Can a Man Ride a Women’s Bike?

By Megan Flottorp

We tend to talk a lot about the reverse form of this question, detailing why men’s bike might be better for certain women, or complaining about the lack of choices for the ladies — but what if we flip the script and consider the possibility of a man riding a women’s bike? Is it advisable, practical, or maybe even the solution that a ton of male riders have been looking for?

See where we’re going with this? So the quick answer to the question “Can a man ride a women’s bike?” is, of course, yes! A bike is a bike, and once you’ve learned to ride one, you can ride them all. But not only can a man ride a women’s bike, there might even be a few instances when he should. Let’s take a closer look.

Fit has nothing to do with gender

No two bodies are identical, and as any cyclist knows — the better your bike suits your unique physique, the happier you’re going to be riding it. Generally speaking, women’s bikes are designed to fit a rider of smaller stature. However, last time we checked, men come in all shapes and sizes too — so if a man is struggling to find a perfect fit from the ‘men’s line,’ a women’s bike might be just the solution he’s after. Likewise, women’s bikes are also designed according to the principle that women have longer legs and a shorter torso. So if you happen to be a man rocking that ratio, maybe trying the women’s line will guide you to your sweet spot.

Cycling in Madrid
Women’s bikes are designed according to the principle that women have longer legs and a shorter torso.

Style also has nothing to do with gender, for that matter

In addition to fit, some men are drawn to the differences in colour, style, or decals available for women’s bikes. In fact, the former global marketing manager of Liv (Giant’s sister brand) was quoted in saying the following: “We find many men actually really like our colours. They also will ask for the bike by name. I’ve personally seen men looking for the Lust most often.” So if you’re a man and the look of a specific bike catches your eye or reflects your personal style, please, for goodness sake, don’t let the fact that it was designed with ‘women in mind’ keep you from claiming one as your own.

Step-through frames make cycling more accessible to some riders

The fact is that there is simply a wider range of step-through bikes to choose from if you include designed geared towards women. It is a classic women’s bike feature — with a downward-sloping top tube, and dates back to days when women riders wore long skirts. Many people still prefer step-through bikes now, though, and skirts usually aren’t the reason. On a step-through bike, you can mount the bike easily without having to hoist your leg up and over the rear wheel. There is no major lifting or swinging required. You just straddle the bike and sit down, making getting on and off comfortable and easy. If that sounds appealing to you, maybe expand your search to include women’s models.

Step-through bike
Many people prefer step-through bikes.

Some men have narrow shoulders

Returning to the matter of fit, women’s bikes usually account for the general principle that women have narrower shoulders than men. If, as a man, you often find you have sore shoulders after riding, then trying a women’s bike on for size might help solve that problem. Having too wide of handlebars can cause all sorts of issues down the line and also make the bike more difficult to handle, so don’t ignore this telling tip-off.

Women’s bikes tend to offer a more upright ride

Since some women’s bikes have upper tubes that tilt to the pedals, shortening the distance between seat and handlebars, they allow for a more upright position. For a lot of cyclists, men and women alike, this provides a more comfortable ride. This steeper seat tube can be the difference between accessible mounting and the ability to stay comfortable and relaxed over a longer distance on both road and mountain bikes.

So, ready to go test ride some women’s models?

Looking towards the future of bike design, it is likely true that unisex bikes will be the primary focus. It seems that our evolving understanding of genders is mirrored by evolving fit data for riders. As such, we’re likely to see more bike brands transition to gender-neutral bikes, offering, for example, five overall sizes instead of four ‘men’s’ sizes and four ‘women’s’ sizes in a model. For the time being, though, the more bikes you try out, the more likely you are to find the one that’s right for you. So regardless of your gender identity, it’s our advice to expand your search for the perfect steed to include all available options.