In the past year 29ers finally hit the women’s niche of the market. Locally I have only been able to put my hands on the Trek versions of the women’s 29ers. After the test ride and looking deeper at the geometry I wasn’t sold. The bike didn’t ride well, but that was one brand trying their hand at the women’s 29ers. Specialized has had their own cross country recreational women’s 29er line out as well, the Myka. The line has several different models, from 26 to 29, including two different levels of the 29er hardtail. Now, Specialized wasn’t the first company to the original 29er market – they were actually very slow about the movement. They must really love the bikes, and what 29ers can do for women (I Told You So) as they have released a couple new lines of 29ers for women, including a carbon hardtail.
The Fate – Women’s 29er carbon mountain bike
Some of the details: Performance fit (race ready), 80mm travel, and a higher level of components. The Fate will be available in stores in September in two models: the Comp and the Expert. Each will come in three sizes: 15″, 17″ and 19″. Pricing is not yet finalized, but is expected to come in between US$2000-3000. (Details from CyclingNews)
Depending on the level you’ll see the spec of something of the following: Roval 29er wheels, Renegade 2Bliss tires, XX chainrings with custom gear ratios, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and Specialized saddle, handlebar, stem and post. (Details from BikeRumor)
The Jett – Women’s 29er aluminum mountain bike
The Jett’s full details haven’t been released but this is what we found over at TwentyNineInches. M4 Aluminum (2nds from highest grade in Specialized library) and the same performance fit as the Fate. The exception will be rack mounts.
What is Specialized doing different with women’s 29ers
You’ve heard my rant about the wacky geometry that Trek’s 29ers possesed. I haven’t seen Specialized by the numbers, but they are doing some custom things to their new line.
First is a “women’s designed carbon layup” which I am questioning to their product managers but it is an interesting thought. From there Specialized teamed up with Rock Shox for a custom fork. At the 15″ size the offset of the fork is different, it goes to 51mm. Finally the headtube is as shortened as much as I have seen especially with the integrated headset that most production 29ers are using now.
From Bike Radar‘s Q & A
Hughes said Specialized has noticed that women have been slower to adopt 29ers than men. Part of the reason is that many shorter women believe they are too small to fit on a 29er. And in fact, looking at the geometries of bikes like Specialized’s popular Stumpjumper hardtail 29er (for which the smallest size is a 15.5″), that observation proves true for many women although possibilities for smaller female riders vary by manufacturer and model.
The Fate’s geometry will naturally position female riders lower and longer than they would be on the Myka. For example, on the 15″ Fate, a 10mm shorter headtube drops the front end of the bike, an 8mm longer top tube puts women in a longer, more racing-oriented position while 17″ and 19″ Fates have 20mm shorter head tubes. With 6mm shorter chainstays for all sizes, the Fate also climbs better and ends up with a shorter wheelbase (14mm for a size 17, for example) for quicker handling than the Myka.
One of the biggest issues encountered during the design process was addressing toe overlap, a common problem on smaller bikes, especially those with shorter wheelbases. To address this, the small 15″ bikes were designed with a 51mm fork offset while the 17″ and 19″ frames will feature the standard 46mm offset.
What does “Women’s Specific” 29ers mean for you?
The jury is still out. The folks that have given feedback thus far are Specialized branded racers. I have a message out to Lea Davidson, who races for Specialized, for more specific questions from her last race on the bike. These bikes were designed for those that like a lower front end, but want the benefits from a 29er. The Myka is their recreational bike that will suit more women off the bat, but for the women wanting to push themselves further and faster or perhaps used to the Epic or Titus Racer-X the Fate is for them.. Finally, I am simply excited that a company like Specialized is seeing the women’s market big enough to design a new carbon line around it.
Once I know more, you’ll be the first people to know!