Mike Kone wrote, concerning generalizations for frame fitting men -vs
> Actually, I would wager that statistically it is safe to make the
> generalization. Of course, there are numerous exceptions. I suspect
> the reason any builder offering frames with shorter top tubes tends to
> see a lot of males needing short top tube bikes is that the males who
> don't need short top tubes are not so likely to be knocking on their
> door; they may simply purchase a more typical production frame without
> the short top tube option.
> In statistical lingo, there is a sample selection bias.
I don't have any data on this one way or the other but a local frame builder that I met did and he said that there was no greater tendency for women to have long legs relative to their height than men. There certainly is that perception in bicycling circles, though, and I wonder if this isn't another case of selection bias? Since the average women, at least in the United States, is several inches shorter than the average man it would seem likely that the only women who would even _come close_ to fitting frames designed for the male population would have been either far taller than the average or had longer legs relative to their height - or, quite likely, both. This isn't to say that average height women with average legs couldn't be fitted for a bicycle but they would be unlikely to be able to just walk into a shop and get even a moderately good fit so they'd have to go custom. Since they had never really gotten into riding (they couldn't fit the nice bikes that were out there) they wouldn't be as likely to spring for a custom.
In countries where the mixte and drop-top-tube frames weren't disparaged, of course, they'd have probably found something that fit well enough for them to get a real taste for riding. If they found that they enjoyed riding they might have had a custom bike built around smaller tires or had one of the very nice Herse/Singer/etc... mixtes built to suit them.
Ken Stagg in Tacoma, Washington, who thinks that the one good thing to come from the MTB boom is the selection of 559mm road tires for those of us who are underendowed heightwise.