Posts Tagged ‘Road bike’

Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops? (Updated 9/27)

September 17, 2010

Update: Sept 27th 2010

So far, about half the women surveyed said they recognize these, shall we say, regrettable sales tactics. But the other half say they have no problem in their local bike shop, or that their shop has improved. It makes me think that things are changing, but we have yet to reach the tipping point when it comes to the female cycling consumer. There are truly great cycling products available for women nowadays. So why are they not making it on the the floor the of local bike shop?  Why are these bike shops still not connecting with their female clientele?

Could it be that they need a lesson on “Selling to Women?”

This was the title of a seminar I attended at Interbike, put on the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition. It was a wonderful seminar and panel discussion; I personally walked away with new ways to help women feel more comfortable and confident about cycling purchases, and the whole shopping experience while in their local bike shop.

However I couldn’t help but notice that most of the audience were female. I have to say, it felt a bit like preaching to the choir. Why didn’t male dealers/buyers/ local bike shops owners jump at this chance to learn about how to easily increase their customer base?

Guys, if you were at Interbike,why didn’t you check out this seminar? What would get you to go to a seminar like this?

Members of the press who attended, what did you think? (By all means, post a link to your site in the comments).

(coming soon: Women’s Products at Interbike: A First Look)

Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops?

About a year ago, I made this cartoon series called “Jane Meets Bike Shop”. I’ve reposted two of them here.
Would it surprise you if I said that this was actually more than just a joke?

These were based on a compilation of real experiences of many women. OK, perhaps with a bit a humor and sarcasm, but my question today is:

Have things changed over the past year?
Is it any easier for a woman to “through a leg over” a bike in her size, at the bike shop? Are women getting treated with more respect as a consumer, at the bike shop?

Take a look, then take the quick poll at the bottom. (please leave a comment, if you like).

Jane Meets Bike Shop

Some women of a town would like to enjoy riding their bike. However, the one “good” shop in town just isn’t very good when it comes to understanding the female cyclist.

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.

Fixing a Flat: the road rider’s guide

November 20, 2007

If you ride your bike, eventually either you or someone you are riding with will have a flat. I’m not wishing you ill; it’s just statistically inevitable. So, do you know how to fix a flat? Here’s a step by step procedure. Have someone show you how to do this if you’ve never done it before, then do it yourself, in front of them. Print this out and take it with you if you never fixed a flat:

0. Have Your Flat Kit With You… because, all the knowledge in the world won’t mean a thing without your, um, bike pump, for example.

FLAT KIT – Bike pump (or 2 CO2 canisters and value attachment), 2 tires, 2 tire levers , patch kit, multi-tool, and disposible latex gloves.

1. Inspect the outside of the tire, to see if you can find what might have caused the flat. Road tires are pretty smooth, so by rubbing a finger gently again the outside of the tire, you might detect a piece of a thorn, glass, or radial tire wire*.

1. Take the valve cap and nut (if presta) off, and deflate the tire the rest of the way. This will make it easier to the wheel off of the bike, and make the bead easier to take off of the rim.

2. Removing the Tire

Undo the brake caliper – that’s the little tab on the side of the brakes. Undo and loosen the quick release skewer. If it is the front tire simply remove the wheel from the bike.
If the rear tire is flat, make sure that you are in the highest gear (that’s the gear that has the largest chainring and the smallest cog). This will put the chain in a position toward the outside of the bike. Now, remove the wheel (which may require grabbing the chain to move it out of the way- aren’t you glad you’ve got your latex gloves?).

3. Removing the bead from the rim

Pushing the bead back a bit with your finger, wedge your tire iron underneath the the bead, and pull it over the rim. Use 2 tire levers if it is on very tightly (Pedro’s are my favs). Hold the part of the bead that is over the rim with your thumb, push the tire lever away from you, prying the bead away from the rim. Remove the inner tube. Check the tire for debris, such as thorns glass or radial tire wires*.

4. Put in the new inner tube

Blow up the new inner tube slightly just to give it some form. Place the inner tube inside the tire.

5. Put the bead back on the rim

Starting from the valve, hook the bead back onto the rim. Be careful not to pinch the inner tube in between the rim and the bead. To get the last bit on, push the rubber from the tire towards the area that you are working, in order to give it some slack. Using either your thumbs or tire lever, hook the last part over the rim. Pump the tire up the rest of the way

6. Reseat the Wheel onto your bike

Put the wheel back on the bike, making sure that the skewer is seated properly.

7. Tighten and close the quick release skewer.

8. Close the brake caliper. Check your work. Ride on.

Road Bike Review: Blue Competition R-C6

November 20, 2007

October 2007
Blue Competition R-C6, 2006
Small, as ridden 15.9 lbs
Rider 5′ 4″, 120 lbs. , inseam 30.5″

I admit that I did not want to like this bike.
I definitely didn’t want to fall in love with it, but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t want to like it, because I’d never heard of the brand, and because I wasn’t sure about the idea of mixing frame materials. I was worried about reliabilty of the brand, the quality, and of course the feel. For the reliabilty and quality part, I was happy with their lifetime warranty. I also noted well that the Sutter home-Colavita Women’s race team ride Blue. And what does it feel like? Amazing. The R-C6 is a very tight and fast bike. It is a light, nimble, happy bike.

Last year, when I signed up to ride Aids LifeCycle 6, I realized that I would need a bike that was a little more forgiving than my 1985 Centurion Ironman, built as a fixed gear. I used to race in triathlons many moons ago, so I love a tight, aggressive position. I started testing bikes, and found that for me, road bikes with “women’s geometry” were mostly unsatisfying, uncomfortable and way too upright. NOT ONE was spry or crisp in its handling. I demo’ed some men’s bikes, and had a bit more luck (I did like the System Six by Cannondale, but found that it was out of my price range). Enter Blue Competition R-C6. A friend of mine had recommended this bike to me and arranged a demo, so I was lucky enough to ride it for a few weeks. But it didn’t take more than a few rides to fall in love with it.

There is no doubt that the R-C6 is built for speed. The first century I rode on it was the Tour de Palm Springs, in February. There was one section of the route, that had a road with a pretty clear shot; straight, with small hills and mostly downhill. I took off with a few others, and pushed as hard as I could to see just how fast I could get on this bike. My max speed at the end of the day was 58 mph. I knew that I was going over 40 mph at some points, but thought that surely 58 mph was so kind of anomoly of the computer. I’ve since found that these speeds are typical and easy to obtain on the R-C6. Thankfully it is also a point and shoot bike, so it is VERY easy to handle, very easy to control.

So how does it handle on the climbs? I’m well impressed and think it makes a fine climber’s bike. On longer climbs I love to vary in and out of the saddle climbing, and occasionally when out of the saddle, I really torque the bike. Though I’m fairly lightwieght, I’ve been able to feel softness in the bottom bracket of other bikes by torquing the bike while out of the saddle, but not the R-C6. I wasn’t sure that I would like the aluminum bottom bracket on this mostly carbon bike, but the execution of design has made me a true believer. It proves to be strong and stiff, with absolutely no give when torquing the bike. It just feels crisp. Of course, this isn’t purely the bottom bracket; it is also the result of good use of materials, and geometry of the bike frame itself.

But the way that it absorbs chatter, well that was the best surprise. Let’s face it, I live in earthquake country, so the roads here are never particularly good. As a result, there’s lots of potential for road chatter, the vibrations you feel as a result of rough road. I have felt the results of road chatter particularly well after a century; usually next day I feel a dull ache in my contact points. I was shocked how this just was not so with the R-C6. What a difference a bike makes! In June I rode in Aids LifeCycle 6, and could not believe how good my contact points felt each morning. This means so much to me, because I want to do more multi-day charity rides, and my Blue R-C6 will help me achieve that goal.

I’m very happy to say that I’ve owned this bike for around ten months, and I adore it. I would highly recommend this bike to any woman who likes a tighter more agressive bike. It is an absolute pleasure to ride.

Blue Competition at Interbike
Blue Competition had a crew at Interbike, so I had the opportunity to test two 2008 bikes: R-C8 (the new even better version of my road bike), and their carbon mtb XC Carbon. Although I did not have the oportunity to ride nearly as many bikes as I would have liked at Interbike’s Demo Days these two bikes would probably be 2 of the best in show for me. I must , however, state that the reason why I could not ride many of the mtb demo bikes was because I was way too small for most mountain bikes, including those with supposed “women’s geometry” even in size small. I’m average height.
Blue’s geometry won out, once again because they have a bike with a shorter effective top tube, and make a bike small enough to fit me. Did I mention that I’m average height? Well, Blue gets that.

Riding the 2008 XC Carbon
Most of the manufacturers right now are missing the mark when it comes to both comfortable geometry, and weight of the bike.The Blue XC Carbon is very lightweight so it is easy to handle, and is an ABSOLUTE DREAM to manipulate. As a woman who doesn’t have a great deal of upper body strength, I found it a great relief to not have to “heave the bike around”, but rather be able to “place the bike” where it needed to be, both front and rear. I would say that this has as much to do with frame weight and geometry of the bike as fork weight and rake, and Blue did a wonderful job with all of it; this adds up to a bike with great balance and a sweet disposition.

Peek at the 2008 R-C8 ( this is next year’s version of my bike)
This bike felt like I was riding a blade. carving up a road of black ice. They’ve made some nice changes in the shapes of the carbon tubing (particularly on the fork), and this has made a nice difference in the way that it handles; it’s more fun. I only had a chance to take it around the block a few times, but loved the feel of it.

Check out

Buy the R-C6 Here

Buy the frame here

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