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Big Wheels Turning for Women at Sea Otter

Published April 15, 2010

MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—Big wheels aren’t just for men anymore. At least Giant and Specialized think so.

Both brands are introducing women’s specific 29ers to the masses at Sea Otter much to the delight of many female riders who have been clamoring for big wheels to call their own.

Giant’s women’s specific 29er is called the Rainier (Booth 510). The Rainier 2 comes in at a very competitive price point ($750). “Having that Rainier really shows our dedication to our women’s program,” said Brad Klipping, marketing manager for Giant. The Southern California company recently launched its new national retail education program focused on helping retailers market and sell to women.

Giant’s Rainier features a lower stepover height and a components spec that caters to the female rider such as a skinnier handlebar. The graphics are totally different as well, designing them with more of a lady’s taste in mine, Klipping said.

“I think women are deciding that a women’s specific geometry makes sense,” Klipping said. “I think we’re drawing a few more women into the sport, but there are also women here who are realizing it makes sense to have a bike that fits them a little better.”

Specialized’s first foray with a women’s specific 29er is called the Myka HT (Booth 713).

“They were asking for a 29er for women that fit them better and were in smaller sizes,” said Rachel Lambert, women’s product and marketing manager for Specialized Bicycle Components. “We felt there was a huge opportunity to develop a better fitting and better riding 29er for women and so we focused on three key areas—stack, reach and stand-over. We also focused on maintaining the great ride characteristics that Specialized 29ers are known for.”

With most 29ers on the market, bigger wheels mean taller standover height. For recreational riders who want to get on and off their bike with total control, low standover height is a key ingredient. Specialized reached its target standover height of under 690 millimeters (small)—and proportionally low for all other sizes.

“We topped the package off with custom women's tuned spring rates, Body Geometry contact points and size-specific component spec,” Lambert said. “What we achieved is the Myka HT 29er that fits the broadest range of female riders and provides women with an all new trail experience.”

It almost goes without saying that there are plenty of 29er options for men at Sea Otter including Gary Fisher’s hardtail 29er ($3,800) and Superfly full suspension ($5,500). They can be seen at Booth 730.

Norco’s new Shinobi (Booth 755) highlights the mid-travel (140 millimeters) 29er market featuring a new hydraform design, tapered steer, post mount brakes and new swingarm design.

Santa Cruz’s Tallboy (Booth 535) and Focus’ 29er are also new entries in the men’s big-wheeled market.

Click on above link for Sea Otter PDF Newsletter Day 2.

(PHOTO of Giant's Jackie Baker)

—Jason Norman

Topics associated with this article: Consumer Expos and Rides, Sea Otter Classic

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