In 2015, Giant rebranded its women’s bikes as Liv. Giant makes mountain bikes, road bikes and hybrids specifically for women. Commuting, racing or riding for fitness – whatever the rider’s purpose, there’s a bike in the Liv range to fit it. Rebranding for women is not sexism; women need bikes that are different from men’s bikes. Here’s why.
For starters, men and women are not the same shape. They’re built differently, so their bikes need to be built differently. It may not always be obvious from looking at a woman’s bike standing beside a man’s, but spend some time in the saddle and the differences between good fit and bad fit will become obvious.
Of course we know there are exceptions but the general rule is that women typically are shorter in the arm and in the torso, so they need a bike that reflects that. Women’s bicycles have a shorter top tube so that the distance between seat and handlebars will also be shorter. That way a woman can sit on the saddle and reach the handlebars and operate the brakes and the gears without difficulty.
So women have shorter arms and shorter torso. But – and, once again, we know this is a generalisation but it’s one with a lot of truth – women have longer legs than men. What that means is that shortening the top tube without doing anything else to the frame can cause the toe to overlap the front wheel and, if the front wheel happens to be turning to the side at the time, the foot can go into the spokes with disastrous results. To solve that, both the length and the angle of the head tube have to be adjusted. The front wheel is now a little further forward than it is on a man’s bike and the wheelbase is a little longer so the bike is that much more stable. It’s also true that the seat tube on a woman’s bike is at an angle steeper than the seat tube on a man’s bike.