Don’t Give Me a Girlie Bike!

To celebrate my 40th birthday this year (ulp!) and to set new cycling goals, I decided that I will aim for a century in late summer.  (For those of you who don’t know, a century is a 100-mile bike race.)  That means, of course, that not only do I need to train, a lot, I need a proper road bike.  And I can’t lie – doing the 30-mile group ride last summer made me lust for a bike with some speed, power, and is much lighter in weight that my current comfort bike!  So, The Mechanic and I have been doing some bicycle shopping over the last few weekends, and when we aren’t looking at the bikes in person, we are analyzing every possible option on assorted bicycle websites.

My first stop was the Revolution Cycles in Georgetown.  I wanted to go there specifically because of Katie, the general manager.  Katie is great – I first met her when I attended a “Ladies Night” at the Revolution Cycles in Clarendon, an evening of cycling information for women.  She also saw me ride during the Sunday morning group ride, and I was pleased when she complimented me on my ability to keep up with the beginner group on my heavy bike.  So I wanted her opinion on a bike.

The Mechanic and I already decided that I have a long torso, which will affect how I fit on a bicycle.  It’s all about geometry, but Katie pointed out that women have a different center of gravity than men, which has a lot to do with the way women’s bikes are constructed.  She had me try a Trek Lexa SLX in a 58cm size, pretty much the tallest bike size made for women.

The Trek Lexa SLX at Rev Cycles

Apparently there are only a few bicycle manufacturers who make women’s bikes bigger than a 56 – guess they assume taller women will buy a men’s? I did like the Lexa, and its matte white and gray paint job, but its $1349 price tag is really out of my $1000 estimated budget, not including pedals and shoes.

So then The Mechanic and I decided to look at REI for bikes, plus REI was having a big winter clearance, although not on the bikes.  I didn’t honestly expect to find a bike there a liked, but I did!  It’s a men’s bike, and I admit, it caught my eye because of its cool matte black finish.  (What’s with women’s bikes all being pastel and girlie?  I mean, I love my pink and silver comfort bike, but on a bike race, I want to feel aggressive and strong, and ice blue or lavender does not work for me!)  The bike is a Cannondale Synapse 6 Tiagra, and it’s only $1099.  I did look at some of the Cannondale women’s bikes, but I keep returning to this one.

The Cannondale Synapse 6 at REI

At REI one was set up on one of those indoor bike trainers so I could sit on it, click through the gears, and see how it felt, so although I haven’t done an actual test ride yet, I can say that it felt pretty comfortable.

Testing the Cannondale at REI

When we got home, we pulled up the Cannondale website and analyzed the geometry and specs – thankfully, luckily, The Mechanic is a pro and knows what to look at, or I would have bought it on the spot.  We also compared it to the women’s model, which, despite the girlie flourish on the paint job, comes in black and “berserker green” – I admit I find that appealing!

The Women's Cannondale Synapse with "Berseker" Green Detailing

By comparing 56cm on both the men’s and women’s, we determined that the men’s 56 should be fine for me, but I’ll see if I can test ride them both.  But I want the matte black one because it’s just COOL!  And the frame has these cool curves and swoops that just seem really unique, and since I love tailoring and unusual lines in clothing, there’s something about the lines of the frame that appeal to me as well. I think I will name it Donner, or Donnerwetter, which means thunder, or thunder weather, in German. After all, The Mechanic just bought a 2002 bright yellow Cannondale that he’s named Blitzen – lightening.

The Mechanic's New Bike Blitzen

Okay, maybe it’s schmaltzy, but I like the idea of Donner and Blitzen bikes!

Although I’m in love with Donner (I mean, the matte black men’s Cannondale), I want to shop around a bit more.  We already checked out a Scott at Big Wheel Bikes, and plan on checking out Hudson Trail Outfitters soon to see what they have.  I’d happily buy the Cannondale but feel that if I’m going to plop down $1000 or more, I need to really shop around.  So stay tuned to see what I come up with!

Here are some examples of women’s road bikes in “girlie” colors:

Scott Contessa in Pink

Novara Carema Bike in "Ice Blue"

Raleigh Capri, in white and blue

White seems to be a prevalent theme in women’s bikes.  Don’t they get dirtier faster?!  Then again, I also really love the Cannondale Bad Girl! But I”m probably not a good enough bike rider to look bad ass on this, so I’m probably safe from ever getting it!

The Cannondale Bad Girl

4 thoughts on “Don’t Give Me a Girlie Bike!

  1. It’s been some time since you posted this, but I’m wondering which bike you chose. What’s funny is I have the same opinion about “girlie” looking bikes. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I’m just getting ready to buy the Cannondale Alloy 6 Tiagra women’s model in the black and berserker green color. At least it looks really cool. But I love the flat black men’s version you were talking about. If I could choose that option, I would. Unfortunately, at 5’3″ with short arms and torso, the geometry wouldn’t work for me.

    Before I committed to buy it, I looked on Cannondale’s website to see if they had any hot colors for the new 2013 models. To my horror, the new models are only going to be available in a light powder blue. Ugh!! Since the black and green 2012 model was the only one left in my size, I phoned up the bike shop and had them hold it for me. I’ll be picking it up on Monday and they’ll get it set up correctly for me. Can’t wait. I’m upgrading from a 15 year old Trek Hybrid that I haven’t ridden too much up until this year. A friend and I have been doing 20-30 mile rides each week and having a lot of fun. This new bike should make it even “funner.”

    So anyway, to make a long story short, I couldn’t resist responding to someone who hates the “girlie” bike color schemes as much as I do. Maybe someday the manufacturers will wise up. All those pastel colors might have been “cute” when we were 8-10 years old.

    Happy Riding

    Dayton, OH

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comments! I loved that berserker green and black option as well, but love the matte black, and that’s what I got. I love it, although its been a bit neglected of late. And I still need to get clip less pedals to put on it! Now I’m having a similar issue with bike jerseys- some of them are sooo pink and girlie! and the ones I like best are super pricey. Never fails.

      Enjoy your berserker bike!

      • I’m there with you too on the bike jersey colors. I love all the ad laden colorful jerseys the pros where. But do they may any of these for women? No. At any rate they cost a fortune like you said. Thanks for the reply.

  2. You certainly seem to be on the right track, but if you’re really willing to put in some time and energy shopping around, I would recommend that you not completely disregard pre-owned bikes. The first bike I bought after I moved to Chicago was a big heavy cruiser I got for less than $100 from a thrift store. It did me well for a while, but when it was time to move p to something lighter and better fitting, I found a great Trek (with a tall frame, no less) at a police auction and that bike served me well for a few years before it got smashed.

    Now, some of the bikes will require a bit more maintenance to get going, but it certainly seems like the Mechanic know what to look for, and can probably help you tune it up too. Plus,if you do have to put in some work, the experience of getting a bike road-ready is super helpful later on, as you will already have a bit mechanical know-how under the belt.

    I don’t know what resources you have available to you, but aside from thrift stores, police auctions and Craigslist, Chicago has a few boutique places that buy old bikes and spiff them up for resale. Check with our employer, because in my experience, an org. like that probably knows the folks that are doing that sort of work.

    This might go against your finely-honed shopping instincts, but there’s some great stuff to be found if you’re persistent and know where to look.

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