Super-cheap, super-sleek race jersey with built-in go-faster stripes!
Easily packed and effective extra layer
Exceptional, cosy cold-weather socks
Tough, high spec city bike for pounding the streets
I wore the Hot Toddy for nearly two weeks straight while lightweight cycle touring
The Evolution shorts are good quality all round; from the dual-surfaced EvoTech material to the smoothly stitched seams.
Compared to the Megamouth, the Mako has narrower, more curved shoulder straps that sit securely round female curves.
Pockets. And lots of them. We counted 13: zippered, Velcro tabbed, meshed, the lot. The Megamouth is great looking too.
Dawes have an ever-expanding line-up of bikes, but they are perhaps best known in the touring world thanks to the excellent reputation of classics like the Galaxy.
Fuji have been sponsoring elite women cyclists for over 25 years, but they've only recently launched ladies production bikes.
A versatile, mountain bike-inspired package
The WRX (walkable road Xchange) Granfondos blend the performance qualities of true road shoes with the practicality of a usable sole for off the saddle.
Trek's FX models are flat-barred bikes with city riding in mind.
A road bike in flatbar clothing. Whiplash fast and effortless up hills but might suffer on gritty urban terrain come winter. Great for fast, smooth commutes or weekend rides in the country.
A great all-rounder for the city with style and practicality.
Step-through bikes aren't for everyone, but their practicality appeals to many women - especially those who want to commute in their office clothes.
These are the most unisex looking shoes with nary a spot of pink or baby blue on them. The white, black and silver combination is, in fact, very cool and simple with racy side vents.
Cute T-shirt styling, combined with a cool-feeling fabric and strategic mesh inserts make for a fashionable but cunningly technical top. It's form fitting and the three pockets are quite small.
The Marina is a simple but quite beautifully cut jersey from Protective's new 07 range. It's closer-fitting and more femininely-styled than previous year's offerings with a noticeably shorter torso length. Flatlock stitching keeps things smooth against the skin and the sleeves and hem lay flat without bunching. It's 100% polyester in a dense weave that feels more substantial than some cooler fabrics but it wicks sweat well. Two rear pockets are really easy to get into and the front zip is covered up at the chin for comfort.
Perhaps known more for their casual cycle wear, Altura's Synchro jersey is fit for any kind of riding and racing. The soft, light and stretchy Merly fabric is body skimming and comfortable. In the heat, it doesn't feel as dry, or dry as quickly, as meshier weaves, as there's less air flow through the fabric. It has anti-UV power for sensible protection from the sun though. The collar comes up nice and high and there's a small flap that keeps the zipper end from rubbing the skin. There's one zippered rear pocket and a tiny reflective logo. Silicon gripper keeps the hem in place.
The Boulders use a thin, light and stretchy fabric. They're cut long in the leg, with an elasticated waist and pull cord. There's good reflective piping, zippered pockets to the front and a small, pop-shut pocket to the side. The snap-in inner is high-quality and well shaped. Although the feel is more pyjama than shorts, their overall lightness (203g) and low bulk can be real advantage. I found them ideal to take away on tour, being perfect to slip on over Lycra while wandering around town.
The Urbans are light and stretchy with strategic mesh panels, a few handy pockets and plain styling. Padded inner shorts are not included but, being so thin, they worked great over regular Lycra. They pack down small, making them ideal for touring or stashing in a rucksack for the end of a commute. They dry really quickly too. Leg length is good to protect from saddle rub, but if you want to keep things conservative abroad, check out the Urban Capris (£41.99).
Nylon and cotton give these a really soft feel and good durability. They're loose-fitting but more tailored than mtb baggies – good for tours and around town.
Shebeest's Boardriders incorporate the best of both worlds. The nearly weightless outer short stretches easily when pedalling and the snip-out inner is comfy with a high-quality pad that's up to long rides. Styling is subtly surf inspired and the flat front with low-rise works well when leaning forward to the handlebars. The waistband sits higher at the back and there's an internal elasticated strip to keep from gapping. Articulated knees allow a free bend without looking overly technical.
True to Italian style sense, the Imayas are short, sassy (if you've got the legs for them!) and stylish beyond typical bike wear. They have a stitched-in brief-type inner pant with a slim and narrow pad. In fact, the Imayas are quite comfortable for shorter rides, as they're slightly stretchy and move easily when pedalling. However, the short inseam can lead to saddle rub on the thighs. For casual riding and beachy cruising in sunnier climes these are sure to spice up your cycling attire.
Skirts are a fun and feminine alternative to baggies. The Select is lightweight with an integrated inner short and basic slim fleece pad. Best for casual riding and not in a gale!
If you can afford the £60 price tag, here’s why the Vento is an excellent gilet. It’s really comfortable, the full mesh lining doesn’t add much weight or bulk, and it wicks sweat away, keeping you happy in a wide temperature range.
Flat-barred road bikes offer many of the fast paced advantages of a conventional road bike, with the confidence-inspiring position and good visibility in traffic of a mountain bike. Over the last few years, we've seen them develop within their own niche, with their own geometries, a choice of drivetrains and even disc brakes. The Gryphon goes down the dedicated 'urban warrior' route, with mechanical disc brakes, rack and mudguard eyelets and a road-inspired drivetrain - all for under £360. We tested it in Bristol's hectic streets to see how it measured up.
Performance bike with women's specific frame
Only a short time ago, flat-barred road bikes were a breed apart. Once the personalised steeds of streetwise couriers, these mutant machines mixed and matched parts from road bikes and mountain bikes to offer the best of the both worlds.
The 06 Torches look quite dainty with a hint of pink, but enough silver and black to accommodate most tastes. The fit is slipper-like too, wrapping the foot very securely with two Velcro straps and a ratchet top closure.
Q: Could you please advise me on buying a road bike for my wife's birthday? The budget is about £400 and it needs to be flat-barred and capable of towpath riding, probably with mudguards. She's 5' 2" and quite slight!
Creating a real stir on the women's cycling forums, Specialized's Ruby is the much-anticipated sister to the men's Roubaix, which won the coveted C+ 2005 Distance Bike of the Year award.
Shebeest are a popular brand Stateside, catering for women who like to inject a bit of flair into their cycling wardrobe.
We like mud as much as the rest of you, but we also like how a clean bike rides better. Raleigh's brush set gives you four specific scrubbers to get at all the tight spots and even behind the ears.
Time, the French shoe and pedal specialists, have entered the women-specific market with three new models - the Axion L walkable road shoe and two RXL designs, descending from the recently revamped men's RXS.
The CX225 is a quality shoe that tops Lake's mid range yet carries the appearance and quality of more pro level designs. The first thing you notice about the shoe is its rounded, wide shape.
The Altea II Plus' are an improved version of the already excellent Alteas from 2005. Built on a woman's specific last, they have a noticeably narrower heel and less volume throughout than the same sized man's shoe.
The Debar is a very lightweight and highly packable waterproof jacket, especially considering it has a full mesh lining. Most jackets this light are a single layer, but without too much of a weight/bulk penalty the Debar's mesh makes it more comfortable.
The perfect road shoe doesn't just need to fit right, it must also be durable, easy to fasten and unclip, comfortable, safe to walk in when required, doesn't inflict pins and needles after a couple of hours in the saddle and looks good.
The FS260s had the pleasure of being my lone pair of shorts on a week-long tour. The field sensor material fits snugly and supports leg muscles, while the broad waistband is super comfortable as it's non-elasticated.
Wonderfully soft and supple in UV-ray blocking Merly Microfibre, the Bacis are comfortable for dayto- day use. Waistband and leg grippers sit smoothly without grabbing, but the shorts overall are less muscle supportive than others.
Shimano's only ladies road shoes, the R099Ws share the same features as the men's mid-range model but in a scaled down fit. Compared to other shoes for women, these are close to the top of the pack in terms of lightness, stiffness and performance.
The women's range-topping Alpine Trail aims at trail riders who cruise through XC routes to get to their fun. It features the same frame (in two smaller sizes) and well-chosen quality spec of the equivalent men's Rift Zone
Cannondale's Windfront gloves have a few useful features that aren't always found on winter models. There are reflective stripes on the pinkies for visible signalling and an absorbent nose wipe along the thumbs and index fingers.
It's usually the wind rather than the cold that really gets to you on a winter's ride - and going faster just makes the sting worse. This Nike jersey aims to combat that, with its thermal insulation.
Calling this top a jersey is a bit of an understatement. It's wind and water repellent on the front, sides and lower back and feels more like a jacket to wear. It's also surprisingly warm despite the thin material, thanks to the wind-blocking front.