The original bicycle was invented as early as 1817 when a German Baron invented the first two-wheeled, steerable contraption. It wasn’t until 1868, 51 years later, that cycling first took off as a sport, with a 1,200-meter race starting at the entrance of Saint-Cloud Park. Since then, cycling has shifted more and more into the mainstream lifestyle, now occupying a significant role in transportation, leisure, and competition sports.
The first woman to break into the cycling sport was Helene Dutrieu who in 1893 broke the women’s Hour record, which is the longest distance cycled in an hour. While historically, society’s acceptance of women using such “undignified” contraptions has been thin, today women’s sports and fitness is considered part of the fabric of everyday life.
However, while the market certainly has much to offer when it comes to bicycles, the sheer variety and type of bikes available can be very overwhelming. How do I know if I want a mountain bike? Should I get a bike for leisure or commute? All these questions take time to answer, and these are exactly the ones we will tackle in this article, so that your decision making process will be quick and informed.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick on Amazon here.
What Should I Look For When Buying Bikes for Women?
What you should look for really depends on what type of functionality you want from your bike. When you’re considering buying a bike, you need to think about how tall you are, whether you want an upright riding position or forward-leaning position, and whether you want comfy seating, as well as any additional considerations, like even something as small as if you want a kick-stand for comfortably storing your bike. Additionally, you have to decide what you want to use your bike for – if it’s for exercise, racing, commuting, or leisure. All these questions fall into the category of function, but there are many criteria important to consider when buying a bicycle, among them cost, function, appearance, warranty, and ratings.
#1. Cost: This is directly tied to the purpose of your bicycle. Bicycles range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands, and these range from simple, general use bikes to bicycles intended for races and other intensive competitions. While it would be nice to ignore the dollar signs and go for what makes your heart sing, the ideal is to find that happy medium between not too expensive and buying what we truly want.
#2. Function: Each buyer will need something different based on their goals. If you need a general use, minimal wear bike, your requirements will be very different from the woman who wants to travel around the world armed only with a bicycle and pure gumption.
#3. Appearance: This manifests differently for the competition rider than it does for the one who wants a bike for riding around the neighborhood, however, for both riders, a certain style is nice to have when buying a quality product.
#4. Warranty: It’s important to know that a company stands behind its product, aiding and providing support for its clients. The warranty is how a company shows its commitment to its product and gives that extra assurance of you getting the best deal possible.
#5. Ratings: A final category for judging different levels of quality, the experiences of our fellow consumers help to indicate to us if the product is good or bad. Instead of basing our decisions purely on what the companies tell us, the reviews and ratings tell us about the product entirely from the customer’s perspective.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Bikes for Women
I researched a bunch of different main cycling models and then compared them based on all the criteria listed above. I also looked into the currently raging debate on the efficacy of bicycles specifically geared towards a woman’s physique, as opposed to unisex bikes matched to each person’s specific body measurements and goals, independent of sex.
Based on my findings, I’ve compiled a list of both women-specific bicycles and unisex ones, depending on the purpose of the ride and the specifications of the bike. Therefore, this list should be read not from best to worst, but as five independently rated bikes, each included for a specific virtue that it exhibits.
#1: Tommaso Sorrento Shimano Tourney (Best Value – All-Purpose)
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The Tommaso Sorrento Shimano Tourney is an all-purpose bicycle, made to withstand some casual gravel and dirt exposure, but its most natural habitat is the city streets and roads of the urban areas. Matte black with some smooth grey accents, the Tommaso is a unisex bicycle made with a lightweight aluminum frame weighing in at 25.3 lbs. The Tommaso is available in a range of sizes from XS (5’1″ – 5’3″) to XL (6’2 – 6’5″). While weight is cut down through the structural makeup of the rest of the bike, the fork is SST steel for maximum durability and strength, and the front handlebars are dropped flat forward for enhanced aerodynamics. On this bicycle, everything is kept compact and smooth for maximum comfort and speed. The Tommaso Sorrento also comes with a pre-drilled frame, making it easy to attach racks and fenders based on each rider’s individual preference.
The Tommaso company takes great pride in its products, which is why it doesn’t sell through any retail stores. Instead, each bike comes directly from the factory to the store, which means there are no price hikes through dealing with the middle man. Each is a genuine product, signifying that all pieces of the bike are company-made and not piecemealed together from other various companies. The entire company is employee-owned and operated, so each worker who comes in contact with your bike is fully invested in the product and receives the full benefits of his or her labor.
Finally, the customer service branch operates from within the United States, making contacting the company with any questions or concerns a pain-free process. With their industry-leading lifetime frame and fork warranty, any Tommaso customer can purchase with full faith in receiving his or her money’s worth.
While the Tommaso Sorrento Shimano Tourney is not the cheapest bicycle, if you’re looking for a bike for general wear and tear, this is the perfect bike for you. Ideal for varying terrain, the Tommaso Sorrento has many different gear settings, so that speed and difficulty are optimized both to you and to your surroundings. One caveat to be aware of is that the company does insist on a professional assembling the bike as one of the conditions for receiving the full warranty, so as to be certain that no unnecessary damages occur with the bicycle independent of manufacture or wear and tear.
The Tommaso Sorrento was highly rated by consumers, with comments on the lightness of the bicycle, the aesthetic matte finish, smooth gear transitions, and sharp brakes. One customer who bought it for convenient commuting said that people were constantly mistaking the bike as more expensive than it was and that it highly impressed her friends.
Although self-assembly does void the warranty, one customer said that he did the self-assembly and it was very easy, resulting in no complications. The only listed downside was that the seat is hard and that there is no kickstand. Depending on what kind of seat you like, and how you store your bike, you may decide to either ignore or make small adjustments, however, these do not change the great performance or overall quality of the bicycle.
If you are searching for a great women’s bicycle, this unisex option available in many different sizes for different body types is a great bicycle for you.
#2: Domane AL 2 (Best Gateway Bike)
Trek company is a respected name in the biking community. Since their establishment in a Wisconsin barn in 1976, the company has morphed into the cutting edge, aerodynamic bar-raiser it is today. The Domane AL 2 is not for just entry-level riders, but this bike acts as a great gateway for anyone thinking of getting into serious or more competitive biking. Truly a high quality buy, the Domane focuses on improving the physical positioning for competitive posture, distinguishing it from its other high-quality but differently oriented rivals.
The Domane AL 2 has the sportier, slimmer look of the ideal road bike and is available in Gloss Mulsanne Blue or Carbon Smoke. The Domane AL 2 has drop-bar handlebars, which is a significant contributing factor as to why it’s better for anyone considering getting into more intense, speed-related biking. Drop bar handles are not for everyone. For instance, flat tops are recommended over drop bar handles for commuters or anyone hoping for a comfortable ride. However, for anyone intending on going above 15 mph on their bike or on doing long distance riding, the drop bar has a few distinct advantages. In addition to having a thinner, more aerodynamic frame, the drop bar distributes the rider’s weight more forward on the bike, allowing her to push off from the handlebars for the inclines. It also gives distance riders at least three different positions for their hands, which makes a difference in alleviating pain over an extended period. In headwind and at high speeds, the drop bar is much more aerodynamic than the flat top, so the rider can expend less energy going at the same speed over time or go faster.
Paired with the drop bar advantage, the Domane AL 2 is made of a lightweight aluminum frame and has a high-grade carbon fork, the perfect balance of weight versus durability. As all the unisex bikes do, the Domane AL 2 comes in a wide range of sizes, so that riders can buy the bike that is specifically geared towards their height and proportions. The Domane offers 16 shifter speeds located with the brake levers, as well as mounts for fenders.
Definitely on the pricier side, the Domane AL 2 is cheaper than any professional racer and is a slightly more affordable way to begin moving into the world of serious female cycling. Trek offers a lifetime warranty, guaranteeing their customers high performance and attentive customer service.
The Trek Domane AL 2 was highly rated by consumers, with many saying they bought it and used it for years before upgrading to a faster more intense bike, but that the bike did not disappoint and was everything they could have wanted for a high-quality introduction into the cycling sport. If that’s you – if you want to get into the competitively exhilarating biking world, this is just the bike for you.
#3: SIRDAR (Best Mountain Bike)
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The SIRDAR really performs when it comes to off-roading and mountain trails and is the perfect bike for the woman wanting to go for a nice ride with friends or family that’s a little off the beaten path.
The bike shares a similar color scheme with the Tommaso Sorrento, decked out in black with grey accents, and some additional white lettering on the side proudly declaring the brand. The design too, is a bit edgier, making this bike look good in either the more urban areas or the open terrain.
Built with an aluminum frame and reinforced with high carbon steel for maximum durability, the SIRDAR is a full suspension mountain bike, meaning that it absorbs much more of the shocks and bumps than a mountain bike without full suspension. An unavoidable side-effect of the full suspension is that the bicycle is made slightly heavier, and the pedaling is slightly less efficient. However, these setbacks are more than made up for by the advantages provided by the full suspension, as the suspension spares you from having to waste energy on not being thrown from your bike every time you encounter a bump. Ultimately, unless you’re looking to participate in mountain range races, it is a definite plus to have full suspension, and even in racing instances, whether it is preferable to have it or go without is an unresolved debate.
The SIRDAR is another unisex model and so is designed to accommodate many different body types, as well as coming with two seat options for individualized comfort. The bike ships to home mostly assembled, only requiring you to attach the handlebars, wheels, pedals, and seat, a process that takes under 30 minutes from beginning to end.
This bike is specifically designed to withstand rougher outdoorsy conditions, therefore its handlebars, chains, and carbon steel parts are all built to face rain and harsh trail elements. With smooth gear shifts, anyone looking for a classically good ride off-road will find it in this bicycle.
Another upside to this bike is how comparably affordable it is to the other models on the market. While I’m sure for the expert racers out there more expensive (or even custom bikes) are of greater interest and priority, for the casual to serious rider this mountain bike is a steal in terms of quality for the price point.
With an offered one-year service warranty, customers with questions or concerns have full access to all the help and expertise that SIRDAR can offer. Customers greatly enjoyed this mountain bike, saying that it was an overall good setup and easy to assemble, as long as you took the time to watch the instructional assembly video. Others commented that the bike had excellent shock absorption which could be adjusted for flat or hilly terrain. Finally, one customer commented that he had experienced difficulty with assembly, had complained, and had received an answer the next day from the company either offering to take the bike back and send a new one, or reimburse him for repairs, ultimately greatly impressing him with their commitment to producing a great product.
While racers might want to look elsewhere, any of my fellow women who just want a good bike they can bang around on the backroads with, will finish their search with this bike.
#4: Around the Block (Best Low Cost Bike)
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So far we’ve covered the more extreme riders among us, who want serious bikes for hard use, either mountain or road oriented. Sixthreezero’s Around the Block is a one size, women’s bike, for those who want short, more casual bike use. While others want a bike for more extreme sports, the Around the Block is perfect for women who want a relaxed ride around the neighborhood or park with family and friends.
Available in a variety of colors, among them teal, coral, and cream, the Around the Block is made for durability and not for speed, and therefore the frame material is steel. While this increases the weight of the bike, it also means that it is less likely to fold due to repeated wear and tear.
The bike frame itself is designed with comfort in mind and, with the lowered top tube and upright position handlebars, is perfectly suited for leisure riding. This posture puts much less strain on your body, at the expense of having more power to exert towards forward momentum. Additionally, the low top tube makes mounting and dismounting more of a natural movement and less of an awkward display of flexibility.
Because this bike is designed with female proportions in mind, the comfort curve handlebars are within easy reach, the high density supported foam seat is comfortable and doesn’t make you sore in unpleasant places, the large waffle tires provide cushioning and minimal jolting, and the whole bicycle can accommodate women ranging from 5 to 6 feet in height.
Other technical aspects of the Around the Block bike include that it is single speed, meaning no shifting gears, limiting your biking to leisure and efficient commuting, not including anything resembling high-intensity riding. While this specific link (above) is for an Around the Block single speed, other Around the Blocks are available with different speed options for the more adventurous sorts.
The Around the Block uses backpedal braking, which hooks up directly to the back wheel, and requires the rider to pedal in a backward direction to engage the brake. Finally, this bike understands its clientele, coming with a rear rack that allows for baskets or some other carrying system to be attached. This is ideal for cruising over to a community member’s house to drop something off or to bring a night bag.
The Around the Block is by far the cheapest of all the bicycles listed here and is a nice way for any woman to get out and about, increasing her physical activity without straining too much beyond her comfort zone. If purchased directly through the company, the bike comes with a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service.
One buyer specifically went out of his way to say that the customer service was prompt, professional, and quick to respond with solutions. Other customers said that this bike was easy to assemble, as well as being of outstanding quality and especially comfortable to sit on!
With added conveniences like being able to facetime a team member for help assembling the bicycle, there really is no downside to this purchase. Anyone looking for a convenient, comfortable, casual riding experience that is incredibly affordable, should look no further than the Around the Block from sixthreezero.
#5: Schwinn Discover (Best Hybrid Bike)
The Schwinn Discover is a hybrid bicycle comparable in price to Trek’s Domane and reflects this in quality and design. With a 16 inch aluminum alloy frame, front suspension, and nice 28 inch rims, the Discover is the type of bike designed to tackle either city or rugged areas, so that no ride is denied you. The Schwinn Discover is available in either black or white and utilizes rim brakes technology, to quickly and effectively control your ride with good stopping power. The Schwinn has 21 gear speeds and is one of the bikes on the market, as well as the best bike on this list, most suitable for hybrid riding — as the Schwinn can either be ridden on city roads or on the backcountry trails.
Schwinn Discover is another unisex model, which means that the bike is suitable for either men or women, although it does differ slightly in deference to the sexes. The black model has the standard high top bar in the step-over frame design, while the white model has a dropped top bar in the step-through frame, so that men and women can choose the set-up that feels most comfortable for them. Additionally, the slightly raised handlebars mean that all riders can feel comfortable and put less strain on their joints by riding in a more upright position — no need to strain your back during morning commutes.
The Schwinn brand cares about its consumers, as demonstrated by the inclusion of fenders, adjustable seating, and a rear rack for attaching any bags or purchases, showing that this is a bike meant to accommodate varied needs. The padded seat provides comfort, and the fenders protect you and your belongings from getting dirty due to kicked up dirt, so urban commutes are safe, as are the biking trails.
The Schwinn company provides a 5 year warranty on the frame, 1 year for parts, and requires that missing pieces be reported within 30 days upon arrival in order to be covered by the company’s customer service team. The Schwinn Discover ratings are very satisfied, with consumers saying that the price and front suspension are very good, the frame solid, and the gear shifts allowing for a comfortable, fine-tuned riding experience. Riding aficionados suggest replacing the included tires with ones that have more spokes, as well as switching out the rims for sturdier hardware, to bring them up to the level of the rest of the bike, however, these consumers still recommend this bike due to its quality and price point. For anyone looking for a hybrid bike good for city or back roads, this is the perfect bike for you.
It’s always tempting to look for a cheaper option. God knows when I go shopping I come back with the flimsiest, cheapest toilet paper known to man. However, when making a big purchase like a bicycle it’s not always the best idea to look for the cheaper option, because often you find that cheap options are made cheaply with very low quality.
The clear draw to going for the cheaper option is that you spend less money, however, there is always the danger that you’ll spend money on a crap product that you can’t use. Then, not only have you spend money, but you still need a bike, so you might end up having to buy the more expensive one in addition to the unusable one, making the whole purchase more expensive than it was from the get-go.
When it comes to bikes, they sell for as much as $10,000. So contextually, anything beneath $1,000 is already a semi-budgeted buy, which is how I’ve geared this article – not for the professionals, but the average folks going about their day and needing a bike. Budgeting down further gets us into a bit of dangerous territory. However, for my determined thrifters, I’ve included this section for the more affordable, popular options available at Amazon.
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The Huffy is a pedestrian bike. Unlike the hybrid bikes that can handle either smooth or rocky terrain, the Huffy is strictly suited for suburban areas, with modern fixings like roads and pavement. Black, made of steel, and with coaster brakes, as well as a well-padded seat, the Huffy is made for slow leisurely riding, maybe in a scenic neighborhood town.
With convenience as its main objective, it’s no wonder that the Huffy has dual-density grips and a beverage holder, basket, and phone case on the upright riding position handlebars, so that you can take all the essentials with you wherever you go. This item requires assembly upon arrival and comes with an assembly instructional video, so that you as the customer won’t have too much room for error.
Also important to note, the Huffy only ships to the continental US, so expatriates or overseas friends, I’m sorry to disappoint.
Reviews on this bike were mixed. Some seemed to think it was just right, while others complained that the materials were cheap and that it was a hit or miss with ordering. Everyone agreed that customer service was very good.
While anyone who wants a hardier bike will want to get one of the above options, someone watching spending who would be satisfied with a more understated, low-key option can consider the Huffy when making her purchase.
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The Kent Bayside Women’s Cruiser is a steel frame, 7-speed bicycle with rose gold finish -clearly a bike meant to be ridden around the scenic suburban parks or ideally by the ocean. With its front and rear linear-pull handbrakes, this bike has more backup safety than a cruiser braking system like the Huffy, which while simple to operate, takes a moment for the backpedaling to activate the bike’s braking system.
With its lowered top bar, this bike is easy for mounting and dismounting, making it appropriate for those who want to wear a skirt. With the fenders included for splash-back protection and a side pocket for your phone, this setup is another convenient, around-the-neighborhood model for the casual explorer/commuter.
While this product had some staunch fans, some customers experienced issues with receiving already used merchandise, so shoppers should be prepared to be in contact with customer service through the course of this purchase. However, if you’re a risk-taker, this could be a great buy, and plenty of people were pleased.
If you’re interested in buying a bike that provides a stylish, casual ride, the Kent Bayside Women’s Cruiser Bike could be the perfect one for you.
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Last, but not least, the Roadmaster is available in different colors on the Amazon sellers page and is a standard, hybrid bike with linear-pull brakes and front suspension for a smooth ride. The steel frame and gear shifts ensure complete control over your ride and the exertion, while the tires have lots of texture and grip for security driving on gravel or wet roads.
The bike itself comes partially assembled, and there are many tutorial videos available online helping explain bike assembly, so you can be out and riding as quickly as possible. While not as sturdy and reliable as the more expensive bicycles available, for the woman who wants an entry level, quick, comfortable ride, this is just the bike for you.
Is a Women’s Bike Right for You?
This is actually a rather difficult question to answer. It goes beyond what you want your bike for and tackles a rather controversial issue of determining the average statistical anatomical differences between men and women. So I’ll tackle the less controversial questions first, and then we’ll get into the meat of the issue.
A classic woman’s bike has a cushier seat, a shorter top tube, longer head tube, and narrower handlebars. Also, depending on the purpose of the bicycle (mountain bike, road bike, hybrid, etc.), the top tube can be dropped lower down, to accommodate for a more graceful mount and dismount. If you’re looking for a comfier, more luxurious ride, then a women’s bike is the ideal option for you. Any casual commuters or riders should opt for a less expensive, generally aesthetically prettier, and more comfortable bike, which completely describes the classic women’s bicycle. The higher handlebars mean your back is not strained, your joints are more comfortable, and your hips are under less pressure. The shorter top tube means your body is not uncomfortably stretched out.
Now, for the more serious riders, deciding where you stand on the women’s bikes versus unisex bike issue, seems to be a matter of opinion. The essential argument behind having a bicycle line specifically geared to women is that proportionally, women and men are different. More specifically, a woman’s center of gravity is lower, her legs are longer proportionally to her body, and her upper body tends to be narrower. Leading bike companies like Trek and Specialize jumped on the women’s bicycle train in the early 2000s, then began fazing them out in favor of the unisex bikes in the last 10 years, specifically in the competitive biking areas. On the flipside, GIANT has fully embraced this style and started the Liv line, completely dedicated to building women-specific competitive bicycles.
If anyone here has heard of the Dreyfuss Human Scale, then kudos. For the rest of you, don’t worry, neither had I. The Dreyfuss Human Scale was around as early as the 1960s and was developed through the years as a reference point for industries and companies to understand how both male and female bodies interact with the world around them. Anything from tractors to a desk is going to take into account how male and female bodies fit in and interact with their environment. The Dreyfuss Human Scale findings indicate that there are no statistically significant proportional differences between men and women, instead indicating that as long as the height is the same, the rest of the body is proportioned very similarly between the sexes. The US Military found similar results from a survey of over 4,000 participants.
Ultimately, everyone’s body is different, and it comes down to what you’re looking for. Female biking athletes fall on both sides of this issue. Some swearing by the best bikes for women, and some preferring unisex options. At the end of the day, it’s most important that the bike feels right for you. If you’re committed to speed and competition, consult an expert who can guide you towards the bike that is best suited for your body type.
Pros and Cons
Mountain Bike: A mountain bike is thicker than a road bike, with wider, heavier tires, and higher handlebars. The pro is that it’s great for trails and off-roading, as the tires give much more traction, keeping you from slipping backward. This does mean that the bike is slower and not as aerodynamic as the slimmer, lighter road bike.
Road Bike: Road bikes have slimmer, thinner tires, lower handlebars, and a higher seat, with a longer top tube. This makes the ride faster, aiding those riders that are shooting towards speed and paved roads. These bikes cannot manage the rougher conditions of non-urban areas like mountain trails.
Hybrid Bikes: Hybrid bikes aim towards managing both the road and mountain trails. The upside is that your bike can be more versatile, allowing you to take it to more varied terrain. The downside is that competition in either field will be compromised by the hybrid bike. Either the bike will be too flimsy for competitive mountain trails, or it will be too heavy to manage the high speeds of road racing.
Drop Bar: The drop bar is great for road racers. It shifts the body further forward so that the rider has more upward climb strength. It provides three different hand positions, is generally slightly thinner, more narrow, and conducive to fast riding and getting through narrow spaces. Additionally, the alternate handle positions allow the rider to switch-off hand positions, for those who dedicate full days to riding, as this puts serious strain on the hand muscles over time. The main downside is that it is less comfortable (so inadvisable for commuters) and less stable (so less experienced riders shouldn’t bother). Finally, its aerodynamic advantages are only applied when the rider is going over 15 mph, so unless that’s the case, slower riders experience no additional benefits by having drop bars.
Flat Bar: A flat bar is more comfortable than the drop bar. It is more suited for commuters, because it provides more stability, and doesn’t place unnecessary strain on a non-athlete.
Raised Bar: This is the most comfortable of all the handlebar options, however, this is the least conducive to speed. Usually paired with comfortable seating, raised handlebars promote an upward sitting posture, which is the least physically uncomfortable, and are only suitable for leisure riding.
Aluminum Frame: Lighter, faster, and more conducive to speed. Can fold from wear over time.
Steel Frame: Sturdier for sure. However, the steel frame is heavier and slower.
Verdict: Your Best Bikes for Women
While the bike world is overwhelming, the ideal purchase is based on what you need and not what every salesman will tell you, especially when that tends to be whatever is most expensive in the store. If you’re looking for a hybrid bike, in other words, a bike that can do it all, go with the Tommaso Sorrento Shimano Tourney, as the all-around best value bike for varied and general use.
If you’re interested in high-quality mountain bikes, then your best buy is the SIRDAR, a nice bike to bang around in and enjoy the beautiful nature trails.
Finally, if you’re just looking for a pretty bike to make loops with your friends and chat, or even to just get from point A to point B with some low key exercise and get the blood pumping, your ideal bike is the Around the Block female optimized high bar bike, designed for maximum comfort and enjoyment.
While no bike will satisfy everyone, a good rule of thumb is to just be honest with yourself about what exactly you want the bike for and how you’re most likely to use it. Don’t get swept up in dollar signs and gadgetry. If you are ready for competition invest in yourself, and if you want a nice casual ride then don’t buy a racing bike when you just want to chill.
I hope this article has helped you with your decision. As always, good luck and good day.