Bicycle Network: Women's Cycling
The right bike for the job
A MTB is of little use if what you want is a bike to take to market, writes Jeanette Acland
The right bike for the right job
Last September I did a disc in my back. My physio gave me the okay to start riding again, but not in my usual riding position. I was given permission to go on ‘Mary Poppins’ rides – that is, an upright seating position suitable for Mary in her long skirts. I borrowed a bike from a generous friend and began to tootle around Melbourne looking like a woman from the 1900s, and I loved it! With two baskets back and front, I was able to do more on my bike than I had managed before. Even my weekly car trip to the Victoria Market became, by preference, two bike trips a week with heavily laden baskets.
So I went to a bike shop with the borrowed bike and said, pointing, “I want one of these" …
Buying the right tool for the right job
... and the bike shop boy said, “No, you don’t.”
That’s how it started. Now I have a good friend who knows the industry well and he told me to persist. So I did. I tried a variety of the women’s bikes that are appearing in a variety of shops (like a Gofa and a Bottechia). I even rode a Specialized (too specialised for me).
I was told I needed front suspension! When I pointed out that I was a fifty year old woman who was unlikely to start dirt-biking, the helpful lad told me I could lock it out! Why, I asked, would I pay an extra $300 for a feature I don’t want? I got so frustrated I began each new enquiry with a description of my magnificent made-to-measure tourer that was perfect for the long haul.
“So, you see, I don’t want a top of the range, specialist anything – just a bloody bike!” Then I got to almost shouting … “What I want is a shopping trolley with pedals.”
I eventually bought a Giant Elwood (woman’s frame) and paid the extra to fit mudguards, front and back racks and baskets (with Mr Tuffy in the tyres, after a puncture in week one), and we changed the handle bars at home because I was given so many reasons why I couldn’t have classic women’s swept-back handlebars …
Some of my favourite quotes about handle bars: You can’t change the handlebars ‘cause it will void the warranty on the bike … you’ll need to pay for extra cables because they won’t stretch on the new handle bars (actually they fitted easily) … they are not ergonomically sound … it will hurt your wrists.
I am deliriously happy every day on my comfortable (but not glamorous and without front suspension) $600 pedal-powered shopping trolley.
So, girls (even you fifty year old ones): don’t be talked into features you don’t need or a riding position that doesn’t suit you. Persist and get the bike you want.