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How to convert a men's bike to a women's bike

Some easy adjustments to make a men's bike fit you better

Clock08:25, Tuesday 10th October 2023
Our tips for converting a mens bike into a women's bike

Our tips for converting a mens bike into a women's bike

Manon Lloyd
Global Cycling Network
Manon Lloyd
GCN Tech Presenter

The youngest, most successful and by far the coolest presenter

If you’re in the market for a women's bike, especially the second-hand market, you might be disappointed to see how few options are out there. You might be better off buying a men's bike or unisex bike, and making it your own with some upgrades and adjustments.

Ultimately, the most important differences between a men’s bike and a women’s bike are in the contact points: the bars, the levers, the saddle, and, to an extent, the cranks. If you’re happy to chop and change a few parts, you’re going to end up with a bike that’s just as suited to a female cyclist as any off-the-peg women’s bike.

Read more: Do I need a women's bike?

Tools Needed

Make sure you get a bike that suits the terrain you ride

Step 1

Consider your riding style

Before you even start the conversion process, it’s best to make sure you’ve got the right type of bike for the riding you like to do. We’ve got plenty of information about each type of bike out there, so you can decide whether you’re better off with a road bike, a gravel bike, a mountain bike, or a commuter bike.

Read more: Every type of bike explained

Riding an ill-fitting bike is really uncomfortable

Step 2

Get the right frame size

Generally, the advice is that women should pick a size smaller than a size guide recommends. Usually, people say this is because women have longer legs and shorter torsos than men, although that’s actually a myth. In fact, women should pick a smaller size because generally speaking, women have shorter arms, proportionally, than men, so a frame that’s designed for male proportions might feel a little long.

Even if you get exactly the right size frame, it probably won’t fit you perfectly straight away. Have a look at our guide to getting a perfect bike fit to get comfortable on your frame.

Read more: Signs you bought the wrong size bike

Women's saddles tend to be wider and have a larger cutout

Step 3

Fit a women's specific saddle

Women’s saddles are designed to accommodate wider sit bones and offer better pressure relief to any soft tissue. It might take a bit of trial and error to find a saddle that suits you, so look into finding a bike shop that offers test saddles or a fitting service.

Read more: How to choose a road bike saddle

Narrower bars suit narrower shoulders

Step 4

Swap out the handlebars

Generally speaking, men’s bikes come with wider handlebars – usually between 40 and 44cm – that fit men’s wider shoulders. Most women have narrower shoulders, so consider fitting a narrower bar between 36 and 40cm.

Read more: How to change integrated handlebars

Step 5

Adjust the reach on brake and gear levers

On modern STI levers, you can usually adjust the reach of the levers by adjusting a bolt under the hood. The placement of the bolt varies depending on your model, so check the individual specs of your levers, then adjust the levers until you can reach the levers with ease.

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