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Mountain bike gear has come a long way since the days when a splash of pink or purple meant it was a women’s model. More than half of mountain bikers are now women, and manufacturers are responding with complete lines of women’s gear. With biking season just around the corner, here is some of the best women’s mountain biking equipment around.
One of the most popular mountain bikes on the market, the Stumpjumper is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Specialized has sold a women’s model for the past few seasons, but this is the first year of this high-end full-suspension version. The FSR Expert features a lighter frame, lower standover height and narrower handlebars ” the usual adjustments for a women’s bike ” plus a closer reach for the brakes, lighter tires and less stiff suspension than men’s models. Even the saddle is tailored to a woman’s body. Boasting a Fox Triad rear shock with its on-the-fly three-position switch, Shimano components and disc brakes, this Stumpjumper is good enough for expert cross-country racing ” or just a day on the trail with the girls. $2,799 at Ajax Bike and Sport
Most bikes come with the standard-issue saddle, narrow and long, which is, alas, designed for a man. But women’s “sit bones,” the ones you feel when you sit on a hard surface, tend to be wider than men’s. Terry, a bicycle company founded by a female mechanical engineer 21 years ago, isn’t the only company making women’s saddles, but it’s been doing it the longest. The Terry Liberator X has a wide, contoured rear, a large cutaway in the middle for relief and ventilation, and comfortable, multidensity foam padding under leather casing. At $60, it’s a wise investment for the comfort of future rides.
A helmet’s a helmet, right? Yes, industry-wide safety standards have ensured that all helmets meet certain requirements, and since men’s and women’s heads aren’t shaped differently, a women’s helmet often means a splash of “feminine” color. But the women’s Giro Havoc is sleek in shape and styling, with a sporty, practical visor. This helmet is lightweight with good ventilation, and the Roc Loc ratchet system customizes its fit and improves its stability on rough terrain, while allowing a ponytail to be pulled through easily. And at $60 (the price has come down significantly in the past five years), it’s a good deal, too.
Last year, Specialized developed a clever gadget for its women’s shoes called the M-lock ratchet closure. Similar to the notched buckle found on a telemark boot, it helps create a tighter fit. Specialized worked with a doctor of sports medicine to develop this feature, along with a narrower heel cup, hard-molded toe piece and lightweight material. The result? The Motodiva outsold most women’s shoes last year. Specialized’s investment in hiring women ” a designer, product manager, marketing director ” for its women’s line is paying off. $129.99 at Ajax Bike and Sport
Comfort and a good fit make all the difference in the world on a long, hot mountain bike ride, and Pearl Izumi has developed shorts with superior technical specs to ensure top performance. The patented MicroSensor fabric system actually pulls moisture out through a unique weave that is larger on the inside than the outside. The chamois is contoured to the body with multidensity padding. It’s on the pricey side ” $119.99 through Pearl Izumi direct and $124.99 at Ajax ” but word of mouth has gotten around, and these shorts are one of Pearl Izumi’s top revenue-generating products.
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