But where to start? When you begin to delve in to the technicalities of cycling – how to choose the best bike for you, why you need a women’s bike and *not* one designed for men, etc. – it becomes apparent that there’s quite a lot to get your head around before you can even think about making a purchase. It’s a minefield out there, so we’ve decided to make things easier. We caught up with Colette (from a social distance, of course) to compile the ultimate guide for choosing the best bike for you. And she had some *seriously* handy tips.
In lieu of our usual spinning classes and gym passes, lots of us have been searching for new and exciting ways to keep fit. Some have taken up yoga while others have adopted running as their new favourite pastime. And if you don’t fit into those two categories, it’s likely cycling is the new big thing in your life. Cycling has – unsurprisingly – experienced a huge boom since we began hunkering down at home. Not only because it’s a great form of exercise, but because starting now will offer an alternative, less-cramped mode of transport later down the line. Anyone else terrified at the thought of getting back on a tube?
“We’ve seen unprecedented demand for cycling since lockdown; understandably people are looking at alternative ways to commute, exercise and get fresh air and cycling is the perfect solution,” Colette Clensy of leading dedicated women’s bike brand,, told us. “We think people will be motivated to embrace cycling as a better way to move for themselves and the environment. We’re optimistic that demand will remain strong, with government investment to improve infrastructure for cycling and walking, people might just fall in love with two wheels.”
Are women’s bikes different to men’s bikes?
“Yes. At Liv, we’re firm believers that women’s bikes need to be different from men’s bikes,” Colette told us. Founded by Bonnie Tu, Liv is a dedicated female bike brand which employs only female engineers to “design bikes for women from the ground up”.
She continued: “Using data that shows how women use different muscles than men when riding, namely the rectus femoris (exterior thigh muscle), Liv bikes are built from the ground up for women so that we can leverage our strength and be in the right position on the bike to be both powerful and efficient.”
Liv’s dedicated female bikes have been designed specifically to optimise weight distribution and put women in the correct position. This enables you to use your most powerful muscles when you ride, so you can ride for longer and experience less fatigue in the process. Ideal.
Colette added: “Our data finds that the proportional attributes of women 5’7″ and below and 5’7″ and above change. This means that arm length, leg length, torso are not the same for every woman. At every height range, we change the geometry to best fit the proportions of that size rider, resulting in an almost custom fit bike.”
How to choose the best bike for you…
“There are many types of bikes available for many different purposes, so it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the sort of riding and terrain you want to tackle on the bike and consider the amount of time you want to spend in the saddle,” Colette told us.
You need to think about the position that works best for you, since comfort aboard your bike is critical to happy cycling experiences. Then you need to select your ride…
1. Women’s road bikes
Road bikes are speedy, lightweight and – as the name suggests – designed for on-road adventures. If you’re after something which will effortlessly aid in your commute, take you on a long weekend ride or serve as a static, indoor bike, then the road bike is for you. Colette said: “A road bike is a great way to move; whether touring or triathlon and everything in between. They have narrow tyres and lightweight frames for smooth handling and a comfortable ride. Liv makes some of the lightest, fastest women’s road bikes in the world which means you can push your legs to the limit and discover new adventures.”
2. Women’s mountain bikes
“If you want an off-road adventure, then a mountain bike is the way forward,” Colette said. The joy of a mountain bike is that it’ll take you through fields and through muddy terrains but also to the local shops or on a leisurely weekend ride with your friends. They have straight handlebars to keep you in an upright position (much more comfortable), as well as a wider range of gears and better tyre grip. Some mountain bikes offer suspension if you’re looking to be even more adventurous – so that’s something to bear in mind.
Colette continued: “Mountain bikes are a great way to connect with nature, climb and descend on a local trail in complete control and find a new way to explore.
3. Women’s adventure and cross bikes
If you want to ride on the road but also explore a little further, an adventure or cyclo-cross bike is the way forward. You can ride on main streets and then switch to the canal path on a women’s specific adventure bike. Adventure or cross bikes have drop handlebars like a road bike but slightly wider, grippier tyres and a more relaxed frame shape.
“These bikes are all about versatility; you can choose which type of terrain you decide to tackle, even mid-ride! If you’re seeking more ‘grit and dirt’ with your adventures, a cyclocross bike could be for you; take on variable terrain, and experience gravel climbs aboard a bike designed by Liv for female cross racing or gravel sportives,” Colette said.
4. Women’s hybrid bikes
Hybrid bikes are a combination of road and mountain bikes – and probably the best choice if you’re unsure what kind of riding you’ll be doing the most of. They’re a solid starter choice.
Hybrid bikes run on full-size 700c ‘road bike’ wheels, but with a flat handlebar and mountain-bike-style frame. They tend to give you a good, upright seated position so you can clearly see the road in front of you.
5. Women’s lifestyle and city bikes
Lifestyle and city bikes are designed for the commute or weekend adventures – nothing too long or strenuous. They tend to have lightweight aluminium frames which means moving them around when off the bike, at work or home, won’t be a problem. Some even have baskets, for tottering up to the local market or shop and storing your new purchases.
6. Women’s electric bikes
Electric bikes come with the added assistance of a battery and motor. They are suitable and great fun for everyone, whether taking on mountain trails or the daily commute. Easy to maintain and easy to ride, you’ll be inspired to keep moving with an electric bike.
Colette said: “All Liv electric bikes are pedal-assisted so you are still pedalling just with some additional help.”
Remember, before ordering a bike, you need to get yourself measured up. It’s pretty easy to do, if you use a measuring tape and read the sizing chart carefully. That said, if you’re unsure, online bike suppliers like Rutland Cycling are still taking calls and offering advice virtually.
How much should you expect to spend on a good women’s bike?
It’s subjective and depends on the bike, but for around £500 you can get an excellent women’s commute lifestyle bike to take on the city streets safely. If you want a bike for your first on-road adventures around £1000 will get you a great comfort inspired women’s specific road bike. If you’re looking for an electric bike a budget of around £1500, would be a good starting point for electric bike fun and adventures.
With city lifestyle bikes starting from £350, road bikes from £625 and off-road bikes from £365 there is a price point to suit any budget across all disciplines. Many companies now run Cycle to Work schemes and Liv offer finance options allowing you to save money and spread the costs. A bike is excellent cardio exercise and if you decide to commute, much cheaper than public transport!
Top five tips for choosing a bike:
Let’s summarise! Here are Colette’s top five tips for choosing the best bike for you…
- Think about what you want to use the bike for, don’t rush this decision. Think about when and where you’ll be using the bike, consider the position, the terrain and personal comfort.
- Set your budget, be realistic of your expectations from the bike and specification with what you intend to invest.
- Ensure you get the correct size; comfort on your bike is essential to a positive experience. Fit is personal, but comfort and right position will result in better control and ride, incorrect size can result in rider injuries. Wearing the correct clothing can be a make or break experience, particularly, cycling shorts!
- Seek advice; we recommend consulting advice on our website or a Liv retailer, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Buying a new bike is personal, make sure you like how it looks! You need to want to ride it and be happy doing so.