Susan Weaver's A Woman's Guide To Cycling answers all your cycling questions. Learn how to buy a bike that fits your body and riding style, how to improve your fitness and technique, how to perform basic repairs, and most importantly, how to have fun doing it. Her enthusiasm shines through and makes you eager to get out there and RIDE!
You'll also want to take a look at Selene Yeager's Every Woman's Guide to Cycling which covers everything you need to know, from buying your first bike to winning your first race.
Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Helmets should be replaced every 4-5 years due to degradation of the protective foam layer over time. Visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute for more advice on selecting a skid lid and remember to always wear a helmet!
Where To Buy: It's important to have good fit in a helmet, so go to your local bike shop and try several different helmets on.
WS (Woman Specific features to look for): smaller sizes, rear "locking systems" designed to accommodate ponytails.
What's wrong with wearing a cotton T-shirt? Cycling-specific jerseys offer several advantages over casual wear such as t-shirts:
WS: patterns cut for a woman's proportions, flared hips, minimal or no elastic at the bottom.
Cycling jackets come in several variations. The proper jacket for you will depend on the type of riding you'll be doing. There is a trade-off between breathability, weight and packability, and water resistance. Fully waterproof jackets can be somewhat heavier and less breathable than their merely water-resistant cousins. For shorter rides where you might only get sprinkled on, a lighter-weight, more breathable jacket is often preferred.
WS: patterns cut for a woman's proportions, appropriate length sleeves.
Vests are perhaps among the most under-appreciated items available to cyclists. Combine a vest with a pair of arm warmers, and you are ready to tackle most any all-day summer ride, from the crisp morning air to shady descents alongside mountain streams. Best of all, when the time comes to take the vest off, it'll fit easily into your jersey pocket!
WS: patterns cut for a woman's proportions.
WS: patterns cut to fit a woman's narrower hands and wrist.
WS: Ponytail port allows your hair to pass through and results in a more comfortable fit.
Arm warmers and knee/leg warmers come in handy when the weather starts out cold but warms up during the day. You can easily strip them off and stuff them in a jersey pocket, handlebar bag or pannier.
WS: Smaller sizes - shorter lengths and smaller openings at the upper arm and leg.
Once you ride in a pair of cycling shorts, you'll never ride without them again! Baggier shorts with lycra liner shorts are available for those who wish to avoid appearing in public in close-fitting garments.
WS: patterns cut for a woman's proportions, baseball stitched or seamless chamois.
Keep your feet comfortable by keeping them dry. Cycling socks are made of thin, snugly-fitting, sweat-wicking and evaporating fabrics. Bicycling can also be a great excuse to wear fun socks!
WS: smaller sizes.
Pedal pressure on the foot through softer-soled shoes and sneakers can cause foot pain, toe-tingling, or numbness. Stiffer-soled shoes minimize possible foot pressure problems and increase the efficiency of energy transfer between your legs and the bike. If your bike has clipless pedals, cycling shoes are required so you can attach the appropriate cleats for your pedals.
WS: smaller sizes, constructed on a women's last.
Finding a comfortable saddle can be one of the more difficult tasks for beginning (and experienced) riders. It is a matter of personal preference and experience — you may go through two or three saddles over the course of several months of riding before you find one you really, really like.
In additional to saddle construction, proper adjustment is critical. You need to have your seat post at the correct height, and the seat properly aligned in three areas: fore-aft on the rails, tilt-angle (should be level or nose-down 1-3 degrees), and aligned length-wise with the top-tube of the bike. Pay attention to how your saddle feels as you ride, then experiment with different adjustments until you get it dialed in. Or, pay a visit to your local bike shop and have them help you with the adjustments.
WS: slightly wider seat for women's wider sit bones, cut-outs to relieve pressure on sensitive areas.
There are several manufacturers of bikes specifically designed for women. For details, see our Women Specific Bikes page.