The 3 Best Women's Road and Utility Bikes of Summer 2012

Bad Girl 1

Bad Girl 1    Photo: Courtesy of Cannondale Bicycles

Cannondale Bad Girl 1

BEST FOR: Commuters. THE TEST: Around-town bikes are often as exciting as a cubicle—not so the flat-handlebar Bad Girl. It has the clearance of other lady bikes, but the oversize aluminum frame looks more dirt jumper than girly girl. The one-piece bar and stem stiffen up the front, and internally routed cables give it a clean look. The 1.97-inch lefty shock had testers hopping curbs and taking off-road shortcuts, though it also locks out with a twist of a handlebar-mounted knob for efficiency when you’re hammering on the pavement. THE VERDICT: A legit commuter with a playful persona. 25.9 lbs

With just one stanchion, Cannondale's fork may look odd and unsaf, but it's anything but. When locked out, it's actually stiffer than many standard forks.

Bianchi Via Nirone Dama 105

Via Nirone Dama 105
Via Nirone Dama 105   Photo: Courtesy of Bianchi

BEST FOR: Roadies on a budget. THE TEST: The Via Nirone Dama 105 is perfect for those just getting into riding, as well as women who want to add a road bike—and base-building miles—to their mountain quiver. Thanks to vibration dampers, it’s zippy but not harsh like so many aluminum bikes. Yet the stiff rear end and beefy bottom bracket make for zero flex when you’re pedaling hard and total confidence on fast descents. “I was never worried on bad pavement,” said one Vermont tester. “This bike hugged the road.” Our only complaint: it’s not light. THE VERDICT: A great first road ride. 20.5 lbs

Raleigh Carbon Capri 3.0

Carbon Capri 3.0
Carbon Capri 3.0   Photo: Courtesy of Raleigh

BEST FOR: Long hauls. THE TEST: The Carbon Capri is a light (just over 17 pounds in size 53) and compliant cruiser that rides like an easy chair. The carbon frame and fork diffuse road noise admirably, and the long headtube and slightly more upright position lets riders enjoy the scenery. “I felt as good at mile 90 as I did at mile 20—no sore neck or shoulders. I could just cruise,” said one tester post-century. Shimano Ultegra and 105 components are light, and they’ll last for many miles and seasons. THE VERDICT: A supple ride that’s still fast enough to push the pace. 17.7 lbs

More Gear