The Specialized Amira – a true race bike, designed for women from the ground up – debuted in 2010, but it’s getting some big time changes for 2012. Taking cues from both the Roubaix SL3 and the Tarmac SL3, the new Amira is lighter and stiffer that the first generation.
As with all their women’s specific bikes, Specialized tailors the fit and handling to suit female riders better. Carbon bikes, such as the Amira, have an advantage beyond better fit: lower weight.
Let’s begin at the beginning; the basis for women’s specific bikes. The two most common differences between male and female riders of the same height (who would conceivably ride very similar sized frames) are wing span and weight. Female riders typically have a little bit shorter fingertip-to-fingertip wingspan (slightly narrower shoulders, shorter arms, and smaller hands), so a bike with a shorter top tube and narrower bars tend to fit a little better.
The second difference, weight, is where women have a significant advantage. Female riders tend to be about 20 – 30 lbs lighter than a male rider of the same height, so that means they’re going to exert less force on the bike than their heavier counterparts. If the rider is lighter, that means the bike can be lighter too. Less material is needed to achieve the same performance goals in terms of stiffness and responsiveness, so female riders get to ride lighter bikes.
But don’t take it from us. Check out the video interviews of the HTC Highroad women’s team and what they think of the new Amira.