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Best women’s trail bikes: shred with confidence around your local trails

Best women's trail bikes
(Image credit: Juliana Bicycles)

The best women's trail bikes are key to shredding your way to happiness. If your dream day out involves flying along trails, playing on natural terrain, whizzing up fire roads and technical climbs before ripping down descents, then our guide to the best women’s trail bikes will help you find the right bike for you. 

Trail bikes are a brilliant and versatile choice if you’re looking for a go-anywhere, do-anything, playful-feeling ride. They’re less focussed on speed than cross-country bikes, so tend to have a bit more suspension travel and a less aggressive on-bike position. They’re also well suited to long rides on undulating terrain and climb well, and thanks to ever-evolving suspension technology can also handle some pretty technical descents too. 

Our selection of the best women's trail bikes includes some bikes designed specifically for female riders, from Liv and Canyon, as well as others that are based around a unisex frame with other elements designed to suit female riders better. For example, most women’s trail bikes will feature suspension tuned for the on-average lighter weight of female riders so they get the best performance out of them.

In terms of versatility and capability, it’s hard to beat the Juliana Furtado but it is the priciest option on the list. The Trek Fuel EX 8 has a huge range of sizes to suit smaller and taller riders, while in terms of value-for-money the Canyon Spectral WMN is hard to beat.

Finally, do women have to ride women’s specific bikes? Not at all, and even female-focused brand Liv would say that its bikes aren’t for everyone. Some women find they really work for them, others quite the opposite. Ultimately, it’s about what works for you, and it’s always worth taking any bike you’re considering for a test ride if you can.

Jump ahead to what to look for when buying a women's trail bike.

Best women's trail bikes

Best women's trail bikes: Juliana Furtado C XT

(Image credit: Juliana Bicycles)

Juliana Furtado C XT

Super-capable and fun do-it-all trail bike

Price: £5,999 / €6,199 / $5,999 / AUS$10,499 | Sizes: XS, S, M | Wheel size: 27.5in | Frame material: Carbon | Suspension travel: 140mm front, 130mm rear | Forks: RockShox Pike Select+ | Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ | Groupset: Shimano XT 12spd | Head angle: 65 degrees on low setting | Seatpost angle: 77 degrees on low setting (varies by size)

Supremely capable, confidence-inspiring ride
Lifetime bearing warranty
Flip-chip allows geometry switch between high and low settings
Hefty price tag

The Furtado is a 27.5in 130mm travel trail bike that’s an absolute blast to ride. It's agile, playful but will give you the confidence to push yourself and your riding. 

The bike includes a flip-chip which allows you to switch between a more descent-focussed low setting and a climb-friendly high setting. 

While the price tag is high, Juliana and its brother-brand Santa Cruz make exceptionally fun, playful and capable trail bikes, and the Furtado is adaptable enough to make it equally fun to blast around your local trails, take on a big back-country bikepacking adventure, or practice your descending and jumping skills. The brand also offers a lifetime bearing warranty which helps reduce the costs of keeping the bike running sweetly for years to come. 

The RockShox Pike fork and Super Deluxe shock with a women’s specific tune offer plenty of plush suspension that cushions the rider from hard hits while helping maintain plenty of traction and grip. Shimano XT brakes provide good, powerful braking to help control speed, while the Shimano XT 12-spd groupset provides a wide enough range to make spinning up steep climbs easy and powering through sprints thrillingly speedy. 

Best women's trail bikes: Liv Intrigue 3

(Image credit: Liv Cycling)

Liv Intrigue 3

Superbly capable 140mm-travel women’s specific trail bike

Price: £2,099 / €2,400 (Intrigue 2) / $2,100 / AUS$3,299 | Sizes: XS, S, M | Wheel size: 27.5in | Type: Full-suspension | Frame material: ALUXX Aluminium with carbon composite links | Suspension travel: 150mm front, 140mm rear | Forks: RockShox 35 Gold RL | Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select | Groupset: SRAM Eagle SX 12-spd | Head angle: 66.5 degrees | Seatpost angle: 74.5 degrees

Geometry designed for women, by women
150/140mm suspension travel
SRAM Eagle 12-spd gearing
Geometry isn’t as progressive as other trail bikes

A trail bike that’s designed to take on more technical, chunky terrain, the Liv Intrigue has been designed for women by women, like all bikes in the Liv lineup.

The 27.5in wheels are combined with grip-giving Maxxis High Roller II tires which will suit a wide range of trail conditions. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes provide reliable wet-weather braking but are one area that would be great to upgrade further down the line to something a little more powerful. 

SRAM Eagle SX in a 1x12-spd range provides plenty of gears for handling long climbs while at the other end gives enough 'oomph' to power into sprints. 

The head angle isn’t as slack as others on the market, so it’s a little more nervy on descents but the 150mm of front travel, courtesy of the quality RockShox Pike forks plus RockShox Deluxe Select shock, can handle most rock gardens, drops, root sections and anything else you choose to throw your bike down.

Best women's trail bikes: Canyon Spectral CF 7 WMN

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon Spectral CF 7 WMN

Superb value-for-money, superb fun

Price: £3,499 / €3,199 / $3,599 / AUS$4,999 | Sizes: XS, S, M | Wheel size: 27.5in | Frame material: Carbon | Suspension travel: 150mm front, 140mm rear | Forks: RockShox Pike Select+ | Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ | Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle 1x12-spd | Head angle: 66 degrees | Seatpost angle: 74 degrees

Very impressive spec for the price
Capable and fun ride feel
150/140mm travel
Powerful 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
Relatively slack seat post angle makes it less efficient on climbs
Handlebars might be too narrow for some riders

Direct-sell brand Canyon produces some impressive bikes that combine performance with exceptional value for money, and the Canyon Spectral WMN is no exception to the rule. Boasting an incredibly impressive spec list with performance-focussed, durable parts, this is a bike that will support you on your quest to ride further, faster and have more fun. 

This WMN version of the popular Canyon Spectral trail bike boasts a cockpit designed for female riders with narrower bars and tuned suspension. Components are adapted to each size in the range. 

RockShox suspension front and rear with plenty of travel make this bike fun on both your local trail center and gnarlier terrain, while the powerful 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes ensure that you’re able to rein in your speed easily when you need to.

Best women's trail bikes: Scott Contessa Spark 910

(Image credit: Scott Sports)

Scott Contessa Spark 910

Trail-ready 29er with a focus on speed

Price: £3,699 / €3,999 / $3,999 / AUS$6,499 | Sizes: S, M, L | Wheel size: 29in | Frame material: Carbon and alloy | Suspension travel: 130mm front, 120mm rear | Forks: Fox 34 Float Performance | Shock: Fox Nude EVOL | Groupset: SRAM Eagle GX 1x12-spd | Head angle: 67.2 degrees | Seatpost angle: 73.8 degrees

Feels fast and efficient on the trail
Plenty of gears for long climbs, technical ascents and fast sprints
Geometry is more XC than trail
Dropper post feels short for bike size

Based around a unisex frame with women’s specific finishing kit and suspension tune, the Contessa Spark is a trail bike with DNA close to Scott’s racing roots. The geometry certainly sits closer to the XC side of things with a relatively steep head angle. It feels nimble and eager to ride as fast as you’ll let it, while the wide SRAM Eagle GX 1x12-spd groupset offers plenty of gears for putting down the power at one end and eating up climbs at the other. 

Climbing ability is aided by the 29er wheels which roll more easily over rough ground and obstacles, and once up to speed keep their momentum with a deceptively smooth sensation; you’ll be going faster than you realize. Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes offer plenty of stopping power for when you want to shave that speed. 

The Maxxis Rekon tires are a good all-rounder, again more focussed on the XC side of trail riding. They’re fast rolling but with a good amount of tread, but for muddy conditions or technical descents you may want to swap them for something with a bit more bite. 

Best women's trail bikes: Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy

Capable, fun unisex trail bike with the option to swap parts

Price: £1,899 / €2,199 / $2,200 / AUS$3,200 | Sizes: S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6 | Wheel size: 29in | Frame material: Alloy | Suspension travel: 140mm front, 130mm rear | Forks: RockShox 35 Silver Solo Air | Shock: X-Fusion 02 Pro RL | Groupset: SRAM Eagle SX 1x12-spd | Head angle: 65 degrees | Seatpost angle: 77.7 degrees

Swap out saddle or bars to improve fit
Progressive trail geometry
Flip-chip to change between high/low geometry
Tektro brakes aren’t very powerful
Alloy wheels are heavy

The Stumpjumper has a long history of trail riding behind it, and the latest iteration of this beloved Specialized bike is proving popular with riders of all levels on all types of trail terrain. It’s fun, capable and feels playful on the trail, partly due to the progressive geometry. The slack head angle feels great on descents, while the steep seat tube angle makes climbing much more efficient and comfortable. 

While Specialized no longer offers women’s specific bikes, as it feels that unisex bikes with appropriate contact points offer the best fit, it will swap out saddle, stem and/or handlebars like-for-like to suit the rider, free of charge. So if you prefer a different saddle to the one that comes stock, you can ask for it to be switched over for you, gratis. 

Specialized also offers the bike in a whopping 6 sizes (listed as S1 to S6) and it has an easy-to-use online fit tool to help you work out the best size for you, taking into account not just your height but also your preferred riding style and terrain. 

SRAM SX 1x12-spd provides that wonderful wide gear range, which the X-Fusion/RockShox blend on the suspension gives plenty of support on technical features.

Best women's trail bikes: Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

(Image credit: Trek)

Trek Fuel EX 8 XT

Capable, fun trail bike that’s great for short and tall riders

Price: £3,200 / €3,499 / $3,499.99 / AUS$4,999.99 | Sizes: XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL | Wheel size: 29in (27.5in on XS, S) | Frame material: Alloy | Suspension travel: 140mm front, 130mm rear | Forks: Fox Rhythm 34 | Shock: Fox Performance Float with RE:aktive damper | Groupset: Shimano XT 1x12-spd | Head angle: 66 degrees | Seatpost angle: 75.5 degrees

Huge range of size options
4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
Flip-chip changes geometry to high or low position
Unisex design may not suit everyone

Trek, like Specialized, no longer offers women’s specific models and instead focuses on tuning the spec and suspension to the average rider of each size of the bikes in a model range. It also provides a huge size range with smaller intervals between each size to allow for a better fit, plus size-specific parts. 

The XS and S sizes come with 27.5in wheels, and the other sizes (including a second S offering) have 29in wheels. The size ranges up to an XXL and includes a M/L size which straddles a height range that a lot of riders fall between. XS and S also have a curved top tube to give a lower standover height, which is better for shorter riders. 

The Fuel is a lot of fun to ride, and the spec on the EX 8 model is just the right blend of performance and value for money at this price point. It’s got everything you need to give you confidence and inspire you to ride further, faster and have more fun on the trail. 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes provide powerful speed control with subtle control, while the Shimano XT 1x12-spd groupset has range enough to allow you to both spin easily up steep climbs and put the power down to gain speed. 

What to look for when buying a women's trail bike

1. What makes a bike ‘women’s specific’?

The term women’s specific gets used a lot in cycling, and its meaning has changed over the years. In short, it’s a bike that has been designed for the average female rider. Different brands have different interpretations of what that means. Liv (sister brand to Giant Bicycles) and some Canyon WMN bikes are designed around female-only body dimension data and have a different geometry to their unisex/male counterparts, as well as components and spec designed to optimize the ride experience for female riders. Juliana Bicycles bikes are based around the same frames as its brother brand Santa Cruz, but with different colors, contact points and suspension tune. Specialized, Trek and most other brands offer unisex bikes designed to suit male and female riders, with the option to swap or tweak elements like the saddle or handlebars to suit different requirements. 

2. Isn’t ‘women’s specific’ just marketing hype?

Historically, the approach to designing bikes for women was a bit lackluster. What’s called colloquially ‘shrink it and pink it’ was the main method: make it in smaller sizes and make it a ‘feminine’ color like pink because women are shorter and like pink. These products also often featured lesser parts for the same price, or were more expensive than their unisex/male counterparts, though happily, this doesn’t hold true anymore, bar for a few limited exceptions. People are understandably cautious of the term as a result, but generally speaking the term actually has more research behind it these days. 

3. Suspension travel

Most trail bikes have frame travel of around 130mm, controlled by the shock, though some go up to 140mm. This is usually plenty for most trails, and blends capability on technical features with a playful, maneuverable feel. At the front, most trail bikes will have anywhere between 130mm to 150mm, with longer travel making short work of rough terrain, but it can also compromise climbing ability, so if you’ve got or like plenty of uphill riding, bear this in mind. 

4. Wheel size

Trail bikes commonly come with either 27.5inch wheels or larger 29inch (often referred to as 29er) wheels. Smaller wheels are typically more maneuverable in tight terrain and often work better on small bike sizes like S and XS. 29er wheels feel much smoother over rough terrain, don’t as get caught up on loose ground as smaller wheels can.

Aoife Glass

Aoife loves a bike-based adventure, whether it’s out in the mountains on her MTB or exploring new places by road or gravel. She’s tested a LOT of bikes and kit, and is passionate about making cycling accessible for everyone. After all, it’s much more fun with friends, right?

Bikes currently owned: Juliana Maverick, Liv Devote