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Woman is our Gender …not Genre

In the bike community, one of our most amazing assets to encourage the integrated bike lifestyle, is our ability to celebrate diversity and support a variety of genre. The bike industry has a way of defining each marketing segment so we know them as: The Roadies, the Mountain Bikers, the Downhillers, the Hipsters, The Urban Riders, Commuters, Baggers, etc. Suddenly, there is a rising awareness of the rapidly growing women’s segment.

For at least a decade the bike companies have been capitalizing on our ergonomic differences, educating us on length of top tube and geometry differences to accommodate our position on the bike. Personally, I don’t buy it. I have been on a lot of bikes and from one brand to the other. Size, fit, and position vary from one brand to another and still can be adjusted by simply switching components. Really what makes a bike gender specific is how you paint it. I am not saying that there is not a value in pretty bikes. I love my pink Hunter single speed more then the rest of the crew because she is simply gorgeous. In fact, I think it is about time that bike manufacturers stopped skirting around the marketing and just call it like it is. To really capitalize on the women’s market, they need to realize that the women’s market is not just another genre, lumping us all into one. But rather, there are more women then men in the world and each genre has it’s own female allegiance. Furthermore, to women it isn’t so much about the bike but the clothing, accessories and ease of care that prohibit the integrated bike lifestyle.

Women control 80% of spending in American households. This is a fact that I am sure does not translate directly to the Bike Industry as there is not enough variety and diversity among women’s specific products. It is a men’s industry and the majority of women’s specific products are merely a ‘shrink it and pink it’ version of the masculine line up. Thanks to OIWC, Women Bike, and the rise of women leaders around the country things are starting to change. There are more women now then ever working in these large companies leading the change to accommodate the diversity of women’s needs to support more women on bikes. There is also an exciting rise of fresh emerging new brands designed and owned by women. I am sure that even Georgina Terry would agree with me, that there is plenty of room for diversity in the women’s apparel market. In fact, as a women entrepreneur myself, I truly believe that clothing is the #1 limiter for mainstream women to integrate the bike into their lifestyle. 65% of households in America have a bike in the garage collecting dust, but for most women it is about how to fit it into their busy life practically. For those of us that are passionate about the bike, there are many ways that we effectively fit in the ride. Whether it is exercise, commuting to work, running errands, riding with the kids, or simply one of our transportation options, there is an array of styles of clothing and accessories needed to allow us to retain our individuality while pedaling. This variety is key to making the bike more accessible to mainstream women. It’s time that we realize as an industry that each genre has the potential to inspire a whole new market segment among women, and more importantly, support more women to rediscover the joy of riding a bike in their own way.

Abbie Durkee

Feburary 18, 2013

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