Tech Podcast: Is women’s-specific design dead?

Is women's-specific design dead? No, but it certainly has undergone drastic changes in the last five years. Berne Broudy discusses the evolution.

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Go ahead, say “shrink and pink” to any woman cyclist and see what kind of reaction you get. (Warning: it likely won’t be a pleasant one.) That was, in essence, the common practice of creating “women’s-specific” bikes for years: make it smaller, and make it a girly color. Those days are thankfully over, but there’s still plenty to wonder about the state of women’s-specific design.


Berne Broudy knows a thing or two about that. Broudy has been covering tech in the bike industry for years, long enough to see the shrink-and-pink phenomenon enter the scene and then exit it slowly over the last couple of years. Broudy joins tech editor Dan Cavallari on the tech podcast to discuss what started the women’s-specific trend, what women’s-specific design has gotten right over the years, and what brands got terribly wrong when trying to become more welcoming to women.

As more bicycle manufacturers say goodbye to women’s-specific designs altogether, the notion still exists, and for good reason, among clothing and component manufacturers. Women’s-specific saddles, for example, address the comfort and support of the female body, rather than attempting to shoe-horn women’s comfort somewhere into the narrative of a women’s saddle. While Specialized certainly wasn’t the first brand to do so, it certainly made a splash with its Power saddle with Mimic technology, a seat designed for women that, incidentally, turned out to be quite comfortable for men too.

Broudy also discusses some of the pioneers of women’s-specific design, most notably Georgena Terry, founder of Terry Precision Cycling. Hear Broudy tell Terry’s “origin story,” a tale of making women’s-specific bikes out of necessity: There simply wasn’t anything that fit her right. When her friends saw what she was doing, they requested bikes, too. Terry Bikes was born.

If you have questions or comments about this episode of the tech podcast, or any of the other podcasts on VeloNews, please reach out to tech editor Dan Cavallari on Twitter, Instagram, or via e-mail.

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