After my post yesterday about cycling’s difficulty addressing the needs of the female cyclist we received a lot of great feedback. One of the tweets we got (from a female cyclist) really summed up the issue, and now I see that we’ve been looking at this all wrong.
“@specializedwmn @bikehugger a lot of women walk in not knowing what they want, they need to do research and ask the right questions”
Ah yes, it’s the fault of the women. They walk into bike stores without having done the research. Why, they should find out more about the products.
Where might they do that? Oh, how about at a retail establishment that sells the products they’re interested in, that has employees that surround themselves with the products (often going to take expensive classes in fit and selection) and that are in the business of selling bikes?
Nah, let them read a few years of Bicycling magazine and Road Bike Action, that’ll give them all the info they need. Then they can march into the store, demand exactly the frame and components they want, recite their measurements and build and fit the bike themselves.
Luckily, men never walk into stores without educating themselves first, imagine if we had to have a salesperson actually help us?
A couple weeks ago, rode with Globe in San Francisco. I tried out their new Daily, a simple bike for the city. As Garrett told me, “not so much dutchness.” The thing about Globe is the details and there are lots of them.
The Ghost of Sheldon Brown commands you to spell it derailer!
One of the things I find most disappointing about the bike industry is how it just does not understand women.
For all the “women-specific” bikes (which are nothing more than men’s bikes with shorter stems and short-reach levers) there just isn’t enough of an understanding of a women’s cycling needs in the biz. Take any new-to-cycling woman or even an advanced amateur and throw them into a bike shop that carries a few women-specific frames and generally they come out more confused than satisfied.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that most of the local bike shops out there aren’t selling a custom fit, they’re selling a commodity. Carbon, steel, aluminum–the bikes on the rack are pre-ordered before a season starts and then they are offloaded before the end of the season. Women’s bikes just add to the SKUs that a bike store has to carry, which means that instead of being able to carry fewer models and then tweak the build for the customer shops buy the complete bikes and make fewer part swaps.
That adds an economy of scale to a bike shop but it removes the subtle configuration tweaks that individually address the needs of the customers. This is more like purchasing a car than a truly fit item. Imagine going into a store and picking your “size” for clothes and buying the complete wardrobe only in one size. Medium pants would mean medium shirts, size nine shoes and medium socks. What happens if you have big feet or a wide torso? Well you end up fitting your clothes like the Hulk fits his.