Women’s road bikes! The best road bikes for women from cheap to top. Budget & entry-level race bicycles for beginners (under 1,000 / 500$) and pros. For short, tall, or overweight females
What’s a women’s road bike? Is there such a thing as the best road bike for women? Should beginner ladies racers ride female-specific road bikes? In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and give you our list of best road bikes for women from the cheapest to the top, catering to the needs of ladies of all sizes, short, tall, and overweight – come find the right bike for you.
Even in the field of pro-race woman cycling, the era of women-specific bikes is kinda over. The best women’s road bike most likely won’t differ much from the best for men.
Nowadays the industry understands that a bike should be tailored to the specific body characteristics of each individual, and to best fit the rider is the paramount priority. So the marketing term “women’s bike” has been dropped by most of the best bike brands, which now offer mostly unisex options.
Although we’ll list some female-specific road bike models in this article, most bicycle brands just offer extra-small-size frames for short ladies plus customization options to suit the shorter torso and arms and comparatively longer legs often found in women’s anatomy.
Here we present you what we consider to be the best road bikes for women in 2023, on a scale from cheap, through affordable to the very top road bikes for ladies.
In the bottom section, we’ll discuss the main characteristics a woman should look out for when buying a road bike, plus some components and accessories that could be upgraded or swapped for comfort and performance.
De Rosa IDOL Ultegra: Lightest road race bike for women. Frame&Fork Hi-Modulos Carbon/Groupset Ultegra 2×11/7.3Kg – 16 lbs/$5,000
Trek Domane SL 6: Best women’s road race bike from beginner to pro. Frame&Fork OCLV Carbon/Groupset Ultegra 2×11/9.30 kg – 20.51 lbs/$4,300
Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2: Best female-specific road bike. Frame&Fork Carbon/Groupset Ultegra2x11/17.6 lbs – 7.98 kg/$3,500
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 L: Great ladies carbon road bike to start endurance competitions. Frame&Fork Carbon/Groupset 21 lbs – 9.5 kg/$3,300
Trek Émonda ALR 5: lightweight affordable road bike good for heavy women. Frame&Fork Ultralight Alloy Carbon fork/Groupset Shimano 105 2×11/9.04 kg – 19.92 lbs/ $2,179
Schwinn Fastback Carbon: best budget carbon road bike for a woman. Frame&Fork Carbon/Groupset Shimano 105 2×11/9.3 kg – 20.5 Lbs/$2,100
Ridley Fenix SLA Disc 105: Best beginner’s road bike for women. Frame&Fork Alloy frame Carbon fork/Groupset Shimano 105 2×11/9.6 kg – 21.16 Lbs/$1,900
Cube Axial WS Race 2022: best entry-level women’s road bike below $1,500. Frame&Fork Alloy frame Carbon fork/Groupset Shimano Sora 2×11/9.7 kg – 21.38 Lbs/$1,499
Fuji Sportif 2.1: cheap and versatile women’s road/commuting bike. Frame&Fork Alloy carbon legs/Groupset Shimano Sora 2×11/ 10.2 kg – 22.5 lbs/$1,199
Tommaso Imola Endurance: budget beginner road bikes for women. Frame&Fork Aluminum steel fork/Groupset Shimano Claris 2×11/10.9 kg – 23.6 lbs/$950
Schwinn Volare 1300: cheapest starter road bike for women (less than $500). Frame&Fork Aluminum steel fork/Groupset Shimano Tourney 2×7/13.5 kg – 29.8 lbs/$450
11 Best Road Bikes for Women [Compared and Reviewed for 2023]
1. De Rosa IDOL Ultegra 2022
Lightest road race bike for women
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How we compile our gear guides: during the almost 10 years of cycloscope.net our team personally tested dozens of similar pieces of gear. For what we can't test personally, we involve other people in the cycling community to give their feedback and opinion about gear they have used. Our decade-long experience in bicycle touring enables us to find the key cons and pros of every product we mention.
The admiral of the De Rosa fleet has been the bike of choice by so many pro cyclists – both males and females – for competitions such as Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
A bike designed to go fast, it is engineered from Super Hi-Modulus fiber with a blend of T1000 and T800 carbon.
These top-notch materials and the asymmetrical geometry make the bike structurally stiff and nimble, while also absorbing vibrations and keeping the weight as light as possible with the actual technology.
A super-stiff center of the diamond frame forms the perfect junction for the Idol’s sculpted asymmetrical chainstays and beefy down tube. The arched top tube and lean seat stay will help keep the ride feel cushioned and light.
All the components are near the best in the professional road cycling world. The De Rosa Idol 2022 is equipped with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic drivetrain that provides accurate, quick, and reliable gear shifting.
The hydraulic disc brakes are also Ultegra, sitting at the top of the Shimano road racing gamma, giving you outstanding control of your momentum in all weather conditions.
Available in size 43 is one of the smallest sizes available in the market, ideal for short women below 150cm/4″1′.
The Idol Disc by De Rosa is the perfect bike for women who are serious about road cycling, if you aim to train like a pro, then this monster bike is worth the investment.
a real pro-bike
most comfortable geometry
one of the smallest available frame sizes in the pro race road bike market
will require a mortgage for most people
2. Trek Domane SL 6
Best women’s road race bike from beginner to pro
500 Series OCLV Carbon, front and rear IsoSpeed, internal storage, tapered head tube, internal cable routing, 3S chain keeper, DuoTrap S-compatible, mudguard mounts
One of the aims of Trek when they first introduced the new version of the Domane in 2020 was to give better fits and more options to female and male riders alike.
All the versions of the Trek Domane for 2023 are available in extra-small sizes and components can be swapped to more ladies-friendly ones to best fit anyone’s needs.
The Domane SL 6 is a hell of a road bike, packed with hi-tech features. The Trek patented IsoSpeed system for example is a great invention in suspension.
It maintains the diamond-shaped frameset geometry but “decouples” the seat tube from the top tube, allowing the seat tube to flex with the forces of the road. The result is a bike that moves following the lines of the road while still feeling stiff and efficient like a traditional race bike.
Other goodies are the micro-adjustments of the seat-post, allowing to regulate the height of the seat with the utmost precision, and the Blendr compatible stem that makes it possible to attach gadgets directly on the stem for a clean and minimal look.
The frame is also mudguard compatible, a great feature for those ladies who don’t fear wet weather.
Liv Bikes is the female-specific brand by Taiwanese bike colossus Giant. Going against the market trend, Liv has been launched as a bike brand for ladies only.
Amongst the many models of Liv’s road roster – going from cheap (as low as $600) to pro – we choose here the Liv’s Avail Advanced Pro, near the top of gamma and widely recognized as one of the best endurance road bikes for women on the market – completely redesigned for 2022.
The Liv Avail Advanced Pro features an endurance-focused compact frame design that provides a lighter, stiffer, smoother ride with a better fit specifically tailored to women’s body characteristics.
Those girls who like long-distance rides for fun, exercise, or even a competition from time to time, will find the Advanced Pro to be a fast, comfortable, and enjoyable bike. A ‘do-it-all’ road bike designed to be light, responsive on climbs, and deliver optimum control on descents
The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 has an OverDrive2 composite fork, Giant Contact SLR composite wheels, Liv Contact SLR D-Fuse composite handlebars, and a RideSense sensor. for added safety.
Woman-specific frame and components
Fast and nimble
4. Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 L
Great ladies carbon road bike to start endurance competitions
From legendary brand Cannondale, here we introduce the Synapse Carbon 3 L – a great road bike sitting around the middle of the Synapse range.
The frames are designed using proportional response size-specific construction techniques, this means slightly changing the geometry according to the size to obtain an optimal frame stiffness and compliance for each frame size.
A lightweight and aerodynamic shaping of the tubes and an oversized tire clearance (rare to see 35mm in a road bike) make the Synapse an interesting hybrid, capable of keeping the fastest pace but also able to tackle gravel sections.
The rear triangle, seat tube, and seatpost feature invisible flex zones to absorb road imperfections without adding any weight, thus making for a very comfortable ride experience.
The Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 L is also packed with smart features to improve safety and data collection.
The SmartSense system integrates front and rear lights that are able to adapt to the ambient conditions and can be easily upgraded to SmartSense radar for enhanced road awareness.
Accurate speed, route and distance info, bike registration, service reminders, and more data are delivered through the integrated wheel sensor to the free Cannondale app.
The drivetrain of choice for the SL 6 is a reliable and performative 2×11-speed Shimano 105, the hydraulic disk brakes are also from the Shimano 105 series.
The Synapse also comes in plenty of versions from budget alloy frames for less than $1,000 to the pro-level Hi-MOD Disk DuraAce Di 2 for $10,500.
Great road bike
integrated wheel sensor
wide tire clearance for a road bike
integrated smart sensor light system
not suitable for short women
low-tier components for the price tag
5. Trek Émonda ALR 5
lightweight affordable road bike good for heavy women
Ultralight 300 Series Alpha Aluminum, Invisible Weld technology, tapered head tube, Control Freak internal routing, DuoTrap S compatible
Émonda SL full carbon, tapered carbon steerer, internal brake routing, flat mount disc
Shimano 105 R7000, 50/34t x 11-30t, 11-speed
Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
Min Rider Height – 145cm
9.04 kg / 19.92 lbs (size 56) – Weight Limit 275 pounds (125 kg)
Carbon looks and handling at an alloy price point, the Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc is a light and responsive road bike great for women starters in road cycling.
Although featuring an aluminum frame, at only 9kg for a big size 56, this is one of the lightest bikes on this list.
The Ultralight 300 Series Alpha Alloy is indeed amongst the lightest and most advanced aluminum materials available, and coupled with the full carbon fork, gives this bike the looks and feel of a much more expansive sibling.
Internal cable routing in both the frame and fork, a full 2×11 Shimano 105 drivetrain for reliable and fast shifting, powerful flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes, and tubeless-ready wheels.
The Trek Émonda ALR 5 offers the same female-friendly bike fitting and sizing as all Trek bikes and features the Blendr technology system by Bontrager (Trek’s components firm) that allows attaching gadgets directly on the stem.
With a weight limit of 125kg (combined rider’s weight + bike + gear), the Emonda by Trek is also one of the best road bikes for overweight women.
A great midrange/entry-level road bike for sporty ladies
fast and responsive
The aluminum frame is not as cushioned as the carbon
6. Schwinn Fastback Carbon
best budget carbon road bike for a woman
N LITENED Black Label carbon, internal cable routing
With most carbon bikes priced well above $2,000, the Schwinn Fastback Carbon 105 is an excellent and affordable choice for those ladies who still fancy the lightness and cushioning of carbon fiber but do want to keep an eye on the budget.
The drivetrain is a good Shimano 105, as seen in this article on bikes of higher price ranges so we can’t really complain too much if the brakes are aluminum calipers and not hydraulic disk brakes.
The cushioned silicon gel bar tape, race seat, and lightweight aluminum wheels provide extra comfort on long-distance rides.
The geometry offers an aggressive forward riding position, the bike is stiff and cuts corners like a serious racer.
The cheapest carbon bicycle on this list, a great entry-level road bike for women
The Fenix SL Disc by Ridley is a really tough bike. It shines on all types of roads, uphill, on flats, and downhill, while the diamond alloy bottom tube is able to withstand even the most brain-shaking cobblestones – so you always enjoy your ride, wherever the road takes you.
The Fenix SL Disc shares many qualities with some top bikes in this list, albeit a bit heavier than carbon bikes, this alloy road bicycle by Ridley is still quite light at only 21.1 lbs.
The geometry of the compact frame adds strength and stiffness to this budget road bike. A broad bottom bracket contributes to the bike’s compliance while the arched top tube and carbon/resin fork construction add to the nimbleness for endurance.
Simply put, it’s the best heavy-duty bike for someone looking for a beginner’s road bike combining performance and traction power with luxurious comfort.
custom paint colors
saddle and bar tape are not the most comfy
maybe a bit too stiff
4 best cheap road bikes for woman [under 1,500 / under 1,000 / under 500]
From German manufacturer Cube here is a state-of-the-art aluminum road bike for a relatively cheap price.
The Axial WS Race strikes a sublime balance between speed, agility, and comfort at quite a low weight tag, offering the rider efficiency and composure to race or train in all riding conditions.
Designed for both comfort and speed, the frame also is a pleasure to the eye, with its smooth lines and superb welds.
This women’s road race bike by Cube features an Aluminium Superlite frame, full-carbon fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and a Shimano 105 R7000 2×11-speed groupset with a 34t in the back to make it easier to tackle the steepest mountain passes.
It rolls upon Cube RA 1.9 Aero Disc wheels wrapped in Continental Ultra Sport 3 Kevlar tires.
A great entry-level road bike for classy female riders
At less than 1,200 USD, the Fuji Sportif 2.1 is a great road bike for beginners, women and men alike.
The A2-SL Butted Aluminium frame is light enough, a lightness achieved by reducing material in low-stress areas.
Talking geometry we could mention the taller headtube and longer chainstays, those increase overall stability and put the rider in a more upright riding position – the price to pay is limited agility and a bike that doesn’t feel as nimble as a real race bike, but that is more an advantage than a problem for beginners.
Another interesting feature is the Wave seat stay, which smooths out and diffuses road vibration by providing a slight vertical flex.
Cables are routed inside the frame tubes for improved aerodynamics, a longer lifespan for the cables, and a neat look. The frame and forks feature rack mounts and are also configured to accept fenders, thus making the bike a highly versatile rig for all seasons.
A versatile woman road bike that can double as a commuter/utility bicycle
The Tommaso Imola bike is a decent road bike for less than 1,000 bucks. Certainly not the high-end road bike of your dreams, but still a rig good enough for beginners who are just starting in the discipline of road cycling.
Although cheap, the components are not too bad: Shimano Claris drivetrain and caliper brakes are reliable and efficient enough.
As often happens with cheaper bikes ordered online, you should really check the assembly thoroughly if you don’t wanna risk crashing. These bikes often come with over-tensioned or loose parts as they are not individually checked after assembly.
good range of components for the price
you might want to upgrade the saddle and maybe the rims
11. Schwinn Volare 1300
cheapest starter road bike for women (less than $500)
The cheapest road bike on this list is a good buy for those ladies who are still not sure they’ll love road cycling for years to come.
The Schwinn Volare is a good budget compromise, you’ll hardly get anything similar to a road bike for less than this – the Volare will allow you to join your roadie friends and get the hang of road cycling without doing too much damage to your wallet.
The frame is made of aluminum and the fork is a nice piece of steel that is durable but certainly not light, with the overall weight of the bike sitting at 13.5kg, definitely not on. the light side.
Brakes and shifters are entry-level Shimano Claris and Tourney, doing their job just fine without splurging.
Again, since the cheap price tag, be sure to bring your new Schwinn Volare to your bike mechanic before riding it out of the box – bad build and component installation are common for bikes in this price range.
a very cheap road bike for beginners
bad build out of the box
poor quality frame and fork materials
How To Choose The Right Road Bike For Ladies
So how should we girls go about buying the best road bike for our needs? What differs a female bike from a male one?
As we already mentioned in the introduction, women commonly have short torsos and arms and longer legs, whereas men’s arms and torsos are longer.
For a man and woman of the same height, the woman’s race bike will ideally have a shorter top tube, and thus a shorter reach (the distance from the saddle to the handlebar), while the saddle will be lower and closer to the pedals.
The bike doesn’t have to be a female-specific frame, to achieve this – a shorter stem will shorten the reach and the saddle position can be easily adjusted.
Ladies also commonly have smaller hands compared to boys, which can make it hard to fully reach the brake levers on drop bars. Smaller levers could be a thing to look into if your hands are small.
Last but not least is the saddle, women have wider sit bones compared to most men – so the rear of the saddle usually needs to be wider and have a cut-out or lower-pressure chamber for your soft parts.
Components to replace on a women’s road bike
Based on what we said, the components you might think about replacing to adapt your road bike to your body are:
female specific saddle
shorter reach brake levers
All these things are relative and really depend on your unique body shape and bone structure – this means they are not necessarily true for you.
If you have wide shoulders you won’t need a narrower handlebar, a standard one will do just fine. Same for the short stem for ladies with longer arms.
A woman-specific saddle though might be worth a try. The pelvic bone structure is quite different between males and females, and that’s quite universally true. Women’s saddles are indeed designed to accommodate the peculiar shape of a woman’s pelvis.
FAQs About Women Gravel Bikes
What’s the difference between women’s and men’s gravel bikes?
A woman gravel bike should have a shorter top tube, narrower handlebars, smaller brake levers, and a women-specific saddle. The rest of the geometry and components can easily be the same as a men’s bike.
Should I get a female-specific gravel bike?
Not really. If you can find the right size for you there are no issues in purchasing a standard or men’s bike. Check with a professional bike fitter to be sure of the right modifications to apply, if any.
How do I choose a women’s road bike?
Consider your body characteristics and find a bike that fits you. Shorter reach for shorter arms, narrow handlebars for smaller shoulders.
What bike should a beginner get?
If you’re serious about starting road cycling you should spend at least a grant ($1,000) on your first bike, (see Fuji Sport and Cube Axial). Spending any less would result in frustration and a new bike as soon as possible. If instead you’re not sure road biking is for you, go for a cheap amazon bike like the Schwinn Volare 1400 for less than $500.
What size of bike is good for a short woman?
The right size of bike for a lady of 4’10” 5′.1” (147-155 cm) is 46/48cm / 19/20″
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