Riding the Specialized Amira is a pretty special cycling experience. It’s fast, light and classy – which is what you’d expect for a race bike closing in on five grand.
Highs: Fast, light, responsive, racy ride
Lows: Pricey; saddle might not suit
Buy if: You want speed and aren’t on a budget
With its FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) carbon fibre frame and fork, the Amira is incredibly light and responsive, and the smooth gear shifting courtesy of Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 doesn’t go unnoticed as you build speed on the flat.
It’s designed as a race bike, but although we haven’t tested it in a competition, on sportives and fast road rides it has fared fantastically. The handling feels positive without being twitchy, the stiff rear leaves you feeling like every ounce of energy expended counts, and we’ve shaved minutes off our morning commute of 17 miles without exerting any extra effort.
Even if you’re not a natural climber, the light carbon frame combined with the 52/36 compact chainrings and 11-28 cassette make those gruelling hills you’d normally grind up feel more like you’re spinning up a slight incline.
Whether or not you think there is a need for women-specific bikes or just a larger variety of sizes in all bikes, the Amira’s dimensions with a shorter reach and a lower standover height make for a comfortable yet racy riding position.
The shallow-drop Body Geometry handlebar is also a good fit for the ride, keeping things comfortable when you want to stay in the drops for some head-down hammering.
The fact that the Amira is ‘ungirly’ in its appearance is a big appeal. Completely monochromatic in black and white without a hint of pastel in sight, this bike doesn’t just feel the part, it looks the part too.
Our only real criticism of the Amira is the Body Geometry Oura Expert saddle. Despite the fact that it is designed to suit the female anatomy, we found it considerably more uncomfortable than other saddles we’ve tested, particularly Bontrager’s WSD saddle. It’s a very personal thing, though, and it might well suit other riders.
Another drawback is the amount of washing you might feel you have to do – to do this bike justice you kind of feel you need to be wearing suitably classy apparel whenever you’re riding it.
The price is obviously a bit on the high side, but if you have the money we reckon the Amira is a very good choice for serious female cyclists.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.