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