Archive for the ‘Road Bikes’ Category

Interbike: A First Look at Specialized Women’s Bikes

September 29, 2010

The Specialized Women’s 2011 bicycle line is very impressive indeed.

Specialized has rethought bike design for women in a three dimensional way; this makes their mountain bikes particularly easy to handle in all types of terrain.  The Specialized MTB bikes I tested are light enough to Manipulate and maneuver,  but  have a weight distribution that made it easy to keep  “tires to the ground”.

For Women’s road bikes, the Amira will be the bike to look out for. This is their premium bike for women. There are a lot of details that make the Amira stand out (it has all the earmarks of a really fast bike). One look at the geometry and you can see how nothing compares. It’s also sexy as anything.

If you are a fan of Specialized already, you need to try one of their 2011 bikes.  But if you’ve had questionable results with their Women’s geometry bikes from previous years (hey, I wasn’t always a big fan), then you really need to try the 2011 series. Specialized really went back, did their homework, and found what really works for Women’s geometry; and in this 2011 line up, it  shows.

In the coming weeks I will have separate reviews of 2011 Women’s Specialized bikes, including:

Myka – A 29er Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike, with entry level pricing (warning, this bike could make mountain biking addictive).

Safire – Women’s All Mountain Bike (a dream to ride in 2010, with some interesting changes for 2011)

Era – Women’s Cross Country Performance Mountain Bike (2011 line adds a budget conscious carbon fiber level).

Amira – Women’s Premium Road Bike, redesigned again ( the delight is in the details).



November 24, 2009

This Friday is your chance to save an EXTRA 20% off of already discounted prices. For 24 hours Girl Meets Bike Shop will take 20% off all items, INCLUDING those on sale. Details for discounts here

Coupon Code: GMBS8HLFRJV4

Sale is BLACK FRIDAY SALE is on Friday, November 27th,valid until Sunday November 29th at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time.

LA BRAKELESS – Los Angeles Westside Finally has the Ultra-Cool Fixie Shop it Deserves

December 20, 2008

Nestled on the busy bike-laned Venice Boulevard in West LA is a little bike shop that is simply perfect, if you are a fixed gear rider. LA Brakeless is so unobtrusive that you could easily pass by it several times before finding it. For fixie lovers, that just might make this cute little LBS even more alluring. Just Riding Along, out of the corner of your eye, you see a bike leaning against a storefront that’s more set back  from Venice Blvd than other stores. Like a bright light shone in your eyes, all of a sudden, you see the bling, bling, bling in the window. You realize, this must be it…

LA Brakeless, still with no sign

LA Brakeless, still with no sign

Walking up to it, I realized that THIS is the Local Bike Shop gone all sorts of right. Their presentation is sleek and beautiful. There is no want for annodized parts here; every color that you can think of is here, and presented as the jewelry that they are.

Inside the Store

Inside the Store

Sugino Display

Sugino Display

As slick as the components looked, I expected all sorts of hipster attitude, and worried that my first purchase here, ironically, a brake (for my Xtracycle), would be judged as harshly as my “far too blue” Ourys. I looked particularly girly that day, wearing a dress on a single speed Xtracycle. Would anyone even talk to me? Well, I got exactly the opposite, of attitude. Laid back and young, the owners of this store and their workers understand that their customer is everyone from the housewife to the hardcore. They don’t talk down to anyone, nor do they oversell anything – they don’t have to. Their stuff is so carefully picked and displayed, that it speaks for itself even if you don’t know that much about bikes. The owners, Anna and Efram are both absolute sweethearts, and obviously very talented young entrepenuers. I have no doubt that this shop will catch on, and the coffee shop next to them will be forever grateful.

Oooh, Yummy new Ourys

Oooh, Yummy new Ourys

Soma Soma Soma

Soma Soma Soma

I could definitely imagine saving $800 hard earned bucks, and building up a special fixie here, one with a symbiotic personality to match me. Oh wait, I did that! This is the bike shop that inspired me to build Girl Hero – the bike -now you can see why.

Brands are very carefully picked here; for anyone who knows parts, this is a welcome relief from the occasional fixie component one might find in your average shop. In addition to the traditional fixed gear brands, they also have the rest of the fixie culture lifestyle brands. Cool knog bags and gloves, and Nutcase Helmets are displayed as achingly yummy eye candy.  I’ve been there a few times now, all very good experiences, so I feel comfortable throwing my support to them. The other REALLY cool thing about them: they are open from 11am until 9pm Monday-Saturday(Sun 11-6), which is far more convenient than the shop that closes most nights at 6pm, before people leave work.  Smart.

LA Brakeless

12220 Venice Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA  90066


Annodized Handlebar du jour?

Annodized Handlebar du jour?

Colored Chainring Bolts

Colored Chainring Bolts

Nutcase Helmets

Nutcase Helmets

Dear Girl,

October 29, 2008

This was an email I received about one month ago. I think it shows two things: 1-How painfully serious the subject of saddles and chamois can be, and, 2-how determined women are to overcome these obstacles and stay on their bikes.

Dear Girl,

I returned to road biking this year after many years of mountain biking and I have been suffering a slew of issues including a very painful bartholin’s cyst and urethritis. I underwent surgery and several uncomfortable procedures and I am now starting to suffer urinary problems again. I never had a single problem in all the years I was mountain biking. Are there any fit issues that are more related to road riding that I may not be aware of? (I am planning to get a bike fitting with a physical therapist in town who specializes in biking issues)

Any further insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you A., for being concise, and letting other women know that they are not suffering alone; these problems are more common than you think. Girls, if you are having symptoms like these, please seek help from a doctor, hopefully one who understands repetitive female genital sports injuries. Working with a bike fitter who specializes in women can also help prevent reccurance of these issues.

The problems that you are suffering can be from a number of different contributers, probably a bit of each:

1. Your position on the bike

2. Type of saddle

3. Type of chamios (or lack of)

The short answer is, yes, women who ride road suffer more from saddle issues because of the very different position on a road bike. You are probably leaning much more on your clitoris/urethra causing compression and friction. These two factors will cause pain and irritation and can eventually lead to UTIs, saddle sores, Urethral Symdrome (Here’s a link, if you are not sure of the symptoms of Urethral Syndrome), and (as you know) a slew of other issues. The solution then, is getting the pressure off of the clitoris and urethra.

1. Your position on the bike

It is important to understand the difference between mtb and road position. When you’re on a road bike, your position and weight distribution is very different than a on mountain bike. Much more weight is put on the front end, because this creates stability on the road. Typically, 55% of your weight is on the rear end, 45% is on the front end. This is in comparison to 70%/30% split for MTB. That means that your weight is tilted further forward on the saddle, so unless you have a saddle and chamois that keep the majority of your rear weight on the sit bones, you’re likely to suffer from compression.

I hope it is obvious that exactly where your saddle is positioned on your bike means EVERYTHING. So, when you set up your saddle, try the first “neutral position” for women, which is 0-5mm forward from neutral, and the saddle nearly level, with the nose pointed down “one click” (typically 1-3 degrees).

2. Type of Saddle

The saddle that you used on your mountain bike may have worked beautifully on your more upright position. But on your road bike, you need to lean down more (to get into the drops for example) on the front end. The single biggest advancement for these women’s issues has got to be the split saddle. If position properly, it will let the girly bits have a space to to breathe, preventing compression, heat build up, and excess moisture (remember that we are talking about a part of the body that is lubricious). Since switching to a properly fitted split saddle, gone are the UTIs suffered through twenty years ago. It is however, extremely important to get a saddle that fits your sit bones; for a few years I had a split saddle that was way too wide for my sit bones and this caused me to inch up on the saddle, putting the cut out where it wasn’t doing any good. The wide nose also caused thigh rub, which led to saddle sores in the bikini line. So it is important to have your sit bones measured, and to try out the saddle (many saddle brands now have demo programs, through local bike shops), so that you make sure it fits you properly.

3. Type of Chamois

So humble, this piece of technical equipment, that people often take it for granted. But not wearing chamois, or the wrong type of chamois can cause irritation by improper placement of stitching, and build up of moisture again causing problems. So what’s the right chamois, for road riders? Of course it depends upon the individual, but the chamois that I’ve had the most success with has been a split chamois, or one that has the mirror image profile of the split saddle. This is why I like Etxe Ondo clothing so much. They use a split chamois made by an italian company called Dolomiti, and it is simply the best for me. It is, however, expensive (Etxe Ondo) and you may not ride long enough distances to merit the cost vs. benefits. But there are many chamois brands that have a split, and it is a matter of determining which chamois works best for you, and you’re riding circumstance. Other women have had much success with chamois that has air holes, which increases air circulation through the area and thus reduces moisture build up ( an example is Louis Garneau). This combined with a split saddle, may solve issues for many. Generally, the more time you spend in the saddle, the more you should invest in the quality of your chamois. For serious road riding (over an hour or two), I always recommend some type of chamois, preferably with some chamois cream.

By the way, so far, the results from the “saddle problems” survey for women are as follows:

Women, are you happy with your saddle/ chamois combination?

Yes, I am happy. I hardly ever have soreness, even after a long ride. 30%
I have problems, because I’m leaning on my clitoris, causing swelling, irritation, and soreness 23%
I have problems, because I get UTIs or Urethral Syndrome 11%
I get saddle sores on my bikini line, even though I wear chamois, and lubrication 10%
My sitbones are constantly sore 10%
I have problems, because I experience chaffing, and or rubbing 8%
My thighs rub the sides of my saddle, causing sores and/or chaffing 4%
I have saddle problems (as a woman) not mentioned here 4%

So 70% of the women surveyed have some kind of painful saddle/ chamois issues.
If you experience pain either in the clitoris or urethra, would you please answer one more question?

What kind of Saddle and Chamois combination do you ride?

I ride a saddle and chamois WITHOUT a split down the middle 50%
I ride a split saddle, but chamois has no split down the middle 33%
I ride my bike WITHOUT chamois 13%
I ride a saddle without a split down the middle, but chamois WITH a split 2%
BOTH saddle and chamois have a split down the middle 2%

So half of the women surveyed who have problems, ride a saddle/chamois combination with no split down the middle.

83% of the women who have problems do not ride a split saddle.

94% of those who have problems, do not have split chamois.

(Results are still early, but the trend suggests that the advice above is is pretty solid).

And for those whose sit bones are sore, you are in the right bike position, but (my guess is) something in your set up is too soft for you, like maybe gel in the saddle or chamois. Try something with less give in it, more density (NOT thicker), either in the saddle, or the chamois.

Dura Ace Electronic 7900 First Look: Nice but want to be more Impressed

October 3, 2008

I love Shimano componentry; always have. As a person who knows that her bikes will always be around, I have the philosophy of “Buy once, buy right”, which includes a drivetrain that I will really enjoy riding. Enter my favorite, Shimano Dura Ace 7800. After having ridden the 7800 Grupo for a couple of thousand miles, I’m more in love now, than when I first saw them. So when I heard that Shimano’s new 7900 grupo was now electronic shifting, I was intrigued. I had to see it and test it myself. Mind you, I have yet to really ride it, so I have no idea how the brakes respond in a real world circumstance. I’ll reserve full judgement until I get a true test ride.

Much slimmer hood design, better for smaller hands

Much slimmer hood design, better for smaller hands

Index finger is on shifter button.

Index finger is on shifter button.

At the Shimano booth, I see that there is a test bike in a trainer, so I hope on for a ride, to see how it feels. The first thing I noticed was how easy it is to switch to a larger chainring; it was literally the push of a button with no effort at all. Niiice. The front derailleur placement happens automatically, so no more adjusting for trim. No more fussing around at all. Impressive. I was also taken with the design of the hoods, and marvel at how I could fit my small hands on and around the hoods, so much so that I wonder if this is a “women’s version”. No just a more aerodynamic one. There’s no cables under the hoods, so it allowed Shimano to play with the design a bit.

Then come two bombshells:
1. This full version of the electronic 7900 isn’t going to be available until January, when it will cost you a whopping $4000.00, not $2400-$2700 as I’d originally heard. That’s the price of an incomplete version of this grupo coming out sooner (in a few weeks), but you’ll probably want to wait until January, and not change out part of your grupo.
2. Battery life: Are you joking? 500 to 1000 miles between battery changes? Yep. For the many +100 mile/wk enthusiasts this would never do. Forget doing long Charity rides, like the nearly 600 miles, week long charity ride, AIDS LifeCycle. ….And where do I get the battery, and shouldn’t I have my bike mechanic check out the electronic system while he or she is changing the battery, and … WAIT a second, what does my bike mechanic know about electronics anyway?! The answer is most probably darn near nothing, at least not right now. There is the Achilles heel.

To me, that makes the Shimano 7900 grupo is like a Tesla car; sure I want one, but it’s too expensive right now without enough benefit, (or qualified mechanics to fix it).

I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind if improvements are made on the battery life (they should make it rechargeable), and as bike mechanics become more proficient in bicycle electronics.

Best Demo of the Year – Colnago CX-1

September 24, 2008

I’ve always wanted to try a Colnago, but this was the first opportunity I had. Wow, what a bike to start out with!
After trying a couple of other meh bikes, I see a woman hop off the Colnago at the station so I rush up to see if I can try it. I ask if it’s OK to put on my stem, and after a small discussion, they allow it. Smart move, because I took it out on the loop, and I worked this bike. It fit, and it was a shockingly delicious geometry. Some of the best I’ve EVER ridden.
Let me just say now that even though this is a “unisex” bike, it will be available in 50cm, 48cm, 46cm and EVEN 42cm(!!!), so ladies, if you want this bike, there’s a size for you.

The first thing I noticed was the stability on the downhill at speed (I hit ~ 40mph). With a rock solid front end, I could really push down on the bars, and the back end never wagged or lagged. On a flat road, I found comfort in all three classic hand positions; I could truly ride this bike all day long, with a smile. But this bike SHINES in a sprint or climb. Easily to stand and climb (or sit), and the bike stays with you, spry and playful on the Sprint. I would say that the only thing I did not love about this bike was the componentry (SRAM RED) which is not a fault of the bike, just a preference of “jewelry”, if you will.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to test out MANY “Women’s design” bikes, including Trek, Cannondale, Specialized , Giant, and Look. This hermaphrodite is far and above, the best bike I’ve tested all year long.
I’ll go to the Colnago booth tomorrow, and take more pictures of this beautiful beast.

Colnago CX-1

Colnago CX-1

I love this bike

I love this bike

How to Test a Road Bike (girl test)

September 24, 2008

I wanted to respond to a question I was asked, namely “How do I test out a road bike, when I’m only allowed about 15-20 minutes on it?” So here’s what I look for, with little time allowed.

How to test a road bike

First thing, before you test it out, make sure the bike is adjusted for you. That includes:
1. Saddle height and tilt, and fore/aft adjustment
start out with the saddle in a neutral fore/aft position, tilt for testing should be almost horizontal, with the nose pointed “one click down. Seat height is generally about 85% of your inseam.
2. Handlebars should be absolutely level. Sometimes guys tilt the handlebars upwards for women because they think it will make it easier to ride; they could not be more wrong. You will not be able to reach the brakes while in the drops, and when going downhill at a fast speed, this is downright dangerous.
3. Have them put on your own pedals if you have them.
4. Make sure your fingers can reach the brakes easily, both on the hoods, and in the drops.
5. Test the brakes, quick release skewers, and shifters, before you take it out, as a safety check.
6. Check the tires and make sure they are pumped to the right psi for you.
7. Always wear a helmet.

So now the bike is ready to go, and your out of the parking lot. Here’s how you test it.

1. Take it on a flat road for about 1/2 mile. You should be able to settle into a comfortable position while on the tops, on the hoods, and in the drops. While in the drops, switch into a higher gear and sprint (stand up slightly, move your weight forward, and try to spin the pedals as fast as you can). The rear end should stay stable. It should not feel uncontrollable or unwieldy.
2. Take it on a sharp curve. If the bike is a good match for you, you should feel confident going into the curve, and comfortable taking it at a reasonable speed, rather than slowing down to a crawl.
3. Take it on a slight incline, and go on the hoods, or on the tops. This should be a very comfortable position, like something you can ride all day long.
4. Take it on the steepest downhill that you feel comfortable with about 1/4 mile long, and go into the drops. Your index fingers should be on the brakes. Tuck down (boobs to the top tube), and try to make yourself as aerodynamic as possible. The bike should pick up speed quickly, and easily. This should be a fun and comfortable position, and the front end should be rock solid stable, and easy to control.
5. Now turn around and go up the hill. Change to a gear that you can climb “out of the saddle” with. The bike’s geometry should allow you to climb out of the saddle for at least 20 strokes easily, and you should feel like you can really get over the front end, without the back end feeling sluggish, or fishtailing. If the front end is too high, it will be uncomfortable to do this, and you will consistently feel like you are behind the front end; it will feel like the bike is forcing you to sit down. For carbon bikes, the bike should not feel mushy when you push down on the pedal; if it does then the frame is too soft for you, and you’ll waste energy in your stroke.

If the bike feels good on all of these tests, chances are, you’ve found a good bike for you.
Do you have a method I’ve left out? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Happy testing girls!!!

Interbike Demo Day – Cannondale Super Six Review

September 23, 2008

So, I get to Demo Days on time, which was no easy feat, after last night’s iphone issues. I head straight to the Cannondale tent, and low and behold I see a bike with my name written on it. Is it the 2009 Six13 Feminine (Now called the Six Fem)? Nope, it’s last year’s MEN’S 2008 Super Six. Okay, well the Tour leaves soon so I figure alright I’ll give it a try. Except the stem on this 48cm is 110, the bars are 42cm and the saddle is the “no woman should EVER have to sit on” men’s Fisik. Well, I’m a clever girl; I brought my saddle, AND stem just in case (I wanted to demo other rides, and figured that with some men’s bikes I’d need it). But because so much had to be changed out, I didn’t get out until 8:30, well after the tour was under way. Bummer, but fine, I’ll just do my own ride and test out the bike.
Cannondale SuperSix (2008)
The Good
Descends very well, very stable.
Very stiff for Carbon Fiber. Nice feel, absorbs vibrations well.
Tail was stable in sprint.
The Bad
Front end (once again) is way too high for a racing bike, so you can’t really climb well out of the saddle, as it forces you to sit down. This is not a climber’s bike.
Corners OK, but you really have to force it, like it was a a touring bike. Definitely not twitchy enough for me.
Even though I usually ride a 49-51cm men’s bike, the 48cm Cannondale was way too long in the cockpit/ top tube.
In a nutshell; I would not recommend this bike for women. The proportions are inappropriate, unless you have a loong torso, and long arms. You just could not make this fit a normal sized woman.

BTW, the Six Fem, which was originally suppose to be an all Carbon bike will not be; it will be Aluminum with Carbon Stays, basically the same bike as last year.

On a better note for Cannondale, they’ve just hired a new Women’s product manager last week. I spoke with her and she seems very eager to learn about what works for us gals, so maybe by this time next year we’ll see the results of her good work; hopefully in the form of a women’s aggressive geometry carbon fiber frame bike.

Gearing up for Interbike extravaganza!

September 17, 2008

I’m REALLY excited about Interbike this year.

There’s going to be a lot of change for the good towards women, much more available, much more options, and I think, all around much more appealing to women. I’m going to update this website and others as much as possible, because there will be a TONNE to report on for what’s new for women on bikes. If you can think of something you’d like to hear about, let me know.

you can follw me on twitter at

for up to the second reports and pics.

So far, I know I’ll be spinning out a gentle ride on the Tour de Lake Mead for Demo Days, on a 2009 Cannondale six13 Feminine / with new DuraAce! If my ankle holds up, I’d like to test out a few more road bikes, then head to the Giant for Women Tent for their “Bike set up clinic”. Tuesday night I’ll blog and share pics as much as I can. I’m going to start reporting on the new site, Girl On Bike as well, and hope the new format is to your like.

The store, Kallisti Bikes will come down at the end of this week, and it will be replaced in a month or so with “girl meets bike”. For this year, it will be a very narraw selection of my “IT” picks: the clothes you’ll where in any bike situation, and feel on trend, off the bike.

The two new websites,

girl meets bike store and services


girl on bike magazine

Will launch on Monday September 22, 2008. I’l keep this site up for a while, and may keep CycleMaven.wordpress as a personal bike journal.

Flat Tire Video

June 17, 2008

Finally finished a Flat Tire Video, and here it is:

I tried to make it as fun and informative as possible. Enjoy!

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