Girl Talk: The Best of 2012

The 2012 season was a year when those who offered women’s specific products took them to new limits. The manufacturers have dialed in and focused on learning from the consumer and are now offering, more than ever, high-quality, high-performance products. The growth in women’s cycling continues, and manufacturers have taken notice that more women are riding, more groups are forming, event participation is up and the demand for products has increased. Interbike 2012 showed many key indicators that not only are women riding more, they are also working in the industry to create and inform on the needs of the athletic woman of all sizes and types.

My bike of 2012 is the Specialized SL4 Amira(above). This bike is the evolution of years of data collection, testing and design. Specialized has done what it is so good at, and that is bringing products to the market that are not only well made, but purposefully designed to attract a large user group. Many women as well as men love this bike, and its geometry is suitable for a wide variety of riders; however, its characteristics make it especially comfortable for women while maintaining a high quality of ride and the ability to put serious power to the pedals for racing. Equipped with shorter chainstays and a shorter head tube, the Amira optimizes power and pedaling efficiency. The Amira rides smoothly, and the stiffness of the bike allows for great handling. To accommodate everyone, the Amira is also available in the Pro and Expert levels for those who are price-conscious.

The Specialized Oura saddle is most definitely my pick for saddle of the year. This saddle is well designed, padded to perfection and includes what I feel is most crucial: the proper center cutout. The flat seat of the Oura suited my shape perfectly, and having ridden a multitude of saddles, I love this one. The first ride on this saddle was a 500- mile journey, with no saddle sores or discomfort. Thousands of miles later, it still feels great, but try it for yourself; we are all unique! Available in several sizes and colors.

Fizik wins this year with the beautiful and comfortable R3 Donna shoe. Like most women, I know that whether its stilettos or cycling shoes, you can never have too many shoes. Fizik adds the Donna to the wardrobe in gorgeous kangaroo leather with beautiful Italian stitching and high-strength and unique sail cloth on the closures. All of this beauty doesn’t compromise performance, as the stiff carbon sole provides an excellent platform base for pedaling and just enough flex at the heel cup to provide proper support. Heel skid plates are replaceable on all models, giving longevity to the shoe.

Primal Wear has developed the women’s EVO bib short, and it is a must-have for those women who want a high-quality bib short with a beautiful leg gripper that doesn’t give us sausage legs and at an affordable price. The straps are wide and don’t cut into the shoulders and are proportional to the shorter-sized, so I’ve never had to shorten a pair of straps. The chamois is women’s specific-not too wide or too thick and, more important, placed in the correct spots. Finally, a bib short we can be comfortable in and is available in their custom line as well.

Dr. Stacy Sims has developed a new product line called OSMO Nutrition. These new hydration and recovery drink mixes are based on Dr. Sims’ extensive research in thermoregulation and fluid absorption. Made with organic and natural ingredients, the flavors are light and not too sweet. I’ve had excellent results using them both during and post-exercise, of absolutely no issues with cramping or stomach upset. Dr. Sims’ research on the differences between women and men with regards to fueling, training and performance will certainly change the way women train and help many coaches better serve their female population.

For the woman who rides a lot and demands high-quality clothing that will last, Swiss clothing company Assos gets my vote. The Assos laalaLai monosuit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s shapely, feminine, and designed to last and provide multiple ways to layer if paired with the laalaLai jersey shell. The leg grippers stay in place, and the suit is designed to follow your anatomy while riding. It fits like skin and stays put. It’s well worth the extra money for those who demand longevity and performance for more than one season and aren’t afraid to show off the figure they’ve ridden so many miles to achieve. receives my pick for providing a wide variety of clothing to every size and shape woman. Stocked with plus sizes, petite sizes, and long- and short-length clothing options, their clothing line gives women an opportunity for more choices in cycling apparel. So often in-store clothing choices are limited, especially for the plus-size woman. Team Estrogen has gone the extra mile to see to it that, regardless of size, a woman deserves clothing that fits.

The Kask Mojito gets my vote for the best helmet this year. A great addition to the line, and with a more affordable price point, the Mojito offers a great fit and a spicy style with the safety and comfort KASK is known for.

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