For the past month the women behind Bike Shop Girl have been test riding the 2011 Specialized Myka Expert 29er. Getting our own first hand impressions of how Specialized does women’s 29ers. Along the way this has also allowed us to try out the Specialized 29er tires, Specialized Riva saddle and Rock Shox “Specialized Womens Tuned” fork.
The Fit of the Specialized Myka 29er
As a woman, I stand 5’10 with 33″ inseam. That is a crazy long inseam and if you have ever seen my bikes first hand I take what is women’s geometry to an extreme. Super high seat height, with the need of a decent stack height on my head tube or stem. When sizing “normal” mountain bikes I normally am sizing up inorder to get the right seat height and handlebar height, giving myself a shorter stem to achieve the reach I need.
Specialized did a few key things to the sizing of the bike to make it more women’s friendly.
- Relatively low stand over for a 29er. If you look at the pictures the top tube swoops down and the cross bar is there to reenforce. Several women at 5’6″ that tested out the bike could stand over the 19″ 29er.
- Shorter front end. This is something all companies are trying to achieve with 29″ wheels. The bigger wheels, and taller fork lift the front end up. Many companies are using integrated headsets, flat stems (compared to ones with an angle up) and flat handlebars. Specialized is no different, there is also less spacers on the fork than most other mountain bikes. Leaving this bike with a relatively low “stack height” or amount of space taken up by the headset/spacers/headtube.
- Shorter reach. This is a given, a women’s designed bike is going to be shorter in the reach from saddle to handlebar.
- Bottom Bracket drop isn’t too extreme. When manufactures try to go smaller on their mountain bikes, they often have to drop down the bottom bracket. Leaving you to pedal in to rocks and bang your feet along the trail.
Riding the Specialized Myka Expert 29er
It took 6 rides to get used to the fit of this bike. It wasn’t the bikes fault, I have been forced to make 29ers fit me over the past 8 years. This means my setup as I have been running it, has been a bit backwards. Once I rode the bike for a few times and put a slightly longer stem on the bike, the handling became natural and quick. One of the first 29ers I felt that I could flick around corners. Normally the bigger wheels leave me taking turns wider, but the Myka 29er rides like a 26″ for handling. (This is a good thing ladies!)
The front end came with a Rock Shox Tora 80mm coil sprung fork. The fork is “tuned for women” and what I found was it was more sensitive and seemed to have a lighter spring than what would normally come on a 19″ mountain bike. This is completely based on your personal weight and riding style. Sitting at 160 pounds it rode well and the coil fork is very easy to maintain. This may change depending how much weight you have on the front end, and where you are riding.