Specialized Myka HT Sport women's bike £349.99

Bargain beginner ride

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Starter bikes sometimes suffer at the hands of weighty downgrades but this entry-level offering from Specialized’s D4W (Designed for Women) range is a pleasure to step astride. V-brakes are a common-sense way to keep costs down and only the sub-par fork takes the edge off this excellent starter’s appeal

Ride and handling: Nippy yet beginner-friendly

Specialized have one of the longest standing female-specific ranges in the bike trade and their appreciation of what makes a bike appealing to women is apparent even at the budget end of the line.

From the first pedal stroke on the Myka it’s clear that there’s plenty of the nippy handling that helps beginners find their feet. The combination of compact cockpit, low-slung top tube and reasonable weight are flattering to fitter riders as well as those just starting out.

Basic suspension forks often hamper the ride of otherwise acceptable entry-level bikes and the Suntour unit specced here is no exception. Stifled by stiction despite sporting springs tuned to a lighter rider weight, we failed to get the full 80mm of travel and found the effect of the adjustable preload to be minimal. A rigid fork would reduce weight and improve the ride.

We’re not disappointed to find generic V-brakes here, though. They’re lighter than cheap discs, so have a positive impact on the overall ride feel at this price point and the bite could easily be upped by switching to more aggressive tyres if you find you’re outrunning your speed, your power or both.

Frame: Light, low and short – ideal for more petite riders

Specialized’s A1 aluminium tubing is butted throughout, keeping weight as low as possible and comfort at maximum. More grammes have been shaved away from the head tube and replaceable dropouts mean learner driver bumps aren’t a worry.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Myka is the copious amount of standover clearance – Specialized have specced a bent top tube to keep it as low as posible. With sizes available down to a tiny 13in and a top tube which is proportionally shorter than regular 'men’s’ frames to bring controls within easy reach, it’s definitely one to consider if you’re petite and struggle with confidence on longer or taller bikes.

While the Sport comes specced with budget V-brakes, the frame (but not the wheelset) is ready for upgrading to more capable discs as well as having the usual rack mounts, making it a versatile choice for weekday commuters who hit the trail at weekends.

Equipment: Good female-specific kit but drivetrain may not last long

D4W contact points throughout – a wider saddle to support wider sit bones, proportionally narrower bars and slender grips – show good attention to the needs of female riders.

Drivechain parts are a bit of a mixed bag, with Shimano and SRAM both contributing to the basic spec. It’s not the most robust package in the world and will have a limited lifespan if you take a shine to muddy winter riding.

The same can be said of pretty much every option at this price, though and SRAM’s X4-R shifters are reasonably intuitive, although need careful placing to be comfortable for small hands.

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