However, there's never any harm in looking.
One thing Trek really stands out for is their understanding of what women who race really need from their bikes. If you look at the specs on their racers, the geometry is exactly the same (I did actually look -- the one size that is available in both women's and men's model is the 17.5 and all angles and measurements are equal). Having taken some Trek University courses (true story), I found out that that's because -- as I always suspected -- women who spend a lot of time in the saddle need to be fitted just as "racy" as men. The difference comes in the sizes available (WSD: 14.5, 15.5, 16.5, 17.5; "mens": 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5) and the colours.
I give you exhibit A: Two equally racy machines, much coveted and sought after. Almost exactly the same, right down to the components.
Trek Top Fuel, 9.8 and Trek Top Fuel 9.8 WSD (with pretty aqua trim)
Then, for fun, I started looking around at other manufacturers' "Women's Specific" designs. I was a little disappointed. Take Giant for example. Last season, Giant introduced the new "Anthem X" and it is back on offer this year in a fancy red paint job. The women's counterpart gets points for not copping out like I've seen in the past with a sissy paint job (stealth black is always in style) but what's with the recreational position? This is the bike they have listed under "competition" on their website but it looks like something my mom would like to try out (no offence intended and I'm sure she'd be the first to agree she's not into "competition").
A closer inspection reveals that there are no small sizes offered for women (you can get the same sizes in the red one) and the geometry has got the female rider racing more upright, with a shorter top tube, on a shorter wheel base. Hello! That equals slower.
Observe, exhibit B:
Giant Anthem X1 and Giant Anthem X1W
So where does that leave us girls? If you want a racy set up, both Trek and Giant have served me well. Since I'm a firm believer in Trek's stance that if you are a woman who races bikes (ie spends a lot of time in the saddle), you don't need much in the way of "Women's Specific Design" it stands to reason that I could just forget all about Giant's "W" option.
But to Giant I say, if you're going to do it, do it. And don't even get me started on the mish mash of components on the Women's rigs. It's like they just throw whatever's left lying around the factory on the W bikes. My impression is that Giant just treats the women's bike as a marketing opportunity; not as a way to progress the sport for women, which is too bad for them because more women than ever want to ride, and Giant's response is kinda weak!
And now just for fun, top-of-the-line 2010s: doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl for these beauties. Just gotta be fast.
Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL and Giant Anthem X Adavnced SL 0