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10 Best Mountain Bikes For Women (Beginner To Expert)

In the market for a women’s mountain bike? You’re in luck–we’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.

As a fellow female mountain biker, I’ve spent countless hours researching and testing out different bikes to bring you the ultimate list of the best women’s mountain bikes on the market. From full suspension to hardtail, beginner-friendly to expert-level, and analog to e-bikes, I’ve got you covered.

Our list includes bikes from women’s-specific companies (like Liv and Juliana) as well as bikes from brands that are doing a great job of making unisex bikes that fit women well (like Pivot).

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to find your perfect ride.

yeti beti womens mountain bikes

Photo Credit: Yeti Cycles

Women’s Specific Mountain Bikes vs Other Mountain Bikes

Until recently, there was no such thing as women’s-specific mountain bikes.  There were just mountain bikes. Men rode them and women rode them.

The introduction of women’s-specific mountain bikes has been both a blessing and a curse.  They have been a blessing for smaller women who didn’t fit on traditionally-sized bikes, and for ladies looking for bikes in more feminine designs and colors.

They’ve also been a curse because they’ve relegated women to a specific corner inside the sport.  And who’s to say smaller men and teen boys don’t benefit from smaller frame sizes too?  Also, not all women want feminine colors on their mountain bike.

All in all, we still think they’re a good place to start especially for new women entering the sport.  They fit a larger range of women better–lower standover height, narrower handlebars, shorter cranks, and perhaps most important of all: women’s-specific bike saddles (seats). 

That said, don’t feel like you’re limited a “women’s” bike.  If you find a mountain bike that meets you needs and that is in your price range, go for it.

In fact, you’ll notice that while we’ve listed several womens’-specific bikes on our list of top picks, there are also some that are unisex. These are bikes that are offered in smaller sizes and will work well for women regardless of their gender designation.

What Different Needs Do Women Have?

We know that the *average* woman is a bit different than the *average* man. Women mountain bikers tend to have lower body mass, shorter torsos, and longer legs. We also have different anatomy “down there.”

Shorter, more petite women, in particular, tend to have trouble finding small enough frame sizes in traditional mountain bikes. Women’s-specific bikes often start sizing with an XS rather than just a small frame.

Best Women's Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

Photo credit: Liv Cycling

Because women’s legs are shorter, we also often benefit from shorter crank arms. I’ve seen many women who are shocked that they can go faster and have fewer knee issues after switching to shorter cranks. This is something that most women’s mountain bikes offer in the smaller sizes.

Because most women have lower body mass than their male counterparts, we also benefit from lighter shock tuning. This is one thing you should definitely pay attention to when shopping if you are lightweight.

Aside from frame geometry, size, and shock tuning, the other thing many women like is that women’s-specific bikes usually come with women’s specific components. The most obvious of these are the saddle.

A good women’s mountain bike saddle can make a world of difference in your level of comfort on the bike. Other women’s-specific components might include smaller grips or shorter stems.

Of course, you can totally upgrade a unisex mountain bike with a new saddle or grips. These are relatively inexpensive and easy upgrades.

But, if you just want a bike that’s going to be comfortable and work well right out of the box, a women’s-specific mountain bike might be the right choice for you.

To recap, you can expect to find these features in a women’s-specific bike:

  • Smaller frame sizes
  • Lighter shock tuning
  • Women’s specific components including the saddle and grips

And perhaps:

  • Specialized geometry
  • Shorter crank arms
  • Shorter stem
  • Narrower handlebars

Best Mountain Bikes For Women

Here are our top 10 (actually 11!) picks for women. You’ll note that many of these are from women’s specific brands while others just good options for women (smaller frame options, lighter weight, etc).

Best Entry-Level BikesWhat We Like
1Liv Tempt 1Lightweight
2Cannondale Trail 6 Women’sFits tiny riders
3Canyon Grand Canyon 5 WMNDirect-to-consumer
Best Hardtails (Cross Country and Down Country)
4Liv LurraScaled components
5Yeti Cycles ARC TurqLight and nimble
6Specialized FuseFive frame sizes
Best Full Suspension (Trail and Enduro)
7Juliana FurtadoTiny frame sizes
8Ibis Mojo (or Ripmo)Lightweight
9Pivot ShadowcatLots of travel
Best Electric Mountain Bikes
10Liv Intrigue X Advanced E+ EliteAffordable
Bonus!Orbea Rise M10Nimble climber

Liv Tempt 1

liv tempt 1 womens mountain bike

Liv has done a great job not only of creating women’s-specific bikes, but also of creating a brand that makes women feel comfortable and draws them into the sport.

The Liv Tempt 1 is a great entry-level mountain bike. Unlike many “budget” bikes, it’s reasonably lightweight which means you won’t struggle to handle the bike and can go faster.

The bike offers Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and 80 to 100mm of travel (depending on the frame size) thanks to the Giant air fork.

We also appreciate that it comes in an XS frame to fit women as small as 4’11”. Smaller frames come with 27.5″ wheels while large bikes come with 29″ wheels.

It also comes with features generally only found at higher price points like internal routing for a dropper post (should you choose to add one), and tubeless ready tires. (The bike is not set up tubeless, you’ll have to convert it).

The biggest con about the bike is that the fork feels awfully stiff compared to a more expensive fork–but that’s what you get at this pricepoint.

Price: $900

Cannondale Trail 6 Women’s

cannondale trail 6

The Cannondale Trail 6 comes in a women’s version with smaller frame sizes and components like the Cannondale Stage 2 Women’s saddle. It’s not THE best women’s saddle we’ve tested but it’s pretty dang good for a stock saddle.

Many entry-level bikes come with off-brand components, but Cannondale has speced this one with good quality brands. Both the drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes are Shimano.

Like the Liv Tempt, the Trail 6 is both dropper-post ready and tubeless ready, though you’ll have to add both after the fact.

In terms of sizing, this is a great bike for smaller women. The extra-small frame will fit riders as small as 4’6″, and there’s a slight bend in the top-tube to make the standover height lower.

The biggest issue we have with this bike is the weight (it’s a couple pounds heavier than the Liv Tempt). If you live in an area with a lot of hills, you might want to look for something lighter.

The other thing we don’t love is the 2x drivetrain. (This means that there are two chainrings up front rather than one. One chainring has become the modern industry standard).

Still, for women on a budget, this is a good bike.

Price: $860

Canyon Grand Canyon 5 WMN

Canyon is a direct-to-consumer brand. Because they cut out the middle man, you tend to get great bang for your buck with their bikes.

The Canyon Grand Canyon 5 WMN is their most affordable women’s offering–and one we highly approve of!

The bike ships direct to your house, and unboxing and assembly are easy. If you do have a problem, they have a list of local certified mechanics that you can take the bike to.

canyon bike in action

The paint quality on the bike is super high, and the overall aesthetic is beautiful. In terms of function, the bike has a Shimano drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes.

What are you missing on this bike? An air fork! The 100mm fork on this bike is a steel-coil suspension fork which means it’s harder to compress.

Price: $699

Liv Lurra 1

The Liv Lurra is the next step up from the Liv Tempt (and one that I would encourage you to take). Although it’s a hardtail, this is designed to be a trail bike. It has slacker, modern mountain bike geometry to slay the downhills as well as the uphills.

This trail vibe is also reflected in the longer travel 130mm Giant air fork, high-volume tubeless tires, and dropper post. It has lots of mounts (for water bottles or bags), so you could use this rig for bikepacking as well.

We also like the SX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain which is pretty much the industry standard these days. Like all the Liv bikes, it’s designed for women which means you get a women’s specific saddle, smaller frame sizes, and shorter crank lengths (on the smaller bikes).

woman riding the liv lurra

Cons? The frame is aluminum so it’s not as light as a carbon bike or as comfortable as a steel or titanium bike.

Price: $1,850

Yeti Cycles ARC Turq T1

While not a women’s specific bike, the Yeti Cycles ARC Turq is a great choice for women thanks to it’s lightweight design and wider range of sizes. (The small frame fits riders as small as 5’1″). It’s also gorgeous.

The bike is light and fast enough for cross-country racing but is slack enough for slaying the trail. The ARC Turq is a great bike for tackling technical terrain thanks to it’s nimble geometry.

There are several different build kits depending on your budget. For the T1 build kit, highlights include the feather light carbon frame, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, Fox Factory 34 fork, and SRAM Level brakes.

We also appreciate that it comes as a frame-only option ($2,100). If you want to try building up a bike from scratch, this lets you choose each component individually for your body.

The only possible con we can thing of (other than the price) is that this likely isn’t a quiver-killing bike. If you plan to head to the bike park or race an enduro, you’ll want a full suspension bike too.

Price: $4,200+

Specialized Fuse 29 Comp

If you want to buy from your a local bike shop, the Specialized Fuse is a good option. Almost every town or city has a local Specialized dealer which gives you an opportunity to try the bike before you buy and get help when and if you need it. Or, you have the opportunity to buy directly from their website as well.

The Fuse is an excellent choice for riders of all levels, with a sturdy M4 aluminum chassis and frame geometry that adds playfulness and capability to the bike. The Specialized Fuse is suitable for most types of trails, handling all but the most rocky or technical trails with ease.

It is ready to ride straight out of the box, and its components are durable and can withstand a serious flogging. The Fuse Comp 29 comes with excellent components, including a 130-millimeter RockShox Recon fork, SRAM Level disc brakes, a TranzX dropper post, and a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain.

Photo credit

It is an excellent bike to start with and upgrade as you see fit. It doesn’t have any women’s specific components, but there are 5 frame sizes, so you’re likely to get a good fit. The XS will fit riders 4’11”. Still not small enough? There is also a 27.5″ version of the bike that will give you another inch.

It’s not as light as the Yeti Arc, but it’s not as expensive either. There are always trade offs.

Price: $3,000

Juliana Furtado

juliana furtado

Here’s where we start getting into the really fun bikes! The Juliana Furtado is just one in a line-up of fantastic women’s specific full suspension bikes from Juliana. (Go check them all out).

The Furtado is an ideal trail bike that has enough travel to handle just about anything. It has 130mm of travel in the rear and 140mm up front, making it ideal for flow trails, technical challenges, and big backcountry rides.

As is quite trendy right now, the Furtado features a “mullet” mixed wheel configuration, with a 29-inch wheel up front for traction and stability and a 27.5-inch rear wheel for maneuvering the tricky stuff.

We like the storage compartment in the downtube (also quite trendy right now). It comes with both a fitted tool wallet and tube purse so you can store all of your on-the-trail maintenance items inside the frame.

The bike comes in quite a few build levels depending on how much you want to spend. You can also buy the frame only if you want to build up your bike.

The extra small frame is tiny (4’8″ rider height) so is great for the smaller ladies. The only bummer is that if you’re a taller woman (over 5’9″) there is not a frame size big enough for you.

Price: $5,299+

Ibis Mojo (or Ripmo)

ibis mojo

Finally on to my favorite bike, and the one I ride on a near daily basis! The Ibis Mojo isn’t new, but it just keeps selling ’cause it’s a great bike.

The bike climbs well (I love to climb!), but it also descends well (I’ve ridden it at the Whistler bike park). This is thanks to 130mm front / 140mm rear travel and short chain stays.

pnw womens mountain bike clothing

Women typically don’t weigh a ton and we have less muscle mass, so it’s nice to have a bike you can throw around. Builds start at 26.7 pounds, and I can contest that the Mojo feels lighter than just about any other full suspension bike I’ve been on.

It’s not THE smallest bike around but can fit women from 5 foot and up. I think the Mojo with it’s 27.5″ wheels is a great choice for most women, but if you want to go with bigger wheels the Ibis Ripmo with it’s 29″ wheels is also a good choice.

Price: $5,399+

Pivot Shadowcat

pivot shadowcat

Pivot was one of the first big bike companies to start offering their frames in a wider range of sizes. Their philosophy is you shouldn’t need to make women’s specific bikes if you cater to different body types.

The Pivot Shadowcat is a big trail bike with 27.5″ wheels, 160mm of travel up front and 140mm in the rear, and an insanely light weight for the amount of travel. The lightest Shadowcats are around 26 pounds. This makes it a great choice for more petite women who are going to struggle to throw a heavier bike around.

The color is also gorgeous, and we know more than one person who has picked the bike for exactly that reason.

The only thing that might keep you from this bike is the price. The lowest level build starts at $5,999 and it goes up from there.

Price: $5,999

Orbea Rise M10

orbea rise m10

The Orbea Rise M10 is a super lightweight and nimble electric mountain bike designed to tackle any climb with ease. It doesn’t have as much output or battery life as a higher powered e-bike, but the lighter weight is significantly easier for most women to handle.

The bike features a Shimano EP8-RS motor with limited torque, creating a ride that feels more like a regular bike than a traditional e-MTB. The bike offers three power options, eco mode, trail mode, and boost mode, and can last from one to three hours depending on which mode you ride in.

riding the orbea rise

The bike has no battery display, only a battery indicator with colored dots to show which mode you’re in, making it difficult to check battery life while on a ride. This is the only thing we don’t love about the bike.

Read Review: Orbea Rise M10

Price: $8,999

Liv Intrigue X Advanced E+

liv intrigue e+

The Liv Intrigue X Advanced E+ is Liv’s latest e-bike offering for women!

It comes in three different build levels ranging from $6000 to $10,000. The bottom level build is an exceptionally good deal for an electric mountain bike!

Like the Orbea Rise, the thing we like about the Liv e-bike, is that it’s easy for smaller women to handle. I’ve struggled on heavier e-bikes, like the Specialized Turbo Levo, and on the Liv Intrigue X Advanced E+ I found I was able to jump the bike and throw it around on rocky technical sections.

liv electric mountain bike

Speaking of technical stuff, the 140mm (rear)/150mm (front) travel do a good job of absorbing any trail chatter. Because this is a women’s-specific brand, they do a good job of tuning suspension for lighter riders.

The only thing that I’m not crazy about is the fact that it very clearly looks like an e-bike with the larger downtube and bottom bracket area. If you’re looking for something stealthier, the Pivot Shuttle SL would be a good option.

Price: $6,000+

Women’s Mountain Bike Brands

There are a few brands doing a better job than everybody else at catering to women. The first two of these are Liv and Juliana, which both make women’s specific bikes only.

We’ve included several of their models in this article, but if you didn’t see exactly what you’re looking for, go take a look at their complete lines. Liv generally does a better job of catering to newer riders, while Juliana targets women who are more serious riders.

Pivot is one brand that doesn’t make women’s-specific bikes, they do make bikes that cater well to women. Their extra-small frames fit even the smallest riders (and their larger frames will fit taller women). Their bikes also tend to be best in class in terms of weight; lighter riders benefit more from lighter bikes.

Another line to consider are the Scott Contessa bikes. These bikes from Scott are designed and marketed specifically to women. The Contessa line has something to suit (almost) everyone, from the total beginner to serious racers. Although they are all speced out differently, one thing that never changes amongst models is the inclusion of women’s-specific saddles and grips.

As you’ll see in the list above, Ibis, Cannondale, Specialized, and Orbea are also other brands we think do a reasonably good job of making bikes for women.

Getting A Bike Fit and/or Building A Bike From Scratch

One thing to consider BEFORE buying a mountain bike is getting a bike fit. A professional bike fitter can help you pick the correct size frame as well as steer you toward a bike that has components that would be sized well toward your body.

Women who really struggle getting a good fit might also want to consider building up a bike. I tried to include several bikes on the list above that come in a frame-only option.

This means you can buy the frame and then build it up with components that work for your body–i.e. shorter cranks, narrower handlebars, your favorite saddle, etc. This is also a great way to learn to work on bikes. I just built up my own mountain bike and it was a great learning experience!

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About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @kristenlbonkoski

2 thoughts on “10 Best Mountain Bikes For Women (Beginner To Expert)”

  1. Blessing and a curse? Seems more like adding another option for women’s bike world to me, rather than telling women they have to buy a women’s bike. I don’t see your point of view here at all. Never hurts to have more options. If a woman doesn’t want a feminine color, choose a different color. 🤷‍♀️

    Other than that, helpful article.

    Reply
  2. Great article. Informative, and I love your point about it being both a blessing and a curse. My husband is not much taller than me and he would definitely benefit from buying a women’s specific MTB, but won’t do so because of the label “Women’s Specific,” and of course, the colour range. So, yes, it is a “Blessing and a curse.” Thanks for the article.

    Reply

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