Nearly 30 bikes, hundreds of cumulative miles, a whole load of climbing and descending, a smattering of sprinting, and a selection of BikeRadar readers were the magic ingredients that went into making the BikeRadar Women’s Bike of the Year Awards, in association with Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazine.
We set out to compare the most popular women’s road and trail bikes on the market, head to head, to see how they matched up in terms of performance, comfort and value for money.
If you’re in the market for a bike, don’t forget to check out our buyer’s guide to women’s road bikes and buyer’s guide to women’s mountain bikes, which have all the info on what you’ll get for your money, how to make the most of your budget, what to look out for, and some great bike suggestions, too.
The winners: Women’s Road Bike of the Year 2017
Winner of the Women’s Road Bike of the Year is the Trek Silque Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
The runners up:
The winner: Women’s Trail Bike of the Year 2017
The Canyon Spectral WMN takes the Women’s Trail Bike of the Year title Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
The runners up:
Women’s road bike of the year 2016
After a second hand bike or something in the sales? You can make big savings by buying an older model, but you still want to make sure you get the best bike you can for your money, right?
Have a look at our extensive list of road bike reviews from the best women’s bikes of 2016, with options to suit all budgets.
Over the course of two seperate days, six readers put our fleet of test road bikes through their paces Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
Finding the best women’s bikes — the process
We sourced over 20 women’s specific road bikes based on popularity, covering a wide range of brands including Specialized, Trek, Liv, Cannondale, Fuji, Canyon and Scott. Bikes were collected into two categories: mid-range and budget.
On the mountain bike side of things, we called in all the women’s specific trail bikes available that fitted our test criteria: mid-range bikes, up to 140mm of travel, women’s specific or aimed at the women’s cycling market, and designed for trail use. Unsurprisingly, there were far fewer options here.
All bikes were ridden extensively by the BikeRadar team, covering long distances, sprints, climbs, descents, and a variety of terrain.
We were also keen to find out what our readers, the women who will be buying and riding these bikes, thought about them. So we recruited two BikeRadar reader panels.
The road group joined us for two unfortunately very wet and cold days of testing in the Mendip Hills, in the south-west of England, and the mountain bike group put the trail bikes through their paces over a test weekend in the Forest of Dean, UK.
Five readers joined our BikeRadar women’s cycling editor for a test weekend in the Forest of Dean in March Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
Each bike was ridden by at least two different readers in the test panels, who each provided feedback on the bikes which has been incorporated into the reviews and the overall judging.
Our testers were all volunteers with a range of different riding experience who gave up their time freely, and we’d like to thank them for helping us put the shortlisted bikes through their paces.
What is a women’s specific bike and do I need one?
Confusingly, different brands have different definitions of what constitutes a ‘women’s specific’ bike, and it can vary from simply having different finishing kit, such as handlebars and saddle around a unisex frame, to a bike that’s completely different from the men’s/unisex equivalent in terms of geometry and design.
Have a look at our guide to five different approaches to women’s specific design to find out a bit more, and our article on whether on not women need women’s specific bikes.
Some women find that women’s specific bikes suit them better, others simply like the fact that components such as the saddle and handlebars are more likely to fit so they won’t need to fork out on new ones, and still others find they get on fine with men’s/unisex bikes.
A selection of the trail bikes on test, including some budget options that will be online soon Phil Hall / Immediate Media Co
As with anything to do with buying a bike, the ideal scenario is to take a few out for a decent test ride and see what feels best for you.
If you do opt for a unisex bike, there are a few simple tweaks you can make to give you a more comfortable fit, and of course we’d always recommend a good bike fit to make sure you get the most out of your riding.
If you’re looking for news and reviews on women’s cycling kit, clothing, bikes and more, don’t forget to check out BikeRadar Women.