Women's Mountain Bike Clothing: How to Choose the Best Fit
Women's mountain bike clothing is not just a scaled-down verson of men's mountain bike clothing. There are distinct differences that make a huge difference in comfort and fit. As women, we not only differ in size from men, but we have different body shapes as well.
Women's mountain bike clothing is different from men's mountain bike clothing in that it is tailored to fit the average range of a female's body type. In comparison to our male counterparts, we often have the following differences:
- Smaller overall body size
- Lighter weight
- Shorter arms and torso
- Longer legs in comparison to arms and torso
- Wider hips
- Smaller hands
Of course, these differences do not exist between all males and all females because there is overlap between gender body types, so it is important to take this into consideration when determining whether women's mountain bike clothing is a better fit for you.
As a beginner, I had no clue how important it was to wear mountain bike clothing that fits me well. To be perfectly honest, I had no clue that mountain bike clothing was even important. I thought I would be perfectly fine wearing a t-shirt and cotton shorts. Needless to say, I learned my lesson the hard way after some uncomfortable rides!
Women's Cycling Shorts
When I finally decided that maybe mountain bike clothing would help make my riding more pleasant, I decided that I would have to break down and buy some of those hideous tight black lycra shorts, so I went shopping.
I was shocked at the prices and couldn't really tell the difference between a $100 pair of mountain bike shorts and a $40 pair, so I bought the $40 version, which I am embarrassed to admit they were boys' mountain bike shorts. Hey, they were a good deal and they felt like they fit when I tried them on in the store so why not? This was obviously before I realized the differences in fit between men's/boy's and women's mountain bike clothing.
Women's cycling shorts are generally smaller in the waistband, more tapered from hip to waist, and shorter in leg length than men's cycling shorts. The chamois is also shaped differently from a chamois in men's cycling shorts to fit the female anatomy.
A couple of my favorite women's cycling shorts are the
Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts
Pearl Izumi Elite Shorts
They are both very comfortable and have great wicking properties.
Women's Mountain Bike Shoes
I have bought men's mountain bike shoes before because there was not a female version of the shoe available. This was a mistake because even though the shoe fit the length of my foot, it was too wide in the heel area and my heel slipped around so my pedaling was not as efficient. Women's mountain bike shoes take this difference into consideration and have a narrower heel in proportion to the size of the shoe.
Women's Cycling Jerseys
I used to buy small men's mountain bike jerseys because they were easier to find on sale than women's bike jerseys, but now I am tired of looking like a scarecrow so I buy women's cycling jerseys. They fit better because they taper in more at the waist and sleeve area and are wider in the hips and breast areas. The torso area is also shorter. Women's mountain biking jerseys should be made of moisture wicking materials.
It is important to have moisture wicking materials on all women's mountain bike clothing, but it is even more important for layers that are against the skin to stay dry and comfortable. A good sports bra wicks away sweat and provides the right amount of support. Avoid cotton sports bras because they do not have wicking properties. Nylon/spandex blends like these sports bras are good choices and some of them are half off...a good deal considering how expensive they can often be.
Womens Cycling Gloves
Women's cycling gloves are not only smaller than men's cycling gloves, but they are narrower so they fit our hands better.
Womens Cycling Socks
Yes, even women's cyling socks are different from men's! I have a pair of men's mountain biking socks that bunch up in the toes and heel because they are not narrow enough for my foot in those areas. They are fine for short rides, but if I ride in them for a long time, I get blisters.
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