BikeRadar teamed up with What Mountain Bike magazine for a comprehensive head-to-head test of women’s trail bikes. Criteria for inclusion was as follows: the bikes needed to be women’s specific or aimed at women, have a UK retail price of between £2599 and £3200, with up to 140mm suspension at the rear.
You can read more about the awards in issue 200 of What Mountain Bike on sale on 2 May 2017.
The Spectral made short work of rooty downhill tracksPhil Hall / Immediate Media Co
The Spectral WMN offered the best combination of performance and value, with a confident, lively ride and incredible parts for the money.
This is a bike that screams capability and confidence
“It’s burly and slack enough to make short work of technical terrain, but not so all-mountain focussed that it sucks the fun out of flatter trails.” commented Aoife Glass, Women’s Cycling Editor and main product tester.
“The ride is smooth, precise, and above all fun. This is a bike that screams capability and confidence, whether you want to progress your skills, push your racing, or just take on more technical terrain. As a one-bike, all-rounder it’s hard to beat, particularly for the weight, price and quality of components it features. It’s a hell of a ride, our test panel loved it, and I do, too”
Each of the bikes in the shortlist has been ridden extensively. We smashed along trail centres, ripped up wild and natural trails in the UK’s Mendips and Quantocks, rode them on downhill tracks in the Forest of Dean and even took them to some Spanish mountains, all in the name of pushing their limits and getting a good handle on how they rode. Testing took place throughout January to March, with hours of bike time and plenty of discussion.
We even had a trail dog for the reader test weekend!Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
But that’s not all! These bikes were also ridden and rated by our BikeRadar reader test panel. These five women spent two long days in the Forest of Dean in the UK riding all the bikes on a test loop. Each bike in the test was ridden and rated by at least three of the test panel, and their feedback and verdicts were incorporated into the final reviews and judging.
Introducing the Women’s Trail Bike of the Year reader test panelPhil Hall / Immediate Media Co
Clockwise from top centre:
Grace Zarczynska: Writer at Cranky Betty, a female-oriented mountain biking blog, owner of Commencal Meta Purple V4 and an avid fan of trail dogs. Lives in Yorkshire and codes websites by daylight. Favourite trails include Hamsterley, Stainburn, Bike Park Wales and the Forest of Dean of course! Her favourite things about mountain biking include great friends, nature, facing your fears and post-ride pizza.
Saskia Dugon: Based in South Wales, Sam’s passion for two wheels started on skinny tyres before she got a taste of the mountain bike world four years ago. She likes to ride as many places as possible, and loves all kinds of track from steep and technical to smooth and flowing. The Surrey Hills, BikePark Wales and Glentress in Scotland are some of her favourite places to ride, but she also likes to head out on an adventure, camera bag on her back and trail dog at her side.
Rebecca Smith: “Not long after I got my first mountain bike I saw a load of guys on the trails in my local woodland, figured I could do what they were doing and I’ve never looked back.” Rebecca races downhill, trails and road cycling but essentially loves riding bikes, all bikes! She has an ever-expanding collection of bikes, and is happiest when her legs are burning and muddy. She loves whooping down trails in the woods with friends, the quiet tranquility of winding singletrack and the feeling of achievement when you finally nail a line or feature.
Natalie Fraser: By day, a kitchen designer, by night/weekends, a mountain bike obsessive and ambassador for Alliance MTB skills coaching! Natalie got into mountain biking three years ago through her dad, then got more into it from a fitness perspective. “It’s become a major part of my life and who I am!” she says. Being based in South Yorkshire in the UK she has a great selection of trails within a few hours drive, and generally rides twice a week. She loves every aspect of mountain biking: the awesome people, riding in all weathers, the physical and mental challenges and the adventures to new places.
Jennifer Purcell: Jennifer is a keen cyclist and rides regularly with her family, using the extra weight as perfect resistance training for regional XC and enduro racing. A proud Flare Clothing ambassador, Jennifer will be representing Team Flare at the BC Bike Race later in the year. She leads monthly rides for mums and children and would love to see more young girls riding their bikes!