What every best Road Bikes has:
- A strong, lightweight frame.
- Light, reliable wheels.
- An easy-to-pedal crankset
Over the years, most road bikes have been designed to suit riders of both sexes. In response to an increase in both professional female riders and casual riding trends, manufacturers have steadily introduced more and more road bike models using women-specific designs. These bikes often include shorter tube tops, greater stand-over room, narrower handlebars, better saddles, and brake and shift levers made for smaller hands.
Women who want to find a happy medium between a bike that's fast and one that's ultra-comfortable to ride over long distances can't lose with the Trek Silque S 6 (Est. $2,700) , reviewers say. This 11-speed carbon-frame beauty is the third-cheapest model in the eight-bike Silque line, which climbs as high as $6,500 for the Silque SLR 8 (Est. $6,500) and dips as low as $1,790 for the Silque S 4 (Est. $1,790).
How good is the Silque S 6? BikeRadar.com's Emily Chappell calls riding it "the closest I've come to perfection to date." She heaps praise on the bike's IsoSpeed decoupler, which is basically a pivot between the seat tube and top tube of the bike, allowing more flex in the former. The benefit for the rider is reduced fatigue on long rides, but Chappell says the bike is still able to maintain its speedy performance. IceBike.org says handling could be a bit better, but the site is also quite impressed overall, praising the wheels, tires and high-end gear set and components. The bike does have rim brakes, so buyers who want disc brakes that offer more wet-weather responsiveness will need to look elsewhere.
As far as comfort goes, experts say this bike has it in spades, especially thanks to the largely vibration-free ride provided by IsoSpeed, even on rougher roads. Chappell says the saddle is "spongy but serviceable," and a few owners mention swapping out the saddle for something more to their liking. Geometry is slightly more upright than a similar men's design and is better for comfort on long rides.
Trek is a well-known name in cycling with a solid reputation for durability, and customer service is available via phone or online chat. It warranties frames for the lifetime of the original owner, swing arms for five years, forks and other components for two years, and paint for one year.
If you want something a little more eye-catching than the black Trek Silque S 6, try hopping on the Diamondback Airen 5 Carbon (Est. $2,800) , which boasts a Tiffany blue carbon frame. Unlike the Silque, it has disc brakes, which could make it more appealing for riders who regularly face rougher conditions. The Airen 5 Carbon is the high-end bike in the Airen line. The less pricey Airen 4 (Est. $2,200) has some slightly lower-end components, while the under-$1,000 Airen Sport (Est. $800) has more significant differences, including a steel frame.
The Airen 5 "has some serious snap" despite being firmly in the endurance category, notes Bicycling.com's Elspeth Huyett. She praises the bike's responsiveness during sprints. However, CyclingTips.com's Anne-Marije Rook does note that it's still a bit too heavy to appeal to riders who want a truly stiff, fast ride for racing. It also may not be geared ideally for very steep hills, says MountainOnline.com's Tracy Ross. But the disc brakes draw universal praise, with Huyett saying they allow precise adjustments even on unfamiliar roads and slopes.
Comfort is a big draw with the Airen 5 Carbon. CyclingTips.com's Rook says the bike "is first and foremost made to be comfortable," praising the cushy handlebars, female-friendly saddle and upright geometry that allows more comfort over long rides. The wider tires also allow a smoother ride on rougher surfaces.
Diamondback, better known for its entry-level and kids' bikes (which we cover in a separate report), has a solid reputation for durability. It has an extensive customer support section online, but agents are available via phone and live chat, too. The company warrants its bike frames for life as long as the original owner still has the bike. Diamondback-branded forks, components, suspension parts, finish and decals are warranted for one year.