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September 20, 2011 / ccollinsonjones1

Sexism on wheels

Sorry, you can only buy a bike here if you're an insufferable twat.

It is time to buy a racer. My current bike weighs approximately 90 kilos and is about as nimble and aerodynamic as a rhino.

I have commuted on it for 7 years. I have hefted it up flights of stairs. I have acquired a landscape of bruises on each calf from its vicious pedals. Years of propelling its ungainly bulk around London’s potholed streets have left me with legs strong enough to kill a man with one swift kick to the throat. On a racer I will be but a blur of flashing lights and bad language.

London’s bike shops are full of nippy, sleek little racers with uncomfortable-looking saddles, so finding one should be easy, right?

Only if you have a penis or are over 5ft 8 (or both).

I’m not looking for a lady bike with a low cross bar so I can skip on and off it in a flouncy skirt. I’m just looking for something small enough for someone who is only 5ft 3 and ¾.

In every shop there are floors and floors full of racers but not one of them is appropriately proportioned. In one over-priced Soho bike shop (the sort that sells bikes to fashionable moustaches in rolled up skinny jeans) I was simply told: “We don’t do ladies sizes.” In others I have been told that ladies don’t normally want racers so they don’t usually stock them and must order them in.

Really? I know a few women with racers. Ovaries don’t stop you wanting to go fast.

So I must order a few different models and wait and generally shop around until I find a saddle low enough that I can get on it without a leg up from a nearby pedestrian. In the mean time I must keep slugging around town on the tank and its back wheel is getting wobblier by the day.

As you can tell, I have got my Lycra in a bit of a twist about this. Any suggestions welcome.

7 Comments

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  1. Charlotte / Sep 20 2011 1:15 pm

    Go to Condor and get one built just for you? Bit more pricey but you get to specify all the bits you want/don’t want, they make it you sized and proportioned and they make sure you’re in the best possible (saddle) position to go fast enough to kill every cool male twat that crosses your path x

    • ccollinsonjones1 / Sep 20 2011 1:34 pm

      Oo ta. I will check it out (and keep you informed of the body count). x

  2. welshcyclist / Sep 20 2011 4:11 pm

    5′ 3 3/4″ with twisted lycra, you sound like my kind of girl, (lol). Sorry to hear you have such problems, and in London of all places. Keep searching, you won’t know yourself when you get on a lighter machine. Though, when I progressed from an old carthorse, my Carrera Subway LTD, to a much lighter tourer, a Raleigh Pioneer GT, unaccountably my speed got slower, or maybe I just got heavier?

    • ccollinsonjones1 / Sep 21 2011 10:05 am

      Thanks v much – I managed to get one. A nice gentleman at Evans hired a few in for me to try. I just took 12 minutes off my morning ride to work. Now I just need to learn to go around corners without screaming.

      • welshcyclist / Sep 21 2011 5:19 pm

        12 minutes less first go, very impressive! I still scream going round corners.

  3. Alex Light / Oct 19 2011 11:38 am

    I understand the frustration, but it will be because retailers don’t want to stock unusual sizes that they can’t sell. It’s a pain. I second Condor if you’re prepared to spend the money or are looking for something to fall in love with – bespoke fitting means you get a 100% tailored position. If you know your frame size also try Planet X…very good value for the spec. and they do occasionally stock smaller sizes. Lastly, Specialized are big enough to do female-specific bikes like the Dolce that have different frame geometry etc.

    • ccollinsonjones1 / Oct 19 2011 11:53 am

      Ta v much…I actually ended up with a Trek and am rather pleased with it. Just had to order a few in from Evans and find the best one. Any tips on insurance?

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