Before you commit to your women’s specific bike purchase, review BIKE's “2015 Bible of Bike Tests” — an impressive overview of this year’s most important new bikes and gear.
Put through the paces by a seasoned team of testers on the trails of Central Oregon, all the bikes and components were tested on the world class singletrack around Bend, the volcanic rock gardens of the McKenzie River trail and the roller coasters of Oakridge.
To complement each bike review, BIKE also released a 'Roundtable Reel' video that includes in-depth discussions (and sometimes arguments) between testers, along with footage of each bike in action.
Here are three women’s specific mountain bike options you may want to consider for summer:
Liv Intrigue 1 ($4700)
In its first year as a standalone brand, Liv barely tweaked its mountain bike line under its parent company, Giant Bicycles. The Intrigue1 did get some smart upgrades for this year, including SRAM's Guide R brakes, Giant's P-TRX1 tubeless-compatible composite wheelset and a combination of SRAM drivetrain components. The $450 price increase reflects those changes, which are worth the added investment. It's rare to see carbon wheels at this price point, and the 65 grams in weight savings is notable.
The Intrigue rides well, is built with dependable, solid parts, is nimble in the technical sections and easy to corner, and is equally as ambitious on the descents and a great value for the money. But, in its second year, it would have been nice to see it offered in a carbon-fiber frame and a single-ring drivetrain to reflect current trends and appeal to female riders at the sport's top level. Wider bars would also better serve the aggressive nature of the Intrigue. – Petie Thom
Scott Contessa Spark 700 RC ($4750)
The Scott Spark is a racehorse for ladies who eat carbon for breakfast, regularly rock spandex, and love going fast–uphill and down.
It is very good at what it does: Devour trail at an impressive rate.
The bike dissects technical problems with surgical precision, climbs like a rocket and feels aggressive yet stable on spicy descents. It's not forgiving; it responds well to being man-handled (er woman-handled?) and seems eager to thrash any opponent. With 27.5-inch wheels and 120 millimeters of front and rear travel, the Spark technically fits into the trail category. However it has a super-stiff carbon frame and fixed seatpost. If you're looking for a true trail bike the Spark could take some tweaking. – Lydia Tanner
Juliana Roubion ($6600)
The Juliana Roubion was the belle of the bike ball inside the garage at the “Bible,” its turquoise matte paint job and shiny parts beckoning from the racks. Its reputation as a kick-ass adventure-mobile had preceded our meeting, in no small part due to Juliana's affiliation with 'it' brand Santa Cruz Bicycles.
As expected, the Roubion, which is a repainted Santa Cruz Bronson frame built with parts handpicked for female riders, did not disappoint. The fact that the Roubion is not a 'women's-specific' frame couldn't have been further from testers' minds as we ripped the berms and tore through rock gardens on this very capable bike. The geometry felt balanced on a size medium to our testers who ranged from 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-7. If the pricetag is discouraging, you can nab the frame and shock for $2,900. Hopefully next year Juliana expands its lower-cost carbon frame option to the Roubion, which would make this rad ride that much more attainable. – Nicole Formosa
Find additional women’s specific mountain bike recommendations from BIKE.
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