Best Women’s Mountain Bikes of 2023
Women’s mountain bikes have been around since 1999 when Juli Furtado designed the first-ever women’s specific mountain bike under the umbrella of the Santa Cruz brand.
Female mountain bikers had been riding long before that, however, with Furtado herself being the most successful XC racer in history until her early retirement. Since the launch of the Juliana brand, other manufacturers have taken note and have slowly come around to the idea of producing women’s mountain bikes.
In this article, we’ll talk through what the differences are in women’s mountain bike frames compared to men’s, and some of the best ones you can get started on in the different disciplines and categories. That way you can decide whether you need a female-specific mountain bike or not.
If there’s a bike you’d like to see that you think we’ve missed, drop us a comment below!
Best Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Hardtails are a great way to get into mountain biking without the maintenance requirements of a full-suspension setup.
They have front suspension forks usually up to around 120mm of travel, and rigid rear triangles. They are fantastic for learning tricks and getting the basics of your riding down before you progress to a heavier and more hardcore full-suspension bike.
Have a look at some of the best women’s hardtail mountain bikes we’ve listed below.
Cannondale Trail 5 Women’s
Look no further when you are looking for one of the best-value women’s mountain bikes.
The Cannondale Trail 5 Women’s is an ideal choice for mixed-terrain commuting, and as a fitness tool. It is ready to hit the trails with its newly upgraded parts from the drivetrain department. We usually don’t get too much into details when it comes to the look of the bike, but we can’t overlook its pure beauty. The light silver & pink just go so well with the matte black drivetrain & wheels.
If you are new to mountain biking, or Cannondale, we’d recommend taking a closer look at the whole Trail Series. There’s literally nothing to add or remove about the bike at this price range.
- Aluminum frame
- Frame Size Dependent Geometry – XS, S – 27.5″ / M – 29″
- 1×10 speed microSHIFT Advent X derailleur
- Tektro M275 Hydro disc brakes
- 100mm SR Suntour XCM fork
- Weight: 31.2lbs
The GOOD – 1x front chainring, hydro brakes, dropper seat post compatible.
The BAD – Relatively heavy and basic coil fork.
The SUM – Cannondale provides awesome value MTBs and this is a great MTB for beginners and intermediate riders alike.
Frame Size Recommendations
XS – 4’6″ / S 5’1″ – 5’4″ / M 5’4″ – 5’8″
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0
Customer rating: 4.5 / 5 out of 36+ reviews
The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0 is a hardtail women’s trail bike.
This bike comes with grippy 2.1″ tires, nimble 26″ wheels, and powerful hydraulic disc brakes. All of these components combine for confident off-road riding for an entry-level hardtail.
With 100mm of travel, this bike is ideal for zipping around the bike park or a leisurely trail ride with family and friends.
- Frame – 6061 Aluminum
- Fork – 100mm, SR Suntour
- Tires – Kenda Kadre, 26 x 2.1
- Drivetrain – 21-speed Shimano Tourney
- Weight – 31 lbs
- Co-op Cycles DRT series review
Frame Size Available
XXS – 4’9″ – 5’0″
Marin Palisades Trail 2
The Riff Deore 10 is an ideal women’s first mountain bike. 2x front chainring drivetrain, 2.25″ wide tires, and 27.5-inch wheels coupled with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are a truly great bang for the buck. More known for their high-end mountain, Marin is a well-known brand that specializes in mountain biking and has managed to successfully produce different kinds of mountain bikes for demanding riders.
Is there’s anything to add or remove from the bike? Probably not.
We are surprised to see mountain bikes at this price range which offer a nice set of components that were unseen just five years ago. For $1,019 (full price), you’ll get a bike that’s got everything to get on the trails without the worry of swapping something out after the first 500 miles. Some bikes at this price range offer a fork lockout on the handlebars, but we wouldn’t consider this as a turn-off. After all, it’s got a RockShox Judy Silver fork, and a Shimano Altus 2×9 drivetrain which is reasonable at this price range, and hey – the nice look of this bike is something we can’t underestimate as well.
- Series 2 6061 Aluminum
- RockShox Judy Silver TK, 100mm Travel
- Shimano Altus 2×9 drivetrain
- Tektro M275 Hydraulic Disc
- 27.5×2.25″ tires
The Good — RockShox fork, nice design, 27.5″ wheels, hydraulic brakes.
The Bad — Couldn’t think of any at this price range, except maybe the drivetrain.
The SUM — Great looks, trusted MTB brand, nice set-up. Ideal bike for intermediate riders.
Frame sizes from S to L
Liv Lurra 2
A trail-ready hardtail with aggressive geometry
The Lurra 2 is a women’s trail mountain bike by Giant’s female-specific brand Liv.
The brand is a sponsor of a world-class team and thus knows exactly how to produce a bike suitable for females, whether they are racers or leisure riders. Although built for mountain biking, it’s perfectly capable as a bikepacking rig or commuter bike, as it has plenty of mounting points for luggage and bottles.
With a 130mm fork and a lightweight aluminum frame, this is a versatile female-oriented bike that is a perfect choice for intermediate-level riders and beginners alike.
- Frame – ALUXX SL aluminum
- Fork – 130mm, Giant Crest 34
- Maxxis Ardent Race 27.5″ x 2.6″ or Maxxis Minion DHF and Aggressor 29″ x 2.5″
- Shimano Deore M4100 10-speed
- Saddle – Liv Sylvia
Frames from XS to S fit riders
4’11” to 5’11”
Marin Wildcat Trail 1
A hardtail designed for the female trail enthusiast
Another fantastic example of a women’s hardtail mountain bike is the Marin Wildcat Trail 1.
This is a great entry-level trail bike for beginner riders who have high aspirations or simply want to explore all kinds of trails and unpaved roads. Mechanical brakes and 100mm of travel make this an extremely capable bike on the rough stuff while keeping it comfortable and accessible.
With 27.5″ wheels, this bike is agile, handles well, and makes a perfect bike to ride on the trails or with family.
- Frame – 6061 aluminum alloy
- Fork – 100mm, SR Suntour
- 3×7-speed Shimano Tourney
- Power CX7 mechanical disc brakes
Frame sizes – XS to L
4’8″ to 5’9″
Orbea Alma H10
Orbea is a premium Spanish bike brand, and the Alma H10 is their solution to cheap hardtail mountain biking. This bike has solid, entry-level components from manufacturers like Shimano, SRAM, Maxxis, and Suntour.
A 100mm travel Suntour fork is heavy but will take the sting out of bumps on light trails. SRAM’s NX Eagle drivetrain is plenty durable, and the two-piston Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes ensure you can stop quickly.
Consider the Alma H10 if you’re in the market for an affordable hardtail to develop your mountain biking skills.
- SR Suntour Raidon 32 100mm travel
- Wheels: 29″
- Shimano MT201 hydraulic discs
- SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed
- Maxxis Ikon 2.2″ tires
Frames S to XL
Best Women’s Full-Suspension Bikes
Full-suspension bikes are extremely versatile and can range from XC bikes to hard-wearing downhill bikes.
There’s definitely something for everyone with a full-suspension bike and thanks to brands such as Juliana there are more and more women’s bikes available in these categories. They may not all have obvious differences in their geometry, but with a women’s specific bike you’ll get a finishing kit like a saddle or handlebars that are more tailored to the female body.
Have a look at some of the best full-suspension women’s mountain bikes we’ve picked out.
Juliana Roubion C S
An enduro and all-mountain carbon-framed beast
First on the list of our best full-suspension MTBs is the Juliana Roubion C S.
With 160mm of front and 150mm of rear travel, this carbon bike is an all-mountain and enduro beast. The mixed wheels eat up obstacles and technical trails by balancing agility and rollover. Using Santa Cruz‘s patented VPP suspension system it’s easy to tune the bike to your needs.
The geometry is adaptable and can be changed using the flip-switch to make the headtube slacker and drop the bottom bracket height for extra stability. Overall, it’s a fantastic women’s specific full-suspension bike that will take you from the bike park to winning races.
- Frame – Carbon C
- Fork – Fox 36 Float Performance
- Rear Shock – RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
- Brakes – SRAM Code R
- Dropper Seat Post – RockShox Reverb Stealth
- 29 x 2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHF / 27.5″ x 2.4″ DHR II
- 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle
Frame sizes from XS to M
Cannondale Habit 4
A modern trail MTB that can run 27.5 or 29″ wheels
The Cannondale Habit 4 is a do-it-all trail bike that has plenty to offer new and intermediate riders. This women’s mountain bike has progressive geometry, a Proportional Response design, and an Ai Offset drivetrain, three of Cannondale’s innovations.
This bike is extremely capable, easily handling chunky singletrack and gnarly downhills. The Habit 4 has an aluminum frame and a 140mm fork and 130mm rear shock combination to ensure stability and control on varied terrain.
- Frame – Aluminum
- RockShox Recon RL 140mm fork
- RockShox Deluxe Select 130mm shock
- Shimano Deore 12-speed
- Maxxis Rekon 2.4″ EXO, tubeless ready
Co-op Cycles DRT 3.3
The Co-op Cycles DRT 3.3 is a progressive-size trail bike and a solid choice from the reliable REI brand.
Co-op Cycles uses different size wheels, different fork travel (120-130mm), and proportional chainstays to ensure the same performance for each rider.
They chose wide 2.4″ Maxxis High Roller tires to deliver plenty of traction and stability on loose terrain. In addition, an X-Fusion Manic dropper post with 100mm or 150mm of travel gives you more control on steep descents.
At home on the trails or off-piste, this is one gnarly yet stable trail bike for women.
- Frame – Aluminum
- Fork – RockShox Revelation Motion Control, 120/130mm
- Rear Shock – RockShox Deluxe Select+ 120mm
- Wheels – XS/S 27.5″, M-L 29″
- Drivetrain – 12-speed Shimano SLX
- Weight: 31.5lbs
Frame sizes available: XS
Cannondale Scalpel Carbon SE 2
A blisteringly fast trail bike designed for women who want to race
Cannondale is one of the world’s top bike brands and has been producing top-level bikes such as the Scalpel for many years.
The Scalpel Carbon SE 2 is a fast and agile XC bike designed around suspension that has been tuned proportionally for each size so riders can get the most out of the bike.
The 120mm travel and 29″ wheels provide a fantastic platform for you to blast through the trail center or whip the bike around the natural landscape.
This carbon full-suspension bike is a great cross-country bike for women who want to get more out of their mountain biking and go faster.
- Frame – BallisTec Carbon
- Fork – RockShox, SID , 120mm
- Rear Shock – RockShox SIDLuxe Select+ 120mm
- Drivetrain – 12-speed Shimano Deore
- Brakes – Shimano MT501 hydraulic discs
Juliana Furtado C S
Women’s carbon enduro mountain bike
The Juliana Furtado C S is a fine example of a women’s enduro bike.
The carbon-framed beauty features 140mm of front and 130mm rear suspension making a perfectly balanced bike that’s not only superbly quick downhill but is lightweight enough to climb on too – no longer will you need to use the uplift after doing the black run.
A lightweight yet powerful bike built for performance and racing, the Juliana Furtado C S is a great enduro bike for those looking to get into racing, or for those who want to get the most out of their riding.
- Frame – Carbon
- Fork – 140mm, RockShox Pike Select+
- Rear Shock – RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 130mm
- Groupset – 12-speed SRAM GX/NX Eagle
Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Bikes
Women’s MTB Geometry (vs Men’s and Unisex)
Although the introduction of women’s specific bikes and geometry somewhat ballooned in the early 2000s, many brands are now moving away from that viewpoint and suggesting that a bike should be chosen based on the rider, not the gender.
The typical women’s MTB geometry was designed around the idea that women have shorter torsos but longer legs than male riders. This led to several brands building bikes with a shorter reach but taller front end, or a shallower fork angle.
Although this more upright riding position can help get people comfortable on a mountain bike, the more technical and fast the trails, the more of a racing position you want to adapt to be able to handle the bike well and keep it stable.
In recent years, men’s bike geometry, in particular, has embraced progressive frame layouts and in many cases lengthened the wheelbases and slackened the headtubes for more stability (of course, this depends on the bike and the desired riding purpose). But have women’s bikes kept up? The Juliana brand no longer believes there should be a discrepancy between men’s and women’s frames, and instead, designs the frame based on smaller differences such as weight. The finishing kit is also tailored to the smaller rider with narrower bars and suspension setups for lighter riders.
Is the term “Women’s Bike” Still Relevant?
What you may find is that the higher-end female-specific bikes look remarkably like their male or unisex counterparts. Many brands are abandoning the idea of female-specific geometries altogether, and have increased their frame size range to suit a wider breadth of rider heights. Of course, at the lower end of the scale, there still are noticeable differences including sloping top tubes and a shorter reach.
Whether or not you think you need a female-specific bike is down to your individual geometry, but we’d always recommend trying a test ride if possible before purchasing, or at the very least, accurately measuring yourself to find the correct sized bike – unisex or female-specific.
Bike Wheel Sizes
Just like men’s or unisex bikes, there are several wheel sizes you might find on a women’s specific mountain bike.
- 26″ – Uncommon on adult bikes now, but popular until the late 2000s
- 27.5″ – Great size for agile riding, usually found on bikes up to downhill specs
- 29″ – Common size on men’s bikes but not as much on women’s. Faster rolling speed and helps get over obstacles without as much maneuvering as 27.5″ wheels
- Mullet bike – 27.5″ up front and 29″ rear
Travel Range & Disciplines
As with men’s bikes, women’s mountain bikes come in several categories, and within each category is a typical amount of suspension travel you can expect to find on the bike.
We’ve listed them below and explained the differences:
- XC – Travel usually between 120-130mm. Cross Country racing prioritizes fitness and skill over descending. Races are usually over an hour, and racers often choose hardtail bikes, although full-suspension bikes are becoming more popular as components become lighter.
- Trail – Travel usually up to 140mm. Trail bikes are usually full-suspension and somewhat blur the lines between enduro and XC. They can handle the rough stuff and are great for natural trails on mountains as well as playing at the bike park.
- All-Mountain – Generally between 130-160mm travel. Full-suspension bikes that sit between trail and enduro bikes. They can handle a lot of the same stuff as an enduro or downhill bike but without the added weight.
- Enduro – Usually between 140-180mm travel. These full-suspension bikes can tackle some of the gnarliest tracks but are still usually light enough to pedal back up the hill.
- Downhill – Usually around 200mm travel. Full-suspension bikes with the most travel and the heaviest duty of all the disciplines. These are built to descend and fast. Climbing is not the most comfortable on these, this is why uplifts are available at some bike parks.