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Make Trails Better – Mountain Bikes for Women and the Perfect Equipment

Mountain biking has long ceased to be a male domain and is becoming increasingly popular among women as well. More and more ladies are opting for wild downhills and tricky trails – all on their beloved MTB, of course. Since women have their own requirements when it comes to sports and equipment, there are more and more manufacturers who have taken up the cause of developing products explicitly for women. In this topic world we would like to give you a small overview of the possibilities and show you that you can find everything a mountain biker's heart desires here. Let's shred! » Read more

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Mountain Biking at Its Best – with Your Perfect Bike, Accessories and Outfit!

Before we dive into the explanations, here is a note that affects the entire content: When we speak about female stature in general in the following, we are talking about the majority of women and, of course, we do not want to exclude anyone. Of course, there are many women who differ from the general majority, are taller or shorter, have broader shoulders or other things. If you're still not sure which bike is right for you, for example, after our excursion into the world of women's MTBs, then our experts in customer service will be happy to advise you.

Make Trails Better – Mountain Bikes for Women and the Perfect Equipment

It is commonly known that most men differ from most women in terms of body measurements and proportions. For example, men are usually taller and have more muscle mass than women. These differences exist not only between the sexes, but also within the male or female sex. Therefore, every decision regarding specific women's products is individual. The most important thing is to try out what you like and listen to your gut feeling. Because sometimes a unisex product fits better.

In the bike segment, too, there are definitely women who (can) ride men's bikes. As long as the geometry fits your stature and proportions, there is nothing to stop you. Furthermore, important components such as handlebars or saddle can be easily changed and thus adapted to your own needs.


However, as the majority of women will be more comfortable and efficient on women's bikes and the number of biking ladies is steadily increasing, the choice of brands and collections whose range is being developed explicitly for women is growing.

Studies have compared the anatomy of men and women and highlighted the following differences in proportions:

Women often have...

  • ...a shorter upper body
  • ...longer legs
  • ...on average a wider sit bone distance (differentpelvic bones)
  • ...smaller hands
  • ...narrower shoulders 

In addition, women tend to be less willing to take risks, are often more reasonable and, after careful consideration, are more likely to assess their own abilities realistically. This behaviour is generally reflected in sport or even before the trail downhill starts. Of course, the same applies here: Exceptions prove the rule. Not every man is a go-getter and not every woman is over-reasonable. So not only external characteristics are taken into account in the design. A more compact, upright position on the bike can be useful for women, as this creates a safe and particularly pleasant riding experience for beginners.

The Bike – What Defines a Girls' MTB?

Some might think: "Shrink it and pink it", but holistically designed women's MTBs are much more than just small, pink men's bikes. They have an ergonomic geometry that is designed to fit the female anatomy. Using a wealth of data on women's body measurements around the world, bike fits could be developed specifically for women. For example, it is important to have a comfortable seating position on the bike and an optimal adaptation of the contact points (saddle, handlebars, pedals) to the weight or pressure distribution. This is the only way to optimally transfer the power to the bike. Because women (compared to men) gain relatively more power from their lower than from their upper body when cycling. When choosing your new bike, you should always make sure that the standover height fits the inner leg length. For MTBs, this should be approx. 10 cm (between the crotch and the top tube).

Women's MTB Info Grafic

The frame, as the heart of the mountain bike, was given special attention during development. Because a frame that is too large results in a poor or incorrect sitting position. This in turn can lead to back or neck pain (especially on longer distances) and active bike handling may become impossible. With body scans and various tests, it was possible to find out that women have a different weight distribution on the bike and thus balance differently. Taking these points into account, it can be said that women have completely different requirements for an MTB frame. Other points for the need for a different geometry, besides body size, are proportions.

A shorter top tube on the women's mountain bike ensures a comfortable upper body angle, which results in a much more comfortable posture, especially for smaller people. In addition, the MTB is then easier to handle for downhill riding. Well-known manufacturers, such as the Liv brand, also take the girls' different distribution of power into account in their material processing. They work with a different carbon mat installation than men's bikes to better adapt the stiffness or flexibility to different force conditions. The mostly shorter upper body provides for a different distribution of the strength ratios of women in contrast to men. 

Some of the components of your MTB (e.g. saddle, handlebars, grips), especially the contact points, should also be adapted to the female physique and tailored to your individual requirements. However, don't worry about having to replace or exchange all parts if you choose a unisex bike. Not all components are made explicitly for women and therefore don't differ, e.g. tieres, wheels or the drivetrain. Even in terms of wheel sizes, 27.5'' or 29'' wheels have become the norm for women's MTBs – the days of the 26'' are more or less over for ladies too.

Make Trails Better – Mountain Bikes for Women and the Perfect Equipment

As women on average have a wider seat bone distance than men, the choice of a women's saddle is unavoidable. After a lot of research in this area, there are now numerous saddles available with special women's fits. The cut-outs on women's saddles, which ensure weight reduction without compromising stability, are hourglass-shaped and have bevelled edges, for example. Thus, comfort is maintained in sensitive zones and the soft tissues (muscles on the buttocks, connective tissue, etc.) even on bumpy trails. The saddle has the correct width for you when it supports your pelvis at the sit bones. This reduces the pressure on the buttocks and promotes blood circulation. In any case, it is important that you sit comfortably, that the padding of the saddle is adapted to your needs and that your sitting posture is supported by the saddle.

The handlebar stem on a women's mountain bike is generally shorter and the handlebars are usually narrower, as women usually have narrower shoulders. Shorter arms require a shorter handlebar so that a natural, more comfortable posture on the bike is possible. Since good grip is important on the MTB, there are narrower or slimmer grips for smaller hands. In addition, brakes with easily adjustable or short brake levers are advantageous for many women.

The chassis and suspension are also being optimised for the girls. Special attention is paid to the weight and the shocks, as the installed spring elements usually have a compression damping that is too hard on standard shocks. And if a woman does not exert enough force, the bike does not offer enough suspension for the ground.

Here is a brief overview of the biggest differences between mountain bikes for men and women:

 

Geometry women's mountain bikes have a shorter reach for the upper body and arms and therefore frames with special geometry.
Handlebars + Grips narrower/slimmer (narrower shoulders + smaller hands)
Brake lever adapted/adjusted to hand size
Suspension elements pressure stage adapted to force and weight
Saddle anatomical adaptation (wider seat bone distance)

Safety First: Helmets and Eyewear

But even with the best mountain bike, nothing works without the right equipment. Because: Safety first! Helmet and goggles are indispensable on the trails. However, these do not have a special ladies' fit, but are usually available in smaller sizes. Here too, try it on and see which fit and which manufacturer suits you best. Feel free to try different brands before you decide, as each one fits or falls a little differently. The helmets can usually be adjusted to the circumference of the head by using a turning wheel at the back of the head or thicker pads to change.

Protectors for Even More Protection

Protectors are part of the basic protective equipment for mountain biking. You should also choose a model that perfectly suits your stature. Protectors for women correspond to the female anatomy. Protector shirts, vests or jackets, for example, have a more tailored cut and even with a narrow waist nothing can slip. The ribs, back and spine, kidneys and rump are protected in the case of falls or involuntary contact with other obstacles. The perfect fit of a protector is extremely important. A slipping protector loses its function and can no longer provide protection where it should. The same applies to the fit of protector pants or shorts. There are numerous models that have been specially developed for the female anatomy. These should be chosen.

For protectors for knees and elbows, the choice of a specific women's version is not necessarily required. The main difference to the men's models is the size. Therefore, you can also choose a unisex model that suits you.

Make Trails Better – Mountain Bikes for Women and the Perfect Equipment

Queen of the Trails – Ladies' Mountain Bike Apparel

MTB pants and tops for mountain biking are generally cut a little more casually. Aerodynamics are not so crucial on the trails. In addition, protectors fit comfortably under the clothing. The choice of material is based on robust fabrics that are as durable as possible even when coming into contact with branches and the ground. Most MTB shorts are equipped with removable inner shorts with a seat pad to provide maximum comfort. That's why you should definitely choose a women's model, as the seat padding is adapted to the female anatomy. This means that the wider distance between the sit bones is taken into account.

Jerseys for female MTB riders tend to have a more tailored cut and thus also have a women-specific fit. Often MTB jerseys for women are also adapted in design to female preferences. As in many points, we know that there are exceptions here too. In terms of material and function, there are of course no differences. MTB jerseys are breathable (for fast moisture transport) and usually have an extended back, which is adapted to the sitting position on the MTB. Some manufacturers include cool features such as padded elbow protection, zipped pockets for small items (e.g. lift ticket), reflective elements for good visibility or an integrated glasses cleaning cloth.

To complete the outfit, there are of course wind or rain jackets and vests for bad weather and gloves for the perfect grip on the handlebars.

MTB shoes differ from men's models in terms of fit and size as well as appearance and design. You can read more about this and what is important when choosing MTB shoes here.

Make Trails Better – Mountain Bikes for Women and the Perfect Equipment