08 July, 2011
The Best Commuter Bikes for Women
Commuting by bicycle can help you stay in shape and reduce your carbon footprint. Since women and men are different, the bicycling world offers women-specific designs for all of the best bicycles for commuters. Choosing a style of bike for commuting depends on your riding needs, route and budget. Finding a commuter bike can be daunting, but understanding the key differences between designs can help you make a good choice. Regardless of which bike you're on, you're way ahead of anyone who's still sitting in their car.
Women-specific bicycles aren't uncommon in the modern market. Women's specific design, or WSD, is now a full-fledged segment of a market once dominated by men's bicycles. Bicycles of all varieties and styles usually come tailored to the specific proportions of most women. These bicycles have shorter top tubes to accommodate the shorter torso length of most women, with longer seat tubes to match a woman's longer legs. The seats of a women's specific bicycle is wider to match the increased distance between a woman's sit bones, and narrower handlebars keep your arms in a good position for all-day riding.
Mountain bikes are a popular style for commuter bicycles, since the shock absorption and wider tires provide a lot of comfort for the casual cyclist. Mountain bikes are designed to withstand the vibration and jarring of rough trails, and make short work of potholes and uneven terrain. The wider handlebar position gives greater control, especially during difficult weather, and the durable frames can take a lot of abuse. Mountain bikes are ideal if your commute includes a bike trail, or if the roads in your city are especially unpredictable.
A road bike is a perfect commuter for getting a bit more speed out of your commute. Treating your ride to work like a real workout can be an invigorating and beneficial start to your day, and the narrow tires and rigid frames of a road bike provide optimal efficiency for higher speed on smooth pavement. Road bikes come in a number of varieties, but a steel-framed road bike is an ideal commuter for it's durability and low-profile appearance, which can help reduce theft. Road bikes designed for bicycle touring largely match the durability and comfort of a mountain bike, but with the advantage of narrow tires and drop bars.
The Best of Both Worlds
A hybrid bike combines qualities from both mountain bikes and road bikes to make an ideal urban commuter. The riding position is relaxed like a mountain bike, with flat handlebars and an upright riding position. Some hybrid bikes even use a pneumatic front fork to provide comfort on a longer commute. However, the wheels and tires of a hybrid bike are designed specifically for pavement, making it easier to pedal on smooth road than its off-road counterpart. A hybrid bike is ideal for casual riders and relaxed commutes, and are some of the most comfortable bikes available for a female cyclist.
- Melissa Kirk/Demand Media