Women’s guide to buying a tri bike

We offer five tips to help you find a bike that'll fit and ride right

Mirinda Carfrae riding at Kona

Most manufacturers tend to design bikes with average-sized consumers in mind – but what can you do if that doesn’t describe you, or if you’re (surprise!) a woman? Read on for five ways you can get a better fit…


If you’re at either end of the height curve, especially as a petite woman, you’ll probably be looking at some degree of bespoke build rather than having the convenience of an off-the-peg bike. This will probably cost you a bit more and involve additional research but, for a bike that’ll fit and ride right, it’s definitely worth it.

Get a proper fit

We’d advise going to a shop where they’ll sit you on a fitting jig to work out the exact frame size and geometry that’s right for you. If they just plonk you on a bike and say, “That looks about right”, walk out. (Read the current issue of the mag for our bike fitting guide)

Bars and stem

It’s important to make sure that the bars are narrow enough for your shoulders and that the stem doesn’t leave you feeling over-stretched. Even the most perfectly fitted frame can easily be ruined by a poorly fitting cockpit.


Most road bikes tend to come fitted with 172.5mm or 175mm cranks. But, especially if you’re a little shorter in the leg, dropping down to 165mm will make a really noticeable difference to comfort and pedaling efficiency.


Standard-sized STI levers can be way too big if you’ve got small hands. They make shifting a strain, especially from the drops, as well as making braking potentially ineffective and dangerous. Spec any levers that allow for reach to be adjusted. This is usually achieved by inserting shims.

Wheel size

A smaller frame will obviously bring the wheels closer together and this can cause of problem with your toe overlapping the front wheel. 650c wheels can solve this issue and are definitely worth considering. Choice of tyres can be a bit limited, but most manufacturers offer at least one choice.

(Main image: Delly Carr)


For lots more advice on buying triathlon kit head to our Gear section