Being a woman new to cycling can sometimes be a bit intimidating. Even if you’ve found yourself the perfect bike to fit your body, you may still need to find the right accessories and it’s difficult if you don’t know where to start.
It can also be uncomfortable talking to a member of the opposite sex working about your body and what cycling accessories are best for you as a woman.
We caught up with Holly, the Cycle 360 bike shop’s newest recruit and one of the very few female bike shop employees on the Isle of Man, to get her advice for buying female-specific bike accessories.
Holly herself struggled to work out what accessories were best for her when she first started out cycling, so she believes that no question is too silly or too awkward to ask and no topic is off-limits.
One of the most important female-specific accessories that you should invest in is a women’s specific saddle.
Due to the obvious differences in the male and female anatomy, most women will need a different saddle to a man to ensure a comfortable ride. Likewise, each and every woman is different shape, so what works for you may not work for someone else.
Holly says that, in general, the best type of saddles for women are cut-out saddles. These relieve pressure on the sit bones and soft tissue.
The type of saddle for you may vary depending on the type of riding you do and your anatomy. Often, if you’re road riding, you’ll be sat further forward on the saddle. Therefore, you’ll likely need a saddle that has a cut out at the front to relieve the pressure. However, if you’re on a hybrid or a mountain bike, you will naturally adopt a more upright position, so you may find that you don’t need quite as long of a cut-out in your saddle, meaning it may be more central.
Women come in all shapes and sizes ‘down there’, so it’s important to also find the right saddle width to suit you. If you’re more pronounced you will probably need a wider cut out. Otherwise, you might need a narrower cut-out. Saddle width is also dependent on the width of your sit-bones too.
So, the key takeaway message here is that it’s SUPER important to test out your saddle on a long ride before committing to it.
Thankfully, some bike brands such as Specialized, offer a 30-day return policy on saddles to allow you to test these out before fully committing to them.
Holly’s recommended saddles:
When buying cycling shorts, it’s important to look for women’s specific chamois as these are designed to support the soft tissue and provide pressure relief in all the right places for women. If you are prone to saddle sores, it’s also a good idea to apply chamois cream to avoid painful sores. Also, believe it or not, you should never wear knickers with lycra!
Waist shorts are super handy for women because if you need a toilet stop, it makes it a lot easier to go to the toilet conveniently without having to take your jersey off.
When it comes to buying cycling shoes, women’s feet generally are narrower so you may need a narrower fit shoe. However, everyone’s feet are different, and different brands also size slightly differently.
Holly recommends putting arch support insoles into your shoes. This is because women tend to have more pronounced arches which without support can cause a loss of power when applying force through pedals. One way to correct this is to use high-arch inner soles to ensure limited power is lost.
Also, the cleats on your pedals should align with the bones either side of your feet – the first and fifth metatarsal bones in your feet to be specific. So, when positioning the cleat on your shoes, ensure that the first and fifth metatarsal bones align with the spindle of the pedal to ensure that the power is in the correct position on your foot.
Holly’s recommended shoes:
You can pop-in to the Cycle 360 bike shop to chat to Holly and ask her any questions you may have about women-specific accessories. And, remember, no question is too awkward or too small!
To get advice on buying a women’s specific bike, you can also have a read of our women’s bike buying guide here.