Mountain Bikes for Women have not remained few and far between anymore. From the Cross-country bikes to Freeride bikes, women-specific Mountain bikes are now available in the entire Mountain Bikes range. Much like women, their mountain bikes also come in different shapes. Usually, these women-specific mountain bikes are compact in sizes with lower standover heights to increase the accessibility to smaller riders.
However, the geometry tweaks in the latest models have made the big-mountain bikes too come with lower standover heights and thereby increasing the accessibility to women, because bigger bikes are better for technical terrains.
What is a Women’s Mountain Bike?
It is known to everyone that women have different shapes and sizes from one another. Just like them, even women’s mountain bikes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Generally, women are shorter and lighter than men and most of the manufacturers of Mountain Bikes agree with the point. Hence, conventionally, the women’s mountain bikes are smaller in size with compact geometry.
However, there is no particular feature or geometry that differentiates women’s mountain bikes from that of men’s or unisex bikes. The mountain bikes from some of the brands such as Yeti, Specialized, and Santa Cruz have no different geometry for female riders. They are different in the features and components offered; for e.g. they have a women-specific saddle, shorter cranks, narrower handlebar, and a shock tuned for shorter and lighter riders.
And then, there are few brands like Liv and Canyon who design female bikes based on empirical research. Liv Mountain Bikes, the popular brand producing women’s mountain bikes designs its products keeping in mind that commonly women have longer legs and shorter torso as compared to men.
What are the main differences between men and women-specific Mountain Bikes?
Gone are the days when women’s mountain bikes were just prettier and smaller with poor specifications than men’s bikes. But today, women’s mountain bikes are as good as men’s bikes in terms of quality and performance. In fact, there are no major differences between Men’s and Women’s Mountain Bikes when it comes to usability or performance.
Most of the differences are in the comfort offered and some differences in the size of the bikes. Usually, Women’s Mountain Bikes have a shorter gap between the seat and the top of the frame due to the general fact that women have a short torso and long legs than men. Liv, one of the leading women’s bike manufacturers produces women-specific bikes in small sizes that are smaller than even the XS and XXS versions of men’s bikes.
Women-specific bikes, sometimes, have lighter frames because of the thinner tubes and weigh lesser than men’s bikes. Another important difference between the men’s and ladies’ mountain bikes is in the saddle. Typically women’s bikes have a wider saddle than that of the male counterparts mainly due to the anatomy difference.
Another distinction is in the handlebars as the female bikes normally come with the handlebars that are shorter in length and lesser in diameter to increase the grip comfort.
The Buying Guide To Select The Best Women Mountain Bike
If you are into mountain biking and if you have decided to go for an MTB then you should definitely consider certain points before finalizing your mountain bike. Points such as what is your skill level, what experience you are looking forward to, where the rides would happen, and most importantly, what is your budget must be taken into consideration before choosing the bike.
There are different types of Mountain Bikes available for the riders, each one of them with specific purposes, features, and benefits. Cross-country bikes are the most common and Entry-level Mountain Bikes providing fast and efficient pedaling. Commonly known as XC bikes, they perform best on smooth trails. Huffy Bikes has introduced several Women’s Mountain Bikes Under $500, especially for younger women.
Trail bikes are versatile, efficient and perform well on climbs as well as descents. They are basically a blend of Cross-country bike’s easy speed with Enduro bike’s tackling technology. 26 Inch Huffy Women’s Trail Runner Mountain Bike is one of the options available. Enduro or All mountain bikes are nothing but full suspension trail bikes that have an extra aggro attitude.
They are designed to perform better on technical downhill. But, the modern suspension design makes many of these Enduro bikes good for some climbing. Downhill bikes are best for steep and fast terrains as they are the most specialized bikes amongst all.
Where are you going with your bike and your life?
It is important to have realistic thinking about what type of biking we intend to do, where we see ourselves riding in the coming months etc before rushing to finalize one specific mountain bike. For e.g. if the objective of buying a mountain bike is for a regular trip to and fro the city, then considering a hybrid bike or a folding bike makes more sense than a mountain bike.
Try Before You Buy
It’s always a good practice to test ride the bikes available before purchasing your bike. No matter how well the features have been explained, a practical ride helps to know the best suitability of these bikes to our personality. If your local shop is providing you a demo of the mountain bikes, then you can request for customizing the suspension level.
Also, make sure that the compression, rebound settings, and tire pressure are checked before you start. If they are not properly set, then even the ideal bikes could become terrible bikes.
Wheels and Tires
One of the crucial components of any mountain bike is the wheels. The size of the wheels matters because the bigger wheels roll easily on the tougher surface. However, they take a longer time to get the speed or to maneuver in the corners. Therefore, which size is best is the personal choice of the user as the mountain bikes come with different wheel sizes – 26”, 27.5”, and 29”.
But it is also true that most of the bikes have bigger wheels and only a few bikes come with 26” wheels. Most preferred wheel size commonly is the average, 27.5” wheel size that can perform better on both the tough surface and in the corner. Diamondback and BEIOU are few Mountain Bikes brands that offer bigger wheels. However, most of the Women’s MTBs come with 26” wheel size.
Just like the wheels, even tires come in different sizes and you will have to choose the tire size that matches with the wheel size, you opted for. When it comes to tires, it’s not only the size that matters but also the width. Again, choosing the width of the tire is a personal preference. It may vary between 2.0 to 2.8 while the former being a super narrow tire and the latter being a beefier one.
The wider and beefy tires are more useful for the rocky and technical terrain and the narrow tires roll faster on the gravel paths. Last but not least, the tires could be tube tires or tubeless or tubeless-ready. Most of the economical mountain bikes do not offer tubeless-ready tires, but a very few do offer. Switching to the tubeless tires drastically cut down the number of flats that may occur.
Traditionally, the mountain bikes used to have rim brakes. But today, almost all the mountain bikes come with disc brakes. Disc brakes are way better than rim brakes in providing faster and smoother stops whenever needed. There are two types of disc brakes available that are Mechanical Disc Brakes and Hydraulic Disc Brakes.
While mechanical disc brakes are easier and economical to maintain as compared to the hydraulic disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes offer better modulation and performance. It’s always recommended to go for a mountain bike that has hydraulic disc brake for increased performance, but if you are going for an under budget mountain bike then you may have to select mechanical disc brakes.
Though the Best Affordable Mountain Bikes offer mechanical disc brakes, the novice cyclists would definitely find it simple and reliable. Motobecane Nimble FS Pro comes with dual suspension and disc brakes and is one of the Best Women’s Mountain Bike Under $1000.
Points of Contact
The handlebar and the saddle are the two most important points of contact a cyclist shares with her bike.
Handlebars: Most of the women-specific mountain bikes come with wider handlebars such as 740mm or 760mm setups. Though wider handlebars might feel unfamiliar, they giver better control to the rider and should definitely be tried. However, if the handlebar is too wide then it may have a reverse effect.
Saddle: Just because you have a women-specific saddle, doesn’t mean it is the right one for you. It is important to test the saddles at the local shop just the way you test the bike because if you like one or two, you may learn to make the subsequent adjustments at home itself.
Choosing the Bike for your Skill-level
The one thing that you must keep in mind while selecting your mountain bike is the skill level. Never choose a bike that suits your current skill level, instead go for that bike that will suit your skill level in the coming 6, 12, and 18 month’s time, but with a realistic approach. The last thing you would wish for is buying a single gear hardtail mountain bike only to realize in a few months that what you needed was a full suspension disc brake mountain bike. It is always good to ride a more advanced bike that may even help you in developing your biking skills faster.
The company you keep
At times, the group with whom you choose to ride your bike could also matter. There could be a chance that you don’t ride solo, but with a local racing group or with your pals. You may want to go for a mountain bike that complements the group’s riding style to be with the group.
Like it has been mentioned earlier, choosing the right mountain bike is all about choosing what you feel more comfortable for you rather than going blindly on some women-specific mountain bike or going on smallest size bikes. It is important to try out different bikes with varied components to decide what is more comfortable for your body profile before freezing on a bike.
A lot of Best Mountain Bikes for Women are available in different price category and different skill sets. Huffy, Merax Falcon, Mongoose, and Granite are some of the famous Women’s Mountain Bike brands available in the market offering Women’s Mountain Bikes Under $300. It is important to choose a mountain bike with the right skill set as it is going to be your best buddy for the next few years.