.  It all links together in the human body chain.
  • The cost for pedals/shoes starts about $150 – 250 for the common types of shoes and pedals.

Types, Styles and What to Look For

This is a follow up article to help aid you in finding your perfect system.  We will discuss different types of shoes, pedals and why each is useful.

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Different Types of Pedals

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There are a variety of pedal types out in bike land these days.  The three top types of pedals are the following :

Platform Pedals

These are the pedals you have been using since the big wheel.  The are flat, sometimes with small grip pegs sticking out.  These do not require any special shoes, are the easiest to use and are also the least effecient of the pedals listed.

Toe Clips and Straps

Take the above platform pedal, and and a cage with strap.  These can be tightened down on your shoe to give you some ability to pull up on the pedals, as well as keeping your foot in a relative position.

Clipless Pedals

You have probably heard horror stories of clipless, or clip-in, pedals.  Chances are if you have tried them, you have toppled over one or two times.  Requiring special shoes, special pedals and a high confidence rate.   I recommend to try learning how to clip in with a friend, or your favorite local bike shop.  Being locked into a trainer also helps as you don’t have to worry about falling over.

Clipless pedals (also clip-in or step-in) require a special cycling shoe with a cleat fitted to the sole, which locks into a mechanism in the pedal, holding the shoe firmly to the pedal. Most of today’s clipless pedals lock to the cleats when stepped together firmly, and unlock with when the foot is twisted outward. Clipless refers to the lack of an external toe clip (cage), but not to be confused with platform pedals without toe clips. – Souce: Wikipedia

Do I Need Clipless Pedals?

Good question, visit our follow up article on the advantages and disadvantages of clipless pedals.

Follow me on Twitter : @BikeShopGirlcom