There are some physical differences between men and women, and bikes are designed with this in mind.
It's best to try out a few styles of bike to find out what's right for you
Women’s bike frames
On a classic woman’s frame the crossbar is dropped. Some are dropped much lower so you can step through the frame, which makes it much more practical if you cycle in a skirt or a dress.
Frames for women tend to be shorter as, on average, women have longer legs and shorter torsos and arms. A shorter frame also means less reach from the saddle to the handlebars, and prevents the uncomfortable ‘Superman’ riding position.
Female-specific saddles are wider at the back and narrower at the front to accommodate a woman’s bone structure. It’s a good idea to make sure your bike has a decent saddle as it’s where you’ll be sitting for every journey!
Saddles are a very personal choice, so it’s best to try a few out before deciding which one is best for you.
Women tend to have shorter arms and narrower shoulders than men. Buying a man’s bike could mean the handlebars are too long, making handling difficult and unstable.
Reach is another issue for a smaller body. You want to be able to reach the handlebars without slouching or stretching, to ensure a comfortable ride and protect your back.
Another factor to consider is the overall weight of the bike, especially if you need to lift it up to a storage rack or carry up stairs. Folding bikes are less bulky and easier to manage, whereas titanium or carbon fibre frames are lighter, making them easier to handle.
Whatever bike you decide to go for, make sure you try out different styles to find a good fit.