There is nothing worse than a bike that doesn’t fit, unless it’s wearing the wrong clothing for cycling. Rubbing, aching, cramping, blistering…the possibilities are endless. Don’t let the after-effects of a combination of the wrong gear and a poorly-fitting bike ruin your day (or week)!

Here are some essential cycling tips and advice that every woman should keep in mind, along with some tips on how to avoid the two most common sources of discomfort: saddle-induced pain, and tension in the neck and shoulders from a poorly-fitting bike.

1. Buy the Right Size Bike – Don’t try to use someone else’s bike.  Chances are it won’t fit you, not to mention that it is adjusted for their body, not yours! You wouldn’t want to run in the wrong size shoes, so follow the size guides and buy the right size bike for your height and reach. Check out a short video on how to find the right size bike for you here.

You’re probably wondering, ‘But what about bikes with women’s specific geometry? Do I need to buy one of those?’ There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but what it boils down to is that women tend to have shorter torsos in relation to their leg length. Women’s specific bikes take this into account by shortening the top tube, which shortens the reach, making the bike more comfortable for someone with a shorter torso. However, there are other ways to shorten the reach on a bike (e.g. shortening the stem), and there are some women with longer torsos and shorter legs. It all depends on you and your body.

2. Wear Women’s Bike Shorts – Wear a good pair of women’s-specific padded cycling shorts. The padded part is called the chamois (pronounced sham-ee). Not only does it provide additional comfort but it also wicks moisture, which helps prevent saddle sores. Women’s specific shorts are designed differently than men’s with seams and padding in the proper places for us ladies. Never ever wear underwear with bike spandex; they will gather and crumple in all the wrong places. For long rides use a chamois butter, it helps reduce friction. Apply it around the seams of the chamois, or directly on your skin if you know where you have a tendency to get sores. If spandex isn’t your style wear them under some athletic shorts.