MTB Buying Guides

Pick of the Crop: Women’s Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

Our pick of women's full suspension mountain bikes, with offerings for lots of different budgets.

There are more than 20 women’s full suspension mountain bikes available in the UK, with even more set to hit our shores in the near future. The selection is impressive, and we’re not even looking at blokes’ bikes with splashes of pink or girly graphics either.

Bex Hopkins has whittled down the list to bring you our pick of the crop.

There isn’t a single bike on this list we wouldn’t ride with pride, which is why we’ve actually brought seven bikes to the table here – don’t make us choose!

If you’re not sure why you’d choose a full suspension bike over a hardtail then our ‘Buyers’ Guide: Hardtail versus full suspension mountain bike’ article should get you up to speed quickly.

We also have a feature on how to get the best mountain bike for your budget which should help cut through the mud on topics such as components and what to expect, and avoid.

There are a number of varieties of women’s full suspension mountain bikes. The lingo varies but the categories are roughly split like this

  • XC for those who enjoy climbing more than descending and want a lightweight bike with a moderate amount of suspension. These are built for speed on the flat and uphills, and capable of cross-country racing.
  • Trail bikes for riders who enjoy all aspects of mountain biking and want a bike that can handle tough descents as well as ride uphill. Not so focused on being super lightweight but light enough to ride all day in comfort.
  • Freeride or DH bikes are all about lots of suspension travel and NOT riding up hill. Generally not weight conscious at all, these are focused on extreme descending and speed.

There are no obvious female specific contenders in the DH or Freeride category. It’s a niche market and you’d most likely buy a frame and custom build it to suit you. `We found a only handful of full suspension XC bikes for women, less than you might think though, and possibly due to the crossover with hardtails.

Should you want a trail bike that can ride pretty much anything you throw it at then you’re in luck, this year saw an explosion in trail bikes for women and you may have a tough time deciding which one to choose! What’s a girl to do?

Pricing for women’s full suspension mountain bikes start at about £1300. Interestingly there isn’t a cheap alternative and the quality manufacturers are sensibly staying clear of making heavy replicas that don’t work well. So even in this ‘lower’ price range expect a bike that works well with tuneable suspension and quality components.

Here’s our top pick of Women’s full suspension mountain bikes…

 Cube AMS WLS £1449

Not as well known as some of the main manufacturers, Cube make quality bikes with a flair including this offering from their Women Like Series, the Cube AMS WLS.The Rock Shox Recon Silver Air fork has rebound damping, a PopLoc, and offers 110mm of travel.

The rear suspension is the Manitou Radium Expert RL air shock with rebound and lockout for a tunable set-up so it’s adjustable for most rider weights. Components include the very reliable Shimano SLX/XT groupset and wheels and Shimano M505 hydraulic disc brakes.

Liv/Giant Anthem X 29er at £1499

The next obvious price bracket is £1500, a popular price point yet with fewer offerings in the female specific full suspension category. That said there is a great contender in the form of the Liv/Giant Anthem X 29er.

With 100mm suspension the Anthem X has a RockShox Monarch R rear shock and RockShox Recon Silver 29 RL fork aimed at XC riders who fancy 29inch wheels for a fast, stable and controllable ride without the extended travel of a trail bike.

The frame is fitted with Shimano Deore gears and Shimano M395 disc brakes and Giant’s own brand saddle, seat post, stem and bars making it a competitively priced bike.

Trek Lush at £1750

We like the look of the Trek Lush, with its swooping low top-tube, bags of stand-over room and 120mm rear suspension with RockShox Monarch RL shock. It’s well balanced with 120mm suspension travel up front too, in the form of RockShox Recon Gold TK Solo Air fork with rebound adjustment and TurnKey lockout.

Components are well thought out and reliable; mostly Shimano Deore and Shimano SLX Shadow, with Shimano M446 hydraulic disc brakes and Bontrager saddle, seatpost, bars and stem.

This Lush model is Trek’s lowest priced full suss-er, they have three higher specced bikes all the way up to the blingy carbon fibre framed £4000 flagship model.

Juliana Origin Primeiro, price TBC

A head-turning women specific XC bike, the Origin is one of the ranges on offer from Juliana Bicycles, the new sister company to Santa Cruz.

The Origin Primeiro is the higher priced option from the range, and is the evolution of the ever-popular Santa Cruz Juliana, one of the first women’s full suspension mountain bikes available. Like the other Juliana ranges, it has several features that are particularly noteworthy for female riders.

Firstly, the frame sizes go from XS to M with low stand-over height. This is great news for smaller women as this means the model is suitable for women from 4’8 to 5’10. Secondly, the wheel size changes with the frame size, with XS on 26″ wheels, and S and M on 29″. Thirdly, the handlebars and grips are smaller and narrower, making for a better fit for smaller hands.

The frame comes in two colour options; vibrant persimmon and white pearl. It has 100mm of rear suspension in the form of a single pivot design with Fox Float  shock. Durable Shimano SLX/Deore gears and shifters with Deore hydraulic disc breaks make for a reliable, comfortable ride.

This will be released shortly in the UK, so watch this space for more information.

Lapierre Zesty 314L £2299

Back to trail bikes for the next price range and the Lapierre Zesty 314L. This is a firm favourite in the Alps and UK, and is part of Lapierre’s L-Series for women riders.

We’re not one for judging a bike on its’ colour but Lapierre have certainly got the measure of some nice paintjobs without getting all girly on us! The frame comes equipped with Fox Float CTD LV Evolution shock with 140mm travel and Fox 32 Float 150 CTD fork.

That means plenty of highly tunable suspension to enjoy in big terrain complimented by Shimano SLX/XT Shadow gears, Formula RX hydraulic disc brakes and Mavic New Crossride wheelset.

The Orange Five Diva Pro £2999

The Orange Five Diva Pro is a true trail bike that can do pretty much anything. It climbs well and definitely enjoys descending; you certainly won’t be under-forked with the Fox Float 32 and 140mm of smooth and tunable suspension. The rear has five inches of travel, as the name suggests, and boasts Shimano SLX/XT Shadow shifters and derailleurs. They’re tough and reliable – just what you’ll need for serious mountain riding.

The hydraulic brakes are Hope Tech Evo X2 and stem, seatpost and handlebars are from RaceFace’s Ride range. Wheels are really well thought out for rider weight and durability whilst keeping the weight down, the Hope Pro II Evo hubs and Mavic XM319 rims are a great combo.

If you buy from the Orange website you can upgrade almost any part or component using their options menu, handy drop-down options appear to tempt you along, you also get accurate pricing as you go. It’s mildly addictive! Throw in another £100 and you can even have it in one of the other 9 frame colours Orange offer – such as Apple Green or Plasma Blue.

Specialized Rumour Expert 29er £3300

Specialized offer a number of women’s full suspension mountain bikes and the Specialized Rumour Expert 29er really caught our eye this year. It’s a trail bike with, wait for it, 29 inch wheels, but with a slight nod towards XC geometry to give it nimble handling! We’ve not had the pleasure in testing it yet but from sneaky previews it looks like a serious contender in the trail bike wars.

Rear suspension travel is 110mm with Fox Float CTD Evolution shock, tuned for female riders, and featuring 3 compression settings: Climb, Trail and Descend, plus ProPedal!

Fox’s Float Performance Series 29 fork has CTD damper, rebound and compression adjustment, a lockout to give the maximum tenability, plus it has a tapered steerer tube. The components are noticeably higher quality in this price range, with the new SRAM Type 2 X0 rear derailleur and SRAM X7/X9 gears and Custom Formula T1 S hydraulic disc brakes with reach adjustment. The chainset is a custom SRAM Carbon S-2200, a 10-speed XC double which comes with different length cranks, 165/170/175mm, depending on the frame size. 

Our final word on the subject is to spend as much as you feasibly can. You won’t regret it and you’ll get the lightest bike with the best components. So whether you’re an XC or a trail rider we hope to meet you shredding some singletrack very soon!

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