How lucky are we? 2014 sees an array of fabulous women's road bikes at the popular £1000 price point. So many in fact, that we’ve included an additional four in our list.
When it comes to the best women's road bike, all 10 of the steeds featured should be available to purchase under the Cycle to Work scheme, so if you’re struggling to stump the cash up front, don't forget you’ve got an option.
You should expect a road bike with the £1000 price tag to be designed for training rides, sportives and even some racing. The frame should at least be double butted or possibly even hydroformed aluminium, but no matter what the frame is constructed from, all bikes should include carbon blade forks.
These bikes are reasonably lightweight and suitable for all types of road riding, light enough to climb, punchy acceleration and plenty stable enough to aid confidence.
Components usually vary from Shimano TIagra to the next step up Shimano 105 groupset. Both offer reliable shifting with Shimano 105 often seen on race ready road bikes, so aim for a bike with as much of it on as possible. On top of carbon bladed forks, some bikes are even adorned with a carbon fibre seatpost to help absorb road buzz, and help reduce the weight – even by a small amount.
Interestingly, the small manufacturers seem to be able to offer higher spec and carbon seatposts, whereas the bigger name bike-manufacturers focus on technical improvements to the women's road bike frame. It makes for a richer more exciting choice in our opinion!
So what are you waiting for? Go forth and lust after your new women's road bike for 2014! The fun starts here.
[part title="Cube Axial WLS Pro RRP £899"]
Coming in at £100 under-budget you would expect to see some compromises from Cube, but with the Axial WLS Pro there are fewer than expected. From the offset it certainly doesn’t look inferior to bikes priced over £1000; the frame is double butted Superlite 6061 aluminium tubing with sleek internal cable routing, plus that all important tapered carbon fork worthy of a higher price tag.
The groupset is pretty comparable to the other £1000 bikes and is a mix of Shimano components, from Tiagra to 105, with Hollowtech II triple crankset and Pressfit bottom bracket. Fulcrum Racing aerodynamic wheels complete the picture and are lovingly colour matched to the striking blue frame graphics – nothing girly looking here!
The geometry and contact points are all female specific and filtered down from Cube’s women’s top end carbon bike, it’s nice to report that a lower price tag doesn’t always mean you get less bike! The women' road bike frame is available in the following sizes Frame sizes are 47, 50, 53, 56cm.
[part title="Lapierre Audacio 400 RRP £900"]
Another option for you coming £100 short of the £1000 price tag is Lapierre’s 2014 offering. The Audacio 400 women's road bike is designed to provide female riders a smooth and comfortable ride, and is especially suited for longer distances.
Accompanying the 7005 aluminium frame is a Lapierre carbon fork with alloy steerer, and full Shimano Tiagra groupset with 3 x 10 speed gearing. The frame finish looks sleek, especially around the headtube with smooth welds and clean lines. The pink highlights may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s a good looking bike none-the-less.
In addition to the Tiagra groupset, the components are good quality named parts including Ritchey seatpost and stem, FSA headset and the popular Selle Italia X1 Flow Lady saddle. All adding up to an incredibly good value bike!
[part title="Cannondale Synapse 6 Tiagra RRP £949"]
Cannondale have been building women specific road bikes for what seems like an eternity and the Synapse doesn’t let the side down. The comfortable and upright riding position give a confidence boost to all riders.
Geometry of the Synapse 6 is endurance focused, with a slightly longer wheelbase to provide a stable and comfortable ride. Five frame sizes offer a wide range of sizing, from 44-56cm. The main selling points to note are the SAVE PLUS technology, micro-suspension in the carbon-bladed fork and rear triangle all help to enhance comfort and compliance. Plus the smaller diameter seatpost (25.4mm) offers more flex than oversized seatposts.
The women's road bike frame has double-pass smooth welds and 6061 alloy taper-butted tubes with internal cable routing for cleanliness and good looks, and let’s not forget the rack and mudguard mounts. The spec is decent too, with Shimano Tiagra groupset, FSA and Cannondale components.
[part title="Felt Ladies ZW85 RRP £949"]
This FitWoman bike from Felt has a lightweight custom butted and shaped aluminium frame in sizes 43, 45, 47, and 51cm. Interestingly the two larger sizes have a tapered 1.125-1.5" steerer tube on the carbon fibre bladed fork, whereas the smaller frame sizes have standard aluminium steerer tubes.
Felt say the ZW85 women's road bike takes many of its design cues from the popular Z Series. Both feature a longer wheelbase for an extremely confident, assured ride. They both also offer more handlebar positioning choices, as well as a sloping top tube for superior stand-over clearance and improved vertical compliance that results from a more exposed seatpost. It certainly looks the part and has all the defining features of a higher price tag too.
Gearing and braking are a mixture of Shimano 105 and FSA components, the FSA Omega compact 50x34 chainset has varying crank length according to frame size, ranging from 165 to 172.5mm. The appropriate size philosophy is also seen on the bar width and stem length - easy to do as Felt have used their quality own brand components here.
Finally the Felt FitWoman UHC Performance carbon fibre seatpost is worth a mention, especially as the bike comes in at £50 under budget.
[part title="Norco Valence A1 Forma RRP £950"]
Here’s another sub-£1000 bike that raises the bar, going to show that by shying away from the big four manufacturers can get you a higher specced bike.
The Valence A1 Forma from Norco has a Shimano 105 groupset, a composite seatpost and Shimano R501 wheelset - all quite impressive for the price tag.
The women's road bike frame is double butted and formed 7005 alloy with Arc Endurance stays and is designed for long distance rides with endurance focused geometry. Carbon bladed forks with alloy steerer are standard for this price point and help dampen the road buzz that causes fatigue on longer rides.
Other components are from well-known brands such as the Ritchey Comp Curve handlebars, FSA Orbit CE headset and Selle Royal Seta Women saddle, making the Valence A1 Forma definitely worth a look.
[part title="Orbea Aqua Dama 10 RRP £989"]
Striking looks are Orbea’s standard position when it comes to making good looking bikes, and the female specific Aqua Dama is no disappointment here. Although some may not like the ‘girly’ pink splashes of colour on the women's road bike, before deciding on colour alone we urge you to check out the details.
The 7005 series aluminium tubing is hydroformed for unique tubing shapes and fitted with Orbea’s carbon fork and integrated headset to provide strength and stiffness of the frame as well as to give it a unique custom appearance.
Shimano 105 components form the entire groupset, with the exception of the Shimano Tiagra front derailleur and cassette and the FSA Omega double crankset. Treats include the Orbea carbon seatpost and Orbea Aero wheelset with women specific compact design Orbea handlebars and Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle.
The Aqua Dama is a worthy contender in this competitive price range and it gets a double thumbs up for being slightly under-budget too.
[part title="Scott Contessa Speedster 15 RRP £999"]
The Contessa Speedster 15 has a sleek and stylish look, with a 6061 double butted alloy frame, hydroformed tubing and women specific geometry. It’s designed for those wanting a first crack at racing or happy to ride long miles at weekends, making it a good all-rounder road bike.
Fitted with the Speedster Carbon fork and alloy steerer, plus a reliable wheelset made up of Scott Team hubs with Alex Race 28 Aero Profile rims - it’s a reliable and reasonably lightweight women;s road bike. The drivetrain is a mixture of the Shimano 105 and Tiagra components and other parts include Syncros headset, seatpost, bars and saddle.
Finally, we should mention there are five frame sizes to choose from spanning 47 to 56cm - something for everyone.
[part title="Merida Ride Alloy Juliet 94 RRP £999"]
Merida have not held back with their Juliet 94 bike, the frame is hydroformed 6066 aluminium with some beautifully designed tube shapes.
Not all women's road bike frames in this price bracket offer internal cable routing however the Merida Juliet does. Internal cable routing not only provides sleek and clean lines, it also protects cables from muck and wet, making maintenance nice and easy. The same goes for a tapered headtube, not necessarily an essential requirement, but a definite perk that improves stiffness and precise handling, something the Merida includes too.
Components are mostly Shimano 105 with Merida Road Comp brake calipers and Merida has opted for a double compact chainset giving a total of 20 gears. Merida’s home-grown bars and stem complete the contact points with a carbon seatpost adding further luxury. More carbon is found on the fork, in fact it’s a full carbon fork, rather than having a cheaper alloy steerer which is generally more common.
All in all, a well specced option, with well thought through components.
[part title="Liv/giant Avail 1 RRP £999"]
The Liv/giant Avail 1 is designed with endurance focused geometry for female riders who want a comfortable road bike for long rides and sportives. The frame is constructed from Giant’s premium Aluxx SL tubing with OverDrive head tube for precise handling with an Advanced-Grade Composite carbon fork with alloy steerer.
With the exception of the Shimano Tiagra cassette and Tektro brake calipers, you’re getting a full Shimano 105 groupset, a good and reliable choice for this price point and it’s nice to see no corners have been cut to save costs.
Giant components finish the spec off nicely, including bars, stem and composite seatpost with Liv/Giant female specific saddle, and finally there’s a Giant P-Elite C wheelset with 25mm folding tyres for added comfort.
[part title="Specialized Dolce Elite X3 EQ RRP £1000"]
Specialized have tailored the Dolce women's road bike range towards all-round road riding. It’s snappy enough for a foray into racing and comfortable for all day jollies in the countryside, making it a popular choice for female riders.
The Elite X3 EQ is the top of the range Dolce model and the A1 Premium Aluminium frame has Zertz inserts in the unique shaped hydroformed seat stays. Zertz inserts are also seen in the FACT carbon fork to reduce road buzz and vibrations.
The groupset is Shimano Tiagra with a triple chainset, in addition to Specialized seatpost, saddle, stem and bar components the manufacturer has provided two water bottle cages and a Mini-Wedgie seat bag, so you’re ready to roll out of the shop and on to the roads.
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