Women's Bikes Could Be So Sweet!
May 15, 2016
Women's bikes share a problem with kids bikes. ...They're all overbuilt!
In a normal market women's bikes would be half the market, right? I assume that's the case in Europe and Asia. So it's no market to sniff at.
How might women's bikes differ from others? There are size and proportion issues for one thing. I want to draw attention to WEIGHT.
Yeah, not all ladies are lightweights, nor are all kids -- but plenty are. And those women and kids who ARE small and light, do they ever need or want a bike that is built to specs that will tolerate the abuse of a 300 lb rider, or whatever it is that men's or 'regular' bikes are built to? (Maybe for some bikes it's 240 lbs. I've heard that.)
Lately I've seen women's bikes that are different in terms of pink graphics -- yeah, yeah -- and in terms of sizing proportions, but I haven't heard of any that truly take advantage of the needs and wants and advantages of LIGHT riders. A 100-lb woman rider should be laughing at other "regular" bikers with her 10-lb bike that is specced totally adequately for all the forces she might throw at it. "See ya later, sucka!" and away up the hill she goes. She doesn't need or want a bike built for a 240-pounder.
And her lightweight bike shouldn't come at a premium. She's part of a very large demographic and market segment! Just whip out some thousands of bikes for folks who weigh 90-120 lbs. and be done with it! They don't need a fancier or pricier bike -- just skip the unneeded, useless, wasteful, costly excess material! Such bikes could cost less! Save on spokes, save on metal. Just use thin and little stuff everywhere. Let the big bikes pile on the materials and pay for it. If a big dude's bike needs two sheets of carbon fiber, let him pay for it. A lady's frame might only require one sheet -- half the material cost! Yeah, yeah, the cost is in the labor not the materials. Well, just skip the weight: it doesn't need to be all buffed and polished. Make it crudely even: just make it light. She'll take care of the rest.
I was talking with a small-framed woman last night. She said she loves mtbiking and that she has a nice bike but she doesn't need to be hauling around a bike that weighs nearly a third of her bodyweight. ...It would be like me riding a 50-lb'er! She's trying to ride with the gang and her bike is like a relative boat anchor. Give her a break! Instead of waiting up for her, give her a bike that fits her and she'll be kickin yer butt instead!
Weight Weenies are a big club in the bikeworld. They're always competing for the lightest bike. Right now the record stands at 6 pounds! Wow! It looks sized for a 5'10" rider. And people often fret about how fragile such bikes might be. (Actually, the 6-pounder has been used for thousands of miles, no problem.) But what's up with all this worry? And why are such bikes so big and heavy? Just rig one up for a 5-foot-tall woman and you'll have a 5-lb bike in no time that isn't underbuilt at all! Dudes, you may fret about breaking the fragile gear, but it's just right for shredding for a petite person. Gimme that bike, I'm outta here! Curiously, the WW world is likely 90% + dominated by dudes. Get some small women in there and watch the weights plummet and usefulness still stick around!
The top speed fully-faired aerodynamic bike world has learned this lesson. Instead of going for more power to get the world record: find a SMALLER rider! Work the power v bodyweight RATIO. Get yourself a TINY track sprinter and put him or her into a tinier velomobile. Now yer cookin'! That's what it took to get past 80mph for the 500meter flying sprint.
Of course, all bike racers know this nowadays, with their watt-meters and all: it's the Power Ratio that is the golden ticket. Watts/KG: oooh! Everyone likes being skinny. Bodyweight is the easiest way to boost the ratio. Well, BIKE WEIGHT rams up the overall weight porportion that petite women have to lug around. It kills their power ratio! Unleash them and give em tiny bikes and watch em fly!
Teens and kids could get in on this, too.
I've long been dismayed and peeved at all the overbuilding and excess that kids have to put up with. Indeed, makers seem to pile on even more weight for the poor urchins. Kids are slogging around with 40 lb bikes with huge brakes and 21 speeds. If adult humans are relatively weak with their 1/2-horsepower "motors," little kids have far less at their disposal. How many gears does a 1/8th HP motor need? Sure, kids can use some gears, but 5 are plenty for a tyke. Don't burden them!
Let's liberate women's and kids and teens bikes from useless excess material. And let them laugh at the heavy lunks that dudes have to haul around.
World's lightest bike. 6 pounds. Think how much lighter it could be if it was built for a thin 5 ft tall woman! (or kid) And think how much better it would hold up. Build to a 100-lb rider spec rather than a 150-lb and save weight plus get more durability.