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Best Women's Mountain Bikes

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 15 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 129 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best women’s mountain bikes

    Last Updated November 2018

    Bike riding isn’t just great exercise, it’s an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors at the same time. That’s especially true if you venture away from busy city and residential streets and head off to more scenic trails. But if you’re going to ride on unpaved roads, you have to make sure that your bike is built for it, which is why it’s so important to invest in a good women’s mountain bike.

    A mountain bike is meant for off-road cycling, so it can handle uneven ground, such as dirt, gravel, mud, or even snow-covered trails. But with so many options to choose from, finding the right women’s mountain bike for your needs can be a serious challenge. You have to decide on the right type, frame, suspension, brakes, and other features to make sure that the bike you choose will hold up to your riding routine.

    Ready to buy a women’s mountain bike? See our top recommendations. If you want general tips for choosing a women’s mountain bike, keep reading our shopping guide.

    Women don’t have to limit themselves to women’s mountain bikes. You can choose a bike that fits your size and riding preferences.

    Do I need a women’s mountain bike?

    There actually aren’t many differences between men’s and women’s mountain bikes. Both usually offer the same type of construction and features, so, in many ways, the bikes are interchangeable. However, there are a few key reasons why a woman may prefer a women’s mountain bike to a men’s mountain bike.

    Weight

    Women’s mountain bikes are typically lighter because women usually weigh less than men. That means the bike’s suspension doesn’t need to do as much work, and a lighter bike is often easier for women to transport.

    Build

    The design of women’s mountain bikes takes into account that many women’s legs are usually longer in proportion to their torso than men’s legs, which can make the bike more comfortable to ride. Also, the handlebars are often configured to fit women’s smaller hands.

    Seat

    The seat on a women’s mountain bike is designed to be more comfortable for women.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    If you regularly ride in snow or sand, you might want a women’s mountain bike with extra-wide tires for better traction.

    Types of women’s mountain bikes

    Cross-country

    Cross-country women’s mountain bikes are similar to road bikes. They’re designed to be quick and efficient when climbing hills, so they’re typically lightweight with larger wheels. A cross-country bike is often used for racing and is usually comfortable to ride for distances up to 25 miles, but it doesn’t provide the same traction or control as other mountain bikes.

    Trail

    A trail bike is the most common type of women’s mountain bike. It’s ideal if you’re mostly going to use the bike to cycle with friends and don’t plan on racing. A trail bike works equally well riding uphill and downhill. It usually has midsize wheels and is designed to provide midrange traction, durability, and efficiency.

    All-mountain

    All-mountain women’s mountain bikes are essentially trail bikes designed for rocky terrain. They can handle steeper uphill climbs and descents. All-mountain bikes have midsize wheels and provide highly effective traction and control.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Put together an emergency repair kit for your mountain bike. Include a replacement tire, pump, patch kit, and chain lubricant in a container you can easily carry with you.

    Women’s mountain bike features to consider

    Frame

    Women’s mountain bike frames are typically made of aluminum alloy, titanium, steel, or carbon fiber.

    • Aluminum alloy is the most common mountain bike material. It is lightweight and durable.

    • Titanium is strong and lightweight but costly.

    • Steel is strong and rides well, but it’s fairly heavy. Steel is probably the most budget-friendly option.

    • Carbon fiber is lightweight and strong, but it doesn’t hold up as well in crashes. It is also pricier than other materials.

    Size

    While women’s mountain bikes are designed specifically with a typical woman’s body in mind, there are size options. In most cases, you can choose among small, medium, and large models. Be sure to check the suggested height range from the manufacturer for each size, so you can find the right size for you.

    Suspension

    A mountain bike’s suspension enables it to move smoothly over uneven terrain and helps with traction when you’re going uphill or turning corners. Your main options are rigid, hardtail, and full suspension bikes.

    • Rigid: A rigid mountain bike doesn’t offer any suspension or shocks. This makes for easier maintenance, as well as a more budget-friendly price tag. Some riders even find that rigid bikes are more comfortable to ride because they’re easier to pedal.

    • Hardtail: A hardtail mountain bike has a suspension fork at the front, which helps with shock absorption for the front wheel. The back of the bike has no suspension. Some hardtail models allow you to lock the front fork, basically turning the mountain bike into a rigid model. Hardtail suspension makes it easier to control your bike on uneven trails. These bikes are often less expensive than full-suspension options.

    • Full suspension: A full-suspension mountain bike usually has a front fork and a shock in the back to help with shock absorption across the entire bike when you ride on a particularly uneven trail. Full-suspension models are typically pretty expensive, but they can help reduce fatigue, offer highly effective traction, and provide a more comfortable ride.

    Brakes

    Women’s mountain bikes usually feature either disc or rim brakes.

    • Disc brakes have pads that attach to the brake rotor on the wheel hub. Disc brakes offer more consistent braking and more effective performance in steep settings or on muddy terrain, but they’re more expensive to repair.

      • Hydraulic disc brakes require less pressure to activate, provide a stronger braking effect, and make their own adjustments for pad wear.

      • Cable-activated brakes require manual adjustments when the pads wear down.

    • Rim brakes feature pads that attach to the wheel rims rather than the hub. It’s very easy to examine and replace worn pads, but the brakes can wear down the wheel rim, which sometimes means you need to replace the wheels. Rim brakes aren’t as powerful or as effective on muddy terrain. These brakes also require more pressure to activate.

    Gears

    Adjusting a mountain bike’s gears allows you to control the effort required for pedaling. Some mountain bikes only have a single gear, while others have more than 30. If you’re new to mountain biking and plan to ride on steep terrain, it’s best to choose a women’s mountain bike with more gears. If you’re an experienced mountain biker or prefer to ride on flat trails, you can get away with fewer gears.

    Wheels

    Women’s mountain bike wheels typically vary in size from 26 to 29 inches.

    • 26 inches: This is the standard size for mountain bike wheels. These wheels provide more speed when you’re traveling downhill but don’t always offer the smoothest ride.

    • 27.5 inches: These mountain bike wheels offer a smoother ride than the smaller wheels but are easier to control than larger wheels.

    • 29 inches: These wheels have become more popular in recent years. They don’t accelerate as quickly as smaller wheels, but wheels this size can travel more quickly uphill and provide good momentum in general.

    Handlebars

    Women’s mountain bikes usually offer either flat or riser handlebars.

    • Flat or straight handlebars are lightweight and usually found lower on the frame. They work well for long-distance or cross-country mountain biking.

    • Riser handlebars sit higher on the frame than flat handlebars, and are usually wider. These handlebars are angled back slightly for an easier grip. The rider sits more upright, which works well for downhill trails.
    EXPERT TIP

    You might want to wear knee pads if you’re riding your mountain bike on very difficult trails.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Women’s mountain bike prices

    Women’s mountain bikes usually range in price based on the type of suspension they offer. Expect to pay between $145 and $1,500 and more.

    • Rigid

    A women’s rigid mountain bike usually runs between $145 and $330.

    • Hardtail

    A women’s hardtail mountain bike usually runs between $200 and $700.

    • Full suspension

    A women’s full-suspension mountain bike usually runs between $800 and $1,500.

    Always wear a helmet when you ride a mountain bike.

    FAQ

    Q. What type of bike is best if I’m new to mountain biking?

    A. If you’re a beginner, a rigid mountain bike is often a good option. It’s designed for comfort and doesn’t require as much maintenance as other bike types, so it’s a good way to ease into the hobby. But if you plan to ride on uneven trails or terrain, you might want to upgrade to a hardtail mountain bike. It’s best to save the full-suspension model until you’re more experienced.

    Q. What features should I look for in a women’s mountain bike if I do a lot of uphill cycling?

    A. If you plan to do a lot of uphill biking, choose a women’s trail mountain bike, which can handle both uphill and downhill cycling. For steep inclines, an all-mountain bike is usually the best option. It’s also a good idea to choose a model with 29-inch wheels because they allow you to pedal uphill more quickly.

    Q. What kind of women’s mountain bike should I choose for racing?

    A. Cross-country mountain bikes are usually best if you plan to race. The lightweight design enables you to move quickly and accelerate more easily. These bikes usually feature full suspension, too, which is great over uneven terrain. While cross-country bikes aren’t ideal for jumps, they go uphill and take tight corners well.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer

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