With over 300 miles on the Airborne Goblin that I’m riding for the season the bike has been tested. I’ve ridden the bike to the limits and pushed it, then pushed it a bit more. Now it is time for a good and fair review for all of you holding your breath wondering if you should purchase one! During the 300 miles the Goblin has seen a little bit of everything, from commuting, local single track and a 24 hour race on its shoulders. I haven beaten and abused the bike to the best of my ability thus far and this is my review based on those elements.
Searching for “women\\'s 29er”
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.
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.
We have already been lucky to see the 2012 Specialized Women’s 29er carbon hardtail, the Fate, but there is another new high end from Specialized this year for women.
The Specialized Amira
Specialized has tagged this as a true women’s race bike. Using years of development from the Allez Dolce in 2003, and Specialized sponsored elite women’s road bike teams through the years they now have a new model, the 2012 Amira.
High End Technology for Women
Finally, a ground up HIGH END women’s designed bike that doesn’t borrow everything from the guys model with a shorter top tube. This includes shorter chainstays, and completely differently geometry.
- Frame Module Weight = 1970g, more than 100g lighter than the 2011 Amira (I’m assuming this is the weight for the smallest size available)
- Stiffness to weight = The stiffest women’s frame on the market
- Women’s performance geometry teamed with FACT IS 11R carbon
Is there a Need?
I am interested to see how many Amira’s Specialized sold in 2011. Apparently it was enough to justify more engineering time on the 2012. My hopes with high end bikes like this one, it will give women another reason to compete, be inspired and have their own toys designed around their body type. Not every woman needs a womens bike, but having high end bikes makes it easier for a woman to grow in the sport without being intimidated or feeling “boxed in” by bike company marketing. How many women are watching the Tour de France this year and thinking, “God that is amazing” now they have a pretty package, designed around them, to answer that calling.
2013 BRAC Women’s Summit
“2013 – The Year of the Cycling Woman”
October 1, 2013 * 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Prestige Imports and the Colorado Women’s Cycling Project/Naked Women’s Racing
9201 W Colfax Avenue * Lakewood, CO 80215
6:30 Get to know each other / Appetizers / Social time
7:00 Review and Comment – 2013 BRAC Women’s Program
o Women’s Racing Camp
o Women’s Cross Camp
o Senior Women 4 Mentoring Events
o Record Race Participation w/data from road, track and cross season
7:30 Panel discussions with Colorado Women’s Team Leaders and Racing Stakeholders
o Stakeholders tbd.
8:15 Questions for Future
o How do we build on this momentum in the women’s community?
o What can BRAC do to foster a stronger support system for women racers?
o Call for Suggestions: what other women’s programs do you what to see BRAC offer?
9:00 Open Discussion
Seven Cycles IMX 29er
Seven Cycles IMX 29er is a carbon and titanium wonder with a burst of color. The Fox Shox fork was custom painted by Seven to match the frame. The build is Shimano Cycling‘s XTR 2×10 group topped off with Enve Composites carbon wheels and parts.
This past Interbike I saved my vacation time and dollars for other things, leaving my coverage to be from industry friends and stalking the internet for worthwhile product to talk about. On return from Interbike a few female friends that work within the bicycle industry emailed or texted about the outrage from an article running in the daily version of Bicycle Retailer.
Booth Babes have a Hard Life
The attached scanned in version of the article talks about how difficult the job is. The women are paid between $100-500 a day, and are paid to “attempt to charm strangers and lure them into trade show booths by talking about products you know little about.”
As a woman in the industry that does know what she is talking about this insults me. Pretty faces and large breast may attract guys to the booths, I get that. The ways of marketing to guys isn’t something that bothers me, hell I even second the notion if it means you see more women in the industry supported.
There are Beautiful Women in the Industry
I could give you a list of a 100 women that either work or race within the bicycle industry that could compete in the “looks” category of the booth babes. Here’s a thought :
Hey Mr. Bike Industry Guy, if beautiful women attract people to your booth, why not support more women (that actually ride bikes) year around to attract more people in general to bicycles.
Think of that cute shop girl that sold you a tire a few weeks ago, or the mechanic with full sleeves that could kick your butt in the alley cat. These are the woman we need to turn into poster girls. I bet most women in the industry would be happy talking shop in a booth, to be paid for it would make it that much better.
That $2,000 you spent on the booth girl at Interbike could be spent sponsoring a well deserving female athlete to get to the next level.
Is it the Boobs or That They are Women?
Women are needed in the industry. I wish I could throw you a fancy fact about how women in the bike shop or at shows give off more participation but I can’t. Somewhere there must be one if companies are spending such large amounts of marketing cash for the booth babes at Interbike or Sea Otter.
A friendly, KNOWLEDGABLE, woman with a contagious personality is going to attract all types of people to your booth, shop or company. Women tend not to be as intimidating to strangers, easier to approach and less cliche. This isn’t always true but if you are a bicycle shop employee or consumer you have probably felt the “boys club” feeling when walking into a random bike shop.
This goes for booths as well. A bunch of guys in sweatshirts, tshirts and baggy cargo shorts, guys that could be super nice but not over the top welcoming, I would say this is 7 out of 10 booths at any show I’ve been at. If it isn’t sweatshirts and cargo shorts it is crisp polo’s and khakis that you feel they are above you, if you aren’t going to talk to the about Campy Super Record that they are waiting to put their nose up at you.
Look are Everything
Boobs sell, so do colors, smiles and warm welcomes. An early morning at Sea Otter, a booth with free coffee will have more traffic than any booth with tank top clad boobs. The Luna Chix team trailer at Sea Otter is always slammed. These women are friendly, gave away free food and took the time to talk to everyone interested. They are real women that come back from warm up laps muddy, that are well versed on the bikes they are riding and to me, are the best sales representatives for Orbea that you could ever have.
Find the Women
You want to attract people to your booth with boobs? Put out a call, place and ad for bicycle industry models or racers. Ship in some shop employees that already SELL your PRODUCT.
You want more people riding bikes? Put more women behind your product, on the front of your booth selling it, in the design meetings, on the sales calls, and so on.
The shopping experience is getting better in the cycling industry for women. For the past few years it has been drilled in to retailers heads by manufacturers and industry representatives. Women do make up the majority of buying decision in the average household and women do like to shop. Seeing that most bike shops are male driven we don’t have to wonder why it is intimidating to go in and talk about spandex, bike shorts or colors of bikes with the guys. Most of them can’t get it, because they aren’t a girl!
A great article by Kath Bicknell was posted on Flow Mountain Bike. The article made some key points about how women make great mechanics and how better training could specifically make the void disappear of highly skilled women in the bike industry.
Taking it a step further, I believe that if we take the time to single out women to pave the path a little bit more for more advanced training it will open up and encourage more women to work in the industry. Think about this, if every shop had a couple women on the floor and behind the bench, and every shop bike ride had a women as one of the group leaders… how much more inviting would this be to women and men alike?
As a woman working in a bike store, you’re definitely an anomaly. Last time I worked at a bike shop, every now and then, a customer would ask to speak to one of the ‘guys’. ‘Ask me your question, and if I can’t answer it I’ll go and get some help,’ I’d say.
Things usually went pretty well from there. If help was needed, I’d call on our female mechanic, just to make a point.
In a sport that still attracts a lot more men than women, it follows that female staff in the bike retail sector aren’t as common either. This can sometimes lead to the unfortunate assumption that women aren’t as skilled as their male counterparts, or can’t provide the same level of customer service and advice.
Read the full article here.
Photo credit: Kath Bicknell
In no particular order these are things I have said over the years to friends, customers and myself. If you have more advice to add please join the conversation in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Research, learn and learn some more
You may find a great local shop, but unless there is an experience girl there, they won’t be able to tell you from their own experience. Boys are made differently, even their thinking is different, which makes for some things not to be comparable. (Saddles, shorts, clothing, etc.) Try to learn from as many people as possible, test ride, and ask a ton of questions. Don’t stop learning or asking!
Invest in a a good bike seat and bike fitting
You should not have any numbness or pain when you ride your bike normally. If you start training for Ride Across America or something like that, it may be different. A two hour ride should be fun and enjoyable, make it so.
Also, make sure your favorite bike shorts aren’t causing problems. With a seam or stitching in the wrong place, it can cause a ton of problems.
The wonderful woman behind Lovely Bicycles posted a great article that I could never do justice. Go read over there about bike saddles and the female anatomy.
Be careful shaving down there, especially the first few times before you ride
When you first start riding, purchase a new saddle or change your bike fit, it is very important to take note of these changes when you are shaving or trimming your crotch area. This goes for any area that is touching the bike saddle. In grown hairs, shaving burns and all those things can be heightened by cycling shorts and saddles rubbing up and down for many revolutions of your pedals.
Try some sort of butt and “cooter” lube
You may not realize you are chaffing or rubbing areas. Also, many have an anti-bacteria add in. My favorite is DZ Nuts “Bliss”.
Women’s Cycling Shorts, saddles and handle bar tape/grip wear out
The same as you look at your drive train and tires, keep a good look on these things before they cause you problems.
Find other women to ride with
Even if it is once a month and you have to drive, do it. This spring I made a vow to do my best to ride with a local women’s ladies mountain bike group the Dirt Divas or atlas ride with some of them when time allows. The social aspect, the motivating factor, the “belonging” feeling and finally to motivate OTHERS, are all reasons to do it.
Women cyclist should ride with the boys
It will make you stronger and faster.
Become self reliant
Learn how to change your tire, clean your chain and the basic lingo so you can maintain your bike with your local bike shops help. You don’t need anyone else for those basic things, plus you’ll be safer when riding if you know these things.
“There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright
Try to remember the first time you went bike riding with a group, tried clipless pedals or entered your first race. Make sure to smile at the start line and encourage. Competition is healthy but women will be the back bone of making this sport a success, I can promise you that one.
You are a woman, you are an athlete and you should be proud of all these things together.
I love steel bicycles, I know that isn’t a way you should start off a review of an aluminum bike but there is a reason…