You’re not imagining this: More women are riding on two wheels than ever. Between 2003 and 2012, the biking business has grown 20 percent in female participation, reports the League of American Bicyclists. As a result, big bike brands are creating more options exclusively for women. Having lots of choices is great—until you have to decide on one. For this reason, bike shopping can feel stifling and intimidating, especially if you haven’t owned one since, oh, age 9.

Before you walk into a bike shop, don’t think solely about your budget. Focus instead on where you see yourself riding, suggests Scott Holz, a global brand manager at Specialized Bicycle Components who spent 20-plus years in bike retail before going corporate. “If you can describe where you visualize yourself cycling and who you are with, like your kids or friends or triathletes, then the sales person can make a great recommendation,” he says.

Consider the experience you want first, and then talk about money. If the best bike is out of your price range, take the time to save for the solid investment, rather than settle for a cheaper one that’s all wrong for the job. When a bike doesn’t perform the way you need it to, it just becomes an expensive dust collector. It can ruin your impression of an otherwise excellent sport that’s really good for you. Riding just 30 minutes a day can help you burn calories and t one up as well as stave off breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Here Holz offers smart bike-shopping tips on what to look for if…


You’re Training for a Triathlon
Sure, it makes sense to covet a tri bike that’s designed to race, but if you’re only going to own one bike, you might want to opt for something that offers more room for growth and exploration in other ways to enjoy the ride. “Road bikes are very versatile. They’re great for long-distance training rides, group rides, bicycling vacations, and triathlons, while still being reasonably competitive,” Holz says.

Your best bike: With the all-carbon Specialized Alias Sport Tri, your new alias may as well be “winner,” thanks to this 10-speed’s dual personality. One of the few of its kind, it’s a road bike with triathlon tendencies (i.e., you can easily drop into an aerodynamic body position). {$2,600 |}


You Want to Get in Shape
If your bike is your gym, you’ll likely want a lightweight road or flat-bar bike, Holz recommends. “When fitness is your goal, it’s okay to grow into your bike’s abilities. You don’t want to buy a bike that matches your current fitness level but rather where you want to be. It might feel like too much bike for you right now, but as soon as you start riding and enjoying its capabilities, you’re going to find that that bike makes you a better rider.”

Your best bike: Live a little with the Giant Liv Avail 1, which offers a sporty feel that pushes you to pick up the pace in comfort and style. This super-light, aluminum-frame 11-speed will take you far and fast with confidence.
{$1,425 |}


You Want to Cruise Around Town
Whenever you’re sharing the road with cars, you want to make sure you are seen. It’s important to pimp your ride with lights and reflectors, especially if you’re out after hours. If you’re running errands and, say, stocking up at the market, you’ll need a bike that can take the load. “Depending on storage needs, you can attach a rack or trailer to a sturdy bike designed to hold the weight,” Holz says. Warning: Not all bikes can handle a front basket, so ask your retailer before you mount one.

Your best bike: Put yourself first with a Priority Bicycle—a rust-free step-through aluminum frame made with a lubrication-free belt drive (no greasy chains needed). Complimentary features include a kickstand, water bottle cage, and tire pump. For an extra $34.99, add a lightweight Priority Rack to transport cargo. {$399 |}


You Want to Ride With Your First-Grader
For family fitness fun, you’ll want a flat-handlebar, more upright-style bike, suggests Holz. “If you’re envisioning riding on a dirt or gravel path versus pavement, then you might want 26-inch mountain bike wheels instead of skinny 700c road wheels,” he adds.

Your best bike: On the Schwinn Women’s Ranger 26″ Mountain Bike, you can keep up with your kid in comfort. And when you want to hit the trails solo, you take any rock-strewn short cut on this 21-speed steel-frame bike with front suspension and knobby tires that are made for all types of terrain.
{$189.99 |}


Heads Up on Helmets

Sure, you can pop in your local Target and purchase a bike helmet that will be better than wearing nothing at all, but when it comes to keeping your noggin safe, it’s worth the extra investment to ensure you have top-notch protection, especially if you’re riding on the road. Here are three solid choices for women’s performance bike helmets, which all have good ventilation to keep out the summer heat and sport more stylish designs.

S-Works Prevail Team
The S-Works Prevail is the ultimate lightweight racing helmet, combining great ventilation, aerodynamic design, and ultra-slim construction for solid all-around performance. $225

Giant Liv Rev
Designed for the pros, this helmet sports extra-large ventilation ports to keep you from overheating and is built super light, so you don’t feel like you have an anvil on your head. Giant’s Liv Rev gets top marks for its comfort, fit, and performance. $150

Smith Optics Overtake
If you’re after safety and speed, the Overtake is a smart choice. Smith, known for snowsport helmets, created its first-ever road bike helmet, and this one is high-tech, offering super aerodynamics for speed and top-notch protection. $250

Print Friendly, PDF & Email