What Women Recommend

Everyone has their favorite tips or tricks when it comes to buying a bike or accessories. I've talked with a couple women and got their take on what products/accessories they recommend and other suggestions they may have for a woman interested in purchasing a bike.

Kristin has been interviewed as well and from having ridden with her several times last summer, I figured I had an idea of some of what she would suggest. Look for more blog posts like this in the future!

I always ride with a good helmet, full finger gloves, bike shorts (my faves are all by Shebeest), a hydration pack for water/snacks/extra layers/keys/etc (I have two by Hydrapak)---you can click the brands for links to the websites. You can also find Hydrapak hydration packs at Decorah Bicycles.

I also wear a heart rate monitor (I have a Polar FT60 that I use for indoor cycling classes plus outdoor rides) and I have a mount on my handlebars for my phone, so that I can track mileage (I like MapMyFItness) and listen to music (if I'm riding in an area with little traffic).

I also love my headlight (NiteRider by Lumina)-Josie uses the 650, but it has since been upgraded by the company to 700. The lights, which comes in several brightness options/price points are also rechargeable, so you reduce battery waste!

Sunglasses and clipless shoes, butt butt'r for longer rides (especially in summer), sunscreen, bug spray, and did I mention snacks?
Pepper spray for naughty dogs
a small tire pump
insurance card (you never know..)
blinky lights for bike/helmet for visibility

Read it from a woman: 
Overall, big butt seats are not more comfortable than smaller seats (quite the opposite, in fact). Your butt will get used to riding a regular seat after a few rides- it's just a matter of building endurance.
Padded bike shorts will greatly enhance your comfort, provided you get some that fit you well and suit your riding purposes. The sweat-wicking properties of bike shorts combined with the lack of interior seams will go a LONG way towards preventing chafing and discomfort of your delicate bits.
To my knowledge, no one loves the look of padded spandex bike shorts- but you will love what they do for your ride! There are liner shorts (meant to be worn under other clothes) or mountain bike style shorts or knickers (capri-length) that will provide similar comfort and benefits to padded lycra shorts, without the look of spandex.
There are also some really cute cycling skirts with integrated shorts out there- I have a pair I love made by Terry Precision Cycling .

I've recently had the opportunity to get feedback from a variety of indoor cycling class participants who have purchased their first pair of bike shorts...after much trepidation about the look and feel of them. They have unanimously loved their new shorts. Every single person raved about the increase in comfort and how greatly their ride experience was enhanced.

As for clipless pedals: Yes, there's a learning curve, and yes, there will be a few falls along the way. But the falls aren't major and traumatic- in my experience, it's mostly when you're at a stop sign already nearly stopped- so it's a slow-mo tip-over, not a big fiery crash. It’s not scary and not likely to result in injury beyond maybe a little bruise on an elbow. The learning curve for going clipless isn't nearly as steep or as scary as people think- and the benefits far outweigh a couple of minor, slightly embarrassing tumbles.

Clipless pedals are much more efficient and they are better for your body (you can utilize the whole pedal stroke, not just the downstroke). The stiff soled shoes used with clipless pedals are better for your feet, especially climbing hills- AND clipless pedals make hill climbs much easier and more fun!

Butt Butt'r is a product that makes people squirm a bit. It seems a little...odd...and you might feel uncomfortable purchasing such an item in a store. However, this is one of those things that you only need to try once to be totally hooked. Who likes chafing? Saddle sores? Let's see... precisely...no one. If you can greatly increase your comfort on a ride easily and inexpensively, the only question is why wouldn't you? Plus, everyone working in a bike shop knows the value of this product, so they aren't going to think you're weird if you buy it- if anything, they'll think you're a knowledgeable cyclist!

To be honest I've even recommended this product to friends (men and women) who work in hot, sweaty environments in physically demanding jobs. Because who hasn't experienced some discomfort in our humid Midwestern summers?
Working construction outside, busting it in a factory, or waitressing; chamois butter is your friend. Trust me.

I recently interviewed Elly and these were her suggestions:

That's a really key point I think. If you are petite (under 5'3), you NEED a bike with the geometry designed for women, because otherwise you spend a lot of time and money making adjustments to make it fit you.

I'm a bike product enthusiast. I like the mtb shorts with padded shorts under, because they aren't like just showing off my body, as most bike shorts do. I really like the padded bike capris. They offer a little more coverage for cooler days. 

So often people will question padded bike shorts or want the largest, most "comfortable" seat possible. 
My bike seat is fit for my body type. The saddle has gel inserted padding right where my sitz bones (or ischium/ischial tuberosity, if you're a anatomical know it all) are. I have found it works well. But on the longer rides, sometimes the skin and muscle tissue in between the bone and the seat still gets tender. So that's why I like a padded short or skirt, to decrease the pressure on that tissue. I don't think it matters whatsoever what size person you are, a padded short will improve your ride. Many times people think that getting a seat as big as their hiney would help improve their ride, because people think it's like sitting in a chair. Unless your sitz bones are really wide, I would caution against getting the biggest seat you can. It is only going to put more material in between your legs and may actually increase friction and chafing. On a short ride with the kids, a padded short is not always necessary, but even for a loop around the trail, it’s nice to have. Consider a padded short for your young one as well, to make their experience better. Kids' seats are often not gel infused like the adult seats, so its less comfortable for them on longer rides. You local shop can help you find the right seat for your bone structure.

I do have gloves, but I rarely use them. 
Knowing how fast and how far one is going is fun, so I would recommend a wired or wireless computer for distance tracking. 
I like having a spare tire and CO2 pump with, just in case. I have tried nearly every bike pump out there. Recommendation: Try them before you buy.
I typically have one of my Camelbaks with for hydration or storage of keys and stuff. 
Sunglasses and a neat waterbottle come in handy.  

Couple pair of cycling shoes and sandals if you have clipless pedals. 
Regarding clipless shoes, I really recommend running around in them in the store before you buy them, or trying them on a bike or trainer in the store before you leave with them. I once bought a pair of clipless shoes online before trying them on, and they were so uncomfortable and stiff that I never wore them. I like a shoe that I can feel comfortable wearing around if I get off the bike. So even though I have the formal clipless shoes, I am really a fan of those that are more like a sandal, hiking, or casual shoe. Those are the ones I wear around town when biking. Only if I'm racing do I wear the formal clipless shoe.

Energy beans or protien bars can be handy if you get a cramp on a long ride.
GoGirl female pee device so you can pee standing up while on a long ride where there are no people and no bathrooms.. (embarrassing to say), but they do work.
I love my CycleOps trainer and Spinervals DVDs

One will probably wonder (as I did in the very beginning!) why a stationary trainer vs. exercise bike?
I prefer my CycleOps trainer over an exercise bike mainly because it gets me on my own bike, that's built for me. You can increase your difficulty level just as easily with a trainer and can even simulate hill climbs by adding blocks underneath. If you bike a LOT on your trainer, I would consider a special tire and an extra wheel just for your trainer tire, so you don't wear out the others. :-)