Cover Photo Credit: Yeti Cycles
Let’s be clear about something right up front: every mountain bike is a women’s mountain bike.
In other words, you are not limited to women’s-specific mountain bikes; you can totally choose any unisex bike on the market. That said, there are plenty of women out there (for many of the reasons we’ll go into in a moment) who are actively searching for and want a women’s-specific mountain bike.
If that’s you, you’re in luck. Rather than spending serious time and energy coming up with a shortlist of mountain bikes you should look at, we’ve done that for you.
Below are some of the best brands that are putting out women’s mountain bikes today. We’ve intentionally included those that are creating great entry-level options for women just getting into the sport, as well as those creating bikes for serious lady shredders.
Should I Buy a Women’s-Specific Mountain Bike?
Short answer: it’s totally up to you. Longer answer: it probably depends on your size and willingness to upgrade components later on.
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.
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
- Specialized geometry
- Shorter crank arms
- Shorter stem
- Narrower handlebars
Juliana makes what we’d consider the BEST women’s-specific bikes out there. They haven’t bothered making their bikes overly girly. Instead, they’ve focused on what really matters: low standover heights, suspension tuned for lighter riders, and build kit options.
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.
Their bikes tend to focus on entry-level and mid-range offerings, making Liv a good choice for women you are just getting started mountain biking.
Yeti has kept things simple by offering women the same bikes as those in their standard line but with small tweaks for the female rider. These include a women’s-specific saddle, lighter-tuned suspension, and shorter 170mm cranks for the XS and S sizes.
While many of the brands listed here have offered a select few women’s specific mountain bikes, Scott has created SEVERAL DOZEN. They have so many models, in fact, that we haven’t bothered to list them all below.
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.
Specialized has doubled down on the women’s mountain bike market in the last few years. They offer many of the same iconic bikes you’ve likely heard of (the Stumpjumper and Epic to name a few) in a female version.
These bikes have the same geometry as their unisex counterparts but with custom shock tunes and Specialized’s ground-breaking (?) women’s-specific saddles.
Diamondback’s women’s line is ideal for women just wanting to get into the sport. All their ladies bikes are under $2,000 and offer great bang for your buck.
Each has thoughtful women’s-specific touchpoints including the saddle, cranks, and grips.
Norco offers each of its mainline mountain bikes in a version with women’s-specific touchpoints. This means there is no shortage of options for the ladies.
Norco also has scaled tubing, so XS bikes are lighter than a L bike. Additionally, the shock tuning on the smaller frames is set up for lighter riders.
Other Women’s Mountain Bike Brands You Might Consider
Although these bike brands didn’t make it onto our Top 7 list, they also offer women’s-specific mountain bikes.
- Co-Op Cycles