Female riders might want to consider the GT Sensor 2.0 GTw. This full-suspension bike has an aluminum frame. Reviewers rave about the rear suspension -- with 4.7 inches of travel -- saying it provides a smooth ride while powering over obstacles and rocks on the trail. In addition, the rear shock is easy to maintain, according to reviews. The relatively upright riding position is stable and comfortable, and the GT Sensor 2.0 GTw has very good climbing performance -- a traditional area of weakness for full-suspension bikes. The stock tires also get high marks for speed and traction. However, one reviewer thinks the fork could use an upgrade, as it doesn't offer the same plush feel as the excellent rear-wheel suspension. The top-rated men's bike, the Trek Fuel EX 8, also comes in a women's version, the Trek Fuel EX 8 WSD (MSRP: $2,470).
Women's mountain bikes don't receive much attention from the major cycling publications. Women's Adventure magazine has an excellent test of the 2010 model; although some of the components have changed, the analysis is still worth a read. BikeRadar.com tests the new 2011 model of the men's version, the GT Sensor 2.0, which is nearly identical save for the female-specific frame sizes.
1. Women's Adventure magazine
Women's Adventure magazine gives the 2010 GT Sensor 2.0 GTw an Editor's Choice award and the highest rating in this group test. High points include a responsive frame, plush suspension and comfortable ride.
Review: Mountain Biking…Give In to Gravity, Editors of Women's Adventure, June 7, 2010
BikeRadar.com tests the men's version, the GT Sensor 2.0. Guy Kesteven says the lighter frame and more stable handling make it a good choice for all-day riding, but he would like to see a better fork.
Review: GT Sensor 2.0 Review, Guy Kesteven, Jan. 20, 2011