Real Women

Having worked in advertising a bit, I was intrigued by the ongoing debate about the representation of gender in bicycle advertising. At first, I was inclined to be offended too. But then, as I was watching the cyclists in my neighborhood, I realized something: the media really has us women figured out!

For example, I saw this very cute woman with a bike downtown:

Real Women

Specialized did some solid market research because I actually stumbled on a couple of Bike Nurses offering cycling men a hand!

Real Women

Of course, the lady cyclists out on the town were very stylish.

Real Women

But, of course, it’s not all about the clothes.

Real Women

Which sure makes laundry and getting ready in the morning so much easier.


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I worked single parent daddy hours in a local bike shop for over 10 years as a mechanic. A salesman who was pushing (Pimping) a line of California Cruiser Bikes was handing out calenders of the bikes. The bikes would be in the foreground with these very customized cars from the 1950’s and 60’s in the back ground and yes, there was a very scantily clad, nothing to the imagination woman draped over or straddling the bike(s). The guy handed me one and I asked him how I would explain such a calendar to my two (then) little girls. I… Read more »
Peter Lütken

Pane 3: Shouldn’t bespectacled girl’s other pant leg berolled up? Unless she’s riding a bike with a southpaw drivetrain or if this is some weird Bostonian bike fashion that has yet to reach across the pond to Norway. 🙂

As always: a great read. Wrote a long comment on my feelings on the subject, but it all looked sorta bland next to your cartoon.


Huh??? My chain is on the right as well. Her right pant leg is rolled up. Is your chain on the left?? Although it does sort of appear that hers is on the left.

Peter Lütken

I have now cleaned my glasses and all is well 🙂


It works if she rides backwards like the girl in the first drawing.


While it does make me a little uneasy that companies are using sex to sell bicycles, to a certain extent I’m actually quite happy about it. For years we were told that cars are sexy, and attractive people drive cars. Now we are seeing marketers sells us that bikes are sexy and attractive people ride bikes. It’s not a bad problem to have given that historically bikes, especially in the media, have been shown to only be ridden by losers and social misfits who can’t afford a car or couldn’t get a driver’s license.


Yeah, but the “sexy” people in these ads aren’t ever RIDING bikes. They generally seem to just be standing near or over them.

John Murphy

You calling Mario Cipollini unsexy? Paola Pezzo?

John Romeo Alpha

It’s all about target market I suppose. Men have buy buttons which are assumed to be easily pressed by a scantily clad woman straddling a superlight racing bike, a double hit of affect heuristic. I, for one, am also offended by the tacit assumptions of that ploy: superlight racing bikes turn me off completely.

I read some of those articles last week on the representation on gender in advertising and agree: F’d up! But I’ll have to disagree with you on some of these other criticisms. Yeah, people should be able to bike in regular clothes and women shouldn’t be expected to be ‘dressed up.’ But ‘regular’ clothes is defined differently for different people and different occasions. Sure, I’ll ride my bike in jeans. I’ll also ride my bike in a short skirt and outrageous heels when I’m headed out for a night on the town on a Friday. (Beats walking in heels!) And… Read more »
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