Best women's road bikes 2024: the ideal bikes for female riders

We pick out some of the best women's road bikes on the market - and explain what makes a road bike 'female specific'

Female cyclist riding one of the best women's road bikes
(Image credit: Future)

As the upward trajectory of women's cycling is on a constant march, many brands are thinking more carefully about what women actually need - and want - from a road bike.

First off, it might be a surprise, but not every female rider will want a women's specific bike. We'll take you through the difference between 'female-specific' and unisex frames further down - this is just to highlight now that our guide will also be including some of the best unisex road bikes, which can also also make a great ride for female cyclists and are well worth considering

While we are probably pretty much aligned on the need for the best women specific cycling shorts, and even the best women's cycling saddles, the jury is actually still out when it comes to the question 'is women's specific geometry still relevant' ,  

Further down this page, we explain the different approaches brands take when creating women's bikes, and how to make sure you choose the very best bike for you, so take a read if you're still deciding what's best for you.

But first, our picks of the best bikes...

The Quick List

Best women's road bikes: our picks

Best aero bike

Liv Enviliv Advanced Pro AXS women's road bike

Liv Enviliv Advanced Pro AXS women's road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best women's aero road bike

Specifications

Frame/ forks: Advanced SL Grade Composite (full composite)
Groupset: SRAM Force AXS 12-speed
Wheels: Giant SLR 1 50 Disc WheelSystem
Tires : Cadex Race Tubeless 25mm
Sizes : XXS - M
Colours : One - Hibana
Weight: 18lbs/ 8 kg (claimed)

Reasons to buy

+
A fair price point for the specification on board
+
Small size options (down to XXS)
+
Power meter on board (model depending)
+
Significantly improved cable routing on new mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Handling at either slow speeds or in wind
-
Slow to pick up speed and quick to loose it on rises and climbs
-
Wheelset overwhelms rest of ride feel

The updated EnviLiv Advanced Pro, while still an aero race bike, has opted for more forgiving geometry, which should make it better suited for longer days in the saddle, too.

This totally new geometry almost mirrors that of the Liv Langma Advanced millimetre by millimeter. What that means is a higher front end than the previous model. The tube shapes and frame material are also new. In general, the bike is slimmer than before, with more rounded tubing. The material is the brand's  new Advance SL Grade composite. The result, according to Liv, is bike that's both lighter (the frame weighs about 200g less) and faster.

We were huge fans of the outgoing model but on test felt that all his reworking has resulted in the new bike losing some of its 'zing'. Sure, it's still fast in a straight line but the handling wasn't quite as good as the previous model - although we felt that some of this is likely down to the deep section wheels. 

But there is plenty to like here. The new frame design alongside the new aero bars and stem has resulted in a far cleaner looking cockpit. It's a huge improvement aesthetically and vitally will also make adjustments and maintenance much easier.

While we test the SRAM Force AXS equipped bike, the EnviLiv Advanced Pro is also available with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.

.Read more:  Liv Enviliv Advanced AXS Disc full review

Best value carbon

Canyon Endurace CF 8 women's road bike

Canyon Endurace CF 8 road bike

(Image credit: Philip Sowels)
Best value women's carbon road bike

Specifications

Frame/ Fork : Canyon Endurace CF (carbon fibre); Fork: Canyon Canyon FK0089 CF Disc
Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra 8020 mechanical
Brakes : Shimano Ultegra 8020 hydraulic disc
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 900 DB
Tires: Schwalbe One 30/32mm
Sizes: 3XS-2XL
Colours : one
Weight: 18.7lbs / 8.5kg (claimed)

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value for money
+
Excellent handling
+
Comfortable
+
Lots of tyre clearance

Reasons to avoid

-
No mudguard eyes
-
Heavy wheels

While Canyon doesn't choose to make women specific road bikes, it's wide size range for most of its models makes it a good fit for many. Take its Endurace and Endurace SLX range - the bikes are offered in sizes that start at 3XS, which translates to a standover height of just over 700mm. The more expensive SLX models also feature the German brand's adjustable-width handlebar.

The Endurace CF 8 delivers great value for money. It's built around an endurance-focussed carbon frameset and comes equipped with a mechanical 11-speed Shimano Ultegra groupset that includes hydraulic disc brakes. Sensibly for a bike that's designed to be comfortable over long distances, it comes with plenty of tire clearance and is fitted with 32mm as standard. 

We found that the bouncy VCLS seatpost in conjunction with the big tires makes for a plush and comfortable ride. However, the frame is plenty stiff. The downsides? A rather heavy wheelset and a lack of fender/mudguard guard mounts, which seems an odd omission for a bike that's well-suited to four-season riding. 

Read more: Canyon Endurace CF 8 full review

Best Endurance bike

Trek Domane SL 6 AXS women's road bike

Trek Domane SL 6 road bike

(Image credit: Trek)
Best endurance bike in small sizes

Specifications

Frame/ fork : 500 Series OCLV Carbon frame/ Domane SLR Carbon fork
Groupset: Shimano 105 Di2 Hydraulic Disc or SRAM Rival AXS
Wheels: Bontrager Paradigm Comp 25 Thru Axle
Tires: Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 32c
Sizes: 44 - 62cm
Colours : Crimson, Dark Blue
Weight: 19.6lbs / 8.91kg (Size 56)

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile with 38mm tire clearance
+
Comfortable
+
Great spec inc. electronic SRAM or Shimano drivechain

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly sluggish on steep hills

While Trek did away with its gender categorisation in 2020, it now offer smaller sizes across its range of road bikes - including the versatile Domane, which is available in frame sizes that start at 44 cm.

The Domane, Trek's capable endurance bike that can be raced (it's won Paris-Roubaix Femmes) as well as ridden for leisure, is offered in a huge range of models. The top-tier SLR 9 will set you back well over $/£10k, while a Gen 4 AL 2 can be yours for under $/£1,500.

As for the Trek Domane SL 6 it's probably one of the most versatile bikes on the market, with century rides, touring rides, and even fast paced group rides all being taken in its stride when we tested it. In fact, when we reviewed an older generation model we loved it so much we gave it our Editor's Choice Award.

Similar to the way Liv Enviliv stretches it's aero categorisation, the Trek Domane SL 6 does the same for it's 'endurance' one. On test we found it a great do-all bike, managing to be sprightly, if a little heavy on the hills,  as well as comfortable.

The ride-smoothing IsoSpeed frame comes with decouplers at the rear of the top tube and in the head tube, making it a very comfortable ride.

Any concerns that this inbuilt suspension would compromise power transfer were quickly put to bed, with its oversized tubing assisting in its responsiveness to seated and out-the-saddle efforts.

The latest Gen 4 SL 6 is offered with either a SRAM Rival AXS or a Shimano 105 Di2 12-speed electronic groupset and has clearance for 38mm tires. 

Read more: Trek Domane SL6 full review

Best race-ready bike

Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc women's road bike

Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc women's road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Most versatile race-ready women's bike

Specifications

Frame/ Fork: Advance Grade Composite
Groupset: SRAM Red AXS
Wheels : CADEX 36 Carbon Disc WheelSystem
Tires: CADEX Road Race, tubeless, 700x25c
Sizes: XS - M
Weight : 6.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
Handling
+
Fit
+
Wheelset and tubeless set up
+
Lightweight
+
Power meter

Reasons to avoid

-
Front end cables

The Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 is a direct descendant of the professionally ridden bike. The bike was updated for 2022 , with a stiffer fork, although it seems to have kept the front cables that we weren't keen on. 

The bike's biggest claim to fame is its low weight, and our review model - with disc brakes and Shimano Ultegra - came in at 15.7lbs/ 7.13kg, but the top-end rim brake options sit under the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg and had to be bolstered for pro riders.

The low weight, however, hasn't reduced its stiffness - even a sprinter like Coryn Rivera can race this bike to success - and we found it offered ample platform for power transfer, with optimised components like the Giant PowerCore bottom bracket and Overdrive II steerer.

Its another stand out bike, and hard to compare against it's peers, but the latest version reminded our Cycling Weekly Tech Ed of the Specialised Aethos that she loved so much.

While we await a full review of the new model, the current one was a top scorer at nearly full marks,  and is easily a GC contender, and will more than hold its own on all but off-road terrain, meaning there is a great deal to really like about the bike.

Read more: Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc full review

Best aluminium bike

Specialized Allez Disc road bike on a yellow background

Specialized Allez Disc road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best aluminium women's road bike

Specifications

Frame/ fork: Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum/Specialized FACT full carbon fork
Groupset: Shimano Claris 8-speed w/ Tektro mechanical disc brakes
Wheels : Axis Sport Disc
Tires: Specialized RoadSport 30mm
Sizes: 44, 49, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 61cm
Colours : Three options
Weight: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Ride quality
+
Ease of set up
+
Versatility
+
Ability to change ride characteristics

Reasons to avoid

-
Performance of mechanical disc brakes

Available in a wide range of sizes, including a 44cm, the recently updated Specialized Allez is a great option for those wanting a versatile road bike without breaking the bank.

Based around a stiff and agile aluminium frame and carbon fork, the new Allez has added comfort and compliance to its list of tricks. Tire clearance has been increased, allowing for up to 35mm width, while the geometry has been relaxed a little to make it better suited to longer rides. This versatility is enhanced by the inclusion of fender/mudguard and rack mounts, making it a legitimate four-season road bike that could also handle the commute to work.

However, as we found out when we tested the bike, it's certainly no slouch when shown some power, just like the previous models which were focussed a little more on speed. The 8-speed drivechain did leave us between gears more often than we would have liked, but the next model up solves this problem with the inclusion of a 10-speed Shimano groupset. 

Read more: Specialized Allez first ride review

Best value

Triban 520 road bike

Triban RC 520 road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best value for money women's road bike

Specifications

Frame/Fork : 6061 T6 aluminium / carbon blades and aluminium 1"1/8 Aheadset steerer
Drivetrain: Shimano 105 11sp mechanical
Brakes : TRP HY/RD disc brakes
Wheels : Triban alloy tubeless ready
Tires: Triban Resist 28mm
Sizes: XS - XL
Colours: one
Weight: 22.92lbs / 10.4kg

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant value for spec
+
Stable, comfortable geometry
+
Significantly undercuts rivals on price

Reasons to avoid

-
Harsher ride quality than rivals
-
On the heavy side

When it comes to value for money, Decathlon's Triban RC 520 is hard to beat. Alloy frame, carbon forks, Shimano groupset cable hydro disc brakes...the list of impressive specs goes on. And while it isn't a women's specific bike the size range does include an XS. Alternatively, if you're looking for a women's specific Triban road bike, the RC 500 with rim brakes is available at the time of writing.

As for the RC 520, in the constantly shrinking sub $/£1000 category, in our view it's almost unchallenged. With enough clearance for 36mm tires, it's plenty versatile. This aided by plenty of mounts too - fenders, rack, bottle cages, they're all here. 

Perhaps the standout detail however is the 11-speed 105 groupset. In this price range you're often looking at 8-speed drivechains, which can really limit performance and ride quality.

Yes, it's a bit on the heavy side but on test we enjoyed the way it handled at higher speeds, feeling nice and solid even on fast descents. In short, if you're just starting your road bike journey the Triban RC 520 won't hold you back and is equipped to handle a wide ranging of riding, from long, all-day adventures to winter commutes. 

Read more: Triban RC 520 full review 

What makes a women's road bike female specific?

What makes a women's road bike female specific?

There is no simple black and white answer here. Rather unhelpfully, it depends who you ask.

However, whilst manufacturers have to make their decisions based on what they feel will suit the 'average rider', remember that when buying a bike you're an individual.

To get the best women's road bike for you all you need to do is choose a bike for you. Test riding women's specific and unisex bikes will probably give you your answer.

Aside from that, there are two clear approaches that brands take:

Brands offering women's road bikes with female specific frame geometry

Some brands build a frame to be completely women's specific.

This is often represented in a shorter top tube, and taller head tube. The result is a slightly more upright geometry. Many of the best women's road bikes also feature a slacker head angle and longer rake - which does tend to position the bike closer to that of a unisex endurance bike.

The reasons for this vary: some brands say their research suggests women have a shorter wingspan (arms), meaning a shorter reach is ideal. Others suggest a women's lower upper body mass and centre of gravity make this a more suitable option, while some explain that women position their pelvis differently to avoid soft tissue compression. The results of focus groups and studies imply that many women want to ride in a more upright position.

Brands creating a bike with female specific frame geometry will spec the bike with components that match the intended rider - the handlebars, stems, saddles, cranks and gearing will all be female friendly (more on that below).

Brands offering women's road bikes with unisex geometry and female specific components

Other brands choose not to create a female specific frame, but instead to offer the same chassis as the unisex bikes, but with components adjusted to better suit the average woman's requirements.

Components that are often changed on a female specific bike include:

Handlebars: women generally have narrower shoulders, and ideally your handlebars should measure a similar width to your shoulders. So a well fitting women's road bike will have narrow handlebars. Shifters are often wound in to suit smaller hands (though you can do this for free at home on Shimano or SRAM shifters).

Two sets of handlebars

Stem: While frames built from 'the ground up' to suit women often have a shorter reach, those providing a unisex frame will nearly always fit a shorter stem. This does the same job of decreasing the reach, but can affect the handling.

Cranks: Women are typically shorter than men, so usually have shorter legs. Crank length is a debate on its own - but as a rule, reducing the length of the crank allows smaller riders to get the most from each pedal stroke. In the case of a very small frame, the cranks also need to be reduced in size to prevent toe overlap with the front wheel.

Gearing: If we're comparing Joe Bloggs and Lizzie Deignan, it's not realistic to say that the female rider will produce less power. But if we're comparing Joe Bloggs and Joanna Bloggs, it's an understandable assumption. It's therefore hightly likely to find the best women's road bikes featuring a compact or semi compact chainset (50/34 or 52/36 respectively) and wide ratio cassette (11-28 or 11-32).

Crankset on one of the best women's road bikes

Gearing may be adjusted on women's road bikes
(Image credit: Cycling Studio)

Standover height: Some women's bikes have a sloping top tube, to reduce standover height. This applies more to hybrid bikes and mountain bikes.

Sizes: A unisex frame with female components marketed as the women's version will usually be available in smaller sizes. In an ideal world, the brand will scale down other elements of the geometry and aspects such as fork angle will change too.

Saddle: Women frequently report saddle discomfort putting them off cycling. Most riders will swap the saddle on their bike early on - but a women's model will come with a women's saddle, giving a slightly higher chance of getting on with the perch after just a few rides.

Brands offering unisex frames with non-adjusted components

Many women choose to buy a standard unisex frame, and adjust the components above to suit. Indeed, many men will adjust these on unisex bikes in time.

If you're at a stage in your riding career where you know you'll do this anyway, then it doesn't make much difference.

However, picking a great women's road bike with these components already tweaked can make the first few months of bike ownership much cheaper - especially for beginners who don't have the standard cyclist's garage full of spare stems, handlebars and saddles.

Is the saddle most important for women's bikes?

Mike Smith is one of Britain’s top Retül bike fitters and runs Velomotion in Milton Keynes. He believes that the major difference in men's and women's bike fit lies in saddle comfort.

He commented: “I think it all comes around the saddle which makes the real difference to a female rider. Women are a lot more sensitive to putting weight through their perineum, soft tissue and their pubic bone.

“They prefer to sit to the back of the saddle where they put more weight through their sit bones.”

This sensitivity can be relieved by using a saddle with a cut-out, though thought should still be given to saddle width. “Spacing between the sit bones means the average woman would favour a wider saddle compared to a male rider,” Smith added.

Failure to address the saddle issue will see the rider sitting way back on her saddle, bending at the waist, not the hips, to give an upright position that makes the bike feel longer than it really is. This is a problem manufacturers mitigate with the aforementioned different tube lengths.

Saddle on one of the best women's road bikes

The saddle on a women's road bike

What type of women's road bike should you look for?

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Female cyclist standing next to her women's road bike