The days of the dumbed-down women’s rig are over. These rides will keep you wheel-to-wheel with the boys.
Juliana Bicycles Furtado Primeiro
BEST FOR: Technical Terrain
Named for the pro rider who put women’s mountain biking on the map, this trail bike ($6,000) “made me feel 12 years old,” said one tester, who was empowered to hop off kickers and zip around bermed corners. Credit parent company Santa Cruz’s acclaimed Virtual Pivot Point suspension, which maximizes available travel even when you’re braking; the cushy 2.3-inch-wide Maxxis Highroller tires; and the Shimano XT drivetrain. At 27.8 pounds, this 27.5-inch carbon-fiber machine is a steady climber, but downhill is where it shines: the slack geometry keeps your center of gravity low, so you can wiggle your way down even the most technical steeps with confidence.
Scott Contessa Scale 720
BEST FOR: Newbie Mountain Bikers
For riders just starting to venture onto dirt, the aluminum Contessa Scale ($6,000) matches solid components—a front fork with 3.9 inches of travel, a Shimano Deore drivetrain, and disc brakes—with relaxed geometry. The result is a stable and efficient bike that’s ready for singletrack but also a blast on fire roads, rail trails, and around-town errands. Weighing in at 29 pounds, it’s on the heavy side, but the 27.5 wheels offer best-in-price-class handling.
Diamondback Airén 4 Carbon
BEST FOR: Long Days in the Saddle
Light but stable, the Airén ($2,000) is built for big rides. A slightly taller headtube combined with an updated carbon layup that trickled down from more expensive models disperses road shock, keeping your neck and shoulders knot-free even on a weeklong tour. The bike is responsive, but because you’re in a more upright position, you’re able to enjoy the view as the miles tick by. The Shimano RS-11 wheelset survived all the perils of meandering routes on gravel surfaces and long hauls over cracked pavement. The mix of mostly 105 and Ultegra components will last many miles.
Specialized Alias Pro Tri
BEST FOR: Part-Time Triathletes
Triathletes require a specific bike setup in order to ride in the optimal aero position—but it’s not a position a cyclist wants to be in all the time. By building flexibility into the Alias’s fit, Specialized created one bike suitable for both triathlon racing and road training ($6,000). Rigged with tri-specific features, including a taller headtube, zero-degree-offset seatpost, and clip-on aero bars, the Alias puts the rider in a stable and efficient tuck. Unclip the aeros and swap seatposts, and it’s transformed into a speedy workhorse with standard road geometry.