November 25, 2006 by Natalie
A few months ago, I found myself explaining to a few strangers what I do for a living – make bikes for women. One fella thought that I must build step-through bikes, you know, “girl bikes.” Not quite. I build bikes for women that are designed to fit them from the get-go, without the kind of heroic and graceless adaptations that make your boyfriend’s old mountain bike or even that new “women specific” bike almost, sort of, kind of, fit.
The two women in the group instantly got it – most bikes hadn’t really worked for them and in ways that they couldn’t quite explain. But you don’t need the scientific method to support the fact that your butt is sore or your neck aches fifteen minutes into a ride. What you really need is a change in your body’s relationship to your bike.
Bike fit can be approached in many ways. On one end of the spectrum is the popular method knows as the “stand over the bike and see if you can reach the brakes” approach. On the other is a highly theoretical set of geometric formulas based on male physiology and proportions.
The problem is that there is no formula for leg length imbalances, there is no formula for your old football injury, and there is no formula for muscle memory. Most bike fit methods just don’t do justice the relationship of a woman to her bike, and we aim to do better.
Every woman is different. Every bike should be too.
This is my starting point as a bike builder. For the last six months, I have been working with Michael Sylvester, former pro racer turned yoga teacher, and founder of the Serotta Fit Program. Each woman gets fit to a totally adjustable size cycle, which allows each rider to feel the perfect fit before the bike is even built. This process allows us to transform each woman’s unique body mechanics and alignment into a riding position that is comfortable and efficient; and then to build the bike around that.
What does this mean? You are closer to your best bike than you could imagine, because the design is as simple and elegant as the body you walk in with. Starting there, how could the bike be anything but beautiful?