Women’s specific bike: A buyer’s guide to find what you need

Looking forward to buying a new women’s specific bike but confused where to start? Not sure whether you’ll want a women’s bike or a men’s bike? If you want some guidance on how to get the right women’s bike for you, we have got you covered.


Women vs Men/ Unisex bikes. What’s the difference? 

First, we need to understand the physiological differences between a male and a female’s body. In general, women usually have short torsos and long legs whereas men’s torsos are longer. For a man and woman of the same height, the woman’s bike will likely be shorter in length and in a more upright position. 



  1. Narrower shoulders —> Narrower handlebars. Handlebars are typically wider on a men’s bike because of their broader shoulders. The handlebar width should be approximately the same as your shoulder width. 
  2. Easier access to gear shifter and brakes. Women’s handlebar grips are smaller to fit better to a woman’s smaller hands for more comfort and control. Brake levers on women’s bike tend to have a shorter reach too.
  3. Shorter torso and arm length —> Shorter reach. Women’s bikes are designed to have a shorter distance from the saddle to the handlebars, the frames are smaller, and the tube top is lowered. Also, the top tube shouldn’t be so long that you feel too stretched out – this will lead to back, neck and wrist pain.
  4. Wider bum bone width —> Wider saddle. To add on, most female specific bikes are designed with a cutout to comfortably support the female anatomy. 
  5. Shorter legs —> Shorter crank arms. For instance, my height is 1.6m and I would need a 165mm crank. Men usually go for 170mm, 172.5mm or even 175mm crank lengths. This is to allow us to get to the bottom of the pedal stroke comfortably. Using a long crank arm that is not suitable for your height might mean that you are overflexing your knee when you are at the top of the peddling stroke and this might result in knee injuries. 


Basic bike anatomy. Adapted from pininterest.com


Do You Need A Women’s Bike?


We found many women prefer women’s bikes, while some are fine riding unisex bikes. 

Also, it’s also worth noting that the bike geometry will differ with brands. For example, I am riding a 48cm frame Cervélo bike but I would need a 44cm frame on a Specialized Amira. If you’re still undecided, one simple way to ensure that the bike you want fits you perfectly is to have a bike fit.

In my personal opinion, you can definitely get a unisex bike but you might have to change a few components to suit you. Majority of Asian women are unable to fit well to a men’s bike due to our relatively shorter height and smaller built. This might mean spending more money to change certain bike parts. 


Therefore, we always recommend that you test ride the a few bikes you’re interested in before making the final purchase.

Esther Koh
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