Women Mean Business

This week was the National Women’s Bicycling Forum held by the League of American Bicyclists.  While I wasn’t able to make it to Washington, DC, I tried to follow as much as I could online. The theme was “Woman Mean Business” and there’s a pretty serious video presentation of just how much business.

But it doesn’t take statistics to tell us women there is some serious untapped market potential out there.

Women Mean Business

But beyond simple market potential, we’re a force to be reckoned with. And I reckon there’s going to be some change coming.


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  • Opus the Poet March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I don’t see what the problem with women is, when I was building bikes women were my best customers. But I have been told I act like I’m a good listener, so that might be the thing. Anyway, custom bike builder with about 50/50 male/female customer ratio, and I never turned away someone waving money at me.

    • rollinger June 10, 2013  

      i agree with that. In the bike shop it looks like a 50/50 ratio. In germany too.

  • Tim March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I’m sorry you feel that way, but you don’t have to be so demeaning about it. How do you feel when somebody makes a gross generalization about women? Two wrongs??? Maybe you need to find a different shop.

    • Christy March 8, 2013  

      I don’t see how this is being demeaning. Is it the words “sausage festival” that hurt your feelings? Because except for this very literal spelling out of a well-known concept, the situation depicted above is one many women have experienced to varying degrees. I don’t think it’s unkind or a “wrong” to simply illustrate the situation. I know I have personally encountered this in several shops in several cities. And many of those times the “blahblahblah obscure technical specs” conversation was between employees who were otherwise unoccupied. Yes, a person can always demand attention, but a customer shouldn’t have to beg to be seen as a customer.

      This is a real situation and a real and significant element of bicycle culture in the US. It isn’t mean or antagonizing to point it out–even in a good-natured cartoon.

    • Kevin March 8, 2013  

      The humor of cartoon is often in it’s over-generalization. Unfortunately, I think there is way too much truth in this cartoon. Having watched the way my wife is treated, this cartoon hits it spot on!

  • Peanut Butter March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Yes! And some of those ladies even want to buy spandex and lighter components.

    My first bicycle as an adult was given to me by my boss (she found it in her garage and knew I had been saving up) so I took it to the only bike shop for 75 miles and got it fixed up. I told the dudes there that I had NO bicycle equipment, and I needed to BUY ALL THE GEAR with my newly freed-up bicycle savings.

    They sold me a helmet and a patch kit. I asked if I should maybe have some more things, but received a non-committal answer and so I went home with my new-to-me bicycle and helmet and patch kit. A few months later my roadie BFF came out and we went for a ride. “Your tires seem a little mushy, how often do you pump them up?”


    So then part of her visit included going to the LBS and getting all of the things I would actually need to do on the road tire changes and repairs and pump up my tires and lube my chain, etc.

  • Ryan Surface March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Preach it sister!

  • Richard March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I like the small detail about the women’s section, tucked away in the back corner, with some nice wide saddles and a basket!

  • Jean March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I have 4 bikes with a 5th bike which I gave away to a sister when I moved across Canada. I still borrow that bike when I visit that city.

    So in total these bikes are spread across 3 provinces, 3 cities in the country where I do have family and visit. And I never have to worry about a bike that fits me nor cost of air shipping /renting a bike. I never dreamt that I would have this many bikes but it has evolved as a cyclist for the past 22 yrs. I am choosing bikes because it can be the most “expensive” equipment as a cyclist. However once one bikes every day for transportation and exercise, one saves a ton of money.

    Already the bike retailers in the past 3 years in our city have changed to offering a wider range of bike geometries and sizes, not just dropped handlebars to be a tight, fast moving form.

  • Sara K March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I totally laughed out loud at this one. SPOT. ON.

  • Carrie March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I hope so! I was just talking to someone the other day about how many more women would be interested in getting on a bicycle, if they didn’t feel that it required a spandex uniform. It amazes me how many people are surprised to know I ride all the time in a skirt or dress. Bike shops, pay attention!

    • Plastic Lunch Tray March 27, 2013  

      It isn’t really just bike shops that created the myth of a required uniform.
      It’s the magazines and advertisers and the gullibility of the consumer.
      Marketing and promotion rarely deal with reality, especially a reality that doesn’t require additional purchases. Free your mind, your bike will follow.

  • Megan Ramey March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Thank you! Can we please get a bike shop like Adeline Adeline in Boston that caters to real women (versus the typical weekend road warriors) that want to look like normal people when we ride. I want to see every product from the Basil and Linus collections along with functional, Dutch step through frames for bikes and accessories that help you get your kids around by bike (versus blah Burley trailers).

    • Danni March 7, 2013  

      But I also want stores to cater to women who are commuting 25-30km a day and not just be directed to the dutchies. Really I just want stores that respect women for their cycling needs. Also for anyone who refers to the gender split in cyclists as the basket ratio to catch on fire.

    • Jessica Mink March 11, 2013  

      I *like* Burley trailers! They’re great if you have to carry a kid a long distance, and for very small kids who can’t hold their head up. But I agree that there should be a variety of kid carriers available. I would add Vespertine for visibility, Po Campo bags, and Cleverhood reflective rain capes, too. My local bike shop did carry the wonderful Fuji Cambridge step-through frame, which is my daily commuting bike (and seems to be no longer made).

  • Nathan March 7, 2013   Reply →

    True story: My mom was in a bike shop looking for shoes. She rides a road bike, but wanted mountain shoes for ease of walking around. The clerk apparently couldn’t grasp the concept, though. Eventually, he said, “Maybe we should ask your husband.” “Good idea,” my mom said. “He’s out in the car.”
    She hasn’t been back since.

    • ladyfleur March 8, 2013  

      I’ve seen that too. I was in a shop where a mom was looking for shoes. She had bought a road bike for exercise, but also wanted to ride with her young children to school and around town. Sales guy sold her road shoes even though mountain bike shoes would have been so much better given she was going to be chasing kids around.

  • Casey March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Great cartoon, so true! Especially for old women. I had to flag someone down to put in an order for a $1000 bike (because they don’t stock commuter bikes), and he acted like it was all tooooo boring. Too bad they are the only shop in town. And taking it in for adjustment? Humiliating to have to jump up and down to get some attention away from the fixie hipsters just hanging out gabbing in the shop.

  • tina March 7, 2013   Reply →

    whenever im ignored at a bike shop because i’m a female and an old woman too–i leave and look for another shop. I find that usually the big commercialized bike store are more accommodating than smaller bike shops. I found one that I go to every time and I tell you they are nice to me.

  • scott March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I wonder if many bike stores sent reps to this conference. I still think many shops cater too much to road riding and not enough to transportation riding. Selections and service are less than optimal, even for men.

    • Moopheus March 8, 2013  

      Yes, some shops around here have a complex, multi-leveled hierarchy, and being a commuter is definitely near the bottom regardless of gender.

    • Jessica Mink March 11, 2013  

      I met a few bike shop owners at the conference, but they tend to be activists who support all sorts of cycling already.

  • Lovely Bicycle! March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Dick’s Bikes : )

  • Louie March 7, 2013   Reply →

    (Laughing uproariously.) “DICK’S BIKES” over the tiny women’s section. I see what you did there.

  • Matt the Mechanic March 7, 2013   Reply →

    I think our female-to-male customer ratio is actually greater than 50/50, it’d be stupid for us, as a shop, to ignore that much of our market. The industry as a whole… well, that’s another story.

  • Matt the Mechanic March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Aaaand I just saw the “Dick’s Bikes” sign too. Brilliant.

  • Psy March 7, 2013   Reply →

    Of all of the bike shops I’ve visited, I’ve really only had this problem once…but I also usually barge in with a slew of technical problems and super specific part (or gear) requests, and I’m loud. So they immediately know that I mean business.

    That aside though, even if I’m just browsing or drooling over the latest bike that I want, I rarely get treated any differently than my male counterparts. Perhaps that’s because the area I’m in has a high percentage of cyclists, both male and female, casual and not, but it is nice that the LBSs in my area don’t automatically assume I know nothing.

    The teeny women’s selection though…yeah, that most places still have to work on a bit.

  • D. March 8, 2013   Reply →

    I have found that the larger chain bike shops tend to be like this with everyone who doesn’t fit their stereotype of a “serious cyclist” or who doesn’t look like they are there to spend £1,000 on a new bike. I have spent ages in one just standing there, looking expectant and waiting for a member of staff to offer help/assistance/advice.

    Thats why I only go in the big shops if I’m in a hurry and I know exactly what I want so can just grab it and go to the counter. The rest of the time – most of the time – I go to my LBS. And the LBS gets all of my maintenance/servicing.

    Disclaimer: I am male.

  • David Pearce March 10, 2013   Reply →

    Goodness! Some dissension here, and also good discussion. I guess that is what we are saddled with, just being human. It’s amazing we make any progress at all. But then again, we did invent the bicycle, and that has been good for men AND women, so that is progress and a good thing.

    I was happy to host The Path Less Pedaled in my home here in D.C., when they attended and covered the National Women’s Bicycle Forum and the whole NBS.

    And I noticed that they left an extra NWBF program when they went home, and WHO did the cover for it? Why, Bikeyface, of course, and she’s too modest to say it here! So thanks so much, Bikeyface, for your great work, and if you ever need a place to stay when you have a D.C. bike event, please feel free to contact!

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