If you’re after a fast, exciting ride, crave speed and racing is your goal, then let us introduce you to the Specialized Amira. With proven race pedigree, it gives a ride that is as exhilarating and focused as you could wish for.
My overwhelming first impression when I got on this bike was that it just wanted to go! The Amira is built for racing and it’s a sprightly, responsive ride, that’s light enough for soaring up hills and stiff enough that you’ll be able to feel the power you put in, directly converting to miles covered both horizontally and vertically.
The Specialized Amira has proven race pedigree, too. Specialized was the bike sponsor of the Boels-Dolmans women’s pro team with former team member — and World and Commonwealth champion — Lizzie Deignan, and team mates, riding top-spec versions of the bike during the 2016 race season.
The Specialized Amira made short work of the gloomy climb at Cheddar Gorge in the West of England Phil Hall / Immediate Media
Compact, performance-ready geometry
The Amira has a more compact geometry than the endurance-focused Specialized Ruby and is unwilling to sacrifice a single watt of energy to flex. This means that although it will still serve you well over longer distances, it’s not always a relaxing ride.
However, Specialized’s Women’s Competitive Geometry, alongside the Amira’s shorter wheelbase and the full monocoque FACT carbon fork, mean that the bike handles extremely well. I put it through its paces on a series of twisty and undulating Welsh lanes, proving happily and repeatedly that it can take even the most awkwardly angled corners in its stride.
Even on hard corners it has a wonderfully planted, secure feel that encourages you to let those brakes off and get a good lean going.
Full Shimano Ultegra groupset with a racier 11-28t cassette allows you to power up when you need to Aoife Glass / Immediate Media
But it’s when you’re putting the power down that the Amira really comes into its own. There’s an 11/28t cog on the back to give your sprint some extra welly and the Ultegra gears shift gracefully and nimbly on the climbs, while the shallower handlebars encourage you into a more racy position.
I found I spent significantly more time out of the saddle than on a more endurance-focused ride — which is a shame given that the Amira comes equipped with a light, sleek Body Geometry Oura Comp saddle. This is perhaps the most subjective feature of any bike though, with almost as many saddle preferences as there are riders, but I’m a big fan of Specialized saddles and feel that with the research that’s been put into the Body Geometry range you’re off to a good start with this one.
The Specialized Women’s Comp handlebars are, like many of the women’s bikes tested this year, shallow drop, making the transition from top to drops a more comfortable and secure maneuver. Roubaix bar tape with ‘sticky gel’ pads give a comfortable cockpit feeling too, which takes the edge off of that road buzz slightly.
Impeccable spec for the price
Overall, the Amira is impeccably spec’d, with Ultegra throughout; from the 50/34t compact crankset to the 11-28t cassette and brakes.
A pretty nifty set of DT Swiss R460 wheels is a quality choice for a bike designed for racing and training, and these are equipped with Turbo Pro tyres — known for being both super-fast and excellent around corners.
One tiny quibble I have is the addition of thru-axles, rather than quick release skewers, which might have improved the Amira’s tracking even further. Also, there will always be some riders who insist on disc brakes rather than calipers, but really these can hardly be constituted flaws given that the Amira’s handling remains unimpaired.
Shimano Ultegra brakes provide a reliable, smooth braking action Aoife Glass / Immediate Media
The Specialized Amira is one of the most impressive performance road bikes on the market; designed for speed and capable of bringing out the inner racer you weren’t even sure existed. It’s a bike that begs you to let it show you what it can do and what you can do on it. If I ever stop riding stupidly long distances I’d be seriously interested in adding one of these to my stable.
Pricing, sizing and availability
The Amira is available in sizes 44, 48, 51, 54 and 56, which covers a good range of heights, particularly at the smaller end of the height spectrum.
It’s available to purchase via Specialized dealers, concept stores and various retailers.
Price: £2,300 / $2,800 / AU$3,500
How we tested
This bike was tested as part of BikeRadar’s Women’s Road Bike of the Year, run in conjunction with Cycling Plus magazine, also published by Immediate Media Co.
The main tester was Emily Chappell. Chappell, a member of the Adventure Syndicate, is a former bike courier, long distance cyclist and author. In 2016, she placed 40th in the Transcontinental Race, an annual ultra-distance bike race that crosses Europe, and was the first woman to cross the line. If anyone knows about performance and comfort when cycling it’s her.
Chappell tested the bikes in Wales and Scotland, covering a variety of terrain and conditions including mountain climbs and descents, flat, smooth sprint sections, uneven road surfaces and twisting roads.
The reader test panel put a whole lotta bikes through their paces Phil Hall / Immediate Media
In addition, all bikes tested as part of Bike of the Year were put through their paces by a panel of six BikeRadar Women readers over several days in the Mendip Hills in South West England. Each bike has been ridden by at least three testers and their feedback and verdicts have been incorporated into the reviews and overall judging.
Additional reporting by Aoife Glass.
Specialized Amira Comp women’s specifications
Sizes: 44, 48, 51, 54, 56cm
Frame: FACT 9r carbon
Fork: FACT carbon
Wheelset: DT Swiss R460, QR
Stem: 3D-forged alloy
Bar: Specialized Women’s Comp Shallow Drop
Saddle: Body Geometry Oura Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails
Seatpost: Specialized Comp carbon, single bolt
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Price: £2,300 / $2,800 / AU$3,500