When it comes to men and women’s road bikes, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. People come in a glorious range of shapes and sizes, so it’s essential your road bike reflects these differences.
In summer, Melbourne is perfect for cyclists – the city alone has more than 135km of on and off-road routes – and the plethora of women’s road bike sales mean a great deal is never far away.
But for weekend warriors on the urban bike paths or daily commuters on the city streets, a professional fitting is not just important, and it can keep you out of harm’s way.
Ready to ride in comfort?
While you might be happy with a unisex model, women’s bikes are specifically designed to provide comfort for the female form.
Don’t assume, though, that just any model will do. Having your bike fitted uniquely to you can:
- Prevent a flare-up of past injuries
- Minimise or avoid back and neck pain, hand or shoulder discomfort while riding
- Stop minor niggles from becoming major issues.
A bike-fitting expert will look at your overall geometry as well as that of your bike. A detailed questionnaire may cover past injuries, flexibility and overall comfort in different riding positions, to guide any necessary adjustments.
Tiny changes can be big – and not just when it comes to frame size, bar width and reaching the brakes. Women’s road bikes have different saddles to match the type of cycling you’ll be doing, but only a fitting will ensure the best saddle height, size and angle for you.
Think also about how you’ll move and store your bicycle. If you need to carry it upstairs to an apartment, or transport it on a bike carrier, ensure it’s light enough to move quickly, even with essential bike accessories such as lights, toolkit and portable pumps.
Safety is everything
Melbourne’s bike path infrastructure is continually expanding, making it accessible for commuters and recreational riders alike. Did you know, though, that riding a road bike with the right fit also contributes to safety? Important factors include:
- Visibility: it’s not only personal visibility that counts; being comfortable in the position that gives you the best view of your surroundings means you can ride with confidence.
- Stability: wobbling or ‘rocking’ down hills or at slower speeds can make you unsteady or even unsafe. The cause could be handlebar width or saddle set up, so check in with a professional who can fine-tune the fit for greater control and safety.
Invest more for bigger savings
A road bike is only a good investment if you use it. Those who give up on cycling – whether they started for fitness or to avoid packed public transport or a slow city drive – often do so because of discomfort from poor bike set-up.
You may be reluctant to pay for a professional fitting before you’re committed to a regular ride. Think of it as part of the up-front investment – and not just in your health and fitness. Some adjustments are far cheaper when made by the bike shop at the time of purchase instead of down the track. Even if you make a purchase within Melbourne’s road bike sales, you’ll lose money on resales, so it’s worth expert guidance at the start.
Go further for less
Have you ever jumped on a new bike and suddenly questioned your fitness? It might actually be that the fit is the problem, not your form.
A bike-fitting expert helps you get more out of your ride by giving you the most power where you need it. Too high at the front? Excess stack height can cause wind drag. Are you stretching to reach the handlebars? Incorrect reach will limit your power (as well as causing discomfort).
Don’t work harder than you need. Make sure the set-up is tailored to you for increased power and efficiency, giving you greater overall performance.
10 tips for ensuring the best fit
Okay, now you know why it’s important to get your bike fitted to you. But how can you achieve all this?
Here are 10 tips for ensuring your chosen bike is suitable for you:
- Don’t feel rushed to decide. Even during busy Melbourne bike sales, this is a significant purchase so take your time to find the perfect fit.
- Be prepared to pay for expertise. A professional fitter using specialised tools is worth the investment in your body.
- When you check out women’s road bike sales around Melbourne, take your gear with you. Shorts, shoes and pedals can all affect overall measurements and therefore fit.
- No matter where you think of purchasing from, make sure the seller lets you inspect the bike thoroughly and take your own tape measure to ensure it’s the size quoted.
- Choose a road bike designed for your form. That might seem obvious, but don’t accept an ill-fitting hand-me-down just because you’re starting out, only to push it aside when it’s not right.
- Use the right size guide for the bike type. You may need an ‘extra-small’ road bike but only a ‘small’ mountain or hybrid bicycle.
- Don’t confuse sizing with fitting. A genuine fitting is much more thorough in its range of measurements and considers factors such as flexibility and past injury.
- Ask for a test ride. Some of Melbourne’s best bike shops (even some online bike stores) offer free 14-day test rides. A quick lap of the store is not enough.
- Find a local cycling club – it may have expert advice or discounts on professional bike fittings, as well as running courses such as ‘back on your bike’ or cycling with confidence’.
- If you plan to make the adjustments yourself, use an online guide or find reputable resources on YouTube.
Free resources to get you started
Melbourne’s bike network and huge cycling community make it a great city for people with all levels of experience. Most local councils provide tips and resources for road bike users and you’ll find free advice, maps and more at:
- Bicycle Victoria
- Cycling Australia