WSD (women specifically designed) bikes

#1
It's not that dancing the nights away in Argentina isn't treating me well but....

I miss my bike every day. I miss my bike + mountains. I miss Japan and the wonderful bike+mountains combination of living and working in/near Tokyo....

and you lucky bastards get cherry blossoms too.

So, it's only a matter of time until I come back.

So here's the question: my old steel frame Bianchi Brava is due for an upgrade. I've been doing some research about WSD (women specifically designed) bikes. Although I'm 175 cm tall, more of my height is in my legs than most guys my height.

I'm kinda in love with the Trek Madone.... but I think it's out of my league
http://www.trekbikes.com/women/wsd_products/bikes/road/madone65wsd/

or the beautiful Bella Litespeed...
http://www.litespeed.com/bikes/current/bella.aspx

Any suggestions for what I could get for say... 3000USD? neither of those bikes new, unfortunately. boo.

better to buy in the states and bring with me on the plane or get shipped over before assembly or buy in Japan?

Is getting any frame and then getting fitted a better way to go? or choosing a WSD frame better?

so, the ideal bike would be one I could do long day mountain attacks with TCC, brevets, races like the Hotaka Giro and touring. I'm not so interested in short races or sprints. I'm assuming weight is a big issue to consider but so is comfort for long days in the saddle. ti? carbon? aluminum?....

tempt me tempt me and I could be scurrying back to Japan as soon as August...

enjoy the cherry blossoms and have an extra beer for me!

kori
 
Jan 14, 2007
2,514
213
83
Noda
japanichiban.com
#2
My wife got a special women's TREK about 5 years ago. She is short and the TREK's seemed to be the best.
I don't know if many of the other brands really put out a special women's version.
Do they?

Get the Madone.... you'll have regrets if you don't.

Nothing is out of your league. Get the bike you will want to ride that will put you in that league.

If you find something better than the Madone, then by all means get that.
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#3
Jealousy right back at you--I could live in Argentina for a year just for the tango.

Is getting any frame and then getting fitted a better way to go? or choosing a WSD frame better?
For a guy, I'm at the long legs/short torso end of the scale, and so I've spent a lot of time researching these kind of fitting issues:

1. No, don't just get any frame and kludge your fit later. Sure, you might still be able to get your contact points (saddle/hands/feet) into the position you want, but balance/handling will likely be compromised, and the bike will look funny, too.

2. What you need is a long headtube with short top tube. Especially with compact frames, you almost definitely don't have to worry about standover. Your concern is getting the bars to a high enough level for a comfortable drop (big bike) but keeping them close enough horizontally that you're not stretched out too much (small bike). A WSD frame will give you this, as will so-called "comfort geometry" frames.

3. Is the saddle-bar drop on your Brava comfortable? Is you stem flipped up or down? How many spacers are under the stem? This will give you an idea of how long a headtube you want. Then you can find bikes that provide that headtube length, with a top tube equal to or shorter than your current bike.

4. Here are some models/brands, apart from WSD bikes, that tend to be long headtube/short top tube:

-Most Specialized bikes, but especially the Roubaix and Seqouai
-Cervelo RS
-BMC bikes
-Ridleys (kind of, except they have a high BB, negating the effect somewhat)
-Some traditional geometry Italian bikes
-Look 585 Optimum
-Trek Performance geometry line

5. It's actually a little bit more complicated than just HT vs TT length. Seat tube angle and bottom bracket height are also quite important, as are internal vs external headsets (the latter add height to the HT), but you probably don't want to spend weeks creating complicated spreadsheets to work this out, like some us. :cool:

Anyway, this got too long. Focusing on WSD bikes will automatically address most of the issues above, assuming they're available for test rides etc in your area.

And I'd agree with Pete and say get the bike you really want--no regrets later, eh?
 
Oct 19, 2008
14
0
0
Tokyo
#4
And allow me to add that there is NO such thing as women specific geometry. Some manufacturers make extra small bikes and add pink paint jobs to call it "women specific". Biggest marketing bull i have ever seen.

I strongly recommend Cervelo RS, well built aerodynamic, compliant, great vibration absorption, and as said before, a relaxed fit: meaning the head tube is relatively long.

As for your size: i recommend going to www.wrenchscience.com and do their fit test. Really helpful tool. If you still need help with sizing, please contact me for a professional bike fit.

Ben
 

Philip

Speeding Up
Feb 15, 2007
765
7
38
Setagaya
#5
Cervelo position on women-specific geometry (from their FAQ)

"Fit and proper geometry are just as important for women as they are for men, but unfortunately women-specific geometry does a disservice to this need and is a bit of a marketing gimmick. Especially when you look at exactly what they changed compared to the standard bikes, one can only frown. In short, neither the concept of women-specific design nor the execution makes sense. Consider the following:

1) Most importantly, there is no difference in body dimensions between men and women. If you look at a 5'1 man and a 5'1 woman, the average body dimensions are identical. Since women are shorter on average than men it appears to be a gender issue, but it really isn't, it's a short-person issue. So the trick is not to design women-specific geometry, but to make sure the geometry makes sense for shorter people. We do that, and every bike company should do that - one has to make sure that not only the geometry for a 56 or 58cm frame is properly designed, but also the 51cm and the 48cm.

2) It is true that most small frames don't fit women properly, but they also don't fit men properly (which is no surprise when you consider issue #1). The problem is that the smaller frames don't really get that much smaller with most manufacturers, both because they don't know how to handle issues like toe overlap and because they don't really understand the correlation between effective toptube length and seattube angle (as unbelievable as it sounds that bike companies sometimes don't understand bike geometry, it's really true).

3) Most women-specific geometry have shorter toptubes but also steeper seattubes. The shorter toptube gets the headtube closer to the rider, but the steeper seattube pushes the headtube forward again. Net result: nothing

4) The real trick is to look at the cockpit length, or more specifically the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the headtube (see the diagram). When you set up a bike, you will put the saddle a certain horizontal distance behind the bottom bracket. This is irrespective of the exact seattube angle of the frame, you will simply move the saddle fore and aft on the rails until the saddle is the correct distance behind the bottom bracket. How far away the handlebars are is dependent on how far the saddle is behind the bb and how far the headtube is in front of the bb. Since you won't change the saddle position, you only need to consider the bb-headtube dimension, the horizontal dimension on the diagram. You can see on the diagram that if a manufacturer shortens the toptube but at the same time steepens the seattube enough, the headtube won't come any closer. This problem is not only existent on women-specific designs, most small frames from manufacturers barely get shorter horizontal dimensions. so if the 51cm frame from these manufacturers is too big, so will the 48cm be.

5) On our road bikes, we design by horizontal dimension, so the 48cm frame is shorter than the 51cm frame, just as it should. So if the 51cm is too long, the 48cm will likely fit. Just to give you an idea, our 48cm frame has a shorter horizontal dimension than most women-specific 43 and 45cm frames around.

6) As a sidenote, some women-specific parts do make sense. There is of course the women-specific saddle, which can be a real problem-solver for some (although there are also plenty of women who prefer "mens" saddles). For people with smaller hands (women or men) the special handlebars and STI levers that put the levers closer to the bars also can provide an advantage."

My advice would be to get a professional /certified bike fit - then choose the bike :)

Philip
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#6
Fit: WSD.

and counterpoint to Crevelo http://www.terrybicycles.com/faq/index.php?action=artikel&cat=2&id=5&artlang=en
"Why a bicycle specifically for women?
A womans body is not proportioned like mans. Not only is the length of her limbs different, so is the amount of muscle and the distribution of body mass. In fact, anthropomorphic studies show women to have roughly half the upper body strength that men do as a result of our shorter torso, fewer and smaller muscles fibers and additional body fat. What that translates to is a lower ratio of strength to weight and a disadvantage when it comes to comfort and performance - most bikes have top tube lengths that are appropriate for men but require a woman to sustain more force in her shoulders. For a man and woman of the same height, she will be more comfortable on a bicycle with a shorter top tube."

Crevelo are trying to sell a product with spin IMHO. Look for shorter top tubes if possible with a taller head tube so less stretch is required after all those men have longer torsos and more strength to hold themselves up. So much spin out there but believe me there are women specific designs but not every bike named WSD is correct. another link worth looking at http://www.smartcycles.com/womens_bikes.htm and from the guru of spinning Sheldon is an interesting series of musings on frame fit. http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html
Peter White's article is a good one to read. Keith Bontrager's will have a lot of so called fit experts (and he has designed and built a lot more bikes than they ever have) running around in a frenzy until they eventually suss out what they have been taught is pure arbitrary folklore, maybe not harmful but not the gospel either. Good luck and take everything you read with a pinch of salt and if possible a cold Stella.
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#7
And allow me to add that there is NO such thing as women specific geometry.
Sure there is. Cervelo notwithstanding, most sources state that women, for a given height, generally have longer legs and shorter torsos compared to men.

Now, maybe this is not true. But either way, if you as an individual are long-legged short-torsoed, then short top tube geometries are more likely to suit you. And WSD geometries provide that.

For example, looking at the Madones, regular vs. WSD:

Type: Size, STA, ETT

Regular: 52cm, 74.7, 52.9cm
WSD: 52cm, 74.7, 52.1cm

Regular: 54cm, 74.2, 53.8cm
WSD: 54cm, 74.2, 53cm

Note that the STAs are exactly the same, which means the shorter TTs will produce a shorter reach.

3) Most women-specific geometry have shorter toptubes but also steeper seattubes.
I love the Cervelo guys and their engineering chit-chat, but this is a bit of a red herrring; what they should be saying is that "most women-specific geometry have shorter toptubes but also steeper seattubes in the very smallest sizes (a problem shared with all very small frame sizes, incidentally) so the apparent shortening of the top tube is not as great as it appears, and in some cases, doesn't change the reach at all."

Most of that article is discussing issues facing small frame sizes, WSD or otherwise--it doesn't apply to the 52cm and 54cm Madones above.

I don't think Kori will be running into this issue, as she doesn't need a super small frame, just one that fits her proportions.
 

Philip

Speeding Up
Feb 15, 2007
765
7
38
Setagaya
#9
For example, looking at the Madones, regular vs. WSD:

Type: Size, STA, ETT

Regular: 52cm, 74.7, 52.9cm
WSD: 52cm, 74.7, 52.1cm

Regular: 54cm, 74.2, 53.8cm
WSD: 54cm, 74.2, 53cm

Note that the STAs are exactly the same, which means the shorter TTs will produce a shorter reach.

Most of that [Cervelo] article is discussing issues facing small frame sizes, WSD or otherwise--it doesn't apply to the 52cm and 54cm Madones above.
The chit-chatting engineers :) would agree with you. They merely point out that if Kori can comfortably straddle the regular 54cm but finds the 53.8cm top tube length long, she can buy the regular 52cm with the 52.9cm top tube and adjust the saddle height. In fact, any male facing the same issue would do the same. This is not an engineering issue - just a matter of math.

However, the point you make is an engineering issue. Your point is: Why should Kori 'compromise' and take the smaller seat tube. The engineers would merely ask you to define the 'compromise' that has been made?

I do understand that if someones leg and torso proportions are significantly different than the 'average' persons proportions they have a problem - either they run out of seat post or they don't sell a stem long enough. But this is not a gender issue.

Philip
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#10
They merely point out that if Kori can comfortably straddle the regular 54cm but finds the 53.8cm top tube length long, she can buy the regular 52cm with the 52.9cm top tube and adjust the saddle height.
Sure, but then we're ignoring handlebar drop. The smaller bike also has a shorter head tube, which means lower handlebars, and this is where we short-torso/long-leg types run into problems. Yes, you can adjust handlebar height using stem angles and spacers, but not as much as saddle height, and at some point you are either kludging the fit or simply can't get the bars where you want them. It might be hard to imagine that this is a problem if you've never had to struggle to raise your handlebars high enough for a comfortable fit, but believe me it is!*

This is why long-legged/short torso types often find it easier to get a good fit on long HT/short TT bikes. I agree that this isn't necessarily an issue of gender, except that (a) women tend to these proportions more than men and (b) many WSD geometry bikes do in fact suit people with these proportions, Phil and Gérard notwithstanding.

Anyways, I'll shut up about this now (thank the gods, says the peanut gallery). So far today, "time spent posting on TTC" > "time spent on 50-page translation due on Monday"... :warau:

(*Case in point: I need the stem at approximately 24 cm from the bottom of the head tube to get a 9 cm drop, which is about the maximum I want these days. Now, my ideal top tube is about 57cm. Let's say I want a Cervelo S3 (not much of a stretch :)). Using TT-only sizing, you would suggest a 56 (56.5cm TT) as the closest fit; but the head tube length is only 160 mm. Now, knowing that manf. recommend max. spacer stack on carbon forks is 3.5 cm, I can only get the stem to 195 mm in height. I could, possibly, get a longer angled stem and flip it up, but at that point the fit would be (a) seriously kludgy and (b) give me zero room to move the bars higher at a later date, should I want to.

Much better to get the 58cm RS, with it's 200mm HT. I could stick 3.5cm of spacers under the stem, keep the stem level, and still have room to raise the bars later by changing stem angles.)
 

Trek DJ

Maximum Pace
Jan 27, 2009
213
75
48
117
Kobe
#11
Most of the major manufacturers nowadays are making womens specific designs. As it has been pointed out, generally speaking the TT lengths on WSD designer a tad shorter than they would be on "Mens/Unisex versions. I have been impressed with the bikes I have seen from Trek/Orbea/Specialized and in particular Terry, who have long been the pioneer in WSD designs.

Specialized (who, ahem, pays my bills) even goes so far as to change the carbon layup on our WSD full carbon bikes. So NO, it is definitely not just coloring it differently than a mans/unisex bike. We also avoid using 650c wheels across our womens range by tweaking geometry a bit. However, I did notice that Orbea makes a smaller womens specific model using 650c wheels.....

As for your height, it is possible to achieve a good fit on a mens/unisex bike, and as always a proper fit is key. In my opinion, shorter women definitely benefit more from WSD designs but its not true in every case.

Can a man ride a WSD bike? For sure, if it fits well, but given the general stats this isnt common.

As for materials, for around 3K for a complete bike I would lookout for either carbon, ti or even steel. Ti at 3K would be hard to comeby, unless its a no-name maker. Steel could work well, especially as you are interested in brevets and endurance type events, but there will be a weight penalty vs. carbon. Carbon more or less makes up the bulk of the market at that price-point.

Components....Ultegra/105 mix with a compact crank (34/50) is the spec to look for!
 
#12
Thank you!

All of your input, both general and specific, is really helpful. All the better to talk intelligently with when I get back to Oregon in July and hit the bike stores. Getting a professional fit is probably first priority and then seeing what I can test ride.

Thank you! Have a great spring!

I'll let you know when I find a winner. For now, I'm soon heading into the Bolivian jungles for some machete wielding "cross training" at an animal refuge....

tailwinds!
 

Freeride39

Peloton Leader
May 28, 2006
370
1
38
California/Tokyo Japan/Okinawa
#13
WSD drama

Kori,

Just go into a bike shop and get fitted for a bike that you feel good on (ride it hard) regardless what it is. I don't really read scientific mumbo-jumbo on bikes. Because basically any bike can be rideable when you tweak it. I know some women in the gym that can bench press more weight than me. So does that mean I need a specifically designed barbell......NO! Small bikes painted pink with a WSD logo? Marketing!!! "Cha-Ching". Next they will start selling ethnic specific design bikes...LOL. Uh-oh...."ESD"...."Cha-Ching!" Then they will do studies on how ethic groups differ geometrically from each other and post it online for the "what ever you read" believers....LOL!

I am just joking guyz! I am funny like that!
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#14
Kori,

Just go into a bike shop and get fitted for a bike that you feel good on (ride it hard) regardless what it is. I don't really read scientific mumbo-jumbo on bikes. Because basically any bike can be rideable when you tweak it. I know some women in the gym that can bench press more weight than me. So does that mean I need a specifically designed barbell......NO! Small bikes painted pink with a WSD logo? Marketing!!! "Cha-Ching". Next they will start selling ethnic specific design bikes...LOL. Uh-oh...."ESD"...."Cha-Ching!" Then they will do studies on how ethic groups differ geometrically from each other and post it online for the "what ever you read" believers....LOL!

I am just joking guyz! I am funny like that!
I bet you stuff you shoes with tissue paper to tweak the fit:p