Best Women’s Mountain Bike – Reviews and Buying Guide

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Nowadays, women-specific bikes aren’t limited to one single category. They exist in all kinds and shapes of mountain bikes, from cross-country to rough terrain builds.

Several modifications in geometry have been made to MTBs, notably the 19ers, to allow smaller riders ease of accessibility through lowering the stand over heights.

A slacker geometry has been chosen for short-suspension bikes in order to add stability to descending downhill without impacting the climbing aspect in any negative way.

Even big-travel bikes have now become pretty good at handling a considerable range of trails and conditions as well as pedaling uphill.

So, with all that said, we’re now going to discuss the best women’s mountain bikes on the market, so that you can decide which one is the best women’s mountain bike for you!

What is a Women’s Mountain Bike?

Mountain Biking is NOT a men-specific sport!

Most bike brands can’t neglect the fact that the average woman is, more often than not, both shorter and lighter than the average man. And for that, they manufacture bikes that come in smaller sizes than your regular unisex bike. Such MTBs are known as women-specific bikes.

These bikes also come with features that are female-oriented such as a narrower handlebars, shorter cranks, and a woman-oriented saddle. Some brands even take it to the next level and make bikes with frames that they claim are specifically made for the average female musculature.

Which MTB Did My Wide End Up Choosing?

After spending hours researching the bikes reviewed below, my wifey ended up getting the Trek Marlin 5 simply because it’s the best women’s MTB when it comes to overall performance.

Credit: Trek Bikes

Best Women’s Mountain Bike – My Picks

#1 – Trek Marlin 5 – Best Beginner MTB for Women

Credit: Trek Bikes

When it comes to women-specific design bikes (or WSD for short), Trek has not been prioritizing them in their lines of bikes. Yet, the Marlin, of all bikes, still provides a WSD model for purchase.

The Marlin 5 from Trek Bikes was designed to provide comfort, control, power, and stability. It can serve as both a weekend adventure bike and a commuter bike for the weekdays. This is all due to it having a comfortable riding position as well as a kickstand, a rack, and mounts for mudguards.

To ensure smooth braking in all conditions, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes have been used for the wheels. As for the wheel size, you get a choice between 29 and 27.5-inch wheels.

The bike also boasts 21 gears to boost climbing ability and for cushioning impacts, as well as an SR Suntour XCE 28 suspension fork. It also features short-reach brake levers on the two small frame sizes for women with smaller hands to use comfortably.

In a nutshell, if you’re looking for the best beginner MTB for women, then this is it.

Specs:

  • Frame: Aluminum frame
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brake system
  • Tire Size: 29″
Pros
  • Alpha silver aluminum frame
  • Robust hydraulic disk brakes
  • Price-to-value ratio
  • Nice colors
Cons
  • Heavy fork

#2 – Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike – Bang for Your Buck

Credit: Schwinn Bikes

If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for a front-type mountain bike to enjoy relaxed rides in the city or the countryside, even though the High Timber is a bit pricey, you should still consider it, because it’s definitely worth it.

From an aesthetic point of view, this bike is pretty, so it makes it fitting for rides in the city or for using it to commute to work or school. You should be wary about using it excessively over rough terrain due to the medium quality material. Heavy-duty usage can break some parts of the bike easily.

There are two models, one for men and another for women. Even medium height children can ride the bike.

All in all, the Schwinn High Timber is great for vacation purposes or even as a gift to a dear family member. If you’re looking for the bang on your buck, this is the right option for you.

Specs:

  • Frame: Steel frame
  • Brakes: Linear pull brakes
  • Tire Size: 27.5″
Pros
  • Better performance thanks to the Shimano shifters and rear derailleur
  • Compatible for people of all heights
  • Compatible with different terrains
  • Good grip front and rear brakes
  • Durable frame structure
  • Beautiful design
Cons
  • Smaller than what’s been advertised
  • Not too easy to assemble

#3 – Specialized Fuse Comp 29 – Best Hardtail MTB for Women

Credit: Specialized Bikes

For the hardtail fans, this is the best women’s mountain bike there is.

A bike that only comes with a 130mm fork but also a long-travel dropper post (XS/S: 10mm, M: 120mm, L/XL: 150mm) and a slack front end.

Fuse Comp is a mid-fat hardtail that powers through. You get great traction on clay, snow, and rocks from the 2.6-inch tubeless-ready tires.

It has a long reach and a good steep seat angle for climbing. Even in steep trails, the rear wheel is able to maintain enough traction and the bike allows you to maintain weight over the front wheel for steering.

The SX eagle comes with a good number of gears while still keeping the cost at a reasonable value.

The handlebar is 780mm wide, giving you enough stability in rough terrain.

It doesn’t matter if you’re versed in the mountain biking field or if you’ve only joined the ranks of bikers; Fuse Comp can bring the fun out of every ride.

Specs:

  • Frame: Alumiinum frame
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Tire Size: 27.5″
Pros
  • Great frame with tidy features
  • Plenty of gear and accessories
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • A bit heavy

#4 – Juliana Maverick – Best Full-Suspension MTB for Women

Credit: Juliana Bicycles

Want to break your record speed in trail descents? Check out the Juliana Maverick.

A 150mm trail bike that was released back in July of 2019, this model comes in between the 160mm all-mountain Roubin and the Joplin XC bike.

This bike can handle some really rough terrains, from fast descents and steep rocky trails to foot-high log-overs

After testing it, the bike proved to be capable, light, and versatile. All of this is thanks to all the features it includes, such as the 140mm rear travel distance that’s complemented by the RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 150mm fork, which boosts stability and control in downhill charges.

Riding uphill isn’t exactly a fun thing to do generally, but with the Santa Cruz Reserve wheels, it got as close to that as possible. These wheels were so nimble and swift over the obstacles they rolled over. The excellent suspensions have even made this 30-pound bike feel lighter in climbs.

The bike also maintains its speed no matter what it runs over, thanks to the wheels and pro-level fork.

To top all of that off, the Maxxis Minion DHR2 tires provide excellent grip to give you a safe and confident ride on even the most slippery trails.

Specs:

  • Frame: Carbon frame
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ / 29″
Pros
  • Playful-feeling geometry
  • Great climbing ability
  • Slick looking carbon fiber frame
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Weak specs

#5 – eAhora AM100 Mountain Electric Bicycle – Best All-Terrain MTB

The eAhora AM100 is a bike that’s suited for both adults and young teenagers with its large 27.5-inch wheels. Whether you’re riding in mountains or on paved roads, this bike’s dimensions will serve you well.

A very durable steel frame is used for the wheels. It’ll resist the weather and rough roads. To satisfy all of your needs, the bike comes with 18 different gears that you can switch with ease.

The steering wheel has rubber grips to add comfort to your hands as you drive around for long periods. You also have the V-brake quick-release levers on the front to save you from sudden falls in immediate braking.

The bike meets all the regulations of the European Union, and the price to value ratio on this bike is pretty great. It was undoubtedly one of the best bikes to come out in 2020.

Specs:

  • Frame: Aluminum frame
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Tire Size: 27.5″
Pros
  • Quick-release V-brakes that prevent falling
  • Steel frame suitable for off-road rides
  • Excellent for both adults and teens
  • Good price to value ratio
  • 18 adjustable gears
Cons
  • Extra tall women can find it a bit small
  • Lack of a mountain kit

Types of Mountain Bikes

Young people on mountain bikes on top of a hill under a magic sky at sunset. The guys are dressed in sports clothes and helmets and look at the camera

Trail Bikes

Perhaps the most common type of mountain bikes, trail bikes are perfect for everything. In other words, they are the go-to-type if you are looking for something for casual rides with your friends over the weekend.

Additionally, these bikes usually come with an emphasis on efficiency, ease of use, and most importantly, fun!

Typical Specifications: 120-140mm of suspension travel; a 67-69 degree head-tube angle.

Cross-Country Bikes

If what you’re looking for in a bike is the sheer speed with an emphasis on climbing prowess, then a cross-country mountain bike is what you should go for. These bikes come with an emphasis on low weight and efficiency.

They are great if you’re considering going competitive with your mates or professionally.

Typical Specifications: 80-100mm of suspension travel; a 70-71 degree head-tube angle.

Fat-Tire Bikes

The oversized tires of these bikes give them excellent traction, especially on sandy or snowy terrain. Consequently, these bikes’ excellent traction makes them the perfect candidate for beginners.

All-Mountain Bikes

Bikes for all-mountain riding are designed to support you well on steep descents. Moreover, they’re also lightweight and nimble enough to allow you to easily pedal uphill.

Typical Specifications: 140-170mm of suspension travel; a 65-68 degree head-tube angle.

Downhill/Park Bikes

These bikes are usually not sold to the public consumer and are mostly found in lift-serviced bike parks. They tend to be big and durable yet require riders to wear full-body protection when going through tough terrain.

Typical Specifications: 170-200mm of suspension travel; a 63-65 degree head-tube angle.

Electric Mountain Bikes

The popularity of these bikes is on the rise, for a good reason. The whole gist of an E-bike is the implementation of a battery and a motor, which provide your pedaling input with a boost.

You can adjust the level of assistance via a control unit, usually found on the bike’s handlebar.

The presence of a motor and a battery will obviously affect the weight of the bike. However, it won’t cause a problem when climbing up anything.

Some people are under the impression that riding an e-bike is quite easy, to the point where it’s not challenging enough to serve as a workout. This is totally untrue. There are numerous professionals out there who use e-bikes in their daily workouts.

Other Types

At first glance, that might already seem like a long list of types of mountain bikes, and while that’s technically true, like any product out there, there are extra “niche” kinds.

Dirt Jump Bikes

If the name doesn’t give it away already, these bikes are mainly designed for hitting jumps, especially on dirt tracks.

This is achieved through the use of reinforced yet lighter than usual frames, usually coupled with a single gear and short-travel forks.

Singlespeed Mountain Bikes

For you masochists out there, these bikes only come with one gear. This lack of moving parts equals simplicity and ease of maintenance.

Singlespeed mountain bikes are usually very cheap. However, you can find custom-built ones out there that cost a hefty buck.

Best Women’s Mountain Bikes – Buying Guide

Best Women-Speicifc Bike - Buying Guide

When looking for the best women’s mountain bike, you’d want to focus on two key attributes, which are the suspension type and the wheel diameter. You will also need to put things such as the frame material, the number of gears, and the brake types into consideration.

Mountain Bike Suspension Types

Rigid

This type is perhaps less common than the other ones. The meaning of the word “rigid” in this case is the total absence of suspension. Fat-tire bikes tend to be rigid since the low-pressure wide tires provide all the absorption that’s needed.

Rigid bikes tend to be less expensive and are quite easy to maintain.

Hardtail

Hardtail bikes come with a suspension fork up front to help with absorbing any impact that’s inflicted on the front wheel. However, the rear of the bikes lacks any suspension, hence the name hardtail. These bikes tend to be less expensive than full-suspension bikes and obviously have fewer moving parts.

More often than not, cross-country riders prefer hardtails over other kinds of suspension types since they allow a smooth and direct transfer between the pedals and the rear tire.

Full-Suspension

Full suspension bikes come in all kinds and shapes. Generally, however, the idea is to have a front fork coupled with a rear shock to help absorb most of the impact. This mechanism, in addition to greatly reducing the impact on you, increases traction and makes for a more enjoyable and seamless ride.

This complete suspension comes at the cost of what riders call a “bob.” This happened when you lost a decent amount of the energy transfer, usually when climbing uphill. However, fortunately for you, most full-suspension bikes nowadays come with the option to lock-out the rear suspension for better energy transfer and more efficient climbing.

Mountain Bike Wheel Size

The best women’s mountain bikes come with differently sized wheels, each aimed towards a specific use.

24 in.

Mountain bikes that are marketed towards children usually feature 24 in. wheels. This is the case in order to accommodate the usually shorter legs of children.

Generally speaking, 24 in. bikes are perfect for kids aged between 10 and 13. However, as I’ve mentioned above, it’s more dependent on the size of the child than their age.

26 in.

Back in the day, this was the standard for almost every adult mountain bike out there. However, nowadays, you’ll probably end up being asked “26 in., 27.5 in. or 29 in.?” when you walk into a bike shop.

27.5 in.

These bikes serve as the middle ground between the standard 26 in. bikes and the 29ers, quite literally. They tend to be the “best of both worlds”, better rollers than the 26ers yet more maneuverable than the 29ers. They’re commonly found on hardtail and full-suspension bikes.

27.5+ in.

The plus symbol is simply an indicator of extra width, usually 2.8 in. in width. Wider tires usually translate to a more forgiving and comfortable ride. They also tend to have less rolling resistance when compared to thinner tires, which is always welcomed.

29 in.

29ers usually take a little more energy and time to accelerate, but once you’re moving, you’ll end up conquering more terrain than ever. In other words, momentum is the key feature of these wheels, making them the go-to choice for longer rides. This is perhaps the reason why these bikes are very popular amongst cross-country riders.

Mountain Bike Frame Materials

For a bike to even be considered amongst the best women’s mountain bikes, it needs to have a frame that is strong and durable.

Most modern-day mountain bike frames are made out of aluminum alloy because of their generally lightweight and durable nature. Some manufacturers go out of their own way and mix and match other materials with aluminum to grant a better but usually more expensive experience.

Other frame materials include titanium, steel, and carbon fiber. Titanium is very strong and lightweight but is exclusive to high-end mountain bikes since it’s an expensive material. Steel, on the other hand, is an inexpensive yet efficient alternative. Then there is carbon fiber, which is both strong and lightweight. However, it tends to be on the expensive side of things since it requires a lot of labor to manufacture.

What I consider to be the best women’s mountain bikes can be made out of any of these materials, but you most certainly won’t find one that’s made of titanium because of the very hefty price tag that’s attached to such bikes.

Mountain Bike Gears

The number of a bike’s gears is the number of sprockets on the cassette multiplied by the number of front chainrings. As I’ve mentioned before, the best women’s mountain bikes can have anything from a single gear up to more than 30.

There is no denying that at a certain point, the high number of gears can be complex, or rather, confusing. To clear things up, the first thing to consider is your fitness level and the terrain that you’ll be riding on.  If you plan on doing a lot of challenging climbing, then the more gears, the better. If you’re a physically fit mountain biker or you simply only ride flat terrain, then a high number of gears won’t be necessary.

Most mountain bikes come with two or three chainrings up front to accommodate for the different levels of climbing. Still, mountain bikes with single chainrings and a wide-range cassette (9-11 cogs) are quite popular since they tend to be lighter and simpler to use.

You have to keep in mind that your bike’s gearing is quite easy to modify, so it doesn’t really have to be your primary concern when looking for the best women’s mountain bike for you.

Mountain Bike Brakes

The best women’s mountain bikes come equipped with either rim brakes or disc brakes, but the latter dominate most of the market nowadays except for entry-level bikes.

Rim Brakes

Many entry-level mountain bikes come equipped with rim brakes, which are basically pads that grip onto, you figured it, the wheel rims.

The advantage of rim brakes when compared to their disc counterpart is the fact that they’re economical for both you, the consumer, and the manufacturer. Additionally, it’s easier to observe pad wear.

The disadvantages, however, are the fact that over time, these brakes will wear out the wheel rim itself. Further, these brakes aren’t very effective once they’re subjected to water or mud. Lastly, they require more hand effort on the level of the levers when braking suddenly.

Disc Brakes

The best women’s mountain bikes out there usually feature disc brakes instead of rim ones for a number of different reasons.

Disc brakes are basically brake pads that grip onto a brake rotor located in the wheel’s hub. They come in two versions: Hydraulic ones, which offer a more progressive and stronger braking system that doesn’t require much finger effort. They also self-adjust for pad wear. Then there are mechanical (cable-activated) brakes, which need manual adjusting once the pads start wearing.

When compared to rim brakes, disc brakes generally perform better in tough terrain and weather conditions, as well as having way less strain on your fingers. They also don’t damage your wheel after long-term usage.

There are still disadvantages. For one, inspecting the pad wear tends to be more difficult, and maintenance/replacement tends to be more costly.

Mountain Bike Size

The best women’s mountain bike for you should be one that fits your height and riding style, hence why size matters. Owning a bike that fits your core can improve your handling as well as your overall confidence on the trail.

Mountain bikes come in standard sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. These sizes are usually very similar across most brands out there. As I’ve mentioned above, the key factor in determining which size is right for you is your height.

Worry not, as most bike manufacturers have size charts that list a height range for each bike size in their arsenal. If you happen to find yourself in the middle between two sizes, I recommend that you go for the smaller one as you can manage more with it by modifying a few things.

Best Women’s Mountain Bikes – FAQ

What are Suspension Travel and Head-tube Angle?

Suspension travel is how much movement the bike’s front and rear suspension offers you.
The Head-tube angle is the angle that the head-tube forms with the ground. A Steeper angle generally means that the bike can turn faster and climbs better. A slacker angle, on the other hand, is an indication of better stability but at the cost of climbing power.

How Much Should I Spend on My First Mountain Bike?

While I can give you a number or rather a price range, the final decision will always come down to how much you are willing to spend on a bike and what features do you see yourself needing in one.

It’s hard to find a truly bad bike nowadays. However, if you pay $500 on a bike, for example, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of money in the long run on maintenance and such, something you could’ve avoided if you paid more.

It’s all a matter of how long that comfort and those features of the bike will survive, and generally speaking, the more you pay, the longer they’ll function. With this out of the way, you need to keep in mind that mountain biking doesn’t solely revolve around the bike itself.

You’ll have to buy a helmet, a track pump, a shock pump, etc. In other words, before you go for what you consider to be the best women’s mountain bike, consider the additional costs too and make sure that your budget can handle them.

What Can I Expect Riding Off-Road?

Well, literally anything! Dirt roads, gravel-dirt roads (formed by trucks), sand, mud, and even some pavement.

You’ll also find yourself biking on tricky terrain with numerous challenges such as steep hills, downed trees, waterways (rivers), and wild animals.

There are two-track roads and single-track ones, and the latter is perfect for a solo ride while the former is recommended when with friends to avoid the risk of collision.

What I personally recommend is that you pick trails that you think to suit you and your abilities best. Don’t try anything too exotic or too extreme for the sake of some cool points amongst your friends as it can endanger you, literally.

Why Don’t All Brands Produce Women-Specific Bikes?

Some companies think that it is more important to focus on the riders’ size differences rather than their gender. This is a reasonable stance because it can help them cut a lot of extra costs, amongst other things.

Some of their unisex bikes, the smaller sized models at least, can be a perfect fit for a lot of women. They also come equipped with suspension systems that take into account all the differences that can be present between a man and a woman, regardless of size.

Why Are Many Bikes Currently Out of Stock?

It’s simple, really, the pandemic that’s going on around the world today. Because of it, people are looking for alternative forms of entertainment and workout that don’t involve interacting with others. This is the reason why hiking, running, biking, and riding are on the rise.

Consequently so, bike sales surged. This, coupled with the slower production and delivery processes due to the pandemic, led to shortages of stock.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do if you set your eyes on a specific bike that’s out of stock. However, you can still look for the same model on a different website, for instance, or simply play the waiting game. But, if patience isn’t one of your strong points, then finding an alternative, a similar model, won’t be that hard with the help of the buying guide that I just provided you with!

Enjoy your biking and stay safe.

Verdict

Mountain biking is a great sport – one that’s suitable for both men and women. That said, most MTBs are specifically designed for men, which is why, if you’re a woman, you should like for the best women’s mountain bike.

Any of my recommendations would work well for you, but if I’m to recommend one bike above the others, I’d say go with the Trek Marlin 5.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your new women’s bike, wear your mountain bike shorts, grab your mountain bike helmet, and hit the trail already!

Do you personally think that mountain biking is suitable for women as well?

Share your insight in the comments!

References:

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