Hi, wonderful girls! Are you looking for a new bike and, this time a women’s specific bike? I completely agree that sometimes unisex bikes do not fit women correctly. And this ultimately impacts your riding performance and mood.
But don’t worry because today I’ll enlighten you with some wonderful women mountain bikes that for sure will uplift your mood. And not only this, but I’ll also teach you how to set up a normal bike as per your body’s needs.
Then we’ll touch on some differences between men’s and women’s mountain bikes to understand whether you actually need a women’s bike or if minor adjustments in your normal bike will work for you. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Overview of Women’s Mountain Bikes
The geometry and women-specific features of female mountain bikes do not differ from those of men’s or unisex bikes, much like there is no single female body type.
Nevertheless, most brands agree that women are shorter and lighter than men. Bikes made specifically for women are often available in smaller sizes than unisex bikes, including sizes XS and XXS.
According to some companies, a great bike does not require a different geometry for males and females. The women’s models from these brands feature shocks tuned for lighter riders, narrower handlebars, and shorter cranks. Some brands go a step further, designing frames with female musculature in mind to better serve women.
Setting Up Your Women’s Mountain Bikes for Maximum Performance
This section is all about understanding how you should set up your women’s mountain bike for a comfortable riding experience. Remember, the criteria for a perfect bike fit varies for every individual.
So, understand all the below-mentioned points nicely to make the right decision.
When buying a women’s mountain bike or any other bike it gets important to purchase the right size. Because if your frame does not fit you properly that means you can’t be comfortable riding it ever.
Yes, minor fitting adjustments can be made on a bike, but when you make major tweaks such as adjusting the saddle position or stem length, then you’ll be forced to compromise with handling capability. It also reduces the potential of making a strong grip during rides.
Fortunately, the good news is the facility of shorter seat tubes and plenty of standover room on modern bikes. This is really a big boon for small-height riders. But still, I’ll suggest taking a few demo rides before finalizing your buying choice.
The reason for this is to get better clarity in knowing what bike size and geometry you actually need and like.
Here is the list of things you should consider
- Make sure to check saddle height as per your size for efficient pedaling. If you still are not confident then try sitting on a bike with one crank arm directly down. After that, adjust your seat post until you are able to reach the pedals comfortably.
- After getting completely satisfied with the saddle, check for the standover room (how far your crotch is from the top tube when standing between the handlebars and saddle). Enough standover room is very important for dismounting safely after a good ride.
- Check if the bike seat drops low enough to get it off the way when on the descent.
- A bike with 27.5in wheels is a good alternative to a bike with 29in wheels if clearance is a concern. This applies to even small-size bikes.
- Ensure that your bike top tube is long enough otherwise, one can feel cramped on seated limbs.
- Try checking if your reach is comfortable on the handlebar to avoid any unwanted stretch while standing on the descent. The best solution for avoiding discomfort is opting for shorter frames.
Riders with small heights often feel issues with brake lever reach because of their small hands. But no worries because some brakes facilitate reach adjustment (the distance between the lever blade and the grip) feature. With the help of a screw or dial, a cyclist can easily reduce reach to prevent any sort of strain when pulling levers.
Be careful while making adjustments because lever reach can even impact the position of the bite point of your disc brake. Just be a little mindful when adjusting reach so that you can be comfortable squeezing the brake lever completely to get the maximum power from your brake.
High-end brakes feature an adjustment option for fine-tuning brake lever feel. It may be worth tweaking the brake lever on the bar side while the bite point is on the lever stroke.
Modern bikes today come with wide handlebars and long frame geometry, while stems come in short sizes somewhere 35-60mm long. They come short to give riders snappy handling. Conversely, cross-country bikes come with longer stems for supporting stretched positions while on a ride.
Although it seems easy for short-height riders, specifically women, to adapt to shorter stems, keep in mind that stem length does not only change your position on the bike. But it also affects the handling characteristics of a bike.
It’s true that a shorter stem supports an upright riding position which for sure is beneficial in case you are feeling too stretched. But remember this will result in faster steering too.
Short stems further will shift your maximum weight on the back of the bike which reduces your front wheel grip and causes tire lift-off issues on steep climbs. But you can counteract this with deliberate weight shifts.
I completely agree with the issue of shorter stems, but still women need these adjustments because they have shorter torsos. And as far as problems with small stems are concerned then try using strategies to overcome them. Because that’s the only and ultimate way of surviving problems.
Generally, women have narrow shoulders compared to men. And if your handlebar can be matched accordingly then believe me it can greatly improve your riding efficiency and technique.
Although there are no specific rules for the width of handlebars, most riders are found using bars somewhere between 700mm to 800mm wide.
So, experiment with different bars to see what goes well with your body and shoulder type. However, remember you can cut off more but can’t add anything back on.
And while cutting, it’s always a good idea to shift grips 5mm inwards on each side one at a time until you get that comfortable right width.
If you have bar end plugs integrated, then cutting down handlebars and making adjustments become super easy.
Mountain bikers’ pedal size too can be adapted as per the need of cyclists. Talking about clipless pedals, they work really nicely with all-size riders.
But large flat pedals don’t work optimally with small-size shoes. In such cases, you can switch to other options like Crankbrothers Stamp Small or DMR Vault Midi.
A comfortable saddle matters a lot especially when women’s bikes are concerned. For a good fit consider measuring the width of your sit bone.
Then take some corrugated cardboard or aluminum foil and place it on a carpeted stair. Further, sit on it while picking up your feet like you would when riding. Ensure that 2 depressions are visible while you stand up. Moving ahead calculate the distance between centers plus add 25-30mm to get the ideal saddle width.
After this make a decision in a cutout and recessed channel for relieving pressure on your delicate bits.
Next find out what padding, rail material, and hull construction suits your body posture. This part is important because randomly any saddle can’t suit your body position. Trying a few brands that offer comfortable saddles is the only solution to this problem.
If you’ll be asked about the main contact point on your bike then I am pretty sure your answer will be handlebar grips. They matter a lot in deciding how efficiently you control your bike. Women tend to have smaller hands, and therefore thin diameter grips work quite well for them.
They are secure, and comfortable and most importantly cause less vibration on the road. Also, try to use ergonomically shaped grips for achieving all-day comfort. You can even go for foam grips to tune trail buzz.
In stock bikes, crank arm lengths are often proportional to frame size — 165mm in the smallest models, 175mm in the largest, and 170mm in most models. Now it happens because leg length is assumed proportional to the height of the person.
However, in the case of women, it does not work because they tend to have shorter torsos and longer legs.
Many people believe that long crank arms work well for women riders, but the reality is that there is no impact on power output with more length.
Instead short cranks provide more acceleration, helping reduce hip and knee pain. Shorter cranks also have fewer chances to clip rocks.
Tyre pressure plays an important role in grip, speed, and comfort. Now, the correct tire pressure for mountain bikes depends on many factors, such as casing thickness, riding style, volume, width, and weight of the rider.
Lightweight riders can get good grip and comfort with lower pressure also. This happens because when tire pressure is less, the tire does not go through much force which drastically reduces the chance of damaging the wheel and causing any pinch puncture case.
The same rule is applicable to tire casing which simply means that women riders can easily go with the thinner carcass. This way females can enjoy a more supple ride feel and strong grip.
You have to get the rear suspension setup right in order to achieve the best result. You can find the best settings based on your riding style, frame geometry, weight, suspension fork, and shock.
If you run your springs with an appropriate amount of sag, you will be able to set the right spring rate for your weight. There is no role of your body shape and gender in deciding the optimum spring rate because this thing completely depends on your body’s weight.
You can start checking it by first referring to the manufacturer’s chart for knowing the ballpark spring pressure of your fork/shock. Next, you can make adjustments on your bike based on suspension sags. I’d suggest you 30 percent shock sag and 20 percent fork sag for general riding.
You can easily find the right spring curve for your preferred riding style by making adjustments to the air-spring volume.
Remember spring curve is not only gets affected by body weight as in the case of the spring rate. In the spring curve rider’s strength, and aggressive riding style kind of things matter equally.
It is therefore possible that spring curves can differ between males and females with the same weight.
It is recommended that strong riders add volume spacers for progressive suspension. While slighter riders would benefit from removing spacers to achieve linear suspension.
You can easily adjust damping with rebound adjusters and external compression to suit your weight and riding style.
But before starting any sort of tweaking, it’s best to once go through the manufacturer’s guidelines for your bike case and then plan any fine-tuning as per your personal preferences.
In fact, lightweight riders require less rebound damping to rebound their suspension at the same speed as heavy riders.
For lightweight riders like women, some factories provide preset damping adjustment ranges for shocks and forks. But there are possibilities that your bike manufacturer hasn’t provided any. If you, too, feel in such a case, then try going for custom retune.
Now the question comes who provides good service, well you can go with options like Sprung Suspension Workshop and Full Factory Suspension. Besides these options, there are many others available as well.
Women Mountain Bikes vs Men Mountain Bikes — What’s the Difference
Honestly, there are not many differences that distinguish women’s mountain bikes from unisex bikes in the market today. The only thing is that some brands offer slightly different geometry or lighter suspension tunes for small-height and light riders.
In the exact same way, some other fine things create a difference and nothing much. I’m trying to cover only that minor difference with this section. So, let’s understand it.
Bike Frame Size
Mountain bikes for women usually come in smaller frame sizes than unisex and men’s bikes. And some women who are five or under 5 feet tall need extra small bikes. But some brands offer L and XL sizes too.
You can also see some bikes where the top tube is curved to make the straddle procedure easy for women. I believe that buying any bike, not only a mountain bike for women, is a kind of investment that you make in your fitness.
So, ensure that you have researched well on all brands and models for purchasing your bike. And this research will also help you know whether your height really needs women-specific bikes or not.
Geometry is the primary factor that distinguishes men’s and women’s bikes from each other. Talking about a few famous companies that solely deal in mountain bikes for women, say that women’s arm length and torso are different from men’s arm length and torso. And this is the reason for the need for a different frame geometry for female riders.
In other words, brands like Giant, Juliana, and liv bike say that women have shorter torsos and long legs than men. Therefore they need a shorter reach top tube and long stack. But I believe there are many men and women who make exceptions to this theory.
I am not all arguing with bike brands’ logic and concept about the male and female bodies. But I firmly believe that instead of limiting yourself to the women’s section, only one should see the big picture. They should go for comfort and excellent bike fit.
Because ultimately, these two things will decide your performance as a cyclist and not any male and female bike section. So, stop limiting yourself to women’s line bikes only and try experimenting with other general bikes too. And then make the final decision.
Women for sure have less body weight than men, and that’s why they require a suspension that is appropriate as per their weight. But we can’t ignore the truth, too, that almost all suspension setups can be fine-tuned for different weight people with the help of air spring dialing and rebound adjustment.
Yet some brands, such as Juliana, sell their bikes with a light shock tune in order to give a smooth ride to lighter people. Now, it’s up to you whether you agree with the point of some suspension adjustments or if you want to buy pre-adjusted setups.
Generally, women have wider sit bones than men, and therefore, they need a wider saddle that facilitates enough comfort for both long and short rides.
In simple terms, this means that women-specific mountain bikes can be seen with uniquely customized saddles for fulfilling their seat comfort needs.
However, in my personal opinion, I believe it should not be the sole reason for purchasing women’s mountain bikes.
Because a slight adjustment can solve this problem on a normal mountain bike too. Rest it completely depends on individual personal preference.
Brands feel that color is a big factor that determines whether the bike is a men’s or women’s mountain bike. And that’s why they sell their pink, purple, and sky blue bikes by labeling them women-specific bikes.
Fortunately, this thought process has changed much in recent years, but still, it remains somewhere deep in the roots of a few people.
When should you consider buying a Women’s Mountain Bike
Today’s market is loaded with some amazing bike options that can really attract anybody. And when you have such a wide range of choices, then please don’t put yourself in a box of a few women’s mountain bikes.
I have said it above multiple times and will repeat the same here “women are not restricted to ride only women’s bikes.”
Give your choices a wing to see the wide bike market. However, there are a few situations where you really need to go for women-centric bikes only. These situations are as follows:
- You have a small height, and you need an extra small bike
- If you come in the category of longer legs and a shorter torso
- You yourself are quite interested in the women’s mountain bike line
- You love those women-specific colors deeply
I personally know many women who believe this fact that there is nothing much that separates women’s mountain bikes from men’s mountain bikes.
They just love the attention and the spotlight some brands are giving them by creating a specific category for their needs. And by opting for women-category bikes, they are just supporting them.
Top Picks For Best Women’s Mountain Bikes
I think it’s time to take a look at some of the best women’s mountain bikes available. Therefore, let’s get straight to the point and talk about them.
Juliana Roubion C S
It’s a carbon/GX build that’s ready for enduro racing while being able to pedal all day with the crew. The new Roubion is even more downhills with a mix of small and medium wheels.
It is easier to track up, over, and through root and rock formations with the bigger wheel up front, but the rear wheel size is kept small so that the bike maintains its agility and lively personality.
There’s no turning back from this mullet setup because it’s the best of both worlds. Combining world-class carbon components with durable construction, the Roubion C S is an undisputed leader in the bicycle market.
Evil Following GX
A complete mountain bike like the Evil Following GX is always at the top. Geometrically, the Following isn’t too extreme, given its XC rocketship heart and dialed dirt jumper chops. Neither is it very long, nor is it too slack, nor is it too squishy. The result is a trail bike that is remarkably agile, capable, and fast.
A bike like this excels at what you do already and is ready to take on what you dream about doing. Featuring an XC-like climb and a difficult descent, this bike is suitable for all-around riders of average skill.
Orbea Occam H20 LT
Orbea Occam H20 LT Complete Mountain Bike still has the same sharpness as a razor, even though it’s just a bit larger. With more aggressive geometry, beefier tires, and bigger front fork suspension, the trail-slicing Occam’s LT version goes far beyond longer travel.
In terms of aluminum workhorses, this may be the most practical model of these new Occam LTs. It’s a trail bike, a lowercase enduro bike that’s a beast. With Occam, you can take on anything and leave frothing for more.
Juliana Joplin A R
There is no easy way to pigeonhole the Juliana Joplin A R Complete Mountain Bike. The 29er is much more than just an XC bike with short travel – it’s a multiverse of gravity-assisted trail riding possibilities.
Joplin is a versatile, confident whip that proves itself on trails near, far, and gnarl through slack front ends, VPP suspension, and light but tough Aluminum frames. An easy-to-adjust Fox suspension system and SRAM NX EagleTM components make this the wild child you’ve been looking for. With its affordable price tag, the Joplin A R far outperforms its competition.
Juliana Joplin A D
We’ve included the Juliana Joplin for the second time but in a more affordable version. There’s much more to this 29er than just a one-dimensional XC bike – it’s a kaleidoscopic universe of gravity-assisted trail performance.
A versatile, confident whip offering a wide range of trail traction, the Joplin is a rocket ship headed up or down thanks to its slack front end, VPP suspension, and light but durable aluminum frame. The SRAM SX EagleTM components on this bike are cutting edge, and the Fox and RockShox suspension system that is on it is smooth, easy to adjust, and it is the wild option that you have been waiting for.
Final Thoughts — Women’s Mountain Bikes
The question is are women-specific mountain bikes just marketing or really helpful? Well, my answer is yes and no. Because bike manufacturers are really doing heavy work on distinguishing men’s and women’s bodies. And to convince women that women’s bikes are like an angel in their life.
I totally agree that women’s mountain bikes greatly help short-height people and of course females with shorter torsos and long legs. But other than this, unisex bikes work well for all cases.
At last, the right bike for your body and needs depends on your riding style, components requirement, the feel you are getting from it, and budget. So, give importance to these factors more for a happy purchase.
Still, if you have any suggestions or doubts or something that I have missed, feel free to drop a comment below. I will be more than happy to assist you with your query. Please follow our Facebook Page for more guides like this.
Women’s Mountain Bikes — Frequently Asked Questions
Is mountain biking good for weight loss?
Mountain biking is considered an effective way to reduce weight but has few options. However, it provides many benefits, making it an incredible exercise activity that is an equally wonderful hobby.
Why are women’s mountain bikes different?
The bicycle of women generally has a shorter top-of-the-range height than the bike of men due to the longer width. The body structure is the reason for this difference.
How to choose a mountain bike for women?
Always give first importance to the right frame for the ride. This will give you sufficient standing clearance to stand on a bicycle and it will have the most comfortable grip on its handlebar. Likewise, if you buy bikes with traction springs, you have to be able to adjust their position to their weight.