Posts Tagged ‘girl on bike’

Mountain Bike Review: Specialized Safire Comp Women’s Full Suspension MTB

August 30, 2010

I tested the 2010 Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

I tested the Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

Small Safire from Bear Valley Bikes

The Demo Bike

TESTED: Specialized Safire Comp, Susan Komen Edition from Bear Valley Bikes

Price: $2400 for the Comp (tested),  to $7400 for the Carbon Fiber Top o’ the Line Pro Version

Bike Size: Small, with an Effective Top Tube of 540mm,  Weight: 27lbs

Rider Size: 5’4″  Back Length: 545mm (find out why that’s important HERE). Weight: 120lbs (135lbs with gear).

Terrain: Big Bear, California

(The Exact Specs can be found on Product Wiki HERE, or BikPedia HERE


Spec Highlights:

  • FRAME: Safire FSR M5 manipulated alloy frame w/ women’s ORE TT/DT, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, DMD front, replaceable derailleur hanger, disc only, 120mm travel
  • REAR SHOCK: Fox Triad, custom on-the-fly 3-position switch 1) lock out 2) Open 3) ProPedal pedal assisting damping, rebound adj., 7.25×1.75″
  • FORK: Fox F130 RL, 130mm travel, compression and rebound adj. w/ LO, alloy steerer
  • FRONT BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads, 160mm rotor
  • REAR BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads,S/M: 140mm, L: 160mm rotor
  • BRAKE LEVERS: Custom Avid Elixir SL Hydraulic, tool-less adj. reach
  • FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano M660 SLX, DMD, top swing, dual pull
  • REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM X-9, 9-speed, mid cage
  • SHIFT LEVERS: SRAM X-7, aluminum trigger

SPECIALIZED OFF-ROAD: A REAL WOMAN’S BIKE

Specialized really does want us girls to ride mountain; why else would they make, not just one, but a series of REAL women’s mountain bikes? These bikes are not candy; they are hardcore mountain bikes that a woman can tailor for the way she rides. And on budget . From the sizing, weight and geometry, to budget and componentry, Specialized seems to be one of the “Big Boy” Companies to actual listen to what we women mountain bikers have asked for; then they stepped it up a notched and gave us some dream bikes, like the Safire, which is available in Carbon. (Oh, how I would love to test that bike!) But what I tested while I was in Big Bear CA, was the more budget conscious “Comp” level of the Safire. It seems that Specialized Comp level is a perfect Beginner/Intermediate bike, due to the “bang for your buck” quality of the components.

But what draws me in to this bike, is the unbelievably correct geometry. It is absolutely spot on. Somehow they managed to figure out how to make the head tube angle slack enough to handle any downhill (at 68.5°), yet not sluggish on tight corners and uphill.

Descending

At first I was a little unsure of it, so I picked my way down some trails. Well, that’s not what this bike wants to do. It wants to go fast, and it told me so. Steep downhill with roots and rocks means nothing to this bike, and given a chance, and some well guided direction, the Safire will glide down the trail pretty effortlessly, without “tugging me down the trail” the way some bikes do when they’re longer in the cockpit. Cornering was so easy, even at speed off-camber. The tight geometry made even tight corners smooth and fun. After a few trail runs, this baby felt as secure as a sofa, on the downhill.

Climbing

But how does it perform, going uphill? I really thought that the slack head tube angle combined with the 130mm fork meant a lousy ride uphill. SO wrong, was I. Specialized figured out how to make the head tube just a little shorter, which allows a woman to move her weight further forward for the climb, without losing traction in the rear.

Out of the saddle on climbs, I was able to get over the front end without leaning on it, and the front end never felt like it was was trying to force me to sit down (which also happens when a head tube is too tall). The kicker for me? When I stood up and tried to give it pedal bob, it responded by smoothing out the ride. I felt none of that “walking in molasses” feeling that you can get with a lesser suspension system.

Of course for longer climbs it’s very easy to lock out the suspension which completely eliminates all bob. Sorry Bob.

I would heartily recommend the Specialized Safire for women who would like a light all-mountain to cross country bike. This is a fun bike to ride.

In the last few years, I’ve demo’ed MANY mountain bikes directed towards women, but this is the first one that’s good enough for a “Girl Meets Bike” recommendation.  No, I don’t work for Specialized or anything like that; I’m just a girl who really appreciates good design.  I’m looking forward to testing other frames before I decide on which full -suspension bike is “The One” for me, but this is DEFINITELY in the running.  I’m hope to try the Myka FSR, which is Specialized’s first Women’s Full Suspension 29er.

Proper suspension set up is vital to truly experience what a bike has to offer. Without it, even the most amazing bike can feel like a dud.  Many thanks to Clay and Derek of Bear Valley Bikes for setting up the suspension beautifully for me. A review of their Bike Shop is coming very soon…

Girl Meets Safire, the Bike:


For those of you that want the quick and dirty version, here are some thoughts from the day.

  • Women’s geometry, 130 mil suspension, fairly light. Has my dream come true?
  • Why does the chairlift have to be so friggin’ cold!
  • Take your hand off the brakes..the brakes.
  • OH SH* , oh, no, I’m OK.
  • Trust the steep…Wow, do I love this bike.
  • the bike wants to go fast.
  • OH SH* no, I’m… Actually, that was fun. Should do that again!
  • Wheeeee!!!!
  • Stomping it! It can handle uphills!
  • Love these trails.
  • Love this bike!
  • Comes in carbon, there’s a 29er, comes in carbon, there’s a 29er.

girl meets bike meets guitar hero = Girl Hero: the bike

December 13, 2008

Honestly, I like to have fun with my bike builds. I’ve been working on “the look” of my commuter fixie, and I finally came up with it. The Wheel stickers are Wheetags skullz. I couldn’t find anyone selling these in the city yet, so order them online directly, if you want them.

The bar pad is from the most awesome bike shop in the Los Angeles Zone. In West LA, a little fixie shop has just spread it’s wings and blossomed into the bike shop YOU would want to own if you ever opened a bike shop. It’s perfect it’s beautiful it’s friendly it’s LA BRAKELESS. More about them soon (I feel a bike shop review coming on, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it). But for now, back to me and the bike that they inspired.

Coincidentally, I’ve just been introduced to the game Guiter Hero.

So I had these stickers.

Well, here’s the result.

I know it’s a bit, well you know, but I love it! Somehow, I need to make these stickers permanant. I don’t often “show” my bikes, but I thought this might be fun to share. And now, I’m going to play some Guitar Hero while thinking about a bike shop review. B-bwna-naa!

I was wrong to change formats, staying with blog…

December 9, 2008

Ok, I admit it. The online magazine format does not work. I spent more time fussing about with the formatting and typesetting than anything else, which slowed down my article-writing time to approximately one second divided by zero. In addition, I’ve found out that people prefer this format to the magazine, given the same article. Well lesson learned. I’m quitting the new format and will just be posting here, so this will turn into girl meets bike, girl on bike.

I guess sometimes it’s best to stick with simple.

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be posting the articles I should have posted on girl meets bike. Sorry for the delay, but I guess like most bloggers, I have things to learn about what’s easiest for both reader and writer. Thanks to my followers for sticking with me.

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.
A.H.

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.

Column: How to Shop for bike-ish things: girl’s version

October 17, 2008

This is a preview of a new column. Article and photos to come in the November issue of Girl on Bike Online Magazine.

Lesson One: Clothing

Say What?!

I know, some of you girls are saying to yourself, “Please, I KNOW how to shop for clothes. I don’t need any help in that department.” But times have changed in the cycling industry; new technology has developed in fabrics, stitching, and construction. Seriously folks, it’s a whole new ballgame. So unless you’re a “clothing technology fanatic” like me, you don’t spend much time reading and testing. Let’s face it; testing can be fun, but constantly reading about tech stuff is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately for you, I’ve read all the dry technical stuff with all the details, and I’ll be constructing a regularly featured column of things you’ll need to know about cycling clothing, plus stuff you’ll want to know (like when you can get a good bang for your buck, and what looks and feels fabulous). Plus for those who want to, you can remain lycra-free.

Here are a few hints about how to shop for bike clothing, for girls shopping around in a store or bike shop:

  • Is the fabric soft?

A lot of us don’t think about this, but it’s true; women have softer skin, so we need softer fabrics. Plus we don’t have an extra layer of protection in the form of hair all over our bodies, the way that men do (generally speaking). So the bottom line is that we need softer fabrics, and even closures should be softer (I avoid scratchy Velcro).

  • Turn the garment inside out. How is the stitching?

Be careful for overlock stitching in sensitive places. The longer the trip, the more important stitching becomes. A three-point junction of stitching shouldn’t feel like an annoying knob.

  • How is it constructed? If it is a technical garment, is it constructed in 3-dimensional “bike position”?

While the garment is still inside out, lay it down on a flat surface. Is it hard to figure out how you’d fold this thing? That’s 3D clothing. While commuter clothing can have a two dimensional construction (it lays flat), road, track, and some mountain biking clothes (rule of thumb, anything with chamois), is better off with a 3D cut.

  • Try on the garment, but don’t just try on the one garment. Take the time to pick out the full outfit: top, bottom, and jacket).

Trying on a full outfit will give you the true feeling of how it will ride. Don’t look in the mirror first. Rather, sit down, or squat down into bike position. If you mountain bike, shift around a lot, and feel for seams that rub you. Roadies should imitate “the drops position”; the garment should fit best in this position and it should not ride up.

  • OK, now look in the mirror

Seriously, cool or dork, whatever you feel comfortable with, own it. C’mon now, we’re still women. If we don’t feel great about the clothes we’re wearing, chances are we won’t wear them. So pick out “the look” for you but pay attention, to the fabric, stitching and construction first, so that you can get girlie in front of the mirror. And have fun with it; it’s shopping, after all!

Endtroducing… Lisa

September 30, 2008

I should have done this a long time ago. Hi, I’m Lisa.
girl meets bike
I’ve been on a bike since forever.

girl meets 1st bike

girl meets 1st bike

OK, so it’s a trike, but you get the point.
Riding a bike always meant freedom; that freedom manifests itself in new and amazing ways with each style of bike, each type of bike riding. Because I took dance class as a child (like many women) I’ve learned good balance, so cycling came easy to me.

Collage of girl on bike

Collage of girl on bike


I’ve dabbled in many areas from racing, to charity riding, coaching to fittings, wrenching, to clothing sales. I’ve loved it all, even through injury. I’ve loved road and tri, mtb and SS mtb, fixed gear commuting and track (and even BMX, though I suck at it).
I currently own seven bikes. That is B = (n – 1), where B is the number of bikes that I have, and n is the number of bikes that “I think I need”.
Yes, I ride them all, except for the one I want to sell, and the BMX.
I live in the mountains, but that’s OK, because I like climbing, AND going fast.
I’m naturally shy, but I’m from NYC and worked my way through college as a bartender, so I’ve learned to compensate intelligently, and in a friendly way, to get my point across.
I was a double major in Physics and Geology, and in Grad school I specialized in “Planetary Physics”, or, “the physical and mechanical study, and analysis of other planets”.
I also have a background in the fashion industry, and comic book industry (though that’s about a million years ago).

I have a high IQ; I no longer apologize for being smart, even though smart women don’t seem to be very popular right now (OK, political snarkiness alert). I still speak like a New Yawker, which sometimes embarrasses me, because I think it sounds less intelligent than my mother-in-law’s London accent. I realize that this my own brand of warped perception and stereotype, but there it is. That’s why my “new york tourette’s” sometimes offends, and my use of GRE words sometimes confuses, but I am who I am. I have no problem with curbing either language when asked.

I believe that these qualities and qualifications, allow me to take a look at the relationship between women and bikes in an empathetic, but scientific way. The results have been my articles and reviews on this blog, which will soon be in magazine format, with other contributors.

Since I’m shy and paranoid (paranoia is an endearing NY trait), that’s as much as you get about me, as a person.
Endtroducing, Lisa. girl on 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 www.twitter.com/girlmeetsbike

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

and

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.


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