Twenty-three years ago, Georgena Terry, a mechanical engineer and passionate cyclist, noticed something: Bicycles were built for men. Too many women, who usually have smaller hands, narrower shoulders, wider hips, longer legs and a different musculature than a man the same size, were finding that even the “right” sized bike left them with sore shoulders, tingling hands, and too much pressure on their joints. Terry also observed that, perhaps because of a different distribution of muscle mass, we sit farther back on the seat—and often end up with saddle pain and a stretched-out feeling on traditional bikes. So, beginning by building them herself in her own basement, she pioneered the notion of women-friendly bikes: Today, her own line of pseudonymous bicycles have such offerings as shorter top tubes, narrower handlebars, shorter cranks and, in some models, smaller wheels. Other manufacturers have finally seen the light—and some have followed Terry Precision Bicycles in producing advanced technology bikes with different cockpit length, handlebars, brake handles and stems.
Why look into a woman-specific bike? Comfort, comfort, comfort. If your bike shop downplays this fact or dismisses such bikes—we’re not talking marketing gimmicks here, but all-important proper fit–go directly to another shop. My shop in Connecticut—Westport Bicycles—isn’t a Terry distributor but happily assembled one for me so I could compare it to other bikes, women-specific as well as traditional, that they do carry.