We partnered with GOOD and Nutcase on a giveaway of two customized PUBLIC x GOOD bikes, along with Nutcase helmets and bells, to celebrate the launch of our new PUBLIC Santa Monica store.
Our two winners are Kaitlin H. from Los Angeles and Scott H. from West Linn, OR.
Kaitlin lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles and works as a Civil Engineer for LA County. She love taking her dog to Griffith Park and enjoying the live music scene. She bikes occasionally. As she describes, “my bike is kind of falling apart, so this new PUBLIC bike is coming at a great time.” Her most memorable rides have been during CicLAvia and a brewery bike crawl with friends in Torrance. She looks forward to combining biking and using the Metro to get around LA.
Scott owns a landscaping company. His family lives right next to a big park so for fun he joins his wife and daughter on rides with their PUBLIC bikes. They love vacationing in Bend and also seeing live music. Their family loves the outdoors so Scott looks forward to taking his new bike on trips.
What exactly is a “Bike + Train Tour” you might ask?
We took 50 participants, via Breeze Bike Share bikes, on a bike ride to Bergamot Station (led by Certified League Cycling Instructors!) to experience the brand new Expo Line. It was a great way to show people how easy it is to ride a bike – whether their personal one or a Breeze Bike Share bike – to connect with rail serve.
We started out checking in registered participants at our PUBLIC Santa Monica store throughout the day. Each participant got a free helmet and goodie bag.
Once everyone was set up, we showed them how to unlock and use Breeze Bike Share bikes, which are located all over Santa Monica, including a station just a few blocks from PUBLIC Bikes Santa Monica. There are convenient Breeze Bike Share stations at each of the three new metro stops in Santa Monica so it’s easy to connect bikes with rail service.
We then started riding through town to showcase some of the great bicycle infrastructure, including this two-way protected bike lane that runs through the middle of Pico Blvd.
We dropped off our Breeze Bike Share bikes at the new Bergamot/26th Street Metro station to head west to the new downtown Santa Monica Metro station.
The new Metro line to the beach is so successful that during peak times, it will likely be packed with riders wanting to avoid having to drive. The good news is that with high ridership, Metro will need to add capacity and frequency to accommodate more people making the switch to rail service.
One of the only downsides we noticed with the new Metro line is the train car capacity to handle bicycles. When the train is not full, it’s easy to bring your bike onto the train. But when it’s full, there aren’t any train cars dedicated to bike parking.
Until this happens, it will be a challenge to bring your own bicycle on the train to the beach on a busy, crowded weekend day. This is unfortunate given that one of the main advantages of rail service to Santa Monica is the opportunity to bring your own bicycle – possibly your own PUBLIC bike! – on the train and then riding your bike along the beach or elsewhere in the westside of Los Angeles County.
The beautiful new downtown Santa Monica Metro station is located just a few blocks from the beach. And it’s just a 15 minute bus ride or Breeze Bike ride away from our PUBLIC Bikes Santa Monica store at 2714 Main Street.
We even spotted a PUBLIC bike parked at the Santa Monica metro station.
Outside the Santa Monica Metro station is an all-way pedestrian scramble intersection that allows large numbers of pedestrians to safely cross the main intersection next to the station.
And there are new wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes that allow people to safely and comfortably connect from the beach or downtown to the Metro Station.
Our successful Bike + Train tour reminded us of some very important lessons about public transit, bike share and urban planning. The key is to make things easy and accessible to a wide array of people. We saw lots of potential in terms of the “last mile” connection between this new Metro station, bike share, and bus lines to assist people to get to where they want to go.
It was exciting to see how many people will be taking advantage of this game-changing transit extension. When you ride a bike, it usually means “One Less Car” on the road.
With this Metro extension, everyday literally thousands of cars will be removed from Los Angeles streets because people have a convenient option to get to the beach, downtown Santa Monica, or some nearby destination.
Los Angeles, you just got a lot cooler – and greener.
Memorial Day is right around the corner and many of us are busy planning escapes for the long weekend. There are so many places to enjoy by bike in the United States and the coastal city of San Diego, California with it’s mild climate, beachside bike lanes and delicious spots to refuel is among the top of the bunch. So we asked two San Diego locals, Vicky and Rachel of @webikeforbeer to give us the inside scoop on how to see San Diego by bike in one day.
Even if you don’t live in San Diego, we hope this post inspires you to make the most of the long weekend on two wheels. Have you been meaning to get on your bike and go for a ride within your own city? Now’s the time! And if you’re from San Diego, what spots to you like to see in San Diego by bike? Add your favorite places to visit in San Diego by bike to the comments.
Our “See San Diego By Bike” ride starts at a free public parking lot in the Mission Beach area of San Diego and heads north, ending at Windandsea Beach. Here’s the Google Maps Route of the ride.
Joy Ride: Belmont Park, Amusement Park
From the parking lot we hop on our bikes and head to our first stop Belmont Park. This park is called a landmark by locals for a reason. It opened in 1925 and has all the classical “ol time” amusement park games and rides. We highly recommend treating yourself to an ice-cream cone (good ride fuel!) and taking a spin on some of the historic rides, like the wooden roller coaster “The Giant Dipper.”
Caffeine Fix: Better Buzz Coffee – 3745 Mission Blvd
Hop back on your bike and continue north on Ocean Front Walk to Better Buzz Coffee. Treat yourself to “The Best Drink Ever” and if you’re feeling peckish you can’t go wrong with a brimming Acai bowls. Powered up with antioxidants and caffeine, it’s time to get back on the bike for more scenic views.
Beach Cruise: Mission Beach Ride
Head back to Ocean Front Walk and continue north. Take in the Mission Beach scenery and feel right at home with plenty of other cyclists. Pry your eyes away from the beach for a few minutes and make sure to take in the picturesque beachfront homes that line the coast.
Thirst Quencher: Amplified Ale Works – 4150 Mission Blvd A good ride deserves a little refueling and that’s just what our next stop aims to assist with. From Ocean Front Walk, hang a right at Pacific Beach Drive and a left at Mission Blvd to arrive at Amplified Ale. With it’s rooftop bar that overlooks the beach, plus great selection of craft beers, Amplified Ale never disappoints. We highly recommend getting beer flight so you can try a few of the delicious local brews. Our favorites today included the Gold Record and the Electrocution IPA.
Best Coast: Pacific Beach Ride
Head back to Ocean Front Walk via Pacific Beach drive and continue north. You’ll pass Pacific Beach and it’s a great place to take a break on your ride and watch the surfers and listen to the waves crash.
Fresh Mex: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood – 746 Emerald Street
When you’re on the coast, you’ve got to try the seafood so our next stop is Oscars Mexican Seafood. It’s one of our staples. Follow the Google Maps Route for the play by play on how to get here. You can’t go wrong with ordering the fish tacos and ceviche. It’s always fresh and filling. Plus, their variety of hot sauces will satisfy everyone.
Get Local: Bird Rock Ride
When we head back out, we’ll make our way back to La Jolla Hermosa Ave and head north through Bird Rock. Bird Rock is the perfect little beach neighborhood nestled on the north end of Pacific Beach. Park your bike and wander the streets, stopping into one of many local businesses to get your shop on. Here’s where a bike basket comes in handy, because it easily holds your favorite purchases.
The Happiest Hour: Beaumont’s – 5665 La Jolla Blvd
When you’re done wandering Bird Rock, it’s back on the bike traveling north again along La Jolla Hermosa Ave to Beaumont’s. Beaumont’s is our go-to for Californian cuisine and craft cocktails. Happy hour is everyday until 6:30 and they offer $1 off draft beers. Enjoy your dinner with live music at this local eatery.
Ending With a View: Windansea Beach
From Beaumont’s we’ll start hugging the coast again, biking along Camino de la Costa to our last destination, Windandsea Beach. If you’ve only got one day in San Diego, we highly recommend ending it with a bicycle ride out to Windansea Beach to catch the sunset. Views of the cliffs are breathtaking and there’s usually less of a crowd in the evenings.
In the United States, we tend to be hard on ourselves about our rate of biking to work compared to Europe. However, we have reason to celebrate during this Bike to Work month. In America, the ranks of cycling commuters are only growing: our numbers rose about 60 percent throughout the aughts, from 488,000 bike commuters in the year 2000 to roughly 786,000 in 2008–2012, according to the US Census. More recently, biking to work has continued to trend upwards from 2006 to 2013 among workers of all income brackets.
Although our patterns of bike commuting are looking rosy, we in the United States still have plenty to learn from Europe so that everyday people cycle as a matter of habit across the nation. Here’s how pedaling commuters get to work in style in the two cities with some of the highest rates of bicycling.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
In Copenhagen, almost half of the population cycles to their school or office. We can glean some infrastructure lessons—as well as style tips—from Denmark’s bike to work culture.
Image by Tony Webster via flickr
Only one percent of Copenhageners mention the environment as the reason they ride. Most of them do it because it’s the easiest way to scoot around town. Strong cycling infrastructure makes the choice obvious.
Traffic lights are coordinated for bicycles, not cars.
When it snows, bike lanes have priority for cleaning before roads. No wonder the majority of commuters still cycle through Copenhagen’s white winters.
City planners made bike lanes the most direct routes to the city center, according to the Guardian.
Footrests and railings allow riders to stop at a light without hopping off their seats. (Seattle recently added these—go Seattle!)
Image by Bimbimbikes via Flickr
Copenhageners prefer bike baskets, storing their work supplies in a way that keeps the burden off their backs.
Personalizing the baskets with flowers and stickers gives cyclists a personal connection with their ride.
The baskets can be easily taken off the front handlebars, allowing for shopping and moving around.
Dutch children start biking as babies in cargo bikes, called bakfiets in Dutch.
Bikers don’t consider cycling a lifestyle choice. Rather, it’s a default mode. As such, their bikes aren’t consumer accessories to show off a subculture, but workaday vehicles, according to the BBC. In such a culture, cycling might seem more accessible to the rich and poor alike.
Sliding wheel locks allow for cyclists to quickly secure their bike and hop into the coffee shop on their ride to work.
Popular dynamo headlights are powered by pedaling—so you don’t have to remember to recharge them or replace the batteries.
Commuters bike to work in skirts and heels like it ain’t no thang, thanks to the predominance of Dutch-style step-through bikes. Seeing others do it all the time makes it seem natural… so why not start the trend in your city?
Increasing the number of bike commuters in the United States will have to be a joint effort between policymakers and the people on the streets. Start today to create the cycling culture you’d like to live in: Write a letter to your local representative to prioritize bike infrastructure. Then, slip on your high heeled shoes, put your laptop in your bike basket, and cycle to work with a smile. You might inspire someone else to do the same.
PUBLIC is proud to support Black Girls Do Bike and their efforts to promote healthier lifestyles. We interview founder Monica Garrison below. Also learn more about the upcoming June 10-12 Black Girls Do Bike’s first National Event in Atlanta.
PUBLIC Interview With Monica Garrison, founder of Black Girls Do Bike
What was the inspiration behind launching Black Girls Do Bike? Tell us about coming up with the name.
The inspiration came after re-discovering how much I enjoyed the simple act of riding my bike in the spring and summer of 2013. I was reaping the physical and mental benefits and my children were joining me and learning to survive without their electronic devices. In my travels I quickly realized that there were very few women who looked like me out riding.
BlackGirlsDoBike.com was an attempt to seek out like minded women who had a passion for cycling but also to inspire those bike-curious lady who were just an obstacle away from cycling regularly. I chose to state it in the affirmative, “Black girls do bike!” as if to say that each time a women of color takes a ride she is reaffirming this truth to herself and to others.
Tell us more how Black Girls Do Bike is currently structured across the country and how volunteer leaders communicate and support each other?
Each of our chapters is led by a lady volunteer who we affectionately call a Shero. Each Shero at some point reached out to me with a desire to encourage more women in their community to ride bicycles. They lead rides, moderate their city’s individual Facebook group pages, network with local bike shops and bike/ped organizations and seek to be an overall voice of positivity and encouragement.
Internally all of our Sheroes are part of a secret Facebook group that we use to support one another in this endeavor. We offer praise, advice, frustrations and suggestions for success. We also have a Shero only password protected website with all the need to know stuff.
What has surprised you about the being recognized and involved as a voice in the national bicycle advocacy movement?
The funny thing is that 4 years ago I didn’t even own a bike and had never participated in an organized bike ride of any sort. What I had was a desire to ride and that has set me on a truly life changing journey. It has been such a whirlwind for the past couple of years to be at the helm of such an amazing organization.
Now I find myself mentioned as a voice in the national bike advocacy movement. I am much more comfortable being considered a voice in the national women’s advocacy movement. Either way we are busy in the work of empowering women with the help of bicycles.
Tell us about your upcoming June 10-12 National Meetup “We Ride Together” in Atlanta? What do you hope to accomplish?
Our main goal is to make a mark on the Atlanta Tour De Cure by having a large presence and raising a lot of money for a great cause. Diabetes affects African American families and specifically AA women at disproportionately high rates so for many of us this is personal.
We chose Atlanta as the spot for our first national meetup as our chapter there is our largest with more than 1200 supporters. The weekend will consist of three days of bike related events. REI CoOp has pitched in to help with the needs of our ladies who are traveling in from out of town and will need their bikes assembled.
Civil Bikes has offered our members discounted rates on bike related historic tours around the city. The weekend will end with a celebration in the form of a relaxed recovery ride along the Atlanta Beltline. We will end up at Piedmont Park with a luncheon and festivities to be held at the beautiful Magnolia Hall. We have more than 15 sponsors so our giveaways at this event will be epic.
Some of the main reasons people cite that they don’t bike is that they perceive it as an unsafe or inaccessible activity — dangerous public streets, not enough protected bicycle infrastructure, access to trails and bike paths is far and too infrequent. Are there other obstacles – perceived or real – that you think are specific to encourage more women of color to get on a bike?
I believe there are many points of overlap in terms of why people shy away from riding bikes. Many women of color are overweight or obese and those with negative body image issues are less likely to try a new form of exercise with people they don’t know or trust. Our offer to include riders of all levels in our groups rides, which are “no women left behind”, can help those who might not want to tackle new and unfamiliar activity on their own. A friendly Shero who is willing to accompany a new rider to the local bike shop and help her navigate decisions of what type of bike and accessories to purchase can be invaluable. Surprising many women did not learn to ride in childhood so they are even more apprehensive to start as an adult.
What’s next for Black Girls Do Bike after the National Meetup? What other initiatives, events, and partnerships are you looking forward to?
We are also working on a process to have all of our leadership formerly become certified ride leaders by developing our own course or taking advantage of an education program already in place. We have been contacted by some big names in the cycling community who want to help us further the reach and mission of BGDB. So we plan to pursue those leads and form some strategic partnerships.
I like the idea of having BGDB ladies from all over the country converge on different cycling events to increase our visibility. Events like NYC’s 5 Boro Bike Tour, Alabama’s Bo Bikes Bama, Maryland’s Seagull Century the Tour de Cure series and many more. If our national meet up this June does what it seeks to accomplish, we may make this a biennial event.
Maybe you’re on the hunt for just the right bike helmet, or perhaps you’re already rocking the one you love. Whatever the case may be, these four factors from the Snell Foundation should be taken into consideration whether you’re buying your first helmet and/or ensuring that the one you have fits properly.
1. FIT. Find a bike helmet that suits both the size and shape of your head. “A helmet should fit comfortably, sit level over the forehead and not have any ‘pressure points’ that would indicate it’s too snug or small,” writes Aaron Glick, a product and purchasing manager at PUBLIC Bikes. “The chin strap should be snug, but allow for a few fingers to fit in between the step and the chin, and allow one to breathe and open their mouth freely.”
2. COMFORT. Imagine wearing your bike helmet for hours, and ask yourself if you’d still be comfortable. Does it have enough ventilation? High-quality ventilation will increase the price of your helmet, but if it’ll encourage you to wear your helmet and bike more, it could be worth it. Do you feel any pinching? Better yet: Test drive your helmet for as long as possible, and see how it feels over time.
3. STYLE. If you look like a motorcycle cop in your helmet, you might not be as psyched about riding your bike. Pick a bike helmet that makes you smile so that you’ll want to wear it. Search for colors and patterns that suit your vibes or coordinate with your wardrobe.
4. SAFETY. The materials in your helmet deteriorate. Your sweat and hair oils erode at the glues and resins in your gear. To make sure your helmet is protecting you to its fullest, you should replace it every five years, according to the helmet safety nonprofit Snell Foundation. Check the age of your own helmet by looking for the manufacturing date, usually found on a sticker on the inside of your helmet.
Your pick of helmet is a personal choice. Just keep it fresh, and you’ll be good to pedal for five more years!
In honor of our first-ever PUBLIC SoCal store that opened earlier this year at 2714 Main Street in Santa Monica, we partnered with DAPPER DAY to give away a very special custom DAPPER DAY + PUBLIC Bike.
And we’re happier than the happiest place on earth to announce that the winner of the DAPPER DAY x PUBLIC Bikes Giveaway Contest is Alejandra from Los Angeles.
Alejandra says she “couldn’t be more excited” about her new bike. She used to spend her Sunday afternoons in college “biking down to Dockweiler Beach, exploring Manhattan Beach, making my way over to Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, and enjoying the sunshine on my way back home.” And now with this new PUBLIC bike, she’ll be able to fill her Sunday afternoons with beach bound rides again.
Some of Alejandra’s hobbies include sewing and crafting, and she loves dressing in vintage-inspired wear. We think her new Dapper Day + PUBLIC bike will compliment her vintage-style quite perfectly.
DAPPER DAY is a very big deal in her life. She says about the Dapper Day Expo held at Disneyland, “it brings so much creativity to a place rich in history and culture. Everyone is dressed ever-so sharp and sophisticated that it just leaves you in awe.”
Big thanks to all who entered and sign up for our e-newsletter to hear about our next giveaway!
For adults we think riding a bicycle with or without a helmet is a personal choice. This personal decision should be based on the surrounding riding conditions, the rider’s age and experience, the type of riding the person is doing, and someone’s general overall risk assessment.
There’s a lot already written on the heated topic of whether riders should wear a bicycle helmet, and even if laws should mandate wearing a helmet. Although there’s no federal law mandating that bicycle riders strap a shell on their noggins, 22 states have laws regarding bike helmets.
For different perspectives on the helmet debate, you can read the following articles:
Instead of spending energy debating a personal choice of whether to wear a helmet, we think it’s more important that we, collectively, advocate for safer and better bicycle infrastructure to encourage more people to get on bikes. We believe changing the riding conditions in our cities to make bicycling safer – more protected and separated bike lanes, lower speed limits for everyone, and better designed streets for all mobilities – will ultimately do more to protect riders.
In one of the safest cycling countries in the world, the Netherlands, riders rarely wear helmets, according to Co.Exist. That’s because the country’s infrastructure prioritizes cyclists, and as a result, that gear becomes almost superfluous. In countries like the US and UK, having to wear helmets might be a “failure of policy,” according to the British blog Alternative Department for Transport.
On Mother’s Day, there are countless reasons our moms deserve handwritten cards and brunch. For some of us, those reasons include our fond memories of learning to ride a bike. Our mothers patiently guided us as we graduated from child bike seat to balance bike to kid bike with pedals. Just by watching Mom pedal around town herself, some of us learned to value biking for its exercise, convenience and fun factor.
For all those new mothers hoping to shape their children into cyclists, we salute you. Our figurative flowers for you include tips for teaching your kids the rituals of biking. Aside from the obvious habits that apply to all ages—wear a helmet, use hand signals, bike on the right side of the road—these pointers are kid specific.
With this advice, you’ll help your child safely grow from a bike-seat sidekick to a velodrome champion—well, if that’s what they want to be when they grow up. You can also read riding tips we collected from some of our favorite bike-riding Moms.
The bike seat years: One-year-old to toddler
Before you start adventuring around town with your baby in a bike seat, your child should be one year old. They should be able to hold up their own head with a helmet on and not slump over in the bike seat, according to bikeportland.org.
Choose a comfortable child seat with a sturdy harness. Once the child is old enough to unbuckle things, make sure they know not to escape from their harness mid-ride!
Start small and bike on quiet streets for short rides so that both you and your baby get comfortable.
In addition to putting a helmet on your baby, always wear your own helmet to role model safe biking behavior!
This tip comes from the blog of PUBLIC C7 rider Joanna Goddard (past interview here): “If you have one young child, I would definitely recommend a front seat. You feel close and connected, since you can easily chat and point at things and see what they’re looking at. Plus, I find that having that extra weight in the front versus the back of the bike is easier for balancing.”
The balance bike to training wheels years: Three- to seven-years-old or older
Consider a balance bike or push bike. A balance bike has no pedals and helps children focus on first learning to balance on two wheels. Once they have mastered the art of balancing they might be able to skip a pedal kids bike with training wheels all together.
After a balance bike, if possible, try to encourage your child to try a pedal kids bike without training wheels. By learning to ride without training wheels, your child will learn balance speed. Keep the seat low so your child can put both feet on the ground. Sometimes it’s easier to start on a gentle slope to get the pedal kids bike moving for balancing and then your child can start pedaling.
If your child does not have a lot of riding confidence, a pedal kids bike with training wheels is an option. Training wheels don’t help a child learn the importance of balance speed but they can help a less confident rider get going. All of PUBLIC’s smaller 16″ wheel size pedal kids bikes come with optional training wheels. It might sound contrary, but positioning the training wheels a little higher off the ground than you think will actually create more stability for the child when rolling, says PUBLIC product manager, Aaron Glick.
Even though your child is low to the ground, buy your little biker a normal bicycle helmet, labeled with a certification by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Only let your child explore quiet, safe places—away from dangers such as cars and swimming pools.
The bicycle years: Seven-years-old and beyond
Allow your children to graduate from a training wheels only once they’ve gained the necessary sense of balance, usually around five to seven years old.
Kids at 10-years-old and younger are safer riding on the sidewalk than on the street, according to Safe Kids.
Teach your young cyclist to make eye contact with drivers before crossing an intersection. They should make sure that the driver sees them and is going to stop.
Try a bike-to-school route! One adult could potentially lead the way, picking up children along the path to school to join the caravan.
Ditch the tandem bike. Children should be able to match your pedalling power before they tandem bike, which might take until they reach age 12, according to Outside Online.
For long journeys, consider a trailercycle, advises cyclist Charles Scott. You can store your supplies as well as resting children in your trailer. Once they’re ready, kids can get back on the bike and feel like part of the team.
Once your kids start pedaling, they might know their way around their neighborhood better than those kids who are only driven around in cars, at least one study has shown. The study also indicated that cycling kids have a richer connection with their community; they remember more spaces where they like to play than exclusively car-driven kids.
In that case, what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than pedaling around your neighborhood together? You’ll give yourself the gift of fun and exercise—and your children the gift of a more memorable childhood.
Photography credit goes to the talents of Jetkat Photography. Model credit goes to the beautiful family of Copy Cat Chic. And big thanks to Rebecca Huval for making this post possible.
A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, as the feminist slogan goes. But does a woman need a women-specific bicycle?
The short answer is: No. The long answer is: Every woman, man, and fish that wants to cycle should find a bike that accommodates their lifestyle and feels comfortable in their body proportions. They should shop for a holistically chosen bike—one that factors in their hobbies, health, pregnancy status, affinity for skirts, limb lengths, intended cycling needs and adventures—but not a gender-specific one.
Still, you’ll often find women-specific bikes that try to fill a gap in the market. As a female or gender-nonconforming shopper, cycling culture can feel overwhelmingly male. (Women ride bikes only a third as often as men do, according to Jeremy Singer-Vine, data editor at Buzzfeed.) As a result, many bikes on the market cater to traditionally masculine aesthetics and body proportions. The women-specific bikes hope to whisper: It’s OK! You’re welcome, too, in this culture of bike tubes with logos so large, they practically shout.
It’s part marketing, and part functional: Women-specific bicycles aim to fit the female body, accounting for shorter torsos and longer legs by offering women a more upright position. From cycling’s early days in the 19th century, “women’s bike” often refers to a Dutch bike or step-through frame that accommodates full skirts and doesn’t require flashing onlookers while mounting the bike (even though we all might be able to name men who love skirts and women who hate them).
Limb proportions aren’t so easily broken down by gender, either, says Kevin Bailey, head fitter of 3D Bike Fit in San Francisco. “You will hear in general that women’s legs are longer and torsos are shorter versus men’s,” Bailey writes in an email. But in the bike fitting community, “we find it’s all over the map, even more so in diverse populations as it really comes down to each individual’s bone structure differences.”
Instead of choosing a catchall option, cyclists should think about their own bodies and personal needs. When choosing a bike, women—and almost everyone—should consider:
Stem length. The stem—the tube that connects the handlebar to the fork on the front wheel—should be long enough to apply pressure on the front wheel and keep control over the steering, especially when you’re going downhill, Bailey says. If your bike is too long, it’ll handle “slow like a limo.” If it’s too small, it’ll be “twitchy” (think: circus bear wobbling on a tricycle).
Head tube length. The metal tube that connects the handlebar to the bike frame should be long enough so that you don’t round your back. With a slumped back, your lower leg muscles disengage, putting more strain on your knees and wearing you out. It disrupts the “kinetic chain,” Bailey writes. “A bike ride should feel like you’re not in a hurry to finish due to discomfort. Even after a long ride, you should not hurt or have a hard time standing up, feeling no back strain whatsoever.”
Saddle width. Another stereotypical female body proportion? Child-bearing wide hips. But here’s a bubble burster: “The common belief that women have wider hips than men is not supported by scientific data,” writes Lori A. Livingston in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. But if you happen to have wide hips, you’ll want to choose a wider saddle. Bailey breaks it down based on what he’s noticed: “Most women run 120 mm to 150 mm with the norm usually at 125 mm. Men have a norm of 110 mm ischial width [Ed. note: that’s “hipbone width,” for you non–anatomy geeks]. I have seen both sexes vary a lot.” In short, measure your body before picking that perfect, $100 leather saddle—only to find out it’s not so perfect for your hips.
Image by @mysquirrel at 30 weeks, on her last bike ride before giving birth.
Pregnancy. Pregnant women should take extra care, as a fall could be harmful to the baby. “Activities like jogging, using a bicycle, or playing racquet sports might be riskier as you near the third trimester,” warns the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, some women feel that governmental agencies are overly cautious, and that cycling into the third trimester helped them bear the symptoms of pregnancy. Pregnant riders should raise the handlebars and get a wider, more padded saddle, recommends the British cycling charity CTC.
Fashion. Adored by women, men and the Scottish alike, skirts are wearable while riding any bike. In a diamond-frame bike, the top tube keeps the skirt far from the gears. But a Dutch bike will accommodate the full length and girth of any A-line so that it still drapes fashionably over your legs, and you can modestly get on your bike. If you wear light-colored or high-quality duds, you might want to protect them from exposed, greasy gears by choosing a bike that comes with a chain guard.
Cycling style. Do you want to pedal at maximum speed on a 60-mile ride in the country? Or use your bike for a city commute of just two miles? Different cycling styles will call for different bike fits. With a diamond frame that angles your body more parallel to the ground, you’ll have extra stamina for a longer, faster ride. But upright Dutch bikes might be preferable if you have a short city commute—they give you a better view of your surroundings, including pedestrians and cars.
The irony is: Despite the market selling women-specific bicycles, women might actually be better at accommodating their bodies to all sorts of bikes. “Women tend to be more flexible, and sometimes, it’s easier to bike fit them because they have less muscular restriction and usually better hip flexion or less hamstring tightness than men,” Bailey writes.
Ultimately, don’t let your gender alone choose your bike. Instead, find what’s comfortable in your body—and your life.