As part of our mega guide to the best bikes on the market, we help answer the question of whether female riders need to buy a women's specific machine.
For off-road adventures: Specialized Women's Diverge Comp
When I tested the 2018 Specialized Women’s Diverge Comp, I spent hours searching for new dirt on GravelMap.com. I gamely ignored “no trespassing” signs, gleefully sought out an unmaintained trail called Prison Camp, and - perhaps unwisely - dismissed a “Watch for Ticks!” warning before barreling down an overgrown path to a lakeside cove. The Diverge is ostensibly a road bike, but why stick to the tar when it makes any surface eminently rideable?
Key to the bike’s versatility: fat 38mm tyres (with clearance for up to 42mm) and other bump-damping features like the Future Shock suspension spring in the steerer tube with 20mm of travel. The women’s Diverge has female-friendly touch-points (saddle, narrower handlebar, shorter crankarms) but its geometry is the same as the unisex model. The frame has a lower bottom bracket, slacker head angle, and shorter chainstays compared with the previous model, and handling felt stable and predictable - even when the terrain wasn’t.
When things got sketchy, the hydraulic disc brakes offered reliable control. The bike rode quicker than I expected: The 48/32 crankset and 11–32 cassette let me spin up steep pitches, and the front suspension kept the tyres glued to the road, so I could drill the descents. In the 52cm size, the Diverge Comp weighs in at 9.5kg.
Fender and rack mounts make the Diverge truly adventure-ready—and did I mention you can swap in 650b wheels with clearance for 47mm tyres, plus add a dropper post? However you set this bike up, you’ll likely get into some mischief. So pack extra snacks. And don’t forget the Aeroguard. – Leah Flickinger
For cutting-edge geometry: Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 9.0 LTD
All-new for 2018, the Canyon Endurace WMN presents cutting-edge technology and thinking around women’s geometry, combining comfort and performance in one slick, stealthy package. The Endurace combines comfort and aero features into the perfect all-rounder, and comes with SRAM Red eTap drivetrain and eTap hydraulic discs, Reynolds Assault carbon wheels, and weighs just 7.2kg (size small). To keep the bike’s excellent handling consistent across all sizes, the Endurace’s smallest two sizes come equipped with 650b wheels.
RRP: AUS$7,899. Delivery: $199