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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  • Old Lady March 11, 2013   Reply →

    During a trip using the Cape Cod Rail Trail, my gloves were so shredded and uncomfortable, I decided to replace them when I was passing a bike shop in Orleans….. I believe it was Orleans Cycle. Having people outside waiting for me, I quickly tried some on, made my choice and brought them to the counter with cash in hand. Waited…………………………………………………
    ………………………………………….waited some more, while the shop guy talked and talked to a couple about a bike they clearly were not going to purchase that day, maybe ever. There was someone else working (?) in there too, also ignoring me. I threw the gloves down and walked out. Yes, they clearly saw me, with cash in hand and chose to ignore me. On returning home I ordered gloves online…two pair. The LBS wonders why they loose business to online sales?

    • Heather April 5, 2013  

      I buy most stuff online or ebay. I research it, look at it, know what I want.

  • BHNelson March 11, 2013   Reply →

    While I completely agree that many shops have this problem, I am blessed to have three shops in my town which do not. I tend to do my own wrenching and so enjoy talking shop with the guys/gals in the back, so I can be something of a fixture. But I have also run into this attitude when buying a car, and this was my solution: when I felt I was being under-served, I asked to see a manager. I let him know that I had come ready to buy, but the level of customer disservice I received had encouraged me to take my money elsewhere. Then I left. I can’t give a bigger hint than that, and I encourage others to do the same.

  • MT Cyclist March 11, 2013   Reply →

    I must put in a good word for my LBS. In addition to the typical laid-back bike dudes who one would expect to work there, they have two really capable women. One is very good in sales and can match all the guys with her knowledge of obscure technical bike stuff. The other is an excellent mechanic. She saved my sanity by eliminting the clicking/creaking noise on my mountain bike.

  • Emily March 11, 2013   Reply →

    I volunteer at a nonprofit DIY bike shop in the Pacific Northwest, and have run into this attitude with some of the male volunteers. Most of them are great; they understand that both men and women cover a wide range of knowledge and cycling needs –Lots of men ride cruisers. Lots of women tear it up on the trails or in races. Most people of all genders just ride shitty mountain bikes to get where they’re going– However, there are a few guys (mostly older), who will dumb down their explanations when dealing with women, or only recommend cruiser-type bikes. It really bugs me, and I know this kind of machismo attitude turns a lot of women off of learning about bikes. So we created a night specifically for women and trans to come in and learn, where they know they won’t get any of this kind of attitude.

    I feel like this attitude is changing, but slowly. It takes a while, like with women being taken seriously as athletes in the sports world. We’ve all got to keep on bikin’ and confront these issues when we see them. Thanks, bikeyface!

  • EMILY March 14, 2013   Reply →

    I don’t give my money to bike shops that make me feel uncomfortable or if the clerks talk down to me. I have lady parts but I still have a brain and like to be treated as if that is the case.

    I am thankful that there are enough bike shops in Houston to be so selective.

    I would like to say that my husband has mentioned this gender bias and observed it himself.

  • Anne Alt March 14, 2013   Reply →

    I wish I could have been at the Women’s Bike Forum. I’m part of a group putting on an upcoming event that will offer presentations, discussion and demos aimed at encouraging hesitant women to ride for transportation. Would you be okay with us printing a copy of this cartoon to show participants at a presentation on getting the most out of a bike shop visit?

  • Wish I could fix this. My shop is 44 years old, one man bike shop, don’t make much money or have much room. I was accused in the Internet of ignoring a guy and he was wrong. Just a real hurry up type. Sometimes people come by that I have not seen for a decade or more and we chat and I need to break away faster, but I don’t want them to think that they are a burden. They will think that if they are the sensible type, so it is a juggling act. But 99% of the time I at least greet anyone as soon as they enter the shop. Many women say that they have encountered discrimination and that they like my shop, but some people like big shops and they deserve to have good service at the big shops. I have found that it has always been the burden of the little shop to be a pioneer in a new thing [as though womens market is new, but it is just being re-discovered by the industry], such as recumbents, touring, fun bikes, fixies, tandems, commuting. Then the biggies catch on and we have to find a new niche.

  • So. Much. Yes.

    We are needy for shops that cater to women…commuter, cruiser or racer. Variety is the spice of life!

  • Heather April 5, 2013   Reply →

    Sorry guys, but unless you dress up as a woman (convincingly) and go to some bike shops you have no idea how bad the sexism is. I’ve been riding for transport/fun, everything for almost 20 years, and things have not improved that much. It is very upsetting actually. I go into a bike shop with my husband and the staff talk to him, not to me, even if am the one shopping for something and have researched everything and have questions. i get talked down to, made to feel small, child like even in some cases. The bike shop guys assume I know nothing about bikes or am new to cycling. Not all women want cute dutch bikes either. they are only good for commuting relatively short distances. If you commute long distances or want to get into road riding, you need a better kind of bike. Also women do think differently(neurological studies show how differently brains work). Women may be more safety orientated and concerned about things that guys are not or would even consider.
    I would say things are improving in the downhill /cross country mountain bike of things, but only just…

  • nadar April 13, 2013   Reply →

    When you don’t match the LBS’s concept you also get ignored when you are male…
    As I knew what kind of bike I wanted I had to let it make at a shop 50km away since the ~8 LBS in this and the next town don’t have such a thing nor couldn’t / wouldn’t order one.
    Some even said: steel frames? without suspensions forks?? Such a thing doesn’t exist!

    A LBS even told my brother they wouldn’t serve him anymore after two years during which he spent ~1700 EUR for a bicycle, accessories and tools. They said he was using his stuff too much (I don’t make that up!) thus breaking and reclaiming warranty for it.
    But for the shiny new bicycle whose dynohub powered lights stopped to work after three months all they could offer was a free cable. (Not even the cabling).

  • Dawn May 26, 2013   Reply →

    I have been a bike commuter in Seattle now for 15 years and I have never had this experience. What is great is now most bike shops,here, also have women mechanics. Yeah! From my own experience, being in the tech field, I have been discriminated against much more by other women, who automatically assume I am not as tech savvy or as competent than my male co-works. I think that women need to be conscious of our own stereotypes towards each other and that in a lot of way we discriminate against each other a lot more than we realize. This has been my experience, anyway.

  • Rebecca June 11, 2013   Reply →

    Bike stores are second only to auto part stores in my experience. In the part stores, the version of the tiny woman’s section (and where any female employees are likely to be stationed) is seat belts and steering wheel covers. The real part of the store, all the parts in storage, you need to get someone to get your part for you and somehow I’m always at the back of the line. Unfortunately, I know more about cars than I do about bikes, so I often end up having an easier time at the part store than the bike shop! We’ve started using the local mobile repair guy (he comes and repairs my bike on the sidewalk outside my apartment! All his tools are in a bike trailer!) because of exactly this annoyance.

  • Uncle Robot June 17, 2013   Reply →

    Hah, this cartoon is right on, at least for the way too many bike shops used to be. In the 70′ & 80’s, if you did not appear to be in the know you were looked down upon – males and females. Besides, lots of biker guys like to talk tech and brag about their latest ride all of which which leads to talking about beer and sausage. The guys above who complained probably have no trouble calling me an old fart MAMIL.

  • Jennifer Price June 26, 2013   Reply →

    I’m fortunate to have a bike shop, aptly named ‘The Bike Shop’, in my area where ALL of the staff are very attentive, regardless of the sex of the customer. I stopped in just the other day to inquire about whether they stocked the things I’d need for my new (to me) Fuji Supreme that I bought from a pawn shop and the tech that was working stopped what he was doing because the clerk was waiting on someone. He answered all of my questions and was very helpful. I guess your experience depends on the shop you’re in.

  • mm June 27, 2013   Reply →

    should be “Dicks’ Bikes”

  • Jason October 11, 2013   Reply →

    I’m a dude and I’ve been ignored plenty of times walking into a bike shop. It just seems par for the course. But I guess if a woman is being ignored, it must be something that’s inflicted on her, it couldn’t just be that, for once, she’s as invisible as every other dude.

  • KD November 14, 2013   Reply →

    I’m really late to this and this is completely archive stalking. But you should try being a female sales associate in a bike shop.

    Male customers are just as bad! And to think no one would hire anyone to work in a bike shop if they didn’t know about the products, but regularly I would try to help men and they would either completely ignore me and run to the closest male associate or refuse to look me in the eye the entire time I was helping them or make really strange comments about the length of my legs. Which was awkward.

    My best revenge was one day I was training a new male employee, and a guy came in and wouldn’t let me help him. Ran straight to the male employee. However, he was interested in an entry level mountain bike. The male employee was a triathlete – really well versed in all things triathlon and road but knew nothing about mountain bikes. The whole time the customer was talking to him, the male employee looked at me terrified begging me to step in. I eventually did, and helped the guy find the right mountain bike – but nothing felt better than when I was able to step in and say Oh he’s not trained on the mountain bikes yet, but I know exactly what kind of bike you are looking for.

    Really, though having a couple female employees seems to really fix the no one will help women mentality in shops. I’ve noticed that shops with female employees 1) if the female employees are there they aren’t going to ignore you, and they know how you think 2) the male employees learn by working with women that ride, that women can be serious about riding.

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