Ever since bikes were invented in the 1800s, biking has largely improved people's daily lives. It's cheaper and better for the environment than cars, and it's also a great form of exercise that works not only your legs but also your lungs and heart.
Aside from transportation and exercise, many bikers simply pedal away for the joy of it. It's no secret that exercise can make you happy, but biking also gives you the chance to explore many places at your own pace without worrying about gas.
Whatever your reason is to give biking a try, whether to start something new or to explore and travel more, we're here to help you know more about women’s hybrid bikes and women’s road bikes for beginners to get started.
What Are Women's Bikes?
If you haven't tried using or owning a bike before, we recommend starting with women's road bikes as a beginner cyclist. Women's bikes are a great option for beginners because they are designed for leisure riding since they are lighter and more comfortable than other bikes.
Here are some things you might want to read about if you're considering women's road bikes for beginners.
Did you know that in the 1890s, it was only socially acceptable for men to ride bikes? This is until Annie Londonderry, a Jewish Latvian immigrant, decided to be the very first woman to take a trip around the world using her 42-pound bike. Many books cover this iconic trip; one of those is titled "Around the World on Two Wheels" by Peter Zheutlin, where he wrote the biography of her cycling journey and why it sparked change. During those years, women riding bicycles were considered a revolutionary change. Biking gave women more freedom than before. If not for the women who stood up for the right to ride a bike, we wouldn't have bikes specifically made for women, and we wouldn’t be able to ride them.
So what exactly are these bikes, and why are they made for women? Women's bikes are a type of bike designed for women and their unique body proportions. For example, women typically have shorter legs, wider hips, and smaller waists than men, so the frame dimensions on women's bikes must be adjusted to accommodate these differences.
A Shorter Stack
The stack, which is the vertical part of the frame that leads to the bicycle seat, is made considerably shorter to fit the average size of women. With that said, this feature can be enjoyed by men who prefer shorter bikes that allow them to comfortably place their entire sole of the feet to the ground for balance.
A More Narrow Reach
The top tube or the reach is the horizontal part of your bike at the very top of the frame. Generally, women have a shorter arm length than men, so the frame for women's bikes has shorter top tubes or reach differences to reach the steer comfortably.
A Different Seat
The difference between the stand and the reach in women's bicycles is one of the most obvious physical differences you can feel if you test both frames made for women and frames for men. The rest of the changes boil down to preference. For example, the seat or cushion on women's beginner bikes is wider and more comfortable. This is especially seen on bikes with baskets that are made for leisure biking or strolling. However, women who are interested in performance biking may feel more comfortable with a smaller seat to maximize pedaling motion.
Similarly, many men prefer a more comfortable and wider saddle when they ride. Seat preference takes a bit of trial and error before you know what kind of seat suits you. You can always customize your saddle to fit the road cycling experience you prefer.
What Is a Women's Hybrid Bike?
A women's hybrid bicycle is a bike that can take you from commuting around town to leisurely rides with your friends and family and running through rough terrain. The purpose of hybrid bikes for ladies is to use them as either road bikes or mountain bikes. The hybrid has a light frame for traveling and a wide wheelbase that makes it stable enough for riding over different terrains, such as gravel or dirt roads, or riding during inclement weather. The brakes on a women's hybrid bike are also wide and strong enough to stop you when the road conditions get bumpy or slippery from rain, snow, ice, or mud.
A physical feature that gives you a visual cue that it's a hybrid is the kind of handlebar that it has. For hybrid experiences, from flat road to rough terrains, the handlebar needs to be flat and stable. This is an endurance bike that can be used for longer periods of time yet still give you a comfortable riding experience.
What Is a Women's Road Bike?
A women's road bike is essentially made for a more advanced type of cycling. These are the ones you can bring in both rough and inclined terrain. They are efficient in speed and endurance and are made to be more comfortable when cycling while standing up. They are not commonly used for everyday riding or commuting as it is not as comfortable to sit while pedaling for a long time due to their long reach. However, many bikers still use this for short trips to the grocery store or to bike to a shop a couple of blocks away.
Unlike the handlebars in a hybrid bike, a road bike has drop bars. Drop bars are shopped like a curled horn facing downwards for a bitter grip when you speed up. These handlebars look cool, are comfortable, and are stable. Performance road bikes are best for those who want to give advanced biking a try.
Should I Buy a Women's Hybrid Bike or Road Bike?
So, which type of bike should you buy? The answer depends largely on your comfort and your purpose. So, to save your time measuring yourself and aggressively researching each bike and their measurements online, here is a short guide to help you get an idea of which bike suits you best.
Stack height: High stack height.
Reach length: Shorter reach length.
Handlebar type: Flat handlebar.
The Pros: The higher stack allows you to feel more upright during cycling. The shorter reach length allows you to be in a more comfortable position and won't require you to lean too forward. The flat handlebar is an affordable type of bar that is versatile for attachments, is lighter, and doesn't compromise your back if you have existing back problems.
The Cons: Not advisable to be used for bike tricks or for rough roads. This type of bike might not be the best in terms of speed either.
Stack height: Shorter stack height.
Reach length: Longer reach length.
Handlebar type: Drop bars.
The Pros: The shorter stack is more optimal for speed. Its frame needs to be lower to be more aerodynamic. The longer reach allows you to lean forward or have enough space to stand up while pedaling. The drop bars are also made to be aerodynamic and give enough wrist support for when you want to ride faster. This frame combination is best used for uphill travel and biking in heavy terrain.
The Cons: Not optimal for long cruising. Its frame is not meant for steady hours of biking as it might be uncomfortable in the long run. It may also be tough to find the best road bike for a beginner female, as these bikes are meant for more advanced riders.
When choosing which type you want to purchase, keep in mind the activities you will most likely do with it. For example, if you want to have a stable bike to use for cruising around the city, you might want to consider the comfort women's hybrid bikes offer in the long run. On the other hand, if you want to ride uphill and keep up with your friend's speed, you might want to consider looking for the best women’s road bikes for beginners.
The great thing about bicycles nowadays is that almost every part can be replaced and customized to the type that fits your taste and needs, such as the tire, disc brake, or by attaching a rear rack. So, if you feel like your beginner bike is not living up to your expectations, you can always modify it in the future.
Can Men Ride Women's Bikes?
Some biking companies try to avoid stating that certain bikes are made only for a specific gender. However, knowing that a frame is made for a woman can sometimes help women choose models that fit their body instead of buying a random bike that may cause body pains later on. In short, the term "women's bike" is a helpful label in most cases.
But what if you are a man? Can you ride a woman's road bike? The answer depends on whether or not the frame makes your riding experience more comfortable. Some men attest that they feel more comfortable using bicycles made for women. Many prefer the light frame and comfortable sets ladies' bikes offer compared to men's bikes. So no matter your gender, the bottom line is you need to pick the frame that will make traveling a comfortable experience.
The Bottom Line
Your first few experiences with biking matter when you're starting out. Some people might get it right away, and some may take a longer time to master riding, which is why it's important to choose a hybrid or road bike for beginners to make your experience easier.
Whether you choose to start with a women's hybrid bicycle, a cruiser bike, or a road bike and racing bike, it's always important to keep your safety in mind. Riding a bicycle is fun and fulfilling; it's advised that you shouldn't rush having professional-like control when riding. Instead, what matters is that you are comfortable, safe, learning at a steady pace, and, most importantly, having fun.