We joined a women’s ride in Scotland to check out what the ladies were riding, if they’d been attracted to ‘women’s specific’ options and what changes they’d made to their bikes.

A women’s ride is a mysterious thing, why do we feel we need to exclude the boys (imagine if they said we couldn’t go on their rides – that is straightforward sexism!)?, are the trails easier? The pace slacker? Not really, they’re just well, more…. No I really can’t find the word. It’s just nice riding with people who have the same concerns as you do, the same struggles and often the same goals. Sometimes that enjoyment comes from riding faster and better and sometimes it comes from not feeling the pressure to keep up with lads that often more competitive.

We took a very localised snapshot of women who ride, in this case, women who ride some pretty tough trails, to see what they’d chosen and whether they’d listened to the input of bike marketers who tell us that we need women specific geometry.

Amy is riding a Transition Smuggler and has gone full-stealth with the colour scheme. The bike was frame-only and built up especially for her. Womanly componentry? Saddle only.
Local racer Cat is showing off her Nukeproof Mega 290 with not even an inkling of pink. Cat has changed the stem for a shorter one, cut down the handlebars and changed the saddle and tyres.
Women Specific componentry? Saddle only.
Krysia is riding her Whyte G-150 with a straight-out-of-the-box build.
Women Specific componentry? Saddle only
Claire is riding a women specific Canyon Spectral with no changes made to the original build. Women Specific componentry? Saddle, narrower handlebars, lighter rider tuning on the suspension.
Lindsay is very happy to be riding her Cannondale Trigger with no new bits except a change of pedals. Lindsay hasn’t even succumbed to the women specific saddle.
Women’s Specific componentry? Nil.
Laura is riding a very capable Trek Remedy 9. With an as-standard build it’s almost straight out of the box. Sporting new tyres (Michelin wildmud is a grand choice for Scottish ‘spring’ time) and a new saddle.
Women Specific componentry? Saddle only.
Maddy is riding an Orange Diva – the women’s version of the ever popular Orange 5. Maddy identifies the main differences of the Diva as slightly different graphics, a ladies saddle and smaller sizing (a medium Diva is a small 5). Maddy has made a few changes including the addition of carbon cranks, she’s simplified the drive train to 1x and added a dropper seatpost. The tyres are changed regularly.
Women Specific componentry? Woman specific in name only.

Julia is riding a custom built Santa Cruz Bronson. It’s been built up from frame only with everything added to make it the right bike for her.
Women Specific componentry? Saddle and shorter cranks, because she likes them.

The ladies of the Tweed valley in Scotland don’t seem to have listened to the women’s specific bike campaigns (although the organiser of the ride, Aneela McKenna, was on a beautiful Juliana Joplin but was too busy chatting to have her photo taken). This is a decidedly biased representation with all of these women being pretty confident shredders. No matter your height or whether your centre of gravity is influenced by your sky-high legs or your gigantic boobs, there is a bike out there for you. It might be a woman specific build and it might not, just love it (and maybe change the saddle).

Words & Photos: Catherine Smith