What Type Of Women’s Road Bike Should You Look For
Before you enter a bike shop, get a clear idea of what you want your perfect women’s road bike for. If you want the speed and aerodynamic benefits of a drop bar bike, then you’re in the road bike camp – and the next step is to decide if you want an endurance focused on more aggressive race orientated frame.
Key road bike categories include:
Endurance focused women’s road bikes
Endurance women’s road bikes will generally feature a shorter reach, and a taller stack – putting the rider in a more upright position. Disc brakes are more popular in this category, along with a longer wheelbase to aid stability and the material will be fine tuned to offer greater compliance – or comfort. The Trek Domane is an example of an endurance road bike.
Race focused women’s road bikes
Race bikes are created to offer nippy handling and a lower, more aero position – usually with a longer reach, lower stack and short wheelbase. The fork angles will be tuned for quick and responsive handling. Some of the best women’s road bikes in this style will have disc brakes, which in our opinion are fantastic when hydraulic, and less so when mechanical , so don’t be immediately put off rim / caliper brakes for the sake of any disc options.
Best women’s gravel bikes
If you are sold on the idea of owning a bike that fits your gender best, but want to hit the rough stuff, you might find that our guide on best women’s gravel bikes a great help.
Best women’s hybrid bikes
Electric women’s road bikes
Specialized Tarmac Sl7 Expert Review
The entry-level Tarmac SL7 is still a premium-priced bike can it deliver £5K’s worth of performance despite cost-saving components?
The Tarmac SL7 is a great frame, even when made from lower-grade carbon and specced with Ultegra rather than Dura-Ace, but the budget aluminium wheels could be a cut too far for customers paying £5,250 for this bike.
We tested the Specialized Tarmac SL7 Expert as part of a four bike shoot out which also included the BMC Teammachine SLR TWO, Scott Addict 15 and Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 . Each bike was tested with its stock tyre, and a control tyre , using the same test loop which covered 32 miles and included ascents and descents of Leith Hill and Box Hill in Surrey.
The full set of reviews and final conclusions will be published in Cycling Weekly magazine, out on Thursday April 29.
The Tarmac SL7 is the result of the lightweight Tarmac and the aero Venge growing ever closer. Most brands have started to incorporate elements of aero into the lightweight bikes while shaving weight off the aero bikes but Spesh went the whole hog and merged the two.
As with those three bikes, a lower-grade carbon is used for the frame. The Tarmac SL7 Expert is made from 10r carbon compared to the 12r carbon of the S-Works Tarmac SL7, meaning it carries a little extra weight for an equivalent level of stiffness .
Its worth noting that theres another Tarmac SL7 Expert at this price that comes with mechanical Ultegra and lighter, faster carbon Roval C 38 wheels.
Electric Bike Co Model R
- Even more paint options
- Can be heavy
With the Model R, Electric Bike Co gives you all the options you could want. Add a basket, or fenders, or a GPS-enabled smart lock. Their online tool allows you to select all the gear you want for a truly custom ride . You can also pick from dozens of colors, which Electric Bike Company will paint in house. All their bikes are assembled in California, with many parts sourced from the USA. The bike’s cleanly integrated battery won’t disrupt the beautiful lines of your one-off creation and the wide, stout tires keep you rolling on rough roads with fewer flats. Just be careful: Adding parts can increase the weightoverindulge and you could end up with an 70- or 80- pound e-bike.
BEST HARDTAIL MOUNTAIN BIKE
- Dropper post
- 130mm fork
BEST GRAVEL RACE BIKE
- Can swap between 27.5-inch or 700c wheels
- Stylish and economical
- No gearsit’s best for flat ground
BEST VALUE E-BIKE
- One of the lowest-priced e-bikes you can buy
- Mechanical disc brakes arent as powerful as hydraulic brakes
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Best Women’s Road Bikes: Take To The Tarmac With Comfort And Speed
The best women’s road bikes don’t necessarily need to be women’s specific, but those that come with women’s specific touchpoints and sizing options do the job brilliantly
Not every woman wants a women’s specific bike, but the best women’s road bikes should at least come with comfortable women’s specific contact points.
For years there’s been an ongoing debate over the need for women-specific geometry on bikes, which we discussed at length when we answered the question, ‘can women ride men’s bikes?‘ Ultimately the answer is to ride the bike that best fits your body, and there are plenty of options available to women today, from women-specific bikes from the likes of Liv Cycling to unisex bikes with women-specific contact points from several other brands, like Specialized, Scott, Canyon, and more.
Women’s specific road bike frames are built around average body dimensions data, and tend to have a slightly shorter top tube and slightly higher stack at the front end . On average, women tend to have longer legs proportionately to men, and therefore a shortened top tube means a more comfortable and balanced reach to the handlebars.
New Wheels And Resquishification
Ive had no issues whatsoever with the Roval C 38 wheels the Roubaix comes with. Theyre light enough , stiff enough and not too deep section, which suits me because I tend to get blown around like the plastic bag in that scene in American Beauty riding proper aero wheels.
Also, the 21mm internal width is a great match for the 28 and 32mm tyres Ive been running, giving a really nice round profile and, with the smaller size, a pretty smooth rim-to-tyre transition.
A post shared by Matthew Loveridge on Jun 21, 2020 at 10:41am PDT
The Mon Chasserals are roughly 300g lighter than the Rovals at an actual 1,262g, but theyre also quite a bit shallower at just 24mm deep , and narrower at 18mm internal.
The latter dimension matters because it makes them less well suited to wider tyres than the Rovals. In fact, DT Swiss designed these wheels with 25mm tyres in mind, although theyll work just fine with significantly fatter rubber.
The 32mm Contis take on a fairly pronounced lightbulb profile on these rims, but thats hardly the end of the world.
So are these wheels an upgrade or a downgrade? I guess its a bit of both. They do look cool, in an understated sort of a way. Theyre also almost criminally expensive at £2,649.99 / 2,948 / $3,734. Look out for a separate review soon.
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Multimodal Maketh The Man
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
My cycling New Years resolution was to attempt some multimodal rides, by which I mean ones that take me somewhere else rather than ending where they started, relying on trains to get me home.
I finally did such a ride on the Roubaix, heading west from the Forest of Dean to Abergavenny before turning south.
Id originally planned to ride further west into the Brecon Beacons, but I cleverly chose to do this ride on an exceptionally windy day , with the breeze against me for the whole of my A to B ride, and neither the legs nor the enthusiasm were there.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
Instead, after a pleasant cafe stop in Abergavenny, I hopped on the canal path and got extremely muddy, sliding around on my slick tyres and ducking under low bridges every few hundred yards.
After clambering through the branches of a tree that had blocked both the canal and the path, I stupidly decided to get on the road for a change of scene, and spent a very unpleasant half-hour or so riding on a dual carriageway down to Cwmbran where I caught a train home.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
The ride wasnt an unqualified success, but the sense of purpose riding to a destination gave me made it far more enjoyable than my usual loops.
With its blend of comfort and speed, I cant think of a bike better suited to days like this than the Roubaix.
Original article below.
What It Means To Be Specialized
Morgan Hill, California is the backdrop for a team of bike enthusiasts whose passion for the sport traces its roots back to 1974. Specialized founder Mike Sinyard sold his Volkswagen bus for $1,500 to fund a cycle tour of Europe. Along his journey, Sinyard became familiar with European parts manufacturers. When he returned to the states, Sinyard began importing handlebars and stems from Italian manufacturer Cinelli.
The story of Specialized Bikes officially began in 1976, when Sinyard brought the first Specialized Touring Tire to market. By 1981, Specialized had three complete bikes in production: the Sequoia and Allez were road-going models, while the Specialized Stumpjumper was made specifically for off-road endeavors.
All three models remain in the Specialized Bikes lineup today. The Allez sees use on roads around the world, and the Stumpjumper, now available in hardtail and full-suspension models, has become legendary as one of the worlds first modern mountain bikes.
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Shrink It And Pink It
Thankfully consigned firmly to the past, but this evocative term refers to an approach back in the early days of womens bike design.
The thinking behind it was essentially women must be like men but theyre usually smaller and lighter, and they like pink and flowers. So womens bikes were usually just scaled down versions of mens bikes with feminine touches.
There was also usually less choice, lesser-quality parts for the same price and in some cases it came across as a pretty tokenistic effort.
Its also had a lasting negative legacy, with a lot of women understandably guarded about what can seem like a marketing ploy to sell different/lesser-quality bikes to women. Although, thankfully, that isnt the reality any more. On the flip side, it marked the first time the bike brands started to think about the womens market and what women might want from a bike.
Modern Features Of Todays Specialized Bikes
In the decades since those first three models were introduced, the American brand have undergone constant development. Today, Specialized is one of the three largest bicycle brands in the world, and their team is still fueled by a passion for riding that compels them to explore innovative new technologies. Innovate or die has become the company creed, and you can see examples of this philosophy at work in the latest Specialized bikes for sale online.
Today, Specialized uses advanced techniques such as wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics to design race-winning road bikes with the lowest possible coefficient of drag. The companys FACT Carbon construction is optimized through a proprietary fabrication process during which specific resins are selected to match rider needs. Multiple monocoque structures are then combined during molding to create the strongest frame possible.
Specialized mountain bikes feature FSR suspension that separates compression and braking forces to maximize traction and reduce rider fatigue. The same suspension designs youll find on modern Specialized production bikes has delivered riders to world championships in both cross-country and downhill racing disciplines. Specialized has even taken what theyve learned from developing FSR and applied the same dynamics to their road bikes in the form of smooth is fast technology.
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Do You Need A Women’s Specific Road Bike
We’ve answered this in detail in Can women ride men’s bikes? but to summarise, you can ride whatever bike fits you best.
Many brands are moving away from gendered frames, and are instead offering more size ranges and multiple options for contact points, like adding one of the best women’s road bike saddles.
Cycling is, at a performance level, a power to weight game, and for petite riders the bike makes up a greater proportion of system weight than it does for a larger rider. For a 50kg rider for instance the difference between having a 10kg bike over an 8kg bike is an increase of 3 per cent – not insignificant, but also not the be all and end all. Unless every ounce of performance needs to be wrung out we’d go for comfort over lightweignt.
For taller women, some of the women’s specific frames will simply be too small, as many come in limited size runs, and recommend the men’s or unisex version for taller women. If you are buying in person at a shop and fall into this category, work with the shop staff to swap out the finishing kit for women’s versions, and don’t be scared to barter.
Of course, if you do want women’s specific geometry, your best options are Liv and Lapierre.
Specialized Roubaix Expert Long
Its time to wrap up my long-term review and, if you havent already worked this out, I love this bike.
Recent rides have been back on the feathery DT Swiss Mon Chasseral wheelset and Ive fitted an old set of clip-on SKS mudguards to keep the filth under control, but otherwise Ive not made any significant spec changes.
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Womens Bikes Then And Now
Few bike categories have seen bigger shifts in the past dozen years than womens bikes. When first introduced, the shrink it and pink it mentality reigned supreme, and womens bikes often simply meant smaller frames with stereotypical paint jobs and a lower level of components than their unisex counterparts. Then women-specific geometry took over. Bike companies started cranking out frames with shorter top tubes to better accommodate the average female bodys tendency toward longer legs and shorter torsos. While some companies like Liv have stuck to that philosophy, others like Trek, Specialized, and Santa Cruz instead favor using the same frame for their mens and womens bikes, and adjusting some partsprimarily touch points like the bar, grips, and saddlefor the intended gender. Most womens mountain bikes also come with a fork and shock that are tuned for lighter riders. And city bikes are often offered as step-over and step-through models, with the latter aimed at women.
The Specialized Roll Low
This ultra-comfortable hybrid bike has some premium features but wont break the bank.
Takeaway: Youll want to take out the Roll Low-Entry as often as you can to enjoy its smooth ride and easy handling capabilities.
- Offers a relaxed, upright riding position and easy balancing at stops.
- The wide saddle keeps you comfortable on long rides.
- Extra-low step-over aluminum frame is accessible for a wide range of ability and mobility levels.
This past fall, I inadvertently started my first ride streak. I moved to Pennsylvania in August and was shocked to find day after low-humidity day. It was the kind of summer weather I longed for while living in Missouri, where the sweltering heat can stick around until October. Apparently, the weather was a bit of an anomaly even for the Keystone state, but I still took full-advantage of it, hiking and riding my way around my new home. In October when I realized Id be logging weekly rides, I was determined to keep it up. Eventually, though, winter caught up to me, and the cold numbed my fingers one too many times. I didnt hang my sneakers up for the season entirely, but I wasnt riding as consistently. That is, until I hopped onto the Roll Low-Entry.
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Specialized Roubaix Expert Lows
Breaking the Future Shock was a definite low point, and that was completely my fault. Saying that, the systems adjustment knob doesnt seem hugely robust.
My colleague Jack recently reviewed the Specialized Diverge Carbon Comp and learned that the shocks incremental adjustment points are just there for feel in reality its essentially on or off. Given that, I cant help thinking a simple two-position switch would make more sense.
What else? Well, this bike should have mudguard mounts. Youre probably bored of me saying this, but I cant think of a good reason why a bike like this shouldnt at least have the option to fit proper, full-length mudguards for year-round riding.
Oh, and the cable routing isnt the prettiest, and can get in the way when youre running a bar bag.
Given the trend towards cleaner cockpits, Ill be surprised if the next generation Roubaix doesnt go more integrated, although of course that does come with the downside of greater mechanical complexity.
Specialized Ruby Elite Frame
Constructed from FACT 10r carbon, Specializeds second-tier premium carbon, the frame also has a size specific layup that is designed to eliminate excess material from smaller sizes and ensure the optimal strength to weight ratio for each frame size.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media Co
Specializeds approach to providing a comfortable, smooth ride involves the use of a few interesting pieces of engineering.
The first is the amusingly named Cobl Gblr seatpost and the engineering around the junction between the seat tube, top tube and seatstay.
The seat post clamp and seatstays are located below the junction of the top tube and seat tube, which allows the seatpost to flex more to absorb those fatiguing vibrations from the road surface. Then the Cobl Gblr, which is essentially a kinked section at the top of the seatpost thats cushioned by a springy polymer block, acts as a second layer of cushioning.
I found the result to be a very smooth ride, though it does have a slight but noticeable negative effect on stiffness.
At the front end, located in the headset, Specialized has developed what it calls the Future Shock. Put simply, this is a suspension system with a spring that allows the cockpit to move vertically, thus absorbing smaller vibrations and larger hits.
Does it work? Yes, indeed it does.
As well as being comfortable, this is a real confidence booster because I didnt have to worry too much about being jolted off line since the bike happily handled rougher surfaces.
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