7 Best Women’s Cyclocross Bikes (2019)

Who doesn’t need a new bike?!  (Always n+1, right?!).  And cyclocross bikes are some of the most capable, do-it-all bikes around.  Whether you want to race cyclocross, ride gravel, join a dirt fondo, or just commute in style, a ‘cross bike can help you do it.  

We’ve picked out 7 of our favorite cyclocross bikes of 2019 FOR WOMEN.  Some are actually women’s-specific models, others are just bikes that work well for women.  And by that, we mean they come in small frame sizes and have appropriate geometry for riders of all sizes.

Liv Brava SLR

Liv Brava SLR Women's Cyclocross Bike

If you are looking for a women’s-specific cyclocross bike, this is going to be one of your best bets.  Liv is doing an awesome job of creating bikes designed specifically for women, and their ‘cross bike is no exception.  For under $2k, the Brava comes with a full SRAM Apex build, a composite fork, and 15mm front thru-axle.  

Price & Where to Buy:

Cannondale SuperX Women’s Force 1

cannondale superx women's force cyclocross bike

A full SRAM Force component build, front and rear 12mm thru-axles, a lightweight tubeless-ready wheelset: what more could you ask for? How about women-specific geometry and lots of mud clearance.  Oh, and it also has a really pretty paint job.

Price & Where to Buy:

Cannondale CAADX Women’s Apex 1

Cannondale CAADX Women's Apex 1 Cyclocross Bike

Cannondale is killing it by having not only one women’s-specific cyclocross bike, but two!!!  The CAADX is a nice entry-level rig that won’t break the bank.  It has the same geometry and fit as the SuperX but cheaper (but still decent) components.  The bike has SRAM Apex drivetrain and brakes plus nice beefy Schwalbe X-One tires.

Price & Where to Buy:

Pivot Vault

pivot vault cyclocross bike

The Pivot Vault isn’t a “women’s” bike, but that doesn’t matter.  Thanks to Pivot’s tiny XS frame, even the smallest ladies will love this ride.  This is ‘cross race bike that feels equally at home on gravel roads and dirt fondos. We love the Stans tubeless wheelset, front and rear 12mm thru-axles, and Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and brakes.  If you can afford it, this bike can’t be beat.

Price & Where to Buy:

Specialized CruX

Specialized CruX 2019 Cyclocross Bike

We’re suprised Specialiazed hasn’t come out with a women’s-specific ‘cross bike, but fortunately the CruX comes in just about ever size, color, and component build imaginable.  The cheapest model, the CruX E5 Sport, retails for $2,200 and like several other bikes on this list, has a SRAM Apex 1 build.  From there, the sky is the limit with the CruX S-Works coming in at $9,000 and sporting 
a Specialized Power Crank (with power meter) and electronic everything.

Price & Where to Buy:

  • From $2,200 at your local Specialized dealer

Raleigh RXW 

Raleigh RXW women's cyclocross bike

If you’re like most of us, you LOVE mountain biking or you LOVE road cycling, and cyclocross is just this thing you want to do in the fall.  If you want a ‘cross bike but can’t really afford yet another bike, the Raleigh RXW is a great choice.  It’s a women’s-specific cyclocross bike that won’t make you take out a second mortgage on your house.  For the price, you get quite a lot including thru-axles, a carbon fork, SRAM Rival 1×11 drivetrain, and mechanical disc brakes.

Price & Where to Buy:

buy now

Ibis Hakka MX

Ibis Hakka MX Cyclocross Bike

Here is the bike that can do it all.  If you want fatter tires, the Hakka can accept 
700c tires up to 40mm wide or even run 650’s with up to a 2.1” tire.  This makes it our bike of choice for ‘cross races, gravel grinders, and even singletrack rides.  It also comes in a 48cm frame which makes it suitable even for smaller women.  You can choose from several different component builds to suit your budget and preferences.  

Price & Where to Buy:

Comparison Chart: Women’s Cyclocross Bikes

Not sure which bike is best for you?  Here’s how they stack up from price to frame size to components.

How to Choose

While which ‘cross bike you should choose is a highly personal thing, here are a couple of things to think about when making your decision.

What Are You Using the Bike For? 

Before buying a ‘cross bike decide what your PRIMARY use for the bike is going to be.  Are you racing ‘cross or are you grinding gravel.  The best bike is probably going to be different depending on where you plan to spend the majority of your time. 

As you’ll notice below, whether or not you’re racing will make a huge difference in what tires you need, frame design, and more.  

Are you a serious racer?  Take a look at the Specialized CruX or Pivot Vault.  Planning on taking the bike on some serious off-road adventures.  The Ibis Hakka MX should be a top pick for you.

Photo Credit: Bob Mical (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Weight

Whether or not you’re a weight weenie, a light bike should be a priority especially if you’re planning on racing ‘cross.  Running with a bike and lifting it over barriers is pretty tough with a heavy bike.  (Heck, it’s pretty tough regardless).  

Tires: Tubular vs Clinchers

If you’re not familiar with the world of cyclocross, tires might be one of the most confusing parts of choosing a bike.  

‘Cross bikes come with either tubular or clincher tires.  Tubular tires are sewn closed around an inner tube and then taped or glued to a rim.  They are lightweight and can be run at low pressures making them a favorite of pro racers.  

That said, it’s pretty tough to change a flat with a tubular tire.  Remember: they are GLUED to the rim.  So unless you have a pit crew and a couple pairs of spare wheels, you are probably better served with clinchers.

Clincher tires are the kind of tires that you are probably used to.  They can be tubed or tubeless.  We prefer tubeless tires because you can still run them at a low tire pressure and you don’t have to worry about pinch flats.


Photo Credit: Bob Mical (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Flat Top Tube

Because ‘cross racing includes a lot of carrying your bike, cyclocross bikes come with flatter bottoms to the top tube than a traditional road bike.   This makes it (slightly) easier and more comfortable to shoulder and carry.  If you are planning on racing, this is something to think about and you might want to actually try shouldering the bike when trying bikes at a local bike shop.

Tire Width

Racing?  UCI rules cap tires size at 33c, so if you are racing sanctioned-events make sure to choose a tire at least that small.

If you’re using your bike primarily for gravel grinding or even for some singletrack adventures, however, you probably want to choose a wider tire.  Wider tires can be run at lower pressures creating better traction, less rolling resistance in technical terrain, and a bit of “cushiness.”  

On the other hand, if you are buying a ‘cross bike primarily for commuting or riding around town, then you might want to pick skinnier slicker tires.

Drivetrain

For a cyclocross bike, you probably want a 1×10 or 1×11 drivetrain, especially if you plan in riding in muddy or wet conditions.  Having a single chainring up front reduced maintenance and is better for keeping things running smoothly when conditions get sloppy.

As for the level of components groups, the more expensive the bike, generally the higher-end drivetrain you are going to get.  

rear bicycle gears

Brakes

‘Cross bikes have either cantilever brakes or disc brakes.  All of the bikes on our Top 7 list have disc brakes.  This is because when compared to older-style cantilver brakes, disc brakes have superior stopping power, especially when wet and muddy.

There are two broad categories of disc brakes: hydraulic disc brakes and mechanical disc brakes.  Hydraulic disc brakes have better performance but are more expensive and require more maintenance.  Whether you choose hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes is likely to be an issue of budget more than anything else.  

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