If you’re new to the mountain biking scene, all the options, the jargon, and even the terrain can seem intimidating and overwhelming. But have no fear; mountain biking is supposed to be fun, thrilling, exhilarating—not so daunting that you are afraid to begin. And to begin, you need a bike.
However, women’s mountain bikes, especially for beginners, may have a wider range of adjustments, such as seat and handlebar height and responsiveness, and maybe even wheel size.
Beginner on a Budget
It seems like most popular mountain bikes are within the $1,500 to $2,000 range, but if you’re just starting, maybe you don’t want to commit to that price just yet. A few great models that are less than $1,000 are the Giant ATX, the Trek Marlin 5, and the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0.
Let’s start by talking about the Giant ATX, or any Giant, for that matter. These are sturdy bikes that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, and chances are, if you take care of your Giant ATX, it will take care of you.
It starts at less than $500, and this bike is excellent for beginners because it’s not made for any super jumps or crazy stunts—in fact, you can use it as a commuter bike during the week and then hit the trails on weekends. The treads are almost hybrid-like between road tires and mountain tires, so this bike is affordable and versatile.
For our next budget contender, we can check out the Trek Marlin 5. There are more models past the Marlin 5, but this one starts at less than $700 and its versatility is unmatched. Like the Giant ATX, it’s a great beginner bike because not only does it have the frame and suspension to handle the trails; but it also comes with a rack mount so you can use it in the city.
We also have the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0, which costs about $600. With these knobby, wide tires and a lightweight frame made of aluminum, you’re ready to hit the trails on a budget. It comes with plenty of gears to suit your fancy (21, to be exact), so without thousands of dollars of commitment, you can have an excellent piece of equipment to try out a new hobby.
Beginner With a Blank Check
Maybe getting a new ride on a budget isn’t part of your requirements, so let’s take a look at the best women’s bikes for beginners regardless of price. Some of the very best include the Liv Embolden 1, the Scott Contessa Genius 920, and the Salsa Rangefinder series.
Liv is a bike company that designs bikes specifically for women, so the Embolden 1 is bound to be a better fit and more adjustable no matter your size (it comes in four sizes). The cost is $2,000, but you are paying for a superiorly engineered mountain bike.
The Liv Embolden’s tubeless tires, robust suspension, and great control make it an excellent choice for beginners as it allows them to work their way up to more and more challenging trails and terrain. It also absorbs shock on the frame at specific points to benefit a female rider—the saddle and the grips don’t rock as much on impact.
Let’s look at the Scott Contessa Genius 920. This bike comes in three sizes and it’s a whopping $2,500, but it’s built for beginners and advanced riders alike. It’s a great bike to learn on because the 29-inch tires will easily roll over smooth or rocky terrain; it’s highly adjustable, and it comes with a finishing kit specifically for the added comfort of lighter riders. This bike will treat you right for years.
Now we come to the Salsa Rangefinder. Any bike in this series offers beginner mountain biking enthusiasts customizability and ease of use. It’s on the lower end of our pricey list at $1,300, and you can use it for trails as sleek or as complex as you desire.
Rangefinders can fit both 27-inch and 29-inch tires, so you can switch them out as you please. You can drop your saddle whenever you need to by just pressing a button. Its aluminum frame is sprightly, and the handling is responsive so you can always be in control.
What To Look Out For
We mentioned some great models and brands of bikes above, but you can also have an idea before you shop about what you are looking for regarding the features of the bike you’re looking for.
If you know you will be switching to many different inclines while riding, look for a dropper saddle—that way you can always work smarter to get up and down those hills, not harder. Also, check out the tires. Are they made for sandy, pebbly, rocky, or hilly terrain, or perhaps pavement? What surfaces do you expect to encounter on your adventures?
Then there is the debate between aluminum and carbon frames. Carbon frames are now much more durable than they used to be, so you no longer have to worry about the frame being brittle or sustaining damage from normal use. They are slightly lighter than aluminum frames. However, carbon-framed bikes can cost twice as much as their aluminum counterparts.
Though carbon frames are durable and lighter, they are only minimally lighter than aluminum frames. What matters the most is the rider’s skill and reaction time, not the minuscule weight difference between types of frames.
One of the most important things to look out for when choosing your new mountain bike is comfort, and with that come dimensions and suspension. Is it the right size for you? Are you contorting yourself into crazy postures just to sit on it? Does the suspension absorb most of the shock you would get on the trail when you take it for a test ride?
If you keep these factors in mind when making your choice, along with the attributes we mentioned above, you will find that set of wheels that can take you anywhere you want to explore.
Read also: Best Women’s Road Bikes for Beginners