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Buyers Guide Budget Womens Mountain Bikes

With countless options for women’s-specific mountain bikes on the market, finding the best value can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are affordable options available for everyone, from beginner to advanced riders. This guide will recommend nine excellent compact geometry and/or women’s-specific mountain bikes, all priced under $2,500 USD. We even managed to include a couple hardtails that cost less than a grand.

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By Leah Barber
 

Trek X-Caliber 7 Womens

$919

Trek X Caliber 7 Womens Mountain Bike Budget Hardtail

photo: Trek

Trek was one of the earliest companies to design women’s specific mountain bikes, paying close attention to women’s geometry and offering sizing to smaller riders with heights 4’10” and up.  The Trek X-Caliber 7 Womens is the lowest-priced women’s mountain bike on our list with an MSRP of $919 USD. This cross-country bike is offered with either 27.5 or 29 inch wheels. The frame utilizes “Alpha Gold” aluminum, and the fork is a RockShox 30 silver TK. With Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes and a Shimano 2×9 drivetrain, the X-Caliber includes affordable, but decent quality parts for an entry-level bike.

photo: Trek

With 100mm of travel, steep, technical descents may feel overwhelming, but riders will fly on the long climbs. The X-Caliber 7 includes internal dropper post routing for a later upgrade. The total bike weight is 28.4 pounds, making the X-Caliber one of the lighter bikes on our list.

This low-priced hardtail comes with Bontrager XR2 tires and Bontrager connection rims. This tire and wheelset is lightweight and not very aggressive, but is well suited for climbing and loose terrain.

Jamis Eden 26+ Sport

$999

Jamis Bikes Eden Plus Womens Mountain Bike Budget

photo: Jamis

Jamis designed the Eden 26+ Sport to provide excellent traction, pairing fat tires with a smaller frame. The geometry of this “trail hardtail” is more aggressive than the X-Caliber above, with a 68-degree head angle. With 120mm of front suspension travel and 26×3 inch WTB Ranger tires on WTB Scraper i40 TCS tubeless rims, riders will have the comfort and traction needed for technical descents on a frame size that is appropriate for a smaller person. The rear triangle features a short, 425mm chainstay with a 12×148 Boost rear hub for responsive handling.

The Eden 26+ Sport comes with a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain, a triple-butted 6061 aluminum frame, an RST Alpha TNL fork, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. The Tektro brakes are known for squeaking, and the overall 31 pound weight of the bike comes in a little higher than most of the hardtails here due to the plus wheel size and heavier tires.

Shave a little weight off by upgrading to the Eden 26+ Expert version which weighs 27.5 pounds.  The $1,699 price tag upgrades to a Rock Shox Recon Silver RL fork, SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano M506 brakes, tubeless tires, and a KS eTen Integra dropper seatpost.

Norco Charger 1 Womens

$1,149

With a very affordable price, Norco’s Charger 1 is a good cross-country bike for a beginner or casual rider. For an expert or an aggressive rider it may not offer adequate handling.

The components and geometry of the Charger 1 Womens and the mainline Charger 1 model are identical (up to size medium frame), the main difference being a slightly more sloping top tube on the women’s bike.  The bike is designed with a Charger 6061 alloy XC frame and a RockShox Judy Gold RL fork with 100mm of travel. This amount of travel may not feel like enough on challenging descents, or very technical trails. The build includes a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain (the first on this list) and SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes. The Charger 1 does not include a dropper post.

For frame sizes XXS through S, the Norco Charger 1 Womens is available with 27.5″ wheels and tires. Sizes S and M are available with 29er wheels and tires. Note, the size S bike can be purchased with either 27.5″ or 29er wheels, which for some riders will come down to personal preference.

The Charger 1 build is completed with WTB MX21 rims and 2.25″-wide WTB Nineline tires. The WTB Nineline tires are known for rolling fast, but not necessarily handling muddy conditions or cornering as well as other tires.

Specialized Women’s Rockhopper Pro

$1,150

photo: specialized.com

The Specialized Women’s Rockhopper Pro is an entry-level, hardtail cross country bike identical in component spec (less the women’s saddle) and geometry with its mainline counterpart, the Specialized Rockhopper Pro. With a Manitou Markhor 29 fork that offers size-specific travel (80/90/100mm) and an A1 SL aluminum frame that supports Specialized women’s-specific geometry, this bike offers a ride that is comfortable for smaller riders.

The Women’s Rockhopper Pro is built with Shimano BR-M365 hydraulic disc brakes. These brakes are inexpensive and help keep the overall price down, but may not be as powerful as the brakes on other bikes on this list. The drivetrain is a Shimano Deore/SLX 2×10. Shimano Deore and SLX drivetrain components are entry-level, but don’t let this scare you away, as Shimano is known for quality.

Included are Stout XC 29er tubeless-ready, 25mm rims and Ground Control Sport 29er tires. The Ground Control tires are light and fast rolling, but may lack desired traction on wet and rocky trails. The Body Geometry Myth Sport Saddle that Specialized has chosen for the Rockhopper Pro is known for comfort and support in all riding positions.

Diamondback Rely 2+

$1,300

Diamondback Rely 2 Plus Womens Mountain Bike Budget

The Diamondback Rely 2+ is an affordable option for those who want a little more bike but are not ready to pay full-suspension prices.  The plus-size wheels are confidence-inspiring, allowing riders to take on more technical trails and bomb down descents. The Rely 2+ has many higher-end components like SRAM Level T hydraulic disc brakes and a RockShox Judy Gold RL fork with 120mm of travel. Complete with a lightweight 6061 aluminum frame with extra standover room for maneuverability, a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, and a DB women’s performance saddle, this hardtail trail bike has a lot to offer.

Rounding out the build on the Rely 2+ are Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5″ tires and Diamondback Blanchard 38R tubeless-ready rims. The total weight of the bike is 29lbs. 5 oz. With an affordable price you would expect from Diamondback, this is a great option for a quality bike on a budget. Keep in mind, Diamondbacks are sold online and in some big box stores, but are not commonly found in bike shops.

The Rely 2+ is also notable for being the least expensive bike on this list to include a dropper seatpost: the JD 7075 Alloy Internal Dropper, with a 1x lever.

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Niner Air 9 1-Star

$1,700

The Niner Air 9 hardtail features a lightweight, hydro-formed aluminum frame. Niner alloy wheels and Maxxis Ardent F60 SC tires come standard, and the Air 9 can run either 29er or 27.5+ wheels and tires. The frame features internal dropper post routing, though sadly the 1-star build does not come with a dropper seatpost.

photo: ninerbikes.com

With SRAM level T hydraulic disc brakes, a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, and a RockShox Judy Gold fork with 120mm travel, this is a solid bike for the price.  However, if you want to go tubeless, be aware that the Air 1 9-Star does not come set up that way.

Norco Fluid FS1 Womens

$2,099

Norco Fluid FS1 Womens Mountain Bike

Norco specs and sizes the women’s version of the Fluid FS1 the same as the popular mainline model (up to size medium), the only difference is that the Fluid FS1 has a women’s-specific saddle, the WTB Deva.  This full suspension trail bike has an aluminum frame with 130mm of rear travel and a boost-spaced RockShox RL Silver Solo fork with 120mm of travel up front. The Fluid FS 1 comes with a Shimano SLX M7000 1×11 drivetrain and Shimano Alivio M-365 hydraulic disc brakes. The SLX drivetrain comes in slightly heavier than the XT, but the SLX helps keep the price tag low, and is still a quality drivetrain.

The Fluid FS1 includes a JD TransX dropper post. Rounding out the build are WTB 129 32H TRS tubeless-ready rims and Maxxis Forekaster 2.35″ folding tires. The Maxxis Forekasters are aggressive tires that handle well in loose terrain or wet conditions.

The 27.5+ Norco Fluid FS1+

Get a plus version of the Norco Fluid FS1, dubbed the FS1+, with 2.8″ wide Forekasters for a hundred bucks more, $2,199 USD.

Liv Embolden 1

$2,145

photo: LIV

Liv specializes in women’s cycling. Their bikes are built with women’s-specific geometry and are designed to fit all sizes of women. The Embolden 1 is one of the company’s lower-priced full suspension trail bikes, but is still specced with solid parts.

photo: LIV

The build begins with a lightweight and durable ALUXX-Grade aluminum frame and Flexpoint suspension offering 120mm of rear travel. Flexpoint suspension is lightweight and utilizes a single pivot, which increases control. The fork is a 120mm Fox 34 rhythm with a Boost-spaced thru-axle. Add to that Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes and a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain. The build is completed with the aggressive tread of Maxxis Ardent 27.5″ tubeless tires, Giant xc-1 rims, and a dropper seatpost. The Embolden 1 is a  bike that will handle well, while still carrying a reasonable price tag.

Canyon Spectral WMN AL 6.0

$2,399

Canyon is a direct-to-consumer mountain bike brand that is known for providing great mountain bike component specs at reasonable prices, and the company only started selling their bikes in the USA late last year. Well, the news gets even better, as Canyon just introduced a women’s version of the popular Spectral trail bike dubbed the Spectral WMN. The company is offering three builds at the moment, and the aluminum Spectral WMN AL 6.0 just so happens to fall within our $2,500 budget.

While the Spectral WMN AL is the most expensive bike on this list, it’s also the most aggressive, offering 140mm of travel front and rear and a 65.9° head tube angle.  In addition to lowering the standover height of the original Spectral to accommodate shorter riders, Canyon says “the Spectral WMN AL has kinematics that have been developed specifically for women and lighter riders.”

Remember what we said about Canyon providing a great component spec? Not only is the Spectral WMN AL 6.0 the only bike on this budget list with a 12-speed, SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain, it’s also the only bike with SRAM Guide R brakes and the KS Lev SI dropper post. All those choice components keep the weight on this budget aluminum bike below 30lbs. in the size medium frame.  Offered in sizes XS, S, and M.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the available options for low-priced, women’s mountain bikes. When making your choice, consider what type of riding you will be doing;. not everyone needs full suspension or top-of-the-line components. A great women’s mountain bike should be comfortable and reliable for navigating exciting new terrain.

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# Comments

  • vapidoscar562

    We have a 2017 Rely Trail in our stable. It is a nice bike. It struck a nice balance of budget friendly and quality. For 2018, they changed the model line up. The equivalent bike (Rely 1) got dumbed down a bit to a cheaper fork (still air), mechanical disk brakes and the rear axle is 9mm QR. But for $750 would be an affordable way to get started in the sport.

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