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Best Women’s Mountain Bike Review And Guides 2020

best women mountain bike

If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for women’s mountain bike:

  1. Trek Top Fuel – Best Overall Bike 
  2. Niner Air 9 2-Strike – Best Bike Under $2000
  3. Trek Roscoe 7 Women’s – Best Bike Under $1500 
  4. Raleigh Tokul 3 – Best Bike Under $1000 
  5. Diamondback Overdrive – Best Bike Under $500  
  6. Schwinn High Timber – Best Bike Under $300 
  7. Salsa Timberjack – Best Beginner Bike 
  8. Juliana Joplin – Best Full Suspension
  9. Orbea Alma M10 – Best Lightweight Bike
  10. Trek Supercaliber 9.7 – Best Cross Country Bike
  11. Diamondback Release 5C Carbon – Best Trail Bike

Why do I need a women’s specific mountain bike? 

The field of women’s specific mountain bikes has been steadily growing, responding to the excitement women feel around having bikes built specifically for them. There is a growing number of bike companies who recognize the importance of building the best women’s mountain bikes available. 

Often, women’s bikes capitalize on a more compact frame and components suited to women’s bodies.  

Many bike brands that build women’s specific bikes make subtle shifts to accommodate women, such as nuanced frame geometry differences, branding, graphics, shock tunes, and touchpoints. Women’s specific bikes typically have a wider seat to accommodate wider hips and sit bones in addition to narrower bars to match narrower shoulders, often paired with smaller grips for smaller hands.  

Interestingly, many women’s bikes have a lower top tube, or the top part of a frame that can be straight from the stem to the seat post or can dip down to a lower point on the seat tube. This design is leftover from when women were required to ride bikes in skirts.  

High-end women’s bikes do not still utilize this style because it is antiquated and no longer functional to accommodate riding in a skirt. Many lower-end women’s bikes do still utilize this style despite cultural changes and detriments to the functionality of the bike.  

It is important to note that while these nuanced differences can make a difference, many women do not ride women’s specific bikes. However, if you are looking for a bike that is suited for women and tested by women, considering a women’s specific bike may be advantageous.  

What components should I look for in a women’s specific mountain bike

When considering a mountain bike purchase, the number of bike components and options can feel dizzying. However, starting slow and understanding which components to prioritize is a great place to start.  

Frame Material 

In general, there are four materials used for mountain bikes: carbon, aluminum, titanium and steel. 

Carbon is the lightest frame material. Most professional cyclists competing at the highest level ride carbon bikes.  

Carbon fiber is actually a woven plastic material, meaning it is incredibly lightweight and will absorb many of the vibrations that come through the bike. It is typically the most expensive material and is also the most breakable.  

Frames built with carbon are known to occasionally crack in a crash, rendering the bike unrideable. While this material is lightweight and feels amazing to ride, the downside lies in its high cost and higher probability of breaking.  

The second material used in mountain bike frames is aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight, inexpensive, and snappy.  

The vast majority of mountain bikes are aluminum. The cost to produce aluminum frames, paired with the durability of the material makes it ideal for most mountain bikes

The downsides of aluminum are it does not absorb many of the vibrations of riding, often making aluminum bikes feel stiff and bumpier to ride than other materials.  

Third, some bikes are made of titanium or steel. Titanium and steel are often used in custom frame builds and are therefore hard to find on stock bikes.  

Titanium is known for being lightweight, expensive, and dampening. Steel is known for being heavy, inexpensive, and dampening.  

In general, you’ll likely be choosing between a carbon bike and an aluminum bike. Carbon bikes typically see a significant price jump and come with nicer components while aluminum bikes are often less expensive and come with more affordable components.  

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Suspension 

Mountain bikes have, in general, three options for suspension.  

The first option is a rigid bike, meaning there is no suspension. Rigid bikes are typically lightweight and targeted for riding smooth terrain.  

The second option is a hardtail mountain bike, meaning there is a front suspension fork and no suspension through the frame. Hardtails are great options for riders planning to ride smoother trails while still benefiting from suspension in the front of the bike and a simpler, lighter build.  

The third option is a full-suspension mountain bike. A full-suspension bike has a front suspension fork as well as a hinge point in the back of the bike which provides a flex point in the frame, further smoothing out the bumps, rock, and roots on the trail.  

Choosing the amount of suspension you need will depend on where you plan to ride. If you’re drawn to dirt paths, a rigid bike may be great. If you are excited about riding rugged trails, a full suspension will help you enjoy that specific style of trails.  

Weight 

The general rule for cross country mountain bikes is lighter is faster and also more expensive. As bikes go up in price, they use more lightweight materials which are typically higher quality and also more expensive.  

Riding a lightweight bike is beneficial because you are carrying less weight with you as you ride. It is easy to feel a dramatic difference between riding a bike that weighs 25lbs or 40lbs.  

The exception to this rule is in bikes suited for downhill or enduro terrain. These bikes can be quite heavy and quite expensive because they integrate massive amounts of suspension into the design.  

The tradeoff between weight, price, and suspension is an important consideration that all mountain bikers face when choosing a bike.  

Wheels 

Modern mountain bikes designed for adults typically come with one of two wheel sizes: 27.5” or 29”. This number measures the diameter of the wheel.  

27.5” wheels will feel quicker to turn, and are more playful and snappier than 29” wheels. Some riders who are smaller may like the feel of 27.5” wheels to capitalize on riding a bike that feels smaller in general.  

29” wheels are arguably the fastest wheel size for cross country riding. They will roll over rugged terrain more easily and allow you to ride faster than 27.5” wheels on most terrain.  

Bikes designed for cross country riding, or climbing as well as descending, often trend towards 29” wheels while bikes designed for downhill riding may trend towards 27.5” wheels.  

Gears 

Mountain bikes may utilize various different styles of gears and drivetrains. 

Some mountain bikes are single speeds, meaning there are no gear options and one simplified gear. This style of bike can be, perhaps surprisingly, exciting to ride due to the simplicity but may be challenging in hilly or mountainous terrain.  

Other mountain bikes have what is called a “one by” system, meaning there is one gear option in the front and a range of gears in the back. This system is beneficial because the shifting is simplified and also lighter, eliminating the needs for a front derailleur and a front shifter.  

The third option is a drivetrain with gears in the front as well as the back. These systems can have as many as three gears in the front and nine in the back, offering 27 different speeds.  

While this may seem intriguing, and does offer a wide range of gears, this type of system can also feel complicated to use due to the incredible number of gear options.  

Brakes 

Arguably the most important safety feature on a mountain bike is the brakes. There are two main types of brakes: rim brakes and disc brakes.  

Rim brakes work by squeezing the rim of the wheel to slow the wheel. Rim brakes are a more traditional style and can work well if properly maintained.  

The second type of brake is a disc brake which works by squeezing an external disc near the center of the wheel.  

Disc brakes are more effective and stronger than rim brakes, making them a safer option. Disc brakes tend to be more expensive than rim brakes but are a reasonable investment in your safety if it is in your budget.  

Within disc brakes, there are two types: mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disc brakes work through a cable running from the levers to the calipers while hydraulic disc brakes utilize pressurized fluid in a brake tube to squeeze the calipers.  

Comparison Table and Reviews 

ImageProductFeatures
scmtbl-table__imageEditor's ChoiceEditor's Choice Trek Top Fuel
  • Material: Carbon
  • Suspension: 120 front, 115 rear
  • Wheel size: 29” wheels, 2.4” tires
  • Brakes: Shimano MT 501 hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#2#2 Niner Air 9 2-Star
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 120mm front
  • Wheel size: 29” wheels, 2.4 and 2.5” tires
  • Brakes: SRAM Level hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#3#3 Trek Roscoe 7 Women’s
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 120mm front
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.8” tires
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#4#4 Raleigh Tokul 3
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 120mm front
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.8” tires
  • Brakes: Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#5#5 Diamondback Overdrive
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 80mm front
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.25” tires
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image#6#6 Schwinn High Timber
  • Material: Steel
  • Suspension: 90mm front
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.3” tire
  • Brakes: Rim brakes
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#7#7 Salsa Timberjack 27.5"
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 130mm front
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.8” tires
  • Brakes: Shimano MT400 hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#8#8 Juliana Joplin
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Suspension: 130mm front, 120 rear
  • Wheel size: 29” wheel, 2.3” tire
  • Brakes: Sram Level hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#9#9 Orbea Alma
  • Material: Carbon
  • Suspension: 100mm front
  • Wheel size: 29” wheels, 2.20” tires
  • Brakes: Shimano XT M8100 hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#10#10 Trek Supercaliber 9.7
  • Material: Carbon
  • Suspension: 100mm front, 60mm rear
  • Wheel size: 29” wheels, 2.20” tires
  • Brakes: Shimano MT501 hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →
scmtbl-table__image#11#11 Diamondback Release 5C Carbon
  • Material: Carbon
  • Suspension: 150mm front, 130mm rear
  • Wheel size: 27.5” wheels, 2.35” tires
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RS, hydraulic disc
CHECK PRICE →

1. Trek Top Fuel – Best Overall Bike 

The Trek Top Fuel is my overall top choice for a mountain bike. This bike has been newly redesigned with slightly more suspension, coming in with 120mm in the front and 115mm in the rear.  

The Top Fuel climbs with speed due to the carbon frame, 1×12 drivetrain, and expertly designed geometry.  

On the descents, the Top Fuel can keep up with significantly bigger bikes. The ride quality of this bike feels as if it extends further than a typical full suspension cross country bike. 

With slightly larger tires and 29” wheels, the Top Fuel is nimble while still feeling stable as it plows through technical sections of the trail.  

If you are looking for a bike that suits the vast majority of trails, from casual singletrack to technical descents, the Top Fuel is a great option.  

2. Niner Air 9 2-Strike – Best Bike Under $2000 

The Niner Air 9 2-Strike is a capable hardtail featuring higher volume, grippy tires, 120mm of front suspension, and a 1×12 drivetrain to round out the potential for speed and fun.  

This bike utilizes aluminum to keep the frame lightweight. The 2.4” and 2.5” tires help smooth the ride and ensure the bike feels stable and confidence inspiring.  

Niner has chosen hydraulic disc brakes to ensure you have the stopping power you need while riding.  

If you are looking for a bike that allows you to climb quickly, enjoy the descents, and quickly improve your skills, this could be a great choice.  

3. Trek Roscoe 7 Women’s – Best Bike Under $1500 

The Trek Roscoe 7 Women’s hardtail is a brilliant combination of components which keep the price below $1500 while maximizing fun. 

The Roscoe 7 features a lightweight, aluminum, hardtail frame.  

In order to soften some of the vibrations and bumps, Trek has chosen 27.5+ tires, meaning the tires are wider than traditional mountain bike tires. This choice not only allows for incredible traction but also works to soften the terrain, making the ride smoother.  

The 1×12 drivetrain, dropper post, and hydraulic disc brakes round out the incredible options Trek made in building this bike.  

This bike is designed for women, meaning the Roscoe 7 comes with a women’s specific saddle  and slightly narrower handlebars in the smaller sizes.  

If you are looking to feel confident on technical terrain, improve your skills, and simply enjoy where your bike can take you, the Roscoe 7 could be the perfect option for you.  

4. Raleigh Tokul 3 – Best Bike Under $1000 

The Raleigh Tokul 3 is an aluminum frame, hardtail bike that offers impressive components at the price point. 

This bike comes with a 120mm fork and plus sized tires which will both work to make this bike feel smooth, stable, and grippy.  

The wide bars and comfortable riding position make this bike a great machine to take on various surfaces including technical trails, dirt paths, and mellow singletrack.  

If you are looking for a bike that looks modern and exciting and can handle an impressive amount of terrain, the Tokul 3 may be perfect. 

5. Diamondback Overdrive – Best Bike Under $500  

The Diamondback Overdrive is a hardtail mountain bike that keeps a low price point while utilizing impressive components. 

This bike has an 80mm front fork which will help soften the ride and keep you moving over technical terrain with ease.  

The 27.5” tires will feel quick and playful as you ride.  

Diamondback has chosen a 24 speed drivetrain, offering three speeds in front and eight in the back. This range offers plenty of speed options and will ensure you can climb and descend any hill you encounter 

If you are looking for a bike that feels great on moderate terrain and can help you discover the joys of mountain biking, this could be the perfect bike for you.  

6. Schwinn High Timber – Best Bike Under $300 

The Schwinn High Timber is a steel frame mountain bike that will help you discover the joys of mountain biking. Steel generally softens the ride, absorbs many of the bumps, and helps the ride feel more comfortable. 

This bike comes with 27.5” wheels which will feel quick and snappy while riding, allowing you to navigate technical trails and switchbacks.  

The High Timber comes with 21 speeds, with three in the front and seven in the back. This combination means you’ll have plenty of speed options to keep you climbing with ease.  

7. Salsa Timberjack – Best Beginner Bike 

You’ve been tempted by mountain bikes for years, and now is the year you’re jumping in. The number of bike options and components can feel dizzying. 

Fortunately, bikes like the Salsa Timberjack exist. 

This bike is built to keep the price point low while optimizing capabilities. The hardtail aluminum frame keeps the bike light, providing a snappy ride. 

Salsa has chosen 27.5” wheels paired with 2.8” tires. These are considered plus sized tires and will feel incredibly grippy and stable — making them a great choice for beginners.  

The Timberjack has a dropper post and 130mm of travel in the front fork which will make descending exciting as you feel the allure of speed on descents.  

The Timberjack comes with a 1×11 drivetrain which will help you climb with confidence and embrace the simplicity of a drivetrain without multiple front chainrings.  

If you are new to mountain biking and you aren’t sure if you’ll be drawn to dirt paths, steep climbs, descents, or mellow cruising, this bike will help you experience it all.  

8. Juliana Joplin – Best Full Suspension 

The Juliana Joplin is a full suspension bike with incredible capabilities. If you are looking for a bike that can take on both cross country riding and enduro riding styles, the Joplin may be a great option. 

The carbon frame on this version of the Joplin comes with a 130mm fork and a 120mm rear suspension. Paired with a 1×12 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, and a dropper post, this bike is ready to rip through most trails.  

If your riding is going to include technical terrain, bumpy surfaces, or rocks and roots, having a full suspension that feels light enough to pedal quickly will be advantageous.  

Juliana is part of the Santa Cruz brand. Juliana is their women’s specific line of bikes. 

The Joplin has the same geometry and design as the Santa Cruz Tallboy. However, the Joplin comes with a women’s specific saddle and different color options.  

9. Orbea Alma M10 – Best Lightweight Bike 

Orbea has optimized for capabilities and weight savings with the Alma M10. This bike features a rigid carbon frame, 29” wheels, a 100mm front fork, and a 1×12 drivetrain system. 

If you are looking for a bike that has capabilities to climb, descend, and tackle any cross country trail, the Alam M10 will get you there as one of the lightest builds available.  

Orbea has chosen an aggressive geometry which is best suited for riders looking to go as fast as possible.  

At this price point, Orbea has optimized this bike for lightweight speed.  

The carbon frame will help soften the ride as it flexes beneath you while the front fork will ensure you can smooth out both large terrain features and smaller vibrations.  

10. Trek Supercaliber 9.7 – Best Cross Country Bike 

The Trek Supercaliber eliminates the question of hardtail or full suspension. This bike perfectly toes the line between the two worlds, creating a bike that can handle any XC trails with the speed of a hardtail and the smoothness of a full suspension.  

Trek has chosen a 100mm fork and a 60mm rear suspension shock. These decisions keep the bike lightweight and comfortable to ride.  

If you are looking for a bike that will optimize speed in any cross country setting, this very well could be a great option for you.  

Particularly for women, the appeal of a lightweight hardtail can draw us away from a full suspension. If you find yourself thinking this way, Trek may have an answer for you in any level of the Supercaliber. 

Rounding out the build with hydraulic disc brakes and a 1×12 drivetrain, Trek optimizes your ability to climb and descend with ease.  

11. Diamondback Release 5C Carbon  Best Trail Bike 

The Diamondback Release 5C Carbon is a bike built for the trails. The Release 5C features a Fox 36 fork with 150mm of suspension and a rear shock with 130mm of travel. This carbon frame will ensure the Release 5C stays relatively lightweight despite the considerable travel.  

Diamondback has chosen 27.5” wheels and a dropper post which will ensure this bike feels snappy and can quickly navigate technical sections of any trail you encounter.  

The hydraulic disc brakes and 1×12 SRAM Eagle drivetrain will ensure you have the pedaling and stopping power you need to take on the trails.  

Many women find this bike a great option because it mixes lightweight and manageable components with a significant amount of suspension. If you are hoping to shred intense trails and embrace the enduro style of riding by prioritizing descending, this is a great bike for you.  

Conclusion: 

Women deserve bikes that can keep up with their skills and needs on the bike. Even though the industry is only recently catching up with women in cycling, there are still tons of bikes that will suit your needs. 

While some bikes are specifically designed for women, there is plenty of space to excel riding non-women’s specific bikes.  

As you look for the best women’s mountain bike, be sure to consider both women’s specific bikes and bikes designed for men. You’re sure to find success and excitement taking either route. 

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