10 Best Womens Mountain Bikes 2018

Women’s mountain bikes come in all shapes and sizes, just like women. Traditionally, women’s mountain bikes are designed with smaller or more compact geometry since on average, women are shorter. Also, Liv, a popular women’s mountain bike brand, has found women have a shorter torso and longer legs than men, potentially affecting their positioning and comfort on a typical mountain bike.

Liv Woman Riding Mountain Bike

Frame geometry differences in women’s bikes is influenced by the torso to leg length ratio, according to Liv Cycling. Photo: Liv-cycling.com

If you are a petite woman (5’4″ or under) and enjoy mountain biking, there are plenty of higher-end full-featured mountain bikes for any kind of riding you want to do. Recently I asked our female community on social media which mountain bikes they ride. I also analyzed countless geometry charts and spec sheets of mountain bikes, searching for models with ideal compact geometry and women’s-specific touch points. While many of the well-known women’s bike brands like Juliana Bicycles and Liv Cycling were popular among the Singletracks female community, so were many of the bike brands that we see in our annual top 10 lists and editor’s choice articles, like Pivot, Niner, and more.

Women shouldn’t feel limited to buying a “women’s-specific” mountain bike; rather, these types of women’s bikes only add to our options! Here, I’ve compiled 10 of the best women’s mountain bikes to consider for your next ride, especially if you’re a smaller rider that may need a lower standover and shorter reach. The following 10 selections are arranged from the least amount of suspension travel to the most suspension travel.

See Also
By Leah Barber

Trek Women’s Procaliber 9.7

Trek Procaliber Womens Mountain Bike

When I think of some of the most successful professional women mountain bike riders, many of them are riding Trek bikes — Rachel Atherton and her Trek Session, Tracy Mosely’s Trek Remedy, Emily Batty’s Trek Procaliber and Top Fuel, and of course, Casey Brown’s Trek Slash 29.  Trek has been making women’s-specific mountain bikes since 2000. I was still a beginner mountain biker then but as soon as I tried a 13.5″ Trek WSD 8000 hardtail, it was a game changer. Suddenly, on a proper-fitting bike for a woman of my size (all of 5’0″ tall), I had better control and efficiency, quickly advancing my skills. That’s why I’m not surprised Trek continues to be a recognized brand for their women’s mountain bike line.

The Procaliber 9.7 women’s bike makes an excellent choice for cross-country rides and races. The IsoSpeed decoupler, unique to the Procaliber (and some of Trek’s road bikes), makes this hardtail ride more like a softtail, as it allows the seat tube to flex independently of the rest of the frame. Don’t worry, it’s still dropper post compatible. The smaller versions–13.5″ and 15.5″ frame sizes–of the Procailber 9.7 women’s bike are designed around a 27.5″ wheelset, while women choosing the 17.5″ or 18.5″ frames will get 29″ wheels.

Key Specs:

  • Category: XC
  • Travel: 100mm front (80mm for 13.5″)
  • Wheel Size: 27.5″ / 29″
  • Smallest Frame Size: XS (4’10” – 5’5″)
  • Standover: 27.6″ (702mm)
  • Reach: 14.6″ (370mm)
  • Frame Material: Carbon fiber
  • Price: $3,499

Key Components:

  • Fork: RockShox Reba RL
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT/SLX 2×11
  • Brakes: Shimano MT5000
  • Seatpost: Bontrager Pro, OCLV Carbon
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss M1900
  • Saddle: Bontrager Ajna Comp Women’s
# Comments

  • Leah Barber

    Hiya Rowdy_Burns, funny you should ask – I was actually concurrently working on a women’s budget mountain bike list when I was researching these bikes and I planned to include the Norco Charger – so defintely worth a test ride. If she doesn’t mind pushing a little extra weight, I’d try a 27.5+ hardtail like the Trek Roscoe 8 (1×11, 120mm Judy, dropper, and 2.8″ tires) or Diamondback Rely 2 27.5+ (similar build). Happy riding!

  • mongwolf

    Thanks Leah for the nice list. I’m taking notes for my daughters-in-law (or as we prefer to say daughters-in-love). My wife is also starting to make some comments of wanting to start riding. So that might mean three bike purchases in the coming year or so. As such, I may buy used to get them all started. It seems the older models of the Ibis Mojo (HD or otherwise) might be good for gals because of the shorter cockpit. Do you have any other favorites from over the years?

    • Leah Barber

      Hi mongwolf, im so happy to hear about all these women in your life getting into mountain biking! thats awesome! used bikes are a great (smart!) way to start, women’s specific bikes will probably be harder to find resale or on ebay though. ive always been a fan of santa cruz, though i did have to do some minor mods to get the reach right. while i have not ridden all the bikes on this list, ive never ridden a bike that has fit me “off the rack” better than my old trek wsd. hopefully you can help them get to some shops/demo days to try a few on for size, “just looking” at shops is part of the fun right? happy shopping!

  • mongwolf

    Thanks to tips Leah. I knew nothing about the Trek wsd. And I have always seemed to gravitate towards Santa Cruz bikes simply because they use a threaded BB. All the gals are fairly short 5’3 – 5’4″. Yes, hopefully, we can have some fun together shopping and test riding. I may try to make the purchases as gifts for birthdays and Christmas together.

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