Help me choose a bike for my wife

My wife is starting to get into biking. Just exercise, no racing or adventures. She has a 20 year old department store hybrid that she wants to upgrade. Criteria:

Upright (-ish) position
Hydraulic disc brakes
Thru axles
11 speed shimano compatible
Takes at least 35mm tires

I think she’d be more comfortable on a flat bar bike but I wouldn’t rule out a drop bar.

11 speed and thru axles are because she wants to use my kickr this winter and I’d rather not deal with changing cassettes and adapters.

She’s 5’2”, long legs and short torso if that helps. Budget is up to $1500 but potentially a little higher.

Any good options? Thanks!!

Have you seen the trektravel used bikes that are on sale now?

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Trek Domane AL would be a good option, it meets your criteria and is a very good compromise between a gravel bike (up to 38mm tire clearance) and road bike.

I rode a carbon Domane w 105 and liked but didn’t love it. One issue was not enough clearance to port over my left-only 4iiii power meter.

As a quite old guy I settled on Felt Broam (aluminum) for several reasons: slightly more relaxed position, oodles of clearance for wider tires (both comfort issues), and the new GRX groupset, a nice step up from the 105 in my opinion. It’s not just the improved climbing, but the ergonomics of the new shifters, which might be even more important (so I hear) for women with smaller hands, or for someone changing from hybrid to road levers.

I too came from an entry-level hybrid with flat bars some years back. Drop bars in my mind were for racers in their 20s. It was only after complaining about my hands/arms getting tired / numbing out and buying different extensions and grips that somebody mentioned I might actually be comfier on drop bars because they offered so many different positions – duh. And of course I was, and still am, even more ancient. It’s a couple hundred more than the Domane AL 105, but I think groupset might be worth it, and you can resell it as a real gravel bike.

One consideration about sharing your trainer. I had left my old Shimano 11-32 cassette on my Direto (not Kickr) when I got the new bike (with newer 11-34 cassette). Assumed it wouldn’t matter since I’d be mostly in ERG and wouldn’t have to use the lowest cog anyway. I found that with the indexing adjusted for outside, the bike would occasionally jump cogs on the trainer. I thought it was a problem with the Direto thru-axle adapter, but it entirely disappeared when I put the newer 11-34 cassette on the trainer as well. Not sure if these issues will affect your setup(s).

Good luck. And I guess even better advice than any of this is: share freely whatever info you use to make such decisions, and then get the hell out of the way and let her choose a bike for herself. :wink:

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If she’s been riding on a hybrid and she wants a nicer one, a nicer hybrid will check all her boxes.

For road bikes, at her height, she’ll be looking at the very small side of size ranges (49 at Trek, 2-3XS at Canyon, 44 at Cannondale, etc.). Road bike geometry gets a little funky at that size, and bike shops don’t stock it as often. If I were the logistics officer supporting her research, I’d find all the local shops who have bikes in those sizes and see if she wants to go on a “is this bike comfortable” field trip. Also keep in mind that the manufacturers who make “women’s-specific” frames (e.g. Liv or Canyon, who change the frames in addition to the touchpoints) optimize for the short torso/long legs archetype, so those bikes might fit her better.

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Specialized Sirrus :sunglasses:

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Since no one did it…

Surely you have it the wrong way around. First you pick the bike, then you pick the wife that goes with it. :stuck_out_tongue:


Some more thoughts on this…what does “gets into biking” mean? Does she just want to ride to the shop more often, or a weekend round of the local park? Then a new hybrid will be perfect. Or does she want to go ride with you, with a club, or a group of friends? You mention she wants to use your trainer, so maybe she’s wanting to get faster. I’d look for a bike that will also support those future, faster needs - without going full on race bike, obviously. Also getting her a ‘fast’ bike will make it easier for her to ride with you, or with groups, if she wants to.


Don’t know if it’s out of budget, but we’ve had almost exactly the same situation with my other half here, and she settled on a Giant Liv Avail SL 1 (105 w/disc)

Agreed! I am 5’1” with long legs and a short torso and I have a difficult time finding bikes that fit right. It might be nice for her to be able to try out different geometries before deciding.

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My wife is the one who got me into cycling. She still likes to ride and has done some organized rides with me and even went on a few ladies road bike rides.

You’re probably like a lot of us on here with spouses in that we go way overboard on all things bike. Knowing the specs, “compliance”, “stiffness” and getting into real stupid stuff like which water bottle cages and do I wrap my aero bars all the way in. That type of stuff is of no interest to many of our spouses.

My wife likes CrossFit and hot yoga, those are her jams. The cycling is really just a lower priority hobby for her (and perhaps for your wife too?). To that end, my wife doesn’t care about much of anything about the actual bike itself. I got a her fit so she was comfortable for the rides, but outside of that here’s what she cares about; Purple.

A purple bike makes my wife want to ride more. We do easy rides, there’s a half fondo in my area that kicked our ass a few years ago and she wants to get faster for that. But “faster” for her means she now wants to ride twice a week, lol.

So, we got a purple bike. Looking for a nice purple helmet as well. My point is to find out exactly what will make your wife want to ride bikes (maybe with you) a lot more. It’s OK if she doesn’t want to be Ruth Winder or Mara Abbott.

Get what will make her want to ride more. I’m guessing the brand, specs and other such things might not mean as much to her?

Good luck!

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I’m the same height as your wife so I thought I’d give you my input. I bought my first road bike at the start of the Covid lockdown, it is a 2013 alloy 48 Cannondale Synapse. I got it fitted with a professional fitter and quickly got excited to ride further and faster.

I started to research racier bikes for my first new new bike because who doesn’t like new stuff?? I went back to the fitter with about 6 different bike geometries of bikes I liked the looks of and we tested them all and found that the Cannondale Supersix or Specialized SL6 would be the best fitting bikes for me. Note that I was fitted for a 48 in the Cannondale and a 49 in the Specialized. Both these bikes have more optimal trail figures as well, that may not matter to her at this point but if she starts to ride more, she’ll appreciate a well handling bike! I think this is the best place to start…I thought I needed to have the new Scott Addict RC but learned that the geometry didn’t suit me and it has a wacky trail value of 72 or 77, something like that. So, fit first.

Based on my similar proportions, I’d suggest having a look at the Cannondale Synapse or Topstone - I believe both take a flat bar if she’d prefer to to start there. If she’s interested in a drop bar, I’d look at the SuperSix which I’m finding just as comfortable, if not more so than the older Synapse.

In a similar situation with my wife. Right now I have repurposed by old Diverge to be more upright, new saddle.

In my research, for fun I would look at a Sirrus (1x if you want simple). Or A Felt Broam. Both would meet your criteria, looks nice, not too spendy. One is flat bar vs. drop bar. I also have an extra set of 650b wheels that I think could be great for her.

That’s going to be the killer detail. Most newbies want upright, and that doesn’t leave many choices. It’s possible she doesn’t know what she wants in that regard.

I don’t know what the situation is with COVID and bike stores, but if there’s an outdoor selection to look through, might be worth a shot. Also, some bike shops used to have an upgrade program, to allow you to start on a certain type and progress into more athletic positions and/or builds. It might be worth looking into, if those still exist. They used to, I think in at least one shop near me.

These parts don’t really matter, IMO. Not for what she’s going after and the market she is in. A quick release is just as fine, as is a 9 or 10 speed. Brakes, it depends, but cable driven still works well. I use cable driven hydraulics, and they are absolutely just as fine as my 4-piston MTB brakes. That said, a v-brake works really well too. Just progress through the bikes until she gets comfortable.

YMMV, but in my relationship, if I chose a bike for my wife, that would really reduce the chances of her using and enjoying it. But if she chooses her new bike, she would be much happier and more enthusiastic about riding it.


Honestly, have her choose a bike for herself. Advise her, but the things I’d want to prioritize for any new rider would be their comfort with the bike and their love for the specific machine purchased

If she gets one that she loves and is comfortable on that trumps any input you (or really any of us) can provide

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My wife wanted an E-bike. We bought one with mostly upright position, and through the summer she would ride 30-40 miles 2-3 times/week. We did a 2 day 100 mile total tour as well. Not bad for a 64 year old woman.


I have this recurring dream where my wife tells me that she wants a bike. She picks out the cheapest one, base model but gold paint. Then, she starts showing up at my rides and proceeds to shred like she’s been doing it her whole life. Not sure what it means.

What I am sure of is that your wife sounds awesome.

I want my wife to go with me on a 100 mile tour!

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Well i misread that title. All i saw was :“help me choose, my bike or my wife”