Frame is uniquely designed for maximum all-day comfort and extra tire clearance. Exclusive vibration-cancelling technology absorbs shock of road imperfections. Designed to reduce muscle fatigue and improve control for optimal performance. Excellent pedal and brake responsiveness.
An outstanding bike, but it does come with a hefty price tag.
Lightweight bike with aluminum frame. Offered in two sizes. Works well as an introductory or intermediate road bike. 16-speed design performs nicely on hills.
Higher price than some other options. Can be uncomfortable on rough roads.
Hybrid design works well for both road riding and off-road adventures. Aluminum dual sport frame and suspension fork designed for a variety of terrain. 21-speed shifters with rear derailleur for precise gear-shifting. Alloy double-wall rims are lightweight but durable.
Because of its hybrid design, it’s slightly heavier than a traditional road bike.
Offered in two sizes and color schemes. Good build quality with lightweight aluminum frame and tough carbon fiber fork. Works well for intermediate and novice riders. Sharp-looking bike you'll love riding long distances.
More expensive than you might expect. Not really made for taller women.
250-watt pedal assist motor and LCD pedal assistance of up to 20 MPH for speeding up commutes or getting a boost on tough hills. Custom formed alloy frame and carbon fork with through axle for great steering precision. 11-speed drivetrain with thumb shifter for seamless gear-shifting.
This bike offers some amazing benefits and features, but the motor does add weight.
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A good road bike can cut minutes off your commute and enable you to handle steep hills and sharp turns with ease. Riding a bike is a great way to not only get some exercise but also to experience the outdoors with a sense of freedom.
Finding the right road bike for you means taking a good look at the kind of riding you want to do and how involved you are with cycling. Not sure what kind, size, or style of road bike you need? We prepared this shopping guide for women’s road bikes that examines the features that affect performance and comfort.
Sit back, relax, and start picturing yourself atop the road bike of your dreams!
Aerodynamics and lightweight design set racing bikes apart from all other bike styles. The slim frames are made of carbon fiber or aluminum to cut down on weight. Frame angles are designed for speed and aggressive turns. To improve aerodynamics, the rider is stretched out along the frame with the seat higher than the handlebars, which can be uncomfortable for some. These bikes are built for speed and the price shows it.
These bikes have many of the same features as racing bikes, but the frames have less extreme angles for better rider comfort. The frames also have more clearance for wider tires, which offer a softer, more comfortable ride. Some endurance bikes also have a straight bar design to put riders in a more upright position. These bikes can be used for commuting or weekend cycling.
Cyclocross bikes have lightweight frames but are more rugged and durable to handle tracks that may have dirt trails or grass. These feature wider tires with more traction to handle these different surfaces.
Touring bikes (road and adventure)
These bikes are intended for long-distance rides. A wide wheel base for a lower center of gravity makes them easier to control. Their sturdy frames are designed to carry the heavy load necessary for a long trip. They may come fitted with racks and most have attachment points for other gear.
The crankset consists of the components turned by the pedals to rotate the rear wheel using the chain. Bikes have either a triple, double, or compact crankset. These terms describe the size and number of chainrings. Both double and compact cranksets are found on racing bikes because having fewer cranksets and gears cuts down on weight.
Triple cranksets have three chainrings with a nine-speed cassette, providing 27 gears. Triple cranksets have the most gear options. These are found on entry-level bikes and provide a good range of gear choices for beginning riders.
Double cranksets have two chainrings and are usually paired with a ten-speed cassette, making 20 gears.
Wheel size can have a big impact on a bike’s acceleration, momentum, aerodynamics, and handling. At one point, all adult bikes had 26-inch wheels. Today, the most common sizes are 26, 27.5, and 29-inch wheels. The 27.5-inch wheels are the middle ground, rolling over terrain better than 26-inch wheels, but they’re easier to accelerate and maneuver than 29-inch wheels.
In general, road bikes don’t have any suspension. Suspension adds weight, and most paved surfaces are smooth enough that you don’t need it. However, you might see a model or two with front suspension to absorb bumps on the front wheel.
The saddle, or seat, affects rider comfort. If you find a bike with a frame you like but an uncomfortable saddle, it can easily be changed out. Women usually have wider hips than men, so a wider seat might be more comfortable in the long run. In general, saddles with a center cutout can reduce pressure on the groin and be more comfortable for a woman’s wider hips.
Road bikes have one of two types of brakes: rim or disc.
Rim brakes: These brakes use pads to grip the wheel rims and stop the bike. These brakes are inexpensive and easy to replace. On the downside, rim brakes aren’t as powerful or effective in wet or muddy conditions, they require more hand strength to stop the bike, and they will eventually wear out the wheel rim.
Material: Road bike frames are made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. (A few road bikes have steel frames, which are less expensive but heavier.) Aluminum is lightweight and inexpensive compared to carbon fiber. Some aluminum bikes have a carbon fiber front fork to help absorb vibration from rough terrain. Carbon fiber frames absorb the most vibration, making them the most comfortable option. Carbon fiber is also the most expensive.
Size: Most manufacturers make frames in six different sizes, including frames specifically designed for women. When you get on the bike, a frame of the right size should feel comfortable and be easy to handle. Because frame size and fit are so important, it’s best to try any bike before purchasing.
The right frame size is determined by rider height, but depending on your body type, you might need a size larger or smaller. Even if a man and woman are the same height, a woman’s proportions are slightly different. For that reason, the top tube of women’s bikes is usually shorter to account for a shorter torso and arm length. That’s why, for example, a women’s size small bike frame won’t fit the same as a men’s size small bike frame.
If you want to know how comfortable a bike will be to ride, check the handlebar position in relation to the seat. For the sake of aerodynamics, many road bikes position the handlebars lower than the seat. However, for a more comfortable ride, the seat should be lower in comparison to the handlebars. The right balance between aerodynamics and comfort for you will depend on your fitness, size, and weight.
Handlebars should be about shoulder width apart. Choose a women’s bike rather than a unisex bike if you have narrow shoulders. The most common handlebar types you’ll find on road bikes include drop, flat, and moustache.
Drop: These lightweight, aerodynamic handlebars are the best choice if speed is your biggest concern. Drop bars offer several riding and hand positions so you can shift as you ride.
Flat: Flat handlebars put the rider in a more upright position and take the pressure off hands, wrists, and shoulders. These are heavier than drop bars.
Entry-level road bikes come with platform pedals, and some include toe cages. However, more specialized, high-end models come without pedals. Serious cyclists usually have a pedal system they prefer to use with their existing cycling shoes.
Depending on quality and features, you can expect to spend from under $500 to over $2,500 for a women’s road bike.
Inexpensive: For less than $500, you can find a touring or endurance bike with drop or mustache handlebars (touring bikes may also have flat handlebars). You’ll see anywhere from 7 to 21 gears on these models.
Mid-range: Between $500 and $1,000, you’ll find many endurance bikes with drop handlebars and aluminum frames and a few with carbon fiber forks. These can have anywhere from 8 to 21 gears.
Expensive: In the $1,000 to $2,000 range are endurance, race, and a few cyclocross bikes. Many have carbon fiber frames and anywhere from 10 to 20 gears. Disc brakes are far more common in this price range.
Premium: At over $2,000, you enter the range of top-of-the-line endurance bikes and some impressive racing and cyclocross bikes. Some of these bikes cost well over $2,500 and have the most aerodynamic features like stiff but lightweight carbon fiber frames, drop handlebars, and forks angled and tuned for the most responsive handling.
While road bikes are designed for multi-day events with vehicle support, they aren’t designed to carry heavy loads. Touring bikes are the exception and are designed to carry rider and supplies.
To reduce standover height, many women’s bikes have a sloping top tube. The difference in standover height isn’t as noticeable between men’s and women’s road bike frames it is with hybrid and mountain bike frames.
An ill-fitting saddle can cause you to sit in an upright position with a bend at the waist rather than the hips. This can make the bike feel longer and less comfortable on extended rides.
Q. What upgrade will give me the best return on my bike investment?
A. In general, a wheel upgrade is considered one of the best investments because it reduces weight while increasing handling responsiveness. As long as speed is your number one concern, go with better wheels.
Q. Can brake levers be adjusted to fit small hands?
A. Some levers do have reach adjustment, but you should ask before purchasing if you think you’ll need it. When trying out bikes, be sure you can maintain a strong grip on the handlebars from all positions while braking and changing gears.