We tested 25 women’s bikes in the Arizona desert. These were our four favorites.

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(Felt)

Felt ZW2 

Best For: Blasting on a Budget 

The first thing we noticed about the ZW2? The murdered-out matte paint job and red highlights. This carbon roadie is as fast as it looks, with fairly aggressive geometry and stiff Fulcrum Racing 5 LG wheels that flew along smooth pavement and leaped up steep grades. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting is top-notch, making the ZW2 a good value at under five grand. “Gorgeous, poised, stable, with e-shifting? At this price?” said one tester. The ride is harsh enough to remind you that you’re astride a thoroughbred, not a cruiser, which we appreciate in road races and criteriums, but if you want a long-distance comfort rig, look elsewhere.

Price $1,599 to $4,999

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(Trek)

Trek Émonda SL 8 

Best For: Channeling Marianne Vos on Climbs  

Establishing a break mostly comes down to how big an engine you have. But it sure helps if you’re riding a featherweight like the Émonda SL 8. Our model came in at 15.7 pounds, with a lithe frame, Shimano Dura-Ace components, and decent Bontrager wheels. The bike hums along rough roads like a Lambo with beefed-up suspension, which we credit in part to Trek’s stellar, responsive OCLV carbon. The price rockets up to $14,999 for the highest-end model (the SLR 10), but we say stick with the mid-tier option. You get a slightly heavier frame and no e-shifting, but otherwise it’s the same superb rig—for $10,500 less.  

Price $4,500

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(Yeti)

Yeti SB5c Beti 

Best For: Mastering All Trails

As the industry trends toward overspecialized confusion, the Beti stands out as a true multipurpose machine. Built around Yeti’s Switch Infinity suspension, it proved an efficient pedaler on punchy climbs around Santa Fe. But it really delighted us on chundery descents, where the 127 millimeters of travel handled every rock garden and step-down. At 25.2 pounds, it’s easy even for small riders to throw around corners. Women-specific features include narrower handlebars and a different rear shock tune, but otherwise the bike is identical to the men’s SB5c. Two gripes: the tires are a hair narrow, and that premium Yeti price tag. 

Price $5,599 to $9,299

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(Juliana)

Juliana Roubion CC XX1 

Best For: Crushing Rocky Singletrack

We included the Roubion in last year’s Buyer’s Guide because it made big-hit riding feel (almost) easy. We didn’t think the 150-millimeter-travel monster (which, other than the paint job and touch points, is identical to the Santa Cruz Bronson) could get any more capable, but Juliana proved us wrong. Several upgrades boost stability while preserving all-mountain prowess. The head angle is slacker (66 degrees), making the bike track better downhill. The chainstays are shorter for tighter handling, and the VPP suspension has new links for stiffness. “It eats rough stuff for breakfast,” said a tester.     

Price $3,599 to $9,899

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Fitness

The Best Road Bikes of 2016

We’re witnessing a sea change in what road bikes look like and how they perform. Manufacturers are realizing that consumers don’t need the lightest, most aggressive designs used by professional riders, and they’re turning out machines that are more versatile and user-friendly. While the racing world has resisted disc brakes, for instance, bike companies are keen on their advantages and are pushing to make them standard. Modern geometries lean toward stability, and smarter tube shapes continue to boost comfort. Tires and rims are getting wider, improving traction and ride quality. And as the gravel market grows—with bikes like our Gear

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Fitness

The Bike Hunting Essentials of 2016

(Sitka) Sitka Mountain Pants  Made from stretch polyester with a DWR treatment, these pants shrug off rain and brush. The cargo pockets swallow essentials, and the removable foam knee pads make crouching almost comfortable.  Price $189 Buy Now (Maven) Maven B.2 Binoculars  With its direct-to-consumer strategy, Maven sells exceptional optics at a fraction of the price of its competitors. Choose from three magnifications and customize the colors of lens rings and other pieces.  Price $1,000 Buy Now  (Icebreaker) Icebreaker Tech Lite Long Sleeve Crewe Real Tree Shirt  This

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Fitness

The Best Bike Apparel of 2016

A cadre of upstart brands is shaking up cycling clothing. Thank God.  (DannyShane) DannyShane Red Tornado Plaid  Cut from 50 percent bamboo-blend fabric, this dapper soft top has a network of airy channels that spirited away moisture and kept us cool in the Arizona heat. Price $139 Buy Now (Sombrio) Sombrio Grappler  We broke out the Grappler on big days in the mountains when we’d be encountering variable temperatures. The performance mesh-poly fabric kept us cool in the foothills, while the sleeves provided warmth when the storms rolled in up high.  Price $70

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Fitness

The Best Mountain Bikes of 2016

Plus-size is fast becoming the new normal in mountain bikes. One year ago, you had only a few niche options in this category, loosely defined as including anything with 2.8-to-3-inch tires. At this year’s test we evaluated eight of the rigs, including our Gear of the Year winner, and another dozen are coming to market this season. These mid-fat machines add grip and confidence without the heft of a full fat bike, making them ideal for loose, sandy trails and super ­capable on bigger-hit riding. While the development is still in its infancy, with manufacturers debating rim widths and rubber

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Fitness

The Best Bike Accessories of 2016

Build your kit with the right stuff for road and trail. DAILY ROAD (Specialized) Specialized Airnet MIPS Helmet  The Airnet’s sleek, retro looks pay homage to old-school racing lids, but the MIPS technology, designed to reduce rotational force in a crash, is all new. It’s the only helmet you need.  Price $170 Buy Now (Niterider) NiteRider Sentinel 40 Taillight  Do yourself a favor and ride with a taillight. Always. The tough, USB-chargeable Sentinel 40 projects a thin beam on either side of your bike, creating a visible safety lane that moves with you.  Price $50 Buy

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Fitness

The Best Starter Bikes of 2016

The biggest beneficiaries of the great evolution in bike tech? Lower-cost rides. (Cannondale) Cannondale CAAD8 105 5  Best For: Aspiring Racers  Anyone who thinks aluminum is stiff and heavy hasn’t ridden the CAAD8. Cannondale used lightweight tubing to build a bike that’s nearly identical to its older brother, the CAAD12, but for $270 less and at a mere two-pound weight penalty. In a blind test, most people wouldn’t notice a performance difference between the Shimano 105 drivetrain included here and top-shelf Dura Ace, and though the wheels are mediocre, they’re easy to upgrade. On the road,

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Fitness

The Best Women's Bike Accessories of 2016

We combed through hordes of gear to put together the best kit for road and mountain biking. (Giro) Giro Chrono Pro Shorts  A good chamois could be the single most important item in your gear closet. This is about the plushest we’ve found, with a wide waist, leg bands that stay in place, and silky Lycra.    Price $150 Buy Now (Specialized) Specialized S-Works Evade Helmet  The secret to speed isn’t shedding weight—it’s getting aero. The Evade will save you 46 seconds over 24 miles compared with a standard helmet, says Specialized.

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Fitness

The Bike Commute Essentials of 2016

You can do better than jeans and a T-shirt. (Ibex) Ibex Shralp Jersey Ibex calls this a jersey, and while it does have some nice tech details—including odor- and moisture-resistant wool fabric, a drop hem, and reflective hits on the back—the wrinkle-free, plaid button-up hangs just as well at the office as it does in the saddle.   Price $150 Buy Now (Du:er) Du:er Slim Utility Rinse Jeans  These trim-fit jeans are excellent on the bike, thanks to the proprietary, slightly stretchy, bomber denim and hidden gusseted crotch. We found ourselves wearing

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