Best women’s road bikes for 2018: 11 of the best

Tried and tested bikes for racing, sportives, gran fondos, commuting and more

If you’re after a new women’s road bike, we’ve picked the cream of the crop to help you choose, priced from £999 / $1,500 / AU$1,999. Each of these bikes has been extensively ridden and tested by our team of reviewers.

Whether you’re after a bike for commuting, racing or enjoying long rides, we’ve got some great recommendations.

If you're not sure what to expect for your money or what type of road bike to go for, our women’s road bike buyer’s guide has all the info you need to make the right decision based on your needs and budget.

Women’s road bike of the year — Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women's

BikeRadar score5/5

The Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women's is BikeRadar's pick for Women's Road Bike of the Year 2018
The Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women's is BikeRadar's pick for Women's Road Bike of the Year 2018

  • £3,000 / $3,499 / AU$4,499
  • IsoSpeed and big 32mm tyres really smooth-out the road
  • Carbon frame and forks
  • Full Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes

The exceptional Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s took the title of Women’s Road Bike of the Year 2018.

It combines a supremely smooth and efficient ride that’s comfortable mile after mile with a turn of speed that reveals its racing DNA.

The carbon frame features Trek’s proprietary IsoSpeed decouplers, which isolate the rider from fatiguing road chatter, while the SL 6 Disc build has a full Ultegra groupset that includes powerful and efficient hydraulic disc brakes.

It’s not just a great endurance bike, or women’s bike for that matter, it’s just a great bike, full stop.

The Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women's wins women's Road Bike of the Year 2018

Specialized Women’s Diverge E5 Comp

BikeRadar score4.5/5

If you want something that's versatile enough to tackle gravel or commuting, check out the Diverge from Specialized
If you want something that's versatile enough to tackle gravel or commuting, check out the Diverge from Specialized

  • £1,500 / $1,900 / AU$2,400
  • Aluminium frame with carbon fork
  • Shimano 105 groupset
  • Attachment points for racks and mudguards
  • Future Shock headt ube softens the ride
  • Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes

Overall, this is a great bike for riders who value versatility and comfort above all else. It's also great for those who want something that they can use for long rides where there’s a certainty of gravel riding but still rolls well on tarmac, and will handle daily commuting.

It’s comfortable, felt sturdy and on some of the crazy ‘shortcuts’ and ‘oh, I wonder what’s over there’ routes it ate up rough surfaces.

Cube Axial WS C:62 Disc

BikeRadar score4/5

The Cube Axial WS blends race and endurance elements
The Cube Axial WS blends race and endurance elements

  • £2,599 / €2,799
  • Carbon frame
  • Aero endurance geometry
  • Shimano Ultegra groupset and hydraulic brakes
  • Carbon finishing kit
  • Mavic Cosmic Elite Disc wheels

The Cube Axial WS C:62 is an enjoyable ride that's fun, forgiving and fast, but doesn't have quite the stand-out ride experience of some of higher-scoring bikes on this list.

There's nothing to fault though, and I had a blast riding it around my local hills and lanes.

Best women’s road bike on a smaller budget

On a tight budget? You can still get a good quality road bike without spending a huge amount of money.

Liv Avail SL 1

BikeRadar score4/5

A good all-rounder for a good price
A good all-rounder for a good price

  • £999
  • Only the Avail SL Disc models are available in the US and Australia — so, consider the Avail SL 1 Disc priced at $1,430 / AU$1,999
  • Comfortable aluminium-framed bike with carbon fork
  • Women's specific frame design
  • Shimano 105 groupset

The Liv Avail SL 1 is designed for endurance riding and its geometry is comfortable for longer distances with responsive rather than agile handling.

The stiff carbon frame can however be a little tiring on long rides as road chatter isn't dissipated as well as some other endurance bikes, such as the Trek Domane SL 6 or Specialized Ruby, but it is a lot cheaper.

The bike comes fitted with hydraulic disc rather than rim brakes, which I'm a fan of, and you get Shimano's Ultegra groupset too.

It's a good quality all-rounder, so if you're looking for a bike that can do a bit of everything the Avail SL 1 could be for you.

Best women’s race bikes

Speed, agile handling, lightweight. These are some of the key ingredients of a great race bike and below are the best of the best of the race-focussed bikes we’ve tested.

Specialized Women’s Tarmac S-Works SL6

BikeRadar score5/5

Specialized Women's S-Works Tarmac
Specialized Women's S-Works Tarmac

  • £8,500 / $9,500 / AU$13,000
  • Top of the range carbon frame and fork with aerodynamic profiling
  • Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset
  • Carbon finishing kit

The pinnacle of racing perfection, it has incredible acceleration, agile handling without twitchiness, superb confidence on corners, aero features, efficient power transfer — the works.

By its very nature, this is a bike that anyone riding it with a serious desire for speed, control and performance will go for.

Liv Langma Advanced SL 0

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Built for racing, tested by the pros
Built for racing, tested by the pros

  • £7,749 / $10,000 / AU$10,999
  • Top-of-the-range carbon road bike designed for pro-level racing
  • Women's specific frame design
  • SRAM RED eTap groupset

This premium, range-topping bike from Liv Cycling was designed to fulfil the needs of its pro-riders, including Team Sunweb. Designed from the ground up for female riders, it boasts aerodynamic features and an incredibly light weight for the size.

Trek Émonda SL 5 Women’s

BikeRadar score4/5

Trek Emonda SL 5 Women’s
Trek Emonda SL 5 Women’s

  • £1,800 / $2,000 / AU$2,499
  • Quality carbon frame and forks
  • Shimano 105 groupset
  • Bontrager tubeless-ready alloy wheels

If you’re into fast-paced riding or racing and are looking to make your first carbon road bike purchase, or want a quality frame that’s perfectly placed for future upgrades, then the Émonda SL 5 is a good choice.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX Disc 8.0 Team CSR

BikeRadar score4/5

Canyon's Ultimate WMN
Canyon's Ultimate WMN

  • £2,699 / $2,999 / AU$4,299
  • Women's specific carbon frame designed for the Canyon//SRAM pro team
  • Frame sizes down to 2XS
  • SRAM Force groupset including hydraulic disc brakes

This version of the Canyon Ultimate is ideal if you want a race bike that's built around the same high-quality carbon frame as ridden by the Canyon//SRAM pro team (and features the team colours), and/or are looking for a race-ready bike for smaller riders.

Sizing goes from M to 2XS, with smaller 650b wheels and spec to maintain a similar ride feel and performance across all sizes.

Best women’s sportive / gran fondo bike

Looking for something more comfortable yet still efficient on long rides, sportives and gran fondos? Or looking for something for general, enjoyable riding? This selection will see you right.

While the Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s bike (above) is an excellent choice, we’ve also got some other top-rated options.

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Canyon Endurace WMN
Canyon Endurace WMN

  • £2,699 / $2,699 / AU$4,299
  • Carbon frame and forks
  • Women's specific frame design with endurance geometry
  • Shimano Ultegra groupset including hydraulic disc brakes

If you’re looking for a do-it-all bike that errs more towards comfort and versatility than all-out speed, but is quite capable of going hard when you need it to, the Endurace WMN from Canyon is a bike worth considering.

It features a carbon frame and full Shimano Ultegra groupset including hydraulic disc brakes.

The Endurace WMN also wins points for its range of sizes — it’s great to see a brand such as Canyon cater to smaller riders, going down to a 3XS size. Smaller wheels are fitted too to ensure consistent handling and no toe overlap.

Also consider…

Best women’s hybrid / city bike

Hybrid or city bikes are versatile machines, able to handle a range of conditions and put the rider in a comfortable, upright position. You’re usually able to bolt on a pannier rack and mudguards too, so they’re perfect for everything from popping to the shops or a social ride to efficiently taking you from home to work and back.

While most have flat handlebars and aren't typically defined as road bikes, there are plenty of drop handlebar bikes that make great city bikes, allowing you to add a pannier rack for your luggage.

Strap on your pannier rack and zip through the lane-ways and streets, dodging traffic as you go… or head out for a countryside cruise.

Check out our guide to what's the best bike for commuting

Best women's adventure bike

Genesis Datum 20 W

The Genesis Datum 20 W is built for adventure
The Genesis Datum 20 W is built for adventure

  • RRP from £2,399 for the current 2018 model (2017 model shown and tested)
  • Women's specific finishing kit including narrower bars
  • Comfortable, confident and wide 32mm Clement Strada tyres
  • Shimano Tiagra gearing

The Datum from UK brand Genesis is designed for comfort, long distances and those who like to venture away from tarmac.

Best if… you’re after a cheap cargo bike

Elephant bike

The ex-Royal Mail bike is sturdy and reliable
The ex-Royal Mail bike is sturdy and reliable

  • £250

The name might not sound promising, but this is a brilliant, cheap, practical and robust bike for anyone who’s looking to cart stuff around town.

It is, in fact, based on the old Royal Mail post bike, and as well as being perfect for weighing down with bags and boxes, the company behind Elephant Bikes will ship one over to the people of Malawi, Africa for every bike sold in the UK.

The bikes are tough and require minimal maintenance, with Sturmey Archer 3-speed transmission and drum brakes, a step-through frame and mudguards and fitted cargo racks.

Aoife Glass

Women's Cycling Editor
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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