Women's Bikes Buyer's Guide

Cycling is increasingly popular as more and more of us decide to pedal our way to better health or simply save time on the daily commute. Millions of women are now joining the cycle revolution, which means there are more bikes than ever on the market which can make it tough to choose.

In this women’s bikes buyer's guide, we will help to explain the essential parts of a bike, describe the differences between road bikes, hybrids and mountain bikes, and provide some information on how to select the right bike for you.

Women’s bike basics

When buying a new bike here are some of the essential components you’ll need to know about.

Frame – The frame is the core of your bike and can be made from a range of materials, including steel, alloy and carbon. There are different frame types for different types of riding. Road bike frames are lightweight and streamlined, hybrid bikes are built for comfort and mountain bikes are hardwearing to tackle rough terrain.

Gears – You’ll want to ensure that you have the range of gears you need to help you ride up hills with ease and tackle all types of terrain. 

Handlebars - Flat handlebars provide a relaxed and comfortable upright riding position. Drop bars used on road bikes provide a streamlined, stretched out and aerodynamic position.

Brakes – Bikes can come with either traditional calliper brakes or disc brakes to provide essential stopping power. Unless you choose to build yourself any bike bought from Halfords will be ready built, with the brakes functioning flawlessly.

Accessories – Some bikes come fitted with accessories, including mudguards and pannier racks that can help you on your commute.

When buying a bike, you’ll be presented with a huge number of options, including mountain bikes, road bikes and folding bike. We’ve covered the differences between bikes in our bikes buyer's guide, so that’s a good place to start.

What types of women's bikes are available?

Before shopping for a new bike, spend some time considering how you will use it. While you can ride a mountain bike on the road if you are doing lots of miles commuting a hybrid or road bike are going to be more suitable for you. If you are looking to travel long distances, or want to carry things on your bike, a hybrid bike with panniers might be a better option.

You will find a huge range of women’s bikes on the market, but they can be grouped into three main categories:

Road Bikes
Women's road bikes feature skinny tyres, lightweight frames and a drop handlebar. Women's road bikes have a sloping top tube and smaller saddles that stretch you out to create a more streamlined riding position, and a selection of gears to make riding hills easier, and flat roads faster.

Mountain Bikes
Ideal for off-road adventures, women's mountain bikes have wide tyres, flat handlebars, and most feature some sort of suspension to smooth out the lumps and bumps (hardtail or full-suspension) when tackling trails. 

Hybrid Bikes
Hybrid bikes offer the best of both road bikes and mountain bikes. Lightweight frames allow you to focus on speed, while flat handlebars and an upright riding position create a more comfortable ride.

Most hybrid bikes come with mounts that allow you to attach other bike accessories such as mudguards (so you can cycle in any condition), pannier racks (carry your personal belongings) and child seats (ideal for dropping your kids off at school).

A bike is a bike, with two wheels, pedals, a chain and brakes. The main differences between a men’s bike and a woman’s bike are the frame size and geometry.

Women’s frames will often come with smaller size options than men's, and they often feature a sloping top tube (the tube of the frame that runs from the handlebars to underneath the saddle), whereas men’s frames usually feature a horizontal(or higher) top tube.

When shopping for a new bike, the right fit is critical. You will want a bike that is safe, stable and feels right, which is why we recommend taking the time to sit on a bike at the very least. Halfords stores carry a wide range of bikes and we display various sizes so you can get an idea of the differences which will help you get the best fit.

Can women ride men's bikes?

Absolutely! There are no rules and no reasons why you can't ride a men’s bike if it fits properly and feels comfortable but bear in mind that Halfords women’s bikes usually come with a women’s specific saddle and smaller bars then men’s equivalent.

Many women find men's bike frames more comfortable, and, in some cases, bike manufacturers build one bike that is suitable for everyone.

On the road, off-road, or anywhere else you want to ride, the most important thing is that your bike is comfortable to ride and that you can manage all controls and stop safely.

What size women's bike do you need?

Bike sizing can be complicated. There is no universal sizing system across all brands. You’ll find women’s bikes available by size (extra small, small, medium, large), or according to the seat tube length (measured in centimetres or inches).

Every manufacturer provides general size guides, which should help you narrow down your search. Our Bike Size Chart can help you to learn more about suitable frame sizes, so it’s a great place to start.

At Halfords, our trained experts can help you to identify the right-sized bike for you. They will also be able to help you try several models, working to find a bike that's comfortable to ride and easy to control.

Still not sure which is the right bike for you?

You'll be spending lots of hours on your new bike, so spend some time finding something that fits properly and feels comfortable to ride. In the end, that’s all that matters, which is why we recommend taking a trip to your nearest Halfords store.

Our friendly team can give you expert advice and help you select the right bike, giving you a chance for a test ride.

We've been helping riders find the right bike for them for over 100 years. Before you visit, check out our full range of women’s bikes.