Cycling - Trivia

Best Road Bikes for Women: Guide for Female Riders

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If you like to feel the wind in your hair while burning the extra calories then we presume you like to cycle your way to a healthy heart and toned legs. But are you cycling on the right bike? Is your bike female-specific? Yes, ladies, there are bikes specially designed to suit your body frame and comfort. If you want to know about best road bikes for women then keep reading!

Women are special beings and all men would agree. They are special in the sense that they have different body traits than men. These traits include strength, weaknesses, flexibility, the length of your legs. And hence, some of the bike manufacturers create women specific bikes keeping the feminine traits into account. Such bikes often have a shorter top tube, and taller head tube, or sometimes a slacker’s head angle and longer rake.

Women's road bike features and specs
Look out for what fits your requirements

In addition, several types of research reveal that women have shorter wingspan (arms) which means that a shorter reach is ideal while others suggest that women’s lower upper body mass and center of gravity demands special bike construction. And then there are others who explain that women like to ride in an upright posture as they position their pelvis differently to avoid compression of soft tissue.

Identifying the special needs of women’s body, brands adjust the geometry of the handlebars, stems, saddles, cranks and gearing to achieve optimal stack, reach and stand over in the bikes. Some brands choose not to build women specific bikes; they rather construct unisex bikes with components tweaked to suit an average woman’s body.

Difference between ‘Women Specific’ and ‘Unisex’ Bikes

Well, it’s the frame. A women specific bike generally has a curved top tube, a shorter reach, and lower standover. They have a specific saddle, narrower handlebars, and different crank lengths or wheel sizes. Ridley is a brand that fashions women specific bikes.

While a unisex bike will have a straight top tube with wider handlebars and a less-than-perfect saddle. Most bike brands release unisex bikes keeping the standard frame with the components adjusted to an average woman’s anatomy. Bikes from brands like Liv, Specialized, and Canyon are unisex with women’s specific finishing kit.

Check out our Women’s Cycling Tips for a trouble free ride!

Components that are Altered on a Women’s Bike:

  • Handlebars

Bike handlebars should ideally equate with your shoulder width. Since the average woman has narrower shoulders therefore female specific bikes will have narrow handlebars with wound in shifters to suit smaller hands.

  • Stem

The stems are built from ‘the ground up’ and as women, generally, have a shorter reach so the stems are shorter. Although it decreases the reach, smaller stems can affect the handling.

  • Cranks

Typically, women have shorter leg length than man and consequently, the women specific bike should have reduced crank length. This will allow the female riders to get the most from each pedal stroke and also, prevent toe overlap with the front wheel.

  • Gearing

Most female specific bikes will have a compact (50/34) or semi compact (52/36) chainset with wide ratio cassette (11-28 or 11-32), this provides more gear options and can be quite helpful in the hills.

  • Standover height

In order to reduce standover height, certain female bikes feature a sloping top tube. This feature is more applicable to hybrid bikes and mountain bikes.

  • Sizes

Bike brands will reduce the measurements of all the bike elements- usual geometry and fork angle of the bike to smaller sizes to suit the female body frame.

  • Saddle

Saddle comfort is utmost important to female cyclists/riders. Since female riders tend to ride in the upright position, the wrong saddle will give sit bone pain. While those who sit in an aggressive position (often on the drops) might complain of soft tissue compression.

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Is it all About the Saddle

Best women's bike saddles
saddle

Yes, the saddle is important. According to the experts, the key difference in men’s and women’s bike fit lies in saddle comfort. Generally, women are more sensitive to putting weight on their perineum, soft tissue, and their pubic bone. Therefore, they prefer to sit towards the saddle’s back where they put maximum weight on their sit bones. Hence, to relieve this sensitivity, bike brands create a saddle cut-out with a wider width for women’s bike.

Failure to address the saddle issue will compel the female riders to sit way back on her saddle, bending at the waist and not at the hips, to acquire an upright position. And that way, the female riders compromise on the experience as the bike feels longer than it actually is. Thus, women bikes have different tube lengths.

But wait! There’s more to look for in a female specific road bike. Before you invest on a sexy looking bike, have a clear idea of what you want the bike for. Do you want more speed or greater endurance level? More tire clearance or race focused?

Women’s Bike Sizes

The usual bike size goes like 48cm, 50cm, 52cm and so on. But let us tell inform you that there’s no ideal bike size guideline. One brand’s 48cm bike frame might suit you while another’s 50cm in the same way. But that’s not all, some brand might present you a unisex bike in 50cm while the same brand might fit a 52sm frame in the women specific bike group.

Let me guess – confused?

Well, we don’t blame you.

Choosing the correct frame size can be a bit overwhelming. Bike frame sizes vary between manufacturers, models, and disciplines. And when you throw in a specification like ‘women bike sizes,’ you step into a maze of measurements.

So, how to select the bike to fit your body requirements? How to measure bike size? What size bike do I need for my height?

Read on to find out all the answers.

To assist you in choosing the right frame size, there are two measurements to follow, viz.

  1. Stand over height

Stand over height is the clearance between the top tube of the bike, and your crotch; when you stand just in front of the saddle. It is determined by your inside leg measurements. Keep a minimum clearance of at least 2 inches for an easy hop off.

  1. Reach

It is determined by your upper body. In case, your height and inside legs measurements put you in-between two sizes, then Consider the reach as the best deciding factor in selecting the right bike size. In simple words, your reach is how ‘stretched-out’ you are along the top tube of your bike while riding. To know whether you have a long or short reach, you need to determine your ‘Ape Index’ which is your arm span minus your height.

Now-

  • You have a positive Ape Index if your arm span is greater than your height. In that case, choose the larger of the two bike sizes.
  • You have a negative Ape Index if your height is greater than your arm span. In which case, you will more comfortable on the smaller of the two bike sizes.

Example: 152cm (arm span) – 163cm (height) = -11. In this example, you have a negative ‘Ape Index’, and should go for a smaller frame size.

You can refer to the following bike sizing chart for the road bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike, and folding bike charts to have more clarity.

Women’s road bike size guide

best road bikes for women
Women’s road bike size guide

Women’s mountain bike size guide

 Women's bike sizes
Women’s mountain bike size guide

Women’s hybrid bike guide

Tips for choosing a women’s road bike
Women’s hybrid bike guide

Women’ folding bike size guide

These bikes have one standard size in each category that fits both men and women.

Rider age or height Suggested wheel size
Feet/Inches Cms Age Inches
3`7”-4`0” 110-122 cm 5-7 years 16
4`0`-4`10` 122-147 cm 7-11 years 18
4`10`-6`4` 147-193 cm 11+ years 20

If not all that then, the best option is to refer to the brand’s designated sizing chart. Select the ideal frame size for your height, then take a test ride. Remember, if you have a shorter torso pick a bike in a smaller frame, similarly for longer torso go for a bigger frame. Instead of following the height-size chart, choose according to your personal preferences.

Hold on there’s more –

We’ll now help you understand the different road bike categories. Read on to know more.

Women’s Road Bike Categories

The four women’s road bike categories are explained below.

  1. Endurance Focused women’s road bikes

These types of bikes feature a shorter reach, and a taller stack to give the rider a more upright position. Bikes in this category have excellent disc brakes, longer wheelbase for stability, and fine-tuned material for greater compliance. Some popular bikes in this category are the Specialized Ruby, Scott Contessa Solace, and Liv Avail, etc.

  1. Race focused women’s road bikes

The race focussed bikes are designed to have sharp handling and lower, more aero position. These bikes have a longer reach, lower stack, and short wheelbase. Aspects like fork angles are tuned for quick and responsive handling. Some of the race bikes will have disc brakes, but if you are planning to join a race then buy race bike without the disc brakes. Popular choices in this category are Specialized Amira, Liv Envie, and the Ridley Jane, etc.

  1. Women’s cyclocross road bikes

Want to hit the rugged terrains? Then a cyclocross bike, gravel or adventure bike is what you should opt for. These types of bikes are created for riding on and off the pitched road. For trail riding, cyclocross bikes are most suited. They have higher bottom brackets to help you avoid roots and rocks, with more tire clearance space. On the contrary, adventure road and gravel bikes will be similar to road bikes in geometry. Disc brakes are the only common feature among these bikes. Some popular models in the category are the Liv Brava Cyclocross bike, Specialized Dolce Comp Evo adventure bike or Pinnacle Arkose Women’s.

  1. Hybrid women’s road bikes

The hybrid road bikes have flat handlebars with a set of wider tires and disc brakes. These bikes are suitable for city riders who like the idea of hopping onto rough park tracks and canal paths. Some good recommendations in this category are the Pinnacle Neon, Specialized Vita, etc.

Having said that, let’s check out the best road bikes for women.

Best Road Bikes for Women: The Choice is Yours!

Felt FR2W

How to get a bargain bike
Felt FR2W

Felt FR2W has tough structure and doesn’t sacrifice on weight savings. Smooth gear shifting with Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic drivetrain while the disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power in the bike.

Price: $5,499.00

Cannondale SuperSix Evo

the main approaches to women’s specific design
Cannondale SuperSix Evo

This one features a feminine frame with narrow handlebars, slender seat tube and seat-stays, women’s Selle Royal saddle, and a stiff asymmetric BB30a bottom bracket. Swift handling, quick responsiveness, and a sleek carbon lay-up finishing, the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Disc is one of the best road bikes for women.

Price: $2,899.00

Diamondback Airen 5 Carbon

Women's bike sizes
Diamondback Airen 5 Carbon

Specially designed for women, Diamondback Airen 5 Carbon has a slightly taller head tube that provides comfort on longer rides. The carbon frame of the bike is geared with hydraulic disc brakes for powerful braking and thru-axles for extra strength.

Price: Price: $3,200.00

Boardman Air

Tips for choosing a women’s road bike
Boardman Air

Flaunts a unisex, slippery frame with integrated brakes, narrow handlebars, women’s saddle and has models in size Extra Small. Broadman’s Air is curved using wind tunnel optimization. It is equipped with a Dura Ace groupset and Broadman’s own AIR Five wheelset in 35mm rims.

Price: $2778.00

Merckx Milano72

adventure and cyclocross bikes
Merckx Milano72

With a shorter top tube, this lady specific bike gives you a comfortable ride keeping the performance and speed high. Merckx Milano72 is a good buy.

Price: $2,500.00

Ribble Sportiva Carbon

Touring/adventure
Ribble Sportiva Carbon

Enjoy a comfy ride with Ribble’s Sportiva as the rear is designed carefully for top-notch compliance. The frame is stiff and quickly accelerates to top speed as you ramp up. Ribble also offers a ‘bike builder’ service that allows you to choose the desired components for your bikes; the Sportiva comes with the latest Shimano 105 groupset and Shimano RS010 wheelset.

Price: 1652.26

Liv Envie Advanced 1

Women's road bike features and specs
Liv Envie Advanced 1

Pretty but fierce, fast yet stable, the Liv Envie Advanced 1 claims to be an aerodynamic road bike with a Shimano 105 groupset. It boasts of terrific handling and rapid responsiveness.

Price: $4,800.00

Specialized S-Works Ruby e-Tap

best road bikes for women
Specialized S-Works Ruby e-Tap

Built with FutureShock technology that adds a small amount of suspension, the Ruby e-Tap is comfort specialized. The bike’s endurance geometry has a slightly taller stack and shorter reach that makes riding more convenient.

Added feature: SWAT Box, an integrated flat-kit container just above the bottom bracket.

Price: $10,000.00

Specialized Amira Comp

Sportive/endurance bikes
Specialized Amira Comp

If you are a badass rider then this one is your bike. The Amira Comp comes with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105 and has won an Editor’s Choice award for the two years!

Price: $2,800.00

Liv Avail SL 1 Disc

Race bikes
Liv Avail SL 1 Disc

With Shimano 105 components and disc brakes, versatility is the middle name of the Liv Avail SL 1 Disc. This bike is one sturdy machine that can be ridden around the smooth neighborhood to crushing the rough terrain.

Price: $1,315.00

Trek Silque SLR 8

Touring/adventure
Trek Silque SLR 8

The Front and Adjustable Rear IsoSpeed decouplers available in the Trek Silque SLR 8 makes it a super-smooth bike even on a bumpy road. It has a streamlined body and a shorter seatpost. It features a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset with neat cable routing.

Price: $8,599.00

Women’s specific Cube Axial Race WLS

What's the difference between women's specific and unisex bikes?
Cube Axial Race WLS

Cut out from Superlite aluminum, Cube’s Axial Race WLS is a stiff girl that uses Shimano 105 complete for supreme speed and Ultegra 6800 shifting technology. One of the best road bikes for women for riding in the hills, the Axial Race has a compact cockpit.

Price: $1321.54

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX 9.0 Team CSR

how to plan budget
Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX 9.0 Team CSR

Light and graceful, this bike features traditional frame, rim brakes, and mechanical shifting. The Ultimate WMN CF SLX 9.0 is a simple bike for the simple you!

Price: $6,500.00 (estimated)

Alchemy Eros

Best women's bike saddles
Alchemy Eros

Made of titanium, this bike is super strong and endures the test of time. The Alchemy Eros is a ti bike and is offered in stock- five stock sizes and 15 stock colors, or custom configurations. It offers buyers with a choice of mechanical or electronic drivetrain routing and a threaded or Pressfit 30 bottom bracket shell. There are optional upgrades as well that include an integrated seat post, disc brakes, and custom paint from Ethic Paint Works.

Price: $3,499.00 (frame starting price); $5,499 (complete starting price)

BMC Roadmachine 03 105

Women's road bike features and specs
BMC Roadmachine 03 105

Roadmachine 03 105 is BMC’s best-valued bike. In fact, the Roadmachine 03, 105 is better and improved version than its sibling, Roadmachine 01 Dura Ace Di2. The 03 has more tire clearance, a mount for fenders, and a rear rack. It has Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors and a Shimano 105 drivetrain with wide-range gearing- 34/50 in front, 11-32 in the rear.

Additional features: Thru axles in the front and rear wheel with flat-mount disc calipers.

Price: $2,199.00

Colnago C-RS Ultegra

Tips for choosing a women’s road bike
Colnago C-RS Ultegra

The C-RS has a basic carbon fiber frame and shares geometry with Colnago’s best bike. It has a neat profile with internally routed cables, hidden seat post binder, and wide press-fit bottom bracket. The downtube utilizes the full width of the shell with wide seat tube flares which promise of a stiff platform.

Price: $3,200.00

Wilier GTR SL Disc

How to get a bargain bike
Wilier GTR SL Disc

The GTR SL is a powerful bike which uses a sleek and light weight flat-mount caliper standard, and 12mm thru axles that ensure security and easy wheel alignment.

Price: $4,249.00

Specialized Tarmac Comp Torch Edition

How to get a bargain bike
Specialized Tarmac Comp Torch Edition

While all the frame and the specs of this bike is top-notch, the Tarmac Comp has an amazing color changing feature which sets it apart from the other bikes. At the highest temperature, the bike glistens in orange and gradually turns yellow with the decrease in the temperature. And what’s more, the effect is good for 600 hours of UV exposure. The wheels are made of DT-Swiss aluminum and the frame is built with Shimano’s excellent Ultegra group.

Price: $3,250.00

Basso Astra Disc

best road bikes for women
Basso Astra Disc

Made of complete carbon fiber, the Astra Disc has a traditional structure with thru-axles, a tapered steerer fork, BB86 bottom bracket shell, and routing for electronic or mechanical drivetrains. The bike has excellent tubes that provide aerodynamic benefits and the stem and spacers give it a sleeker, more integrated look to the traditional frame.

Price: $3,795.00 (frameset)

Trek Domane SLR 6

road bike wheels
Trek Domane SLR 6

Trek upgraded its popular Domane endurance bike by adding Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler that helps the steerer tube to flex and Trek specs Bontrager’s IsoCore bar that has a vibration-damping rubber layer in its carbon layup. The additional features render the new Domane a smoother, more balanced ride.

Price: $5,000.00

Marin Nicasio

how to plan budget
Marin Nicasio

Marin’s Nacasio is a low-cost, steel frame of the brand’s Gestalt. Comparatively, Nicasio offers more tire clearance with a 700x40mm tire width. It can also take up to 650×47 “road plus” tires for ultra-cush cruising. Nicasio features front and rear rack mounts as well as fender mounts. The drivetrain is a Shimano eight-speed and disc brakes are Promax mechanical that give you a smooth ride and halt.

Price: $749.00

Raleigh Clubman Carbon

Women's bike sizes
Raleigh Clubman Carbon

Simple and classic, Raleigh’s the Clubman flashes a carbon frame and fork with disc brakes. It also has silver components, skinwall tries, and Brooks saddle and bar tape with a script logo and fenders. Wide-range gearing and the endurance-style geometry makes the Clubman Carbon a good bike for the ascending and descending down the hills.

Price: $2,300.00

Jamis Quest Elite

Women's road bike features and specs
Jamis Quest Elite

If you are looking for a traditional, non-expensive bike then Jamis Quest Elite is your choice. With Reynolds steel frame and longer wheelbase for optimum stability, the Quest Lite is neatly designed with steel forks. Not very heavy as the bike is carbon constructed.

Price: $1,749.00

Masi Gran Criterium

best road bikes for women
Masi Gran Criterium

Masi’s Gran Criterium has features that are reminiscent of the older bikes. It has lugged construction, a lugged steel fork, Columbus tubes, silver wheels and components, and skinwall Clement tires. However, the Campagnolo’s new drivetrain and Potenza’s excellent 11-speed groupset gives the bike an advanced spin.

Price: $2,720.00

Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc

Gravel
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc

When the bike has ‘advanced and pro’ together in the name, it speaks for itself. Giant’s latest TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc is another contender in the best road bikes for women offers speed, good looks, and better braking. It uses hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, with Giant carbon clincher wheels.

Price: $4,700.00

Look 795 Aerolight eTap

Women's bike sizes
Look 795 Aerolight eTap

This pair of wheels uses Look’s one-piece Zed3 Crank, adjustable-angle (-13 to + 17) Aerostem, ADH handlebar, and seatmast. It comes with the brand’s own pedals and Mavic wheels. The front brake arms of the bike are built into the fork blades and it features SRAM eTap drivetrain.

Price: $13,500.00

Ridley Liz

best road bikes for women
Ridley Liz

This is a unisex bike that comes with a female specific finishing kit. The Ridley Liz is your best bet for the long miles and rutted roads. The geometry of the bike is fierce but the frame offers good compliance. The Liz is available in alloy frame and carbon frame.

Price: Ridley Liz in alloy frame is $1058.29 with Shimano Tiagra.

Ridley Liz in carbon frame is $1984.30 with Shimano 105

Pinarello Dogma F8 Disk

Sportive/endurance bikes
Pinarello Dogma F8 Disk

Want more brake control? Then the Pinarello Dogma F8 is your ride. It flaunts twelve-millimeter thru axles and flat caliper mounting. Both the internal routing for the brakes as well as the drivetrain are cleanly tucked. It uses a trouble-free threaded bottom bracket as well.

Price: $5,750.00

Trek Silque S5 2017

best road bikes for women
Trek Silque S5 2017

Specially curated for women, Trek’s Slique features the brand’s IsoSpeed decoupler that provides comfort as well as speed. A size 52, Silque S5 is equipped with Shimano 104 drivetrain and Bontrager wheels and kit.

Price: $2116.58

So, that was our hand-picked list of the best road bikes for women. Now that you know about the best road bikes for women, any particular brand in mind!

Do you have a crunching budget?

If so, then we can help you plan a budget-friendly bike purchase.

We know that road bikes are expensive purchases. The price tag varies from a few hundred dollars for a basic road bike to five-figure sums for the advanced ones. Understand why you want the bike for and accordingly invests. And here’s what you could get according to your budget. Check out!

  • Under $661.00– Alloy frame and fork, a seven-speed double crankset with 14 gears plus alloy bars and stem.
  • $661.00 to $925.40– Alloy frame with carbon or alloy forks, with eight- or nine-speed gears (often Shimano Sora or Claris) and a double or triple crankset.
  • $925.40 to $1322.00– Alloy frame with carbon or alloy forks, and a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra (or similar) with a double crankset, In some cases, mechanical disc brakes are available.
  • $1322.00 to $1982.99– Alloy frame with carbon fork, plus Shimano Tiagra or similar 10-speed gearing which rises to Shimano 105 11-speed (so 22 gears) at the higher end of the price scale. Hydraulic disc brakes and lighter components are likely to feature around this price point.
  • $1982.99 to $3965.99– Carbon frame, carbon bars, and carbon forks, lightweight and high-end Shimano Ultegra or similar 11-speed gearing.
  • $3965.99 and upwards – Around this price range, you could get the level of kit used by professional racers. Expect components like carbon frames and forks, carbon parts, hydraulic disc brakes or quality rim brakes, lightweight wheels, plus Shimano Di2 electronic gear shifting.

After splurging in a decent bike keep some money away to-

  1. Buy a good set of pedals
  2. Learn about the basic bike maintenance
  3. And get yourself all the required gears and accessories like bike lights, bike security etc.

And that’s all on the best road bikes for women. We hope that we have prepped you well to go buy a bike best suited for your feminine structure. To choose unisex or women specific is your choice.

What matters is the comfort, not the tag!

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