Buying a bike for the Girlfriend – Worth it or not?

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  • Buying a bike for the Girlfriend – Worth it or not?
  • 2tyred

    I recently replaced Mrs Tyred’s insanely heavy women-specific Spesh Hardrock with a Kona Caldera built over a period of time from spares and bits bought off the classifieds. Came about because she took my BFe out for a spin and demanded to know why it weighed about half as much as her bike.

    Fun project for me – trying to save weight on a micro-budget – and she’s delighted with her nice lightweight bike and wants to ride it all the time. Reckon I spent no more than 250 quid. Totally worth it.

    I cannot understand why bikes designed for women weigh so much.


    SilentSparky; mainly as Jump bikes tend toward the heavy side with burly components, often have limited gearing and the geometry isn’t great for nippy xc handling. I know that my 9 gear play bike weighs 32lbs ish where as my wife’s 1st xc bike (rigid, steel, v-brakes, 27 speed) was about 26lbs, the play bike has a stupidly laid back seattube angle which makes climbing a complete b1tch and has heavy DH tyres that drag like beasts. It’s just not that much fun for anything other than what it’s designed for – playing in the woods on jumps and steep stuff


    I de-risked the issue of Mrs F not riding the bike so I built one that if she didn’t like it I would have some fun on, unfortunatley she did like it and I had to buy myself one as I didn’t get a look in.

    It is a good spec though Dialled Bike Prince Albert, RS Revs, XT gears, Hope Hubs, etc……

    Her first foray in to biking was on a much cheaper heavier bike and she didn’t enjoy it, but by building something better Mrs F got much more out of riding. A heavy poor quality bike will do nothing to get her interested in riding.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    If you are going to do it, go second hand.

    You get a lighter (important), better functioning and possibly better fitting bike (really important). The difference mrs_oab noticed moving from her old Saracen to the Orange Clockwork was weight. MOving up to the Cannondale, the fit is fantastic, and the light weight amazing for her at 7st.

    I bought mrs_oab a Cannondale with XT/Minis etc for £250
    I bought mrs_oab’s sister a minted Scott Contessa with full LX, half decent forks etc for £175.
    I helped brother in law buy a Carrera road bike for £140
    I bought my father in law and old cro-mo Scott with full (old skool) XTR on it for £110, new semi slicks and saddle for another £40.
    Helped my brother buy a wonderful cro-mo KHS for £60, then a newer Univega for £120 that did him 8 years commuting….

    Van Halen

    teh missus loves the merlin malt 1 she has.

    its much much lighter than all my bikes and she is going out on it a fair bit. we did a few trails locally together which i let her plan and took extra food to force down her so she didnt collapse. first ride she refused to eat much and suffered so i explained why and second ride she was much better.

    got her to get a proper womans saddle, shorts and pestered her to tell me if things felt wrong or tried different things (stems and set position) to help her set it up so she liked it.

    just need a babysitter so we can go out together now.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    Just be careful that it doesn’t come across as “I know what’s good for you”.

    Men are often quite sure that equipment is the answer to everything and, while it helps a lot, it tends not to be the sentiment that our more fragrants others are looking for.

    That said, by far any away the most important two pieces of kit to buy – even for jaunts round the park – are a decent saddle and padded shorts.

    Premier Icon shortcut

    I picked up a girlie Spesh frame at a reasonable price and then built it with a girlie saddle and loads of bits I had knocking around. So it worked out reasonably cheap and I know I can re-sell the bits and get 90% of the money back.

    Mrs S thought it was very sweet and didn’t even mind the fact it took me the best part of 6 months to build it. Doesn’t even mind that her wheels are going to Scotland with me this weekend as ‘group spares’! 😳

    Premier Icon nickc

    Got my missus a 2nd hand Kona Hahana from Ebay (I’m not keen on Ebay either, but with careful selection, it can be OK). It’s not flash, but the fit’s good, decent saddle, she loves it. Rides it everyday, and we do the occasional 10-15 mile gentle offroad/road loop when the kids are out and about and the weather’s nice.


    This has got me thinking now. I could buy the most basic Spesh Myka and upgrade it with the nice spare disc wheels i have sat in the garage if i just get hold of some 2nd hand disc brakes from the classifieds?
    Building up from scratch might be fun too but getting the frame could eb a problem. Not much around in 15″ size although a quick look on Merlin shows me that i could get a Malt 1 in a 15″ frame with seatpost clamp and Headset for £100, leaving me well over £200 to finish it off without needing to buy cranks or wheel/tyres which i already have.
    Hmmmm, i feel a good fettle coming on – god help her, it’ll end up being put together worse than her Apollo…….


    I got my Missus 1st bike from here (’97 Kona Explosif frame for £80 or £90) and built it up with spares and 2nd hand bits, cost me around £300 may’be £350 max.

    Its nice and light and rides really well (still in use as commuter and occasional offroader but she won’t let me SS it) and ultimately got her into cycling after not riding a bike since she was a kid. Now 6 years later, she has a FS and is happy that pretty much every holiday is a biking holiday (including insisting on going to Canada for a 3 week riding holiday last year)

    Seems like a worthwhile investment to me.

    sofatester – Member
    Just buy her a rabbit instead, then you both will be free to ride as far as you like for as long as you like. Without her getting a sore knee/bum/hand/neck/foot and you getting a sore ear!

    Are you sure she still won’t get a sore bum….? 8)


    We have daughters, now old enough to fit adult frames. Decent bikes with decent forks, about 28lbs, that fit them and they feel comfortable on. Their riding has come on so quickly, even though they still claim they aren’t keen (come on! they are teenagers and it’s something their parents enjoy). Rode red route at GT at easter with 2 of them and it was brilliant to see them go for it, even the drop offs at the top. The investment (along with a few years of needing the patience of a saint, tears and tumbles etc) has been well worth it.
    In the future, younger blokes may not have this dilemma of how/whether to get their g/f into mtb.


    Just tried a testing ride across the road on the terrible Apollo to see about sizing and it’s so wrong it’s not true.
    She’s had this since she was a child and it’s an 18″ frame with 10 speed gearing with a 40 & 48 tooth rings at the front! No wonder it makes her knees hurt.

    I priced up a basic build and it came out way more expensive than a new bike despite not needing a fair few bits which i already have.

    I’m thinking basic level Specialized which i can upgrade bit by bit later.


    Don’t forget the comfy seat! she might well want a huge mattress seat at first. go with it. Mrs TJ insisted on one for the tandem but after a year went for a slightly less ridiculous one


    I don’t wish to sound patronising but is it surprising that girls don’t want to ride bikes when they’re presented with something that weighs a ton? Girls generally do weigh less than men, some don’t have the strength that men do. Would you want to ride around on some downhill beast on towpaths cos that’s how it could feel to a girl?

    When I was just starting out yes, I did ride round on really heavy pretty rubbish bikes.

    It was only when I knew I was committed and putting the time and effort in that I thought about getting a better bike.


    Reading back through the original post, you say you think she will only ride it a couple of times, and also no further than the park or towpaths, going by that I would give the bike she has a quick service, ie, fix the brake and check its safe, then see how she gets on.

    Might as well before wasting cash IMO.

    Premier Icon Esme

    Mr Tall, I’m about the same height and proportions as your GF, and ride a medium Spesh FSR XC (forerunner of Myka FSR).

    I don’t think frame size is the most important factor in getting the ‘right bike’. Unfortunately, so-called ladies bikes are generally fitted with standard men’s components.

    I’ve now got shorter cranks (155cm instead of 170cm), a smaller chain ring (20 instead of 22) and a larger cassette (14-39, replaced the unused 11 with the 39). It’s totally transformed my bike!


    I bought one of these for my missus Giant Yukon Ladies
    Has cable operated Hayes discs. A nicely finished bike, but nothing special. £300 is enough IMO.

    Be prepared to listen to endless complaints about hills, uneven surfaces, mud and uncomfortable saddles.

    Get her some well padded shorts and make sure you involve a couple of pub stops


    My good lady wanted to come along with me, so I got her a Giant to start off with.. now she owns a TREK Road bike and a Juliana (as I have a Superlight)

    She’s only stopped cycling now as she is Pregnant, but is already keen to get back out in the saddle.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    A bit of a cautionary tale. A previous Ms BWD was heavily into equestrian stuff and was admamant that I’d love it, if only I had a horse of my own – she came from a very wealthy family. I was equally convinced that it wasn’t for me and while I humoured her, I had no intention of learning to ride something with four legs, in any sense of the word.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, I came home one day to find that she’d actually bought me some sort of thoroughbred horse which was galloping up and down the paddock. As you can imagine this precipitated a massive row which ended up with me basically walking away from the relationship.

    It wasn’t so much about the actual horse riding, but rather her patronising idea that simply buying me a horse would somehow mean I would start riding it. I have no idea what happened to the horse and I don’t really care, but it taught me a salutary lesson.

    Since then I’ve taken the view that if my partner wants to ride mountain bikes then that’s great, but I’m never going to shove them down her throat. As it happens, current lass does, which is why I’m off to collect her from an orthopaedic ward afer breakfast.

    I’d forget it. If she wants a decent bike, let her buy it for herself.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    LOL at the trophy riding partners – ‘mine loves bikes’, vom… – I have a dog that does tricks as well. Hmmm…


    My girlfriend already liked biking but had a decentish speced bike but waaaay to big for her. I looked for a smaller frame first but a girl was just graduating and going back to states so was selling her older Cannondale F400 bike in small, completely stock, but not too bad, deore, lx and xt. I paid around £120 for it, than replaced the crappy P-Bone Fatty with a bargainous Fatty Ultra air that I got from eBay for £40, than a XT front disc brake off STW and rear xt V brake from CRC (cost almost the same as decent V brake pads). She loves her bike now, has a nice ladies saddle on it, likes the fact that is not that stretched as on the old one and that the Fatty can be set up for her weight and works really well (I like the fact that it weights only 1.29kg :-)).

    Just few tips. If You want to buy her a bike, show her the bike You want to buy, as I had to miss some nice bikes as she did not like some colours (especially mismatched ones :-)). The bike build up almost as light as my Maxlight (26lbs with no special components). So lightish weight and nice colours she likes – that’s the recipe. That’s the first thing. Second would be the ride. I took mine to the Pentlands for the first ride, and although she liked the easier bits, when I took her on my favorite descent she came off twice (nothing serious though) but now I knew two things 🙂 Girls are competitive and next time I’ll think twice about choosing the route. Same thing with doing uphill bits in Glentress. She liked the descents but killed both my ears when going up 🙂 I took her later on the family circle and she loved it, back in Edinburgh we just did some towpath, parks, flat quiet roads and with nice views as well.

    About the bike. My mate mentioned recently he got a small sized Felt bike. He’ll be selling it as it was meant to be for his sister but she wanted a city bike (the one You can put a basket on the handlebars and have +3 to looking cool at Uni :-)) and now it’s surplus and taking space. Contact me (email addy in my profile) and I’ll get in touch with him. It’s around 16″ Felt frame with various bits, but probably will need a headset. It’s RED so would have to check with Your GF (my gf hates red :-)).

    Premier Icon Trekster

    Decision time, yes or no?

    What will he do?


    I think it looks like the Specialized Myka Sport Disc for £360 ish.

    BUT, i’ve been tight and told her that if she wants the better bike then she has to pay for half of it now herself and i will refund the money to her at a later date if she actually uses the bike. If it gets ridden once and then sits in the shed gathering dust then at least we’ve both wasted money on it, not just me. I think that’s fair enough and she begrudgingly agreed.

    I wanted to get the even more basic non disc Myka and then put on the spare wheels i have and get some half decent hydraulic discs off the classifieds but she doesn’t like the colour of the basic model. 🙁

    We’ll pop along to a few shops at the weekend and size her up on one.

    BTW, any ladies (or men) out there know if lady specific bikes have a shorter reach to the brake levers as she was struggling to grab the levers on the existing Apollo last night? I know some have adjustable reach but do the lady ones start off closer to begin with? Cheers.

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop

    Lol. @ BadlyWiredDog.
    Seriously though I hope J. mends soon.

    Mr Tall. I’ve always found on the wsp bikes that the brakes levers are harder to reach for and squeeze, this is a problem for us small boned girlies who have small hands.

    Can she be pushed into trying out a few of these bikes?
    Where do you live? she is welcome to try out one of mine.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable

    I would suggest getting her some proper Avid levers with the Speed Dial reach adjust. Also maybe swapping the grips for some skinnier ones.


    Bunnyhop, thanks for the info and the offer, i’m in the midlands if you are anywhere local.

    Mr A, think i have one speed dial lever on my hybrid but as for grips i think the female specific bars/grips are already a bit slimmer than standard ones. The spesh comes with Avid BB5 discs but i don’t know what levers they run?


    Most levers cable or hydro have a reach adjust – I always adjust them in for Mrs TJ

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop

    Northwest here Mr.Tall. Maybe too far for you to travel.


    If You need ultra skinny grips than there is nothing better than those foam grips or You can use some roadie handlebar tape and it comes in different colours as well just don’t go for white as it doesn’t stay white for long.

    I think that some Shimano lever have reach adjust, isn’t that the screw on the inside of the lever (Deore have that as well)?

    Get the size and colours right and You’re on to a winner 😉



    Couple years back I got a Merlin Malt 1 for my wife, but in a size which fitted me – she is a good 3 inches taller without heels (even more with heels – but that is another story) but about 5 inches longer inside leg. And yes, I am taller than Cruise…bike too small.

    However, just built up a Fisher GED frame for her after getting it powder-coated white. Middle and small chain rings only, 120mm travel Maz, carbon post, womens saddle, thin grips, Deore hydro brakes and decent wheels and tyres. And some nice anodized bits – in pink – skewers, grip clamps and a rather cheeky stem-cap and bolt from Purely – check them out 😉 Bike is a bit on the heavy side, but fits perfectly – she seems to like it because it fits and looks good.

    In reality, given a 2 year old daughter, whilst we may be able to get out on our own now and again (plan for short and not too technical), the heavier bike will serve as a handicap for missus when I’m carting junior around on the back of my old SS Clockwork..

    If she ultimately decides she does not like, then I can use it myself or simply store in the garage for anyone who wants a go – it certainly won’t break.

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