If you've ever been confounded by the choice of bikes, then this post might be helpful.
Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about why it is that I see so many women on bikes which look like they're too small, too big and, dare I say, too heavy, for them. It occurred to me that it was only when I started to think about bikes as I would think about car choices, that the plethora of bike options began to make sense.
What follows is a completely unscientific comparison of bike types to car types. What I've tried to do is indicate the features of different bikes and how they compare to cars in those categories. As this is a first attempt, I am very interested in your feedback!
Car Type: Micro
Example: Nissan Micra or a SmartCar
Character: zipply, light, very stylish
Bike Equivalent: Brompton Folder
Features: 9-11kg. folds in seconds. can be carried easily
Cyclewear: Take your cues from the British! Extremely stylish wear
Accessories: Has excellent bespoke luggage
Car Type: Small
Example: Suzuki Swift
Character: Small, easy to get around in. Stylish & compact
Bike Equivalent: Dahon Folder Features: lightest @ 9kg, heaviest around 14kg. Folds in seconds. Can be carried easily Cyclewear: This is a great commuter bike. Easy to get onto trains and up stairs. Ride it to work or leave it in the car, park somewhere and cycle the rest of the way
Accessories: Doesn't have a large range of it's own accessories but KlickFix luggage fits beautifully
Car Type: Sedan
Example: Holden, Toyota Camry
Character: good sized vehicle. Has multiple options for carrying cargo
Bike Equivalent: Schwin Jenny, Giant 3W
Features: This is where you will find the widest variety of women's bikes. In most instances, the more you pay, the better quality the fittings. This usually translates to a lighter bike.
Cyclewear:Step through frame good for skirts. Mixte frame also good for skirts Any shoes you like!
Accessories: Panniers, baskets, luggage racks, mudguards. Usually photographed with flowers &/or celery
Car Type: Vintage Sedan
Example: Ford Futura
Character: you know there are better cars out there but you just love those vintage looks!
Bike Equivalent: Gazelle or Pashley Princess
Features: These are the bikes that the magazines use to illustrate fashionable women's cycling. Be aware that they usually weigh around 20-25kg!
Cyclewear: There is little chance of getting grease on you with these bikes. Wear what you like and enjoy sitting upright!
Accessories:panniers, baskets, luggage racks, mudguards. These usually come with their own bespoke items
Car Type: Imported sedan
Example: Mistubishi Lancer, Alfa Romeo, BMW 3 series
Character: While some of us enjoy vintage, others love the idiosyncratic nature of contemporary innovation. Each of these vehicles is known for extensive R&D & the chosen bikes follow suit!
Bike equivalents: Allegro W1, Bella Ciao Superba, Schindelhauer Lotte
Features: These bikes are lightweight, extremely stylish and some even come in Pantone colours! Be prepared to be stopped & asked questions while riding these bikes.
Cyclewear: Wear what you like and make sure you have the specs at hand!
Accessories: While some have been taken up by fashion houses, others can be fitted with accessories as required.
Example: Subaru Forrester
Characteristics: light off road, very stylish. Good cargo options
Bike Equivalent: Trek Skye LSX Disc
Features: Mountain bikes come in many forms. The lighter ones don't have full suspension (see below) Watch out for cheaper bikes here as they can be quite heavy.
Cyclewear: Touring wear.
Accessories: dependant on type of off road adventure.
Car Type: People Movers
Example: Toyota Tarago
Characteristics: These vehicles usually get up to 7 people in them.
Bike Equivalent: Shorhaul Cargo bike
Features:Cargo bikes can often carry two children, an adult and shopping! Phew! Other versions include children's seats and covered carriages behind the bike. Sometimes referred to as smugness flotillas
Cyclewear: What you like! You might want to bring a flannel. I'm guessing you might glow a little!
Accessories:What more could you add?
Car Type: Sports Cars
Example: Mazda RX7
Characteristics: The kids have gone. You have time & new found freedom. Long tours are now possible!
Bike Equivalent: Giant Avail Alliance O
Features: The kids have gone. You have time & new found freedom. Long rides are now possible.
You can pay anything from $900 to $15000 for a road bike
Accessories: high pressure air & a spare tube
Car Type: Off road vehicle
Example: Toytoa HighAce
Characteristics: Chunky tyres that cost a fortune. Dual fuel options.
Bike Equivalent: Giant Reign XOrow 9
Features: Not strictly a women's bike but you get the picture
Cyclewear: Anything that washes easily!
Accessories: Hard to say really. Might need some assistance for this one!
Car Type: Super cars
Characteristics: Fast, stylish, extremely expensive. Limited editions.
Bike Equivalent: Dahon Speed TT
Features: 24 speed, 10kg! Folds, easy to carry. Even easier to steal so don't leave it anywhere. This range has been known to be a favourite of one of the Wiggles
Cyclewear: Preferably something subdued!
Accessories: A stick to beat off the admirers
Car Type: Power Assist
Example: anything turbo!
Characteristics: Sometimes you just need that extra boost to get up the hill!
Bike Equivalent: Dahon Boost
Features: Electric assisted bikes. Could they be our future? This one is apparently the lightest one on the market. 18kg!! Not cheap but then what is?!
Cyclewear: You should wear whatever you want!
Accessories: A universal power adaptor as you can travel around the world with this one!
Phew! As I said at the start, it's completely unscientific, but hey, it might be useful!
Thanks to my colleagues Tania and Francesca for the "Bottom Gear" title!
You can read excellent bike reviews at Lovely Bicycle, a very well respected bike blogger!