Mountain Bike for Women | Buying Guide
Too big, too small, somehow uncomfortable and then too black. Yes, choosing the right mountain bike can quickly become as difficult as finding the right handbag for the dress. Despite all the superficialities, it depends less on the appearance of the bike at the end of the day than on the geometry. Because women have very specific requirements and you really don’t have to be a entrepreneur to recognize that there is a demand that needs to be met. There are now numerous mountain bikes for women that come with chic designs, specially shaped frames and groovy names. But does it really need that? Or is men’s or unisex bike in size S enough? As so often, the answer is: it depends. In the following we want to go into detail about the topic and give you some useful tips on what to look for when buying.
Does a special women MTB make sense?
The question of all questions that we want to answer directly with a loud resounding yes and no. Not what you hoped for, right? Let us explain briefly:
A special women’s mountain bike makes sense because the female anatomy differs in some respects from that of the man. The smaller size alone can make it necessary to switch to a smaller frame.
In addition, women generally have a wider seat bone gap. As a result, the pubic bone is slightly lower than in men. This becomes relevant when it comes to the right saddle. And it is precisely here that it has to be well coordinated, otherwise long journeys can quickly become uncomfortable and all the fun goes.
Not the only anatomical feature that is relevant. The shorter upper body also ensures that the balance of power is distributed differently.
What is special about women MTBs?
Let’s start with the obvious: the geometry. Due to the smaller body size and the different proportions, the top tube is shorter than with unisex versions. This makes the position on the bike more compact and much more pleasant for small people.
The so-called overhang height is often a problem when buying a bike. The protrusion height refers to the height of the top tube in relation to the step length. Have you ever tried to get on a bike but the foot just didn’t want to go over the top tube no matter how much you twisted yourself?
Then the bike definitely had the wrong height, which can even be dangerous if in doubt. Therefore, special attention should be paid to this value. With mountain bikes in particular, the overhang height – i.e. the difference between top tube and step length – can be around 10 cm.
Another point is the wheel size. The time of the 26s is definitely over now. 29ers and 27.5ers have long since conquered the market and both bike sizes are of course also at the start for MTBs for women. Smaller frames usually use 27.5 so that the maneuverability does not suffer. For larger women’s frames and marathon bikes, however, the 29ers are used due to their higher efficiency.
We have already talked about saddles. It is one of the most important points on the bike and should definitely fit. If you have problems here, you should actually look around for a specific women’s version that is better adapted to the anatomical conditions mentioned above and take pressure off the seating area. In combination with well-padded cycling shorts, comfort can be screwed up properly. Here too there are specific cushions for women.
Stem, Handlebars and Grips
Since women often have narrower shoulders and shorter arms, the stem and handlebar must of course also be considered. So that the posture is not unnatural and uncomfortable, the handlebar is a little shorter and the handles are actually narrower, so that smaller hands have as good grip as large ones.
Accordingly, the stem is kept a bit shorter to optimize the position again and to keep the upper body upright.
If the right frame has been found, but the position is still not optimal, you do not have to despair. The correct position can often be found quickly by moving the saddle or another stem. Our cycling posture guide can be of quick help here.
Last but not least, one of the most important and most striking features: the design! Yes, it is actually quite obvious that the bicycle industry is guided by popular gender clichés and throws mountain bikes in pink, with floral patterns and other decorations on the market – although there are of course a large number of bikes in muted colors.
All of this is not a problem in itself. Design questions should not only be reserved for racing cyclists. But what if you don’t like such a colorful version and prefer to have “the little black dress” in the stable?
Can a woman ride a man's MTB?
No. NO. Nooo! Absolutely no way. Imagine what would happen then. The entire wheel cosmos would probably implode instantly.
You notice we’re exaggerating a little bit. Because, of course, women can also ride men’s MTBs – as long as the geometry fits. So take a good look at the frame data of the bike beforehand and compare it with a women’s MTB if necessary, then it should be a bit more clear. The only critical points could be saddle and handlebar width, but in case of doubt both are quickly exchanged or adjusted.
Mountain Bike for Women: Conclusion
Finally, we would like to summarize again briefly what is important when choosing the right women’s MTB:
- The frame should fit the body size. Pay particular attention to the protrusion height and that the top tube is a little shorter if you are small. The crotch height may be about 10 cm higher than the top tube.
- Handlebars and grips may be narrower or thinner to accommodate the smaller shoulder width. This way, the arm position on the bike does not become unnaturally wide.
- The saddle is an aspect that should not be underestimated, as the female anatomy in the pelvic area differs the most from the male. A special women’s saddle in combination with women’s cycling trousers can work wonders here.
- The color! Let’s not forget the color. Whether pink, lilac, taupe or turquoise, women’s MTBs definitely bring a new coat of paint onto the trails. If you don’t want to do experiments or if that’s too wild for you, you will of course also find something in more subdued color worlds.
- And yes: If you want, you can of course also buy a men’s mountain bike for yourself. Provided the size fits.
As you can see, finding the right bike is not that difficult and with our helpful tips it is easy to do.