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Are Mountain Bikes Unisex? (Important Facts)

Mountain biking is a sport that everyone can do, from children to adults. That said, most sports have gender-specific equipment, and with the number of mountain bikes available, you might think that is true for this sport. So, in this article, I want to ask and answer, are mountain bikes unisex?

The vast majority of mountain bikes are indeed unisex. While there are a fair number of female or male-specific bikes, it is the size of the bike and the measurements of the person that is most important when it comes to whether or not a specific type of individual can ride a particular bike.

Look, I am almost sure that you have a lot more questions on your mind, and in the rest of this article, I am going to try and answer those as best I can. The main focus of this article will be on female mountain biking. So, for everything you need to know, keep reading.

Mountain Bike Brands

Women on MTB

In this section, I will make a table with some of my favorite mountain bike brands. The objective is to highlight whether or not they offer gender-specific bikes and unisex ones. so let’s get straight to the table.

BRANDUNISEXFEMALEMALE
TrekYes
SPECIALIZEDYesDiscontinued
Santa CruzYes
GiantYesYes
(dedicated brand: LIV)
Yeti CyclesYesDiscontinued 
YT IndustriesYes  
REIYesYes 
KONAYesYes (two models) 
NORCO BikesYes  
RaleighYesYesYes
BMCYes  
CannondaleYesYesYes
mtbfunplanet.com

Pretty much every brand offers unisex models. In fact, most lineups of mountain bikes are unisex. The key is to look at the bike’s dimensions and buy one that is suited to your physical measurements. Your gender should not play a significant role in your decision.

Is There A Difference Between Men’s And Women’s Mountain Bikes?

One of the most notable things you will see when looking at a female-specific bike is that there aren’t very many differences between unisex, male, and female mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes that are built specifically for women are rare to find, as you can tell by the table that I went through. See, manufacturers that do make female-specific mountain bikes. However, they generally change the dimensions of the bike rather than the structure.

Now that I have got that out of the way, it’s time to be more specific. So, here’s what you can expect to find on a female mountain bike:

  • Handlebars: You might notice that the handlebars will be slightly narrower. Also, the stem might be shorter to allow for easier reach. Other than that, the handlebars won’t change much.
  • Frame: You won’t see any significant changes on the bike frame. They might just be smaller, but that isn’t a giveaway for a female-specific mountain bike. Remember, males and females come in different shapes and sizes.
  • Saddle: Most mountain bikes have adjustable saddles, so height does not play a significant role. However, you might find female saddles a little bit wider than unisexual mountain bikes.
  • Wheels: On female-specific mountain bikes, you might find that the wheels are slightly smaller even when you compare them to the frame on the mountain bike.

As you can see, the differences are primarily in the size of things on female-specific mountain bikes. There is not much that a manufacturer can do to the frame or structure of the bike that will change it to be more suited to females, or males for that matter.

How Do I Know If My Bike Is Unisex?

This question is an excellent one, unfortunately, because there are no notable differences between male, female or unisex mountain bikes; telling which one you have can be tricky. However, manufacturers do sometimes label their bikes with one of three labels:

  • Unisex
  • Male
  • Female

The majority of mountain bikes do not have one of these labels. Most bikes are unisex, so if you notice that your bike does not have a label, it is unisex.

The best thing you can do if you are struggling to tell which one you have is to look up the brand and model of your mountain bike. Once you have this information, you can move on to the next step.

Go to the manufacturer’s website and look for the model of your bike. If it does not indicate that it is male or female, it is unisex. In rare cases, the website might tell you that the bike is unisex.

Can A Woman Ride A Man’s Mountain Bike?

The dimensions of a person play more of a role than their gender when it comes to whether or not they can ride a mountain bike. When you shop for a new bike, you will notice that manufacturers offer their bikes in different sizes.

The most significant factor is a person’s height, in-seem, and reach. If a man’s mountain bike is designed for a person who is 5 foot 10, then a woman who is between 5 foot 8 and 5 foot 10 will be able to ride that bike regardless of what gender it is made for.

However, there are important things to note if you are buying your bike online. If a bike says that it is made specifically for men and you are buying it online, that is not the best choice.

If you are doing some traditional retail shopping, you can look at a man’s bike and see if it fits your dimensions. Remember, if it does, it does not mean that you are built like a man. Instead, it means you have similar reach and height.

If you are shopping online and you see a unisex bike, as long as you get the correct measurements for yourself and the right dimensions on the mountain bike, you can’t go wrong.

What Mountain Bikes Do The Women From The Pro Scenes Ride?

One of the best ways of judging whether or not a mountain bike is good is seeing whether or not professional riders use it. This statement is especially true when it comes to the brand rather than the model.

Female professional riders typically have bikes tailor-made to them, and then those models are sold by the company. On the other hand, they have custom bikes that only they use.

That said, here is a list of some of my favorite female riders and which brand they use:

  • Annie Evans: Salsa Cycles, Spearfish Fat bike
  • Krista Cook: Salsa Cycles, 2021 Blackthorn Carbon GX Eagle
  • Anne-Caroline Chausson: Commencal Bikes
  • Cécile Ravanel: Commencal Bikes
  • Jill Kintner: Norco

To say whether or not professional riders use unisex bikes is hard. Remember, these bikes are often made for the rider instead of the rider having to adapt to a different type of bike.

The bikes are not made specifically for women, they seem to be unisex. That is the best conclusion I can come to after analyzing the preferred bike of many pro mountain bike riders.

How To Buy A Mountain Bike: Females

There is no exact science to buying a mountain bike, even if you are looking for a gender-specific one. The key is to look for a mountain bikes measurement. Most brands have a table that highlights what size bike you need depending on your measurements.

I have found that most manufacturers have different specifications for different measurements, so be sure to go through the table on each website.

Buying the right bike size is one of the most important things that beginners get wrong and is one of the most important things you need to get right, so if you want to know the basics of being a mountain bike I encourage you to read this article (there is a section on where I tell you the most important measurements you need to take in consideration): Buying Your First Mountain Bike – Complete Guide!

Can You Turn A Men’s Mountain Bike Into A Women’s Bike?

If you have a specific bike in mind that you want to get, but it is a men’s specific bike, don’t stress too much because you can do a few things to make it more suited to you.

First off, you want to get on the bike and feel what is the most uncomfortable. Once you understand how the bike feels, you will be able to make adjustments. These adjustments might include:

  • Shortening the handlebar stem or buying a shorter stem.
  • Decreasing the saddle height.
  • Getting a slightly wider saddle.
  • Getting smaller pedals.
  • Buying smaller tires (Almost always not necessary)

In most cases, you won’t have to make more than one or two of these adjustments. That is why it is imperative first to get a feel for the bike as it is.

Final Thoughts

These are some of my favorite articles to write because I get to highlight that mountain biking isn’t a sport specifically for one type of person. Everyone can enjoy themselves, and you don’t have to bend over backward to find equipment that suits you; instead, you can use what is available.

I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.