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I keep finding a WSD version of bikes I'm interested in buying. What does WSD mean?

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In this case, it stands for "Women Specific Design".

With regard to bicycles, in some respects, especially the seat, clothing and shoes, women often have different needs than men. WSD bicycles or accessories address this problem.

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+1. I believe that "WSD" is technically the term that Trek uses, although other companies have bikes designed for women as well. I think that narrower handlebars also are important to WSD bikes. –  Neil Fein Jun 14 '11 at 5:40
    
I edited the answer to added link to a blog that covers this in more depth, including handlebars. –  Hugo Jun 14 '11 at 12:44
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@Hugo There's a lot to be said or that has been said on the subject; and I'm not sure whether the blog you linked to is the best. Instead of your editing posipiet's answer, it might be better if you said everything you want to say in a new answer of your own. –  ChrisW Jun 14 '11 at 12:58
    
@ChrisW: somebody had to write an answer with more specifics, so I did. –  freiheit Jun 14 '11 at 20:11
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As @popiset said, it stands for "Women's Specific Design" and is Trek's marketing term for a bicycle designed from the outset for a woman. See Trek's Women's Page for the specifics within that brand.

Many of the big bicycle manufacturers have bicycles aimed specifically at women, sometimes there's an obvious scheme like Trek's where they tack on a "women's" designation, sometimes it's more subtle (for instance, the "Ruby" is the women's version of Specialized's "Roubaix".)

Most are based around some assumptions about women that aren't necessarily true (or that can be just as true for men, especially smaller men). In other words, there are women that will fit better on a "men's" frame, and there are men that will fit better on a "women's" frame. It's vastly more important that the frame fit the rider than that the manufacturer's concept of gender fit the gender of the rider.

In particular, the general assumptions about women that bicycle manufacturers tend to use when designing the frames are:

  • smaller
  • lighter
  • narrower shoulders
  • shorter arms
  • shorter torso
  • longer legs

The women specific stuff can include things such as:

  • shorter distance between seat and handlebars (shorter stem and/or shorter top-tube), based on assumption of shorter torso/longer legs (compared to same height man). A shorter top tube affects the frame geometry greatly, so often there will be other changes (such as head tube angle and size, seat tube angle) related to this.
  • wider seat and different cutout shape (the bones in your pelvis that you sit on are different between the genders, and obviously the other bits are different)
  • narrower handlebars (on road bikes maybe also smaller in other ways) for narrower shoulders
  • brakes and shifters sized for smaller hands
  • shorter cranks and different gearing to accomodate more "spinning"
  • frame just generally made for a lighter rider
  • lower top tube. I guess because it's sorta traditional. (not on the more "serious" women's bikes)
  • different frame color choices and/or "feminine" detailing in the paint job

The exact details vary from bike manufacturer to bike manufacturer and model to model.

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As an aside, my girlfriend always finds the "men's" frames fit her better than the "women's", because she doesn't have a torso that's particularly shorter than a man the same height. –  freiheit Jun 14 '11 at 20:10
    
When I was looking at cruisers, I was jealous of the women's bikes: They get all the cool colors! –  Neil Fein Jun 14 '11 at 20:15
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