Recommendations For Women's Multi Use Bike

Hi everyone!

My girlfriend has been wanting to ride with me on occasion and I want to get her a nice bike to start riding seriously. She has an old crappy mountain bike that sucks and I want her to have something good so it’ll (hopefully) be more enjoyable for her.

I’m looking for a “jack of all trades” style bike that will be good for the following: short road rides around town, rail trail, gravel / dirt roads, and overnight bikepacking trips. She’s not interested in mountain biking or any single track / trail type riding, nor serious road riding. I think the majority of the time spent on the bike will be on rail trail, road, and dirt.

I was thinking of a drop bar bike with enough room for bikepacking bags / attachment points and something that can take a wheel size up to around 38-40mm. My budget is around $1,500-$2,000 and I don’t want to make much more of an investment just in case she doesn’t enjoy riding that much or she just doesn’t get enough use out of it. Bonus points for something a little cheaper so I have leftover money for accessories and to get her kitted up.

I’m looking for recommendations from anyone that knows this space of cycling. So far, I’ve narrowed my search down to:

Salsa Vaya 105 - $2,000

Salsa Journeyman Apex 700 - $1,500

Liv Invite - $1,200

Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 - $1,900

Specialized Diverge ALR E5 Elite - $1,400

Specialized Diverge E5 Comp - $1,900

I guess my questions / notes would be:

  • Would like to get something tubeless ready preferred
  • Looking for shifting components to be reliable, doesn’t have to be top of the line
  • Thoughts / comments on women’s specific bikes vs. buying something like a Salsa or men’s bike in a smaller size?
  • Anything else out there other than what I have listed? I checked most major bike brands but admittedly don’t know a lot of the cottage style shops and makers.

After looking at my researched bikes, I’m leaning towards the Salsa Journeyman in a small size, but the Trek Checkpoint looks like an awesome bike too. Thoughts or experience with any of these bikes? Help!

I just invested in a new bike and, as a lady, thought I’d offer two things that helped make a difference for my search:

  1. Try Craiglist. I know this is heavily dependent on where you live, but there are SO many great women’s bike options for much cheaper than new on Craigslist - a lot of well-meaning partners, I found, built or bought their lady partners really nice bikes that never were used, and they were selling them for cheap just to get the bikes out of the house. That’s how I stumbled on my new (to me) road bike and I’m so glad. It will help you save money over buying new and then you have more cash to play with for kits and bags and other fun accessories.

  2. On men’s vs. women’s fitting, I went in very stubborn, thinking that I would try any bike, men’s or women’s, gendered colors be damned! For my mountain bike I did get a men’s Trek, but not without realizing that men’s standover height versus women’s standover height is very different in a lot of bike models, a lesson I learned the painful way. D’oh. Additionally, I found that reach was very different in some men’s models vs. women’s models in road bikes, and for my road bike, I just found the woman-specific geometry more comfortable for my body. So you can go either way, as long as she’s comfortable on it. Are you able to test drive any of the models you’re looking at with her? You could test ride a lot of men’s and women’s bikes at your LBS and then search on CL for older, used versions to save cash.

I hope that helps!

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I know you said drop bar bike, but I bought the wife an Ariel Elite Disc from the big red “S” and its been the first bike she has ever ridden with me for any type of regularity.

Its a flat bars bike so that’s not what you wanted, but my wife doesn’t ride seriously and she was a lot more comfortable with that style shifter and brake. Just something to think about if your MRS is coming off a MTN Bike. It has fender and rack mounts so you can put panniers on it, it has JUST A BIT of suspension, and disc brakes, both of which made all the difference to my better half. The groups is a mix of SLX and some SunTour, but it’s standard stuff, and I already changed her shifter/derailleurs to some 10SPD LX and SLX Shadow Plus for the silence and standardization.

I don’t know your situation, but I just really wanted her riding with me sometimes, but I knew full well she wouldn’t hit the hard trails, or do multi day trips in the saddle so I got her what she wouldn’t complain about, and she would ride. We do a few days a week together now, sometimes its just around the neighborhood when I’m cooling off from my ride for a few miles.

They have the elite, which we bought, and the Elite Carbon if you feel the need for that type of line. With the big tires and suspension I decided it was overkill, though if she started doing group rides more I could see her wanting something more showy.

anyway, my .02.

ANNND I almost forgot, the wheels setup tubeless just fine with a standard tubeless tape and sealant combo.

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