The Best Step-Through Ladies Bikes That You Can Buy For Cheap Touring and Hybrid Bicycles Designed for Women
What is the difference between a man and a woman-specific bicycle? Do I need to buy a woman’s bike for my tour? These questions often come up when ladies begin thinking about a bicycle tour.
Let’s start from this: it’s an absolute truth that women can ride any “men’s” bicycle, just adapting the contact points to fit the unicity of your body, just like everyone needs to do, no matter the gender.
So don’t be afraid to purchase a bike that you like just because it is supposed to be a man’s frame. If you’re looking for a new bike and are not willing to sell a kidney you can also check our article about 21 great touring bicycles under 1000$.
So, if I can ride every kind of bicycle, what’s the meaning of having women-specific models? Well, while sometimes it can mostly be a matter of marketing, it’s undebatable that, generically speaking, women and men have different physiologies.
Women usually have a comparatively shorter torso and arms, longer legs, narrower shoulders, and less muscular mass (some say they are also usually shorter, but I think it strongly depends on ethnicity, when I was living in Nederland I quite felt like a dwarf compared to most women).
So bicycle brands built woman-specific frames and bikes with these generic parameters in mind, meaning a shorter reach (distance from the saddle to the handlebars), shorter top tube, smaller frame sizes, narrower handlebars, and so on…
Keep in mind that this might not be your case, so always try to have at least a test ride before buying a new bicycle.
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The Trapeze Frames or Step-Through Frames
Back in the early days of bicycle manufacturing, women use to wear skirts much more often than nowadays, and they were long skirts, usually to the ankle.
That’s the main reason for the so-called Step-Through frames, the kind of frame geometry where the top tube goes diagonally that are usually recognized as women’s frames.
Nowadays there’s almost no reason (besides the skirt/dress fact) for a step-through frame to be used exclusively by women, but still, people see them as girly bikes, that’s why many brands still produce women’s specific bikes in this fashion.
The main advantage of this geometry (also called “Trapeze”) is the easiness to mount on, you don’t have to stretch your leg above the whole bike (and panniers!).
The main downsides are an alleged weakness and less stiffness, compared to a diamond frame, that basically results in a few hundred grams more of steel to match the diamond geometry’s features.
The 10 bikes in this article are not the best women’s specific bicycles out there but represent a good and cheap starting point to enter the world of bicycle touring on a relatively low budget.
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The Best Touring & Hybrid Bikes for Ladies – in a nutshell
Step-Through Bicycles with Rigid Fork
CremeEcho Mixte Solo – Most Stylish Hybrid Woman Bike
Creme Echo Mixte Uno – Best Ladies Urban/Light-Travel Bike
Dawes Karakum 2019 – Great Budget Women’s Touring Bike
GT Transeo Sport 2020 – Budget Sporty Woman MTB Hybrid Bike
Woman Hybrid/Touring Bikes with Suspension Fork
Fuji Traverse 1.7 ST – Cheap Suspension Step-Through Hybrid Bike
Specialized ARIEL 2020 Disc – Great Women Hybrid Gravel Bike
Cube Touring Trapeze 2020 – Sturdy City Bike for Girls
Ghost Square Trekking – Best City/Trekking Bike for Women
4 Best Rigid Fork Bicycles for Women
Creme Echo Mixte Solo 2020 [+/-] $ 800
The Echo Mixte Solo Bike is built around a lugged mixte frame with a CrMo front triangle for fine handling and great looks.
The bike features a 16-speed drive-train with reliable components, and you will find some nice touches such as polished rims and a classic 1” quill stem. Not a lot of gears, but enough if you’re not planning to climb Alpine passes.
The Echo Mixte Solo Bike is suited for light touring.
Crankset: FSA Tempo aluminium crankset, compact 50/34T, 167.5mm (51cm frame), 170mm (54cm frame), 172.5mm (57 and 60cm frame)
Bottom bracket: Square taper, 68mm shell
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Claris 8-Speed, short cage
Cassette: KMC X8
Chain: KMC X9 9-Speed
Grips: Velo grips
Handlebar: Creme flat bar
Shifters: Sunrace SLR80 R8 DT
Headset: First, threaded, 1”
Hubs: Joytech road hub, 32H, QR
Rims: Aluminium double wall 700C, road racing
Seatpost: Aluminium 26.6mm
Tyres: Michelin Dynamic Classic 700x28c
Dawes Karakum 2019 Women’s Touring Bike [+/-] $700
Let’s get into more proper touring rigs. The Dawes Karakum 2019 Women’s Touring Bike features a lightweight alloy frame and Chromoly fork.
Distinctive because of the butterfly handlebars it offers multi riding positions on those long tours. A roll call of quality components consists of Shimano Alivio 27 speed gears, Shimano hubs, Shimano V-brakes, Schwalbe Silento II tyres and a woman-specific Dawes saddle.
It seems this product has been discontinued by Dawes but it is easy to fin a good second hand deal.
Handlebars: Dawes Alloy Multi-Hand-P31.8mmition bar / 585mm Wide
Stem: Adjustable alloy Quil Stem
Headset: 1 1/8″ Aheadset
Rims: ALEX Ace19 Double Wall Alloy CNC Single Stainless Eyelets
Hubs: 32H Shimano HB-RM70 Quick Release, alloy
Tyres: 700x32C Schwalbe Silento with Kevlar Guard
Seatpost: 27.2mm x 350mm suspension Seatpost
Weight: 15.4 kg
GT Transeo Sport 2020 Hybrid Bike [+/-] $ 400
The super-cheap GT Transeo Sport Women looks like a nice entry-level bicycle. With its lightweight Hyrdoformed alloy frame the Transeo has all the bases covered.
GT has made all models equipped with powerful disc brakes and mounts for both mudguards and racks. The Triple Triangle™ geometry was developed to extend the frame life, stiffen the rear triangle and thus create a faster, more responsive ride.
The Shimano 7 speed drivetrain is a good combination of performance and durability, with the Tourney rear derailleur to enhance the gear indexing and the chainset to reduce weight but maintain the strength. These both will ensure the classic Shimano reliable shifting and performance.
Mechanical disc brakes with a 160mm rotors on both front and rear, offering high stopping power for tracks that you might not normally hit up. Finishing kit is GT’s own brand All Terra using a 6061 aluminum riser handlebars, stem, and micro-adjust seat post.
About the GT brand
GT Bikes, based in Southern California, has been in the business of making great bikes since 1972 when Gary Turner launched one of the first performance BMX race bikes.
Developing world-class bikes in conjunction with the world’s best BMX rider such as Greg Hill, Eddie Fiola, Jamie Bestwick, Clive Gosling, and Dave Mirra, GT grew into one of the biggest brands. GT used the same model of developing performance bikes with the best riders, pioneering new suspension technology, and the use of carbon fiber in MTB frames.
Winning numerous World Championships in downhill and cross country racing with legendary riders such Nicholas Vouilloz, Steve Peat, and more recently Atherton Racing, with Dan Gee and Rachel Atherton.
Hans “No Way” Ray has been one of the figureheads of GT’s longstanding team rider program, setting the record for the longest sponsorship deal of 26 years and counting. In the mid-’90s GT build track bikes for the USA Olympic team.
Fork: GT fork with steel raked legs, rack, and fender eyelets, steel steerer
Wheel Size: 700c (622)
Shifters, Front and Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tourney
Brake Callipers: Mechanical disc, 160/160mm
Cassette: Sunrace, 11-28, 7-speed
Tyres: GT Pavement, 700 x 40c
4 Best Women Bikes with Suspension Fork
Suspension fork bikes are not very common among long term tourers. Despite that, they are well appreciated by occasional tourers who seek comfort, also on uneven surfaces. We also met some long-distance travelers who love that cushioned feeling.
The biggest downsides of suspension forks are the added weight and the possibility of a failure. If you can cope with that, take a look at this deals.
Fuji Traverse 1.7 ST Hybrid Bike [+/-] $ 400
The Fuji Traverse 1.7 D is a women-specific hybrid bike designed for family fun rides, riding country paths, all-weather commute, and light touring. With suspension forks for added comfort and fender mounts to keep you clean and dry.
Specialized ARIEL 2021 Disc Women Hybrid Bike [+/-] $ 1000
Specialized is a brand that doesn’t need presentations, appreciation by bicycle tourers worldwide is all you need to trust their bikes.
The updated Specialized ARIEL Disc takes care of safety with powerful disc brakes, while control is provided through a women-specific geometry and a Multi-Circuit Damping fork with 60mm of travel, that’ll have you tackling workouts on paved or dirt surfaces with equal confidence.
Specialized have also included their light and tough A1 SL Premium aluminium frame tubing, workhorse components that are sized and designed specifically for women, and a wide range of gears that’ll take the sting out of steep trails.
Designed for women who want to mix adventure with fitness, the hard-working, sturdy A1 SL Premium Aluminium frame features Specialized’s Women’s Fitness Geometry—meaning that you’ll go faster with maximum efficiency, only without the discomfort of an aggressive ride position. The more comfortable you are, the longer you’ll ride.
Cube intentionally ditched complicated features with this model, but not the ergonomics. The Touring is a great all-rounder well suited even for long term touring.
The light, double-butted aluminum frame features Cube’s Efficient Comfort Geometry, specifically developed for touring bikes to provide a comfortable ride position with the best energy transfer to make the best possible use of long days in the saddle.
The Touring has bosses for bottle cages and for Cube’s ingeniously simple Cube kickstand, while internal cable routing helps reduce maintenance and keep gearshifts smoother for longer.
The Cube Touring has been built in accordance with StVZO regulations. The LED lighting system up front and the small but powerful red LED at the rear both get their power seamlessly from the hub dynamo – which means they’re ready whenever needed, regardless of the weather.
The Shimano 24-speed drivetrain is reliable and perfectly suited to everyday use. The Suntour suspension fork makes cycling comfortable, even on uneven and bumpy surfaces, while powerful Tektro V-Brakes bring you safely to a stop in any situation.
Cube’s in-house Cube components add the finishing touches without adding extra weight. This bike passed all their exhaustive test procedures, guaranteeing safe and reliable cycling for many years to come.
Tyres: Schwalbe Range Cruiser, Active, K-Guard, 47-62
Saddle: Natural Fit Sequence Comfort
Seatpost: Cube Performance Post, 27.2mm
Ghost Square Trekking City Bike 2020 [+/-] €750
This all-rounder offers some unique technical features such as the Ghost central suspension fork, integrated cable routing, super-stiff fenders, and a fully integrated rack carrier that accommodates all common panniers.
All frames in this line feature the revolutionary sandwich belt-drive-ready dropout, enabling you to start simple and upgrade over time as you choose.
The high-quality equipment guarantees years of use for both every-day commuting and week-long excursions. Shimano dynamo hub keeps you safe in the evening and can juice up your electronic devices during the daytime.