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Roberts Cycles, 89 Gloucester Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 2DN, England

Tel: +44 (0)20 8684 3370

The Problem

Acquiring a properly-sized woman's bicycle has tended to be a matter of luck. In most bike shops, the choice for women has been limited. It's not long since the industry standard idea of a lady's bike was a gent's bike with a low-slung top tube to allow skirts to be worn, topped off with a wide, sprung saddle. Most women had to make do with the smallest man's frame they could find, combined with ever-shorter handlebar stems and saddles pushed as far forward as the rails allow. Worse still was having to use a male partner's wrongly-sized hand-me-down cycle components.

This combination of factors often discouraged women from riding long distances or at all, as the speedy onset of saddle soreness and numb hands made cycling uncomfortable. Though many manufacturers now attempt to address these shortcomings by including a woman's bike in their range, their forte is usually catering to the vast majority of riders who can be shoehorned onto a "stock" machine, because their size/proportions are "normal".

The Solution

Understanding the concept that a woman's build is considerably different from a man's of similar height is only the first step. At Roberts Cycles, we are constantly developing models designed to improve comfort and performance for women cyclists. But we don't try to fit you onto a mass-produced bike, based on the "average" woman - we make a bike to fit you.

Women tend to be proportionately longer-legged than men, with a shorter upper body and arms. This means that special consideration has to be given to the length of the bicycle's top tube and the handlebar height. We not only reduce the reach from the saddle to the handlebar, but also design the frame so that the handlebar position can be at least level with or slightly above saddle height.

In this shorter, higher position, the rider's weight is more evenly balanced reducing the pressure on the hands and wrists, while putting more of the rider's weight on the buttocks, which are designed to take it. And by being able to sit more upright, the rider's head doesn't have to be tilted too far back in order to see straight ahead.

Though the top tube needs to be short, the finished bicycle should be "long" enough to make sure that the wheel won't bump into the rider's foot in the pedal when pointing forwards at 3 or 9 o'clock, as may happen when making a tight turn at low speeds. This consideration usually determines what size of wheel will work best.

We are able to supply a wide range of crank lengths, a crucial factor in providing a properly fitted bicycle. Correctly-sized cranks prevent discomfort and potentially serious knee problems. We also have a comprehensive range of handlebar and stem combinations. Women usually have narrower shoulders than men, so correctly sized and shaped handlebars at the correct height and reach are essential to prevent an aching neck, wrists and shoulders.

PRIMER - Women's Bikes

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