Specialized’s D4W (Designs for Women) range may have shrunk this year but the entry-level Myka FSR looks set to be a big hit, with a new frame design that’s a smaller, more compact version of its brother, the FSR XC.
It’s a great women’s all-rounder, and while we’re used to seeing longer forks on trail bikes, sticking with 100mm makes sense where vertically challenged riders are concerned: less travel means a shorter fork and lower front end, in turn maximising standover.
The Myka FSR’s top tube is short for a given size and can feel cramped for taller riders, but the layout is deliberately designed to be ﬂattering and conﬁdence inspiring if you’re of traditionally female proportions (short arms and long legs). If you fall outside this bracket or just prefer a longer riding position, then look at the FSR XC.
The Myka is a great bike that will take you a long way. offering a consistently friendly ride with plenty of smiles on board. It’s comfy enough to ride all day, yet is a blast if you’ve just got a hour, and it’s well-mannered and encouraging: everything a ﬁrst full-suss bike should be.
Ride & handling: Ideal for novices and more experienced riders
The female-speciﬁc shock tuning has made a noticeable difference to the Myka’s ride. After fettling the rear shock with the handy Sag-O-Meter (supplied with the bike, making setup a breeze) and investing some time in taming the rather sprightly rebound on the fork, our mid-weight tester found the sweet spot in the mid-range of the shock’s settings. That means there’s latitude for lighter riders to gain the same performance too – a treat at this price where they often have to spend extra on aftermarket tuning.
Making the most of a shock means that you’ll maximise traction control and climbing performance as well as its bump-eating ability, and the Myka is surprisingly good uphill. We don’t resent dragging the rear suspension around as we have on some cheaper full-suss bikes. Instead it is pleasantly capable, and feels eager to turn uphill.
Once over the top and gaining speed down the other side, the RockShox Tora fork’s slightly under-damped rebound is noticeably lively but doesn’t detract from the overall ability of the Myka to roll through most trail obstacles with ease. The fork is more ﬂexible than costly options too but at this pricepoint there are worse compromises that could be made.
Although it’s not dazzling, the Myka’s spec is robust and functional, and ready for upgrading when you get the urge. Kit all performs faultlessly and should continue to do so for many riding miles to come.
Our personal preference is for wider bars than the 620mm versions ﬁtted to give more control but the cockpit is otherwise spot on for women, with comfortable grips and saddle that work well with female contact points and 170mm cranks on small and medium sizes to complement shorter legs.
Frame: Designed for smaller, lighter riders – right down to the rear shock
The new ’09 frame design borrows layout and plenty of hydroforming from its longer-travel cousin the Saﬁre to squeeze in plenty of top tube clearance without compromising the riding position.
Tubing is Specialized’s M4 alloy, with down and top tubes custom machined to optimise the ride feel for lighter riders. The D4W geometry features the usual shortened top tube, which reduces reach to the bars.
What’s exciting about the Myka FSR is that Specialized have paid close attention to the suspension, hoping to address a common weak point on entry-level women’s full-suspension bikes.
It has worked with shock manufacturer X-Fusion to produce a custom tuned, air-sprung 100mm rear shock that deals better with the speciﬁc demands of svelte riders.
Rebound damping has been tweaked to offer better performance at the lighter end of the spring weight, which is a long-awaited and welcome step forward.
Equipment: Supple fork, solid drivetrain and well chosen own-brand finishing kit
The female-speciﬁc 100mm RockShox ‘La Femme’ Tora fork has been specced with a lighter weight coil spring which complements the rear shock and makes for a more active, supple-feeling fork at the lower end of rider weights. The preload is adjustable, and there’s a lock-out if you want to deaden the bike for short stretches of tarmac.
The drivetrain is solid Shimano Deore throughout, with a welcome up-spec to our favourite SLX rear mech. Dual release shifters work every bit as well as their top-end brethren, although an Octalink crank is a bit of a let-down in these days of external bearings.
Avid Juicy 3 SLs are functional stoppers, with a scooped lever shape that works well for small hands. Rotors seem on the small side to keep within the fork constraints but massive stopping power is overkill for smaller riders.
Wheels are budget own-brand hubs and rims which are serviceable enough, and work well shod with the predictable, fast-rolling Captain 2.0 rubber.
Finishing kit is Specialized throughout, with choices like the streamlined Windie XC perch and narrow diameter grips all reﬂecting good attention to the details that petite female riders require for comfort and control.
The adjustable stem offers a good way to experiment on the cheap before shelling out for an upgrade once you’ve ﬁnalised your cockpit setup.
Jen Hopkins: Entry-level full suspension bikes may not be so easy on the pocket these days but the Specialized Myka packed in a pleasantly surprising amount of fun for the money. Lively, responsive and a real giggle on whatever I threw it at, it offers plenty of fun for more experienced riders without being too much of a handful for complete beginners.
We asked Eron Chorney, Specialized women’s brand manager, about the Myka...
What differences between men and women’s physiology do you take into account when designing a new frame for female riders?
Women are shorter in overall stature (by 100mm or 4in); are lighter for a given height (around 13kg or 30lb); have shorter reach [including arm length and torso length] for a given height (around 30mm or 1in); have a lower centre of gravity (located near their belly button rather than the centre of the sternum for men); and pedal with a higher cadence due to a lower power-to-weight ratio.
Why would a novice mountain biker buy the Myka FSR rather than a better-specced hardtail?
For improved comfort and control. If you are doing technical mountain biking a full-suspension bike will track the ground better for better handling and control. It will also offer more comfort, ensuring less fatigue over longer distances.
Can you explain the thinking behind the colour scheme?
We used pink because it is a universally recognised colour for breast cancer awareness. Each of the ‘pink products’ in the Specialized line will have a portion of its sale price donated to both Susan G Komen for the Cure in the US and the Breast Cancer Care Foundation in the UK.