The discomfort zone

It’s easy to under estimate how confusing the world of bikes has become – until you put yourself in the discomfort zone.

Ladies bike by see.laurenMy wife wants a new bicycle because the one she currently owns weighs about a metric tonne and rides like it’s built from random bits of scaffolding. Of course, this is all very reasonable and makes a great deal of sense – the problems began when she asked for my help.

The thing is, I pride myself on knowing a thing or two about bikes; knowing the difference between a fixie and a single speed, that spending money on good wheels is a worthy investment and the benefits and drawbacks of steel, aluminium and carbon frames. But assign me the task of seeking out the best woman-specific bicycle, and I’m like a race snake out of Lycra.

Researching woman’s bikes made me emphasise with those people who are relatively new to the sport in general, and have yet to form their own opinions. Town bike or hybrid? Woman specific or woman friendly? Hub gears, three gears or 21 gears? Pendleton, Pashley or Pinarello? Exotic or pragmatic?


So it is that after many hours of internet research, my wife and I are left more confused than ever, mulling over the benefits of a practical hybrid versus the chic allure of a Pashley. Wondering how the latter will cope with a lumpy park ride and where to keep the baguette, flowers and bottle of wine on the former.

The problem is, I’m not sure that my wife’s ideal bike actually exists because, essentially, what she wants is a bike that is light enough to move with ease, comfortable enough to actually want to ride it, funky enough to maintain her street-cred, pretty enough to suit a flowing dress and fast enough to beat me up a hill.

A quick visit to our local Evans certainly didn’t help, a conversation with one of their sales representatives actually hindered our search; and a quick visit to Twittersphere resulted in recommendations for a custom-built Colourbolt, which although lovely are a little out of our price range (no wife of mine will have a more expensive bike than me!)

So, here we are back at square one, with a bike-sized hole in the shed and nothing to fill it other than a faint sense of bewilderment.

David Rae

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  1. Malcolm says:

    Hi David,

    I know the problem. My wife went for a mid range carbon road bike with some lightweight wheels upgrade and some days she does beat me up the hills! I’ve just been looking at the Cotic bikes website and thought of the ‘roadrat’ model (…but there’s only a choice of three frame sizes. I have a friend who loves his—I have no affiliation with Cotic by the way! Also, to compliment my carbon wonder machine, I ride a Surly pacer. Now this is a lovely, affordable bike…a bit on the heavy side.. but I love it and can ride all day on it. I have come to the conclusion that nothing rides as good as steel…my Parlee, maybe, depending on my mood.. weight isn’t everything. Anyway, hope that hole in the shed gets filled soon!

  2. Thanks for the comment Malcolm. Still not filled. This is a tough one…

  3. Will Needham says:

    Is it really that difficult? Decide what she wants it for (Transport/Leisure/Training) and the rest falls in to place from there. Sounds to me like she wants a pretty bike for pottering about on but you keep putting her off with comments about weight and speed.

    p.s. Have you checked out the Bobbin range? The Bramble in particular has the vintage looks with slightly more sprightly performance than a Pashley.

    • To be fair, I haven’t tried to steer her one way or another. She’s just not convinced by the pure sit up and beg town bike, but can’t find something that offers that level of comfort and chic with a bit more va va voom… Bobbin have always been close, but not quite.

      As for the weight, again totally my wife’s doing. In fact, I should get her to comment on here…

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