“You can’t find good women’s bikes under $500”.
You might have heard this skeptical comment time and again, especially now, in the midst of the Ironman and ultra-fancy (and pricey) triathlon bike boom.
But do you really need to spend $5000, or more, to get a decent vehicle, which will satisfy your daily needs, look good and bring you joy? Is it really impossible to find good women’s bikes under $500? Don’t think so.
The world of biking might look big and scary if you don’t know what to look for. But the truth is there are lots of great affordable bikes out there, and we’re going to help you find the best bikes under $500 for women.
So, let’s get you the general idea: how to decide what kind of bike you need, what to look for when choosing a bike, and how to find a compromise between quality and affordability.
What Kind of Bike Do I Need?
First of all, think of the purpose of your future bike:
- Will you be riding flat, urban terrain, suburban, bumpy roads, or forest trails?
- Will you be using it for commuting to school and work, for recreation, or for sports and fitness?
- Will you also use it to take your toddler to daycare?
- Will you be riding alone or with a group of like-minded cyclists?
- Will you be using the bike on a trainer as a Peloton alternative for indoor online workouts?
Answers to these questions will help you decide between the most popular types of bikes available on the market for an affordable price.
Light, fast, efficient, with slim tires, hard, narrow seats, and streamlined design, these bikes are the best option for smooth, paved roads.
They are great for everyday use and are a good choice if you are looking for a combination of speed and comfort.
You can ride them in the city or use them for long-distance road trips. Road bikes usually have drop handlebars, which allow you to adjust your torso position, from more vertical to more horizontal, depending on your riding distance, speed and effort – to relieve some strain from your lower back, shoulders and pressure from your hands.
Whether used for commuting or for exercise, these bikes perform best on smooth, hard surfaces. They usually have thin to very thin tires, which will get you into trouble if you try to conquer beach sands.
A road bike may not be the most convenient option for a toddler seat. If you intend on biking with your kid a lot, opt for a hybrid or cruiser bike.
If you put a road bike and a mountain bike next to each other, you will notice that the latter are bulkier, with a thicker frame and tires. It makes them sturdier, but also heavier and slower, so a mountain bike will require more physical effort to keep it going fast.
A mountain bike is your iron horse of choice if you intend on spending lots of time off-road, biking in the woods, or riding bumpy trails.
These bikes are notable for their ability to efficiently absorb shock and pace through obstacles: roots, potholes, softer surfaces like soil, grass, and gravel roads.
Now take a road bike and a mountain bike – and mix them up. What you get is a hybrid bike: a perfect compromise between decent speed and ability to endure light off-road rides.
It is a perfect bike if you are an urban commuter, who is no stranger to occasional countryside or forest path experiences.
Hybrid bikes usually have large, padded seats – for softer, comfortable riding. They are not as fast and efficient as road bikes, so if your goal is high weekly mileage, you might consider the latter. However, if your plan is casual cycling and daily commute (including off-and-on trips through a slightly rougher terrain), rather than hundreds of miles of weekly spinning, a hybrid is a good alternative.
Hybrid bikes are also great for mounting a child seat – for comfy and time-saving rides with your little one.
While the lightweight frames of most modern road bikes are made of aluminum, the frames of most cruiser bikes are made of steel, making them quite a bit heavier. On the plus side, cruisers are more durable and less prone to wear and tear.
Their peculiar, curved handlebars and tires, which are set much wider apart than in other bicycles, make them stand out among other types of bikes.
On a cruiser bike, you will sit very upright, compared to its road and mountain counterparts, which makes it a more attractive option for chill, relaxed rides. Besides, their padded seats will be easy on your buttocks.
Wide and thick tires make cruiser bikes ideal for lazy, low-speed, low-impact rides both in town and along the beach. Besides, they will usually be less prone to exploding at the impact with any sharper pebble.
Just like a hybrid bike, a cruiser is a good option for mounting a toddler seat and riding with your kid.
The Best Women’s Bikes Under $500 by Category
Now let’s look into the best women’s bikes in each category.
Go Fast: Best Women’s Road Bikes Under $500
Here are some great women’s road bikes you can get on a budget:
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The beautifully crafted, high-quality women’s Giordano Acciao bike offers smooth and fast rides. It features 16-speed Shimano Tourney STI shifters for seamless gear experience and dual pivot side pull brakes for strong and safe stopping.
All in all, this is a great entry bike for women who are either just getting into cycling or have been doing it for a few months and want a road bike for a little more speed.
- High tensile steel frame
- Shimano Tourney STI shifters
- Alloy Dual Pivot brakes
- Great road bike for beginners
- 700c x 25mm tires
- Available in small and medium sizes
Schwinn Phocus is an elegant, lightweight women’s bike for comfortable and confident road biking. It has a classic, minimalist outline, complete with an ergonomic geometry, making it an agile and faithful companion for long-distance rides.
The light, flat top bar ensures proper body geometry, while forward-facing, adjustable racing handlebars and a raised springy seat are optimal for lengthy, fast, yet comfortable trips.
Apart from its lightweight frame, it is notable for good maneuverability and control, along with resilience and durability.
The bike is equipped with powerful and durable rear mechanical disk and front caliper brakes, ensuring good speed control and an instant braking effect.
● Weight: 31 pounds
● 16-speed Shimano gear system
● Aluminum frame
● Carbon fiber fork
● Rear disk brake system and front caliper brakes
● Adjustable handlebars
● High-performance Kenda wheels
● Springy seat and a dual suspension system for added comfort through rough terrains
Hit the Trails: Best Women’s Mountain Bikes Under $500
Here are our picks for affordable women’s mountain bikes:
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This women’s mountain bike from Huffy has both the looks and quality build you need to hit the trails!
With 21 speeds and a front suspension fork, this mountain bike is ready for action. Whether you’re climbing a hill, going downhill, or breaking away on a straightaway, the Stone Mountain is built to perform in wet and dry conditions on just about any surface, including gravel, dirt, and pavement.
- 21-speed Shimano shifter for uphill climbing, downhill coasting, or flat acceleration
- Removable rear derailleur guard
- Knobby tires with excellent grip
- Padded saddle for comfort
- Suspension form to easily handle bumps and dips
Cannondale Tango 6
On this Cannondale Tango 6 mountain bike, which has been built for durability, you will thrive on low-impact trails, smoother gravel roads and moderate single tracks.
Its beautiful, turquoise frame has been crafted to fit women-specific geometry. It has a shorter top tube, slanting downwards, – to make it easier for you to get on and off.
The Tektro mechanical disc brakes, used in this mountain bike, have proven well on trails.
The frame has several mounts, where you can fit racks for water bottles – to keep you hydrated, and a tool box – in case something goes wrong on a longer ride.
● Women-specific geometry and parts
● Light and durable SmartForm C3 Alloy frame
● SR Suntour suspension fork, 75 mm travel
● Shimano 7-speed drivetrain with triple chainring crank / cable disc brakes
● 27.5 wheelset
● Comes in sizes XS, SM, MD and LG
Marin Wildcat Trail 1
The modern, hardtail Marin Wildcat Trail 1 bike has been designed specifically for a women’s physique, with the head tube angles and seat tubes crafted to optimally fit the female geometry.
It is best for recreational mountain biking: a fun and joyful way of sweating and building up your muscles while clearing your head in tune with nature.
Its aluminum frame is relatively low, allowing you to stand on the ground without getting up all the way from the seat, while its hydraulic disc brakes make sure that you have maximum control over its movement.
The bike comes in all sizes – XS, S, M, L – so you will definitely find the right one for you. You also have two color options – metallic grey and dark teal – to give way for your personal preference.
● Designed with the female physique in mind
● Available in two colors: metallic grey and dark teal
● Suspension: SR Suntour XCE disc
● Brakes: Power CX7 mechanical disc, Shimano pad compatible, 160 mm rotor
● Wheel size: 27.5″
● Frame: aluminum,
● Comes in sizes XS, S, M, L
Go Everywhere: Best Women’s Hybrid Bikes Under $500
These affordable women’s hybrid bikes will let you go just about anywhere:
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The vintage-inspired, classic Wayfarer Step-Thru hybrid is an exceptional women’s hybrid bike, great for casual rides for business and pleasure.
Suitable for riders from 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, its sturdy and responsive steel frame and 7-speed twist shifters with a Shimano rear derailleur have been designed for comfy rides along all kinds of terrain: from smooth city pavement to moderate trails and quiet forest paths.
The swept-back handlebars and upright riding posture offer a comfortable position, which is easier on your lower and upper back and shoulders. Many cyclists find that this bike delivers a comfortable ride, which feels like gliding.
Wheel fenders make sure that your clothing is protected from dirt and puddle splashes, while the large, convenient rear rack offers plenty of room for your luggage.
● Rider’s height: 5’7”–5’10”
● Retro city-style steel frame and steel fork
● 7-speed twist shifters with a Shimano rear derailleur
● Front and rear alloy linear pull brakes
● Size: 700c
Marin Kentfield 1
Marin Kentfield 1 is a comfortable transport for a casual, short- to medium- distance commuter. Its retro-modern design, with tan-wall tires, makes it one of the coolest and most stylish hybrid bikes in your desired price range.
This hybrid offers you the speed and efficiency of a road bike, blended with the upright, confident position of a mountain bike.
The bike comes with multiple mounts, where you can fix racks for your gear and water bottles.
It has wide, multi-surface capable 40c tires, practical for bumpy rides, so that you do not need to be afraid of every pothole.
The bike comes in sizes from XS to L, so you will be able to pick the best one for your proportions.
● Frame: aluminum
● Fork: rigid steel
● Gears: Shimano Tourney 7-speed
● Brakes: Power CX7 mechanical disc, Shimano pad compatible, 160 mm rotor
● Tires: 700x40c
● Comes in sizes XS, S, M, L
Go Chill: Best Women’s Cruiser Bikes Under $500
Cruise around your neighborhood or down at the beach on these budget-friendly bikes:
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Look at those curves!
This classic women’s beach cruiser, Sixthreezero Around The Block, with a durable steel frame is ideal for casual, comfortable riding, everyday activities, and weekend getaways with friends and family.
The upright riding position will be easy on your back and shoulders, the cushioned seat – on your bottom. Thanks to its step-through frame, you will mount and dismount it with ease.
Its frame is suitable for riders from 5 feet to 6 feet 4 inches tall and 300-pound maximum weight. Besides, the seat and the handlebars can be adjusted for your height – to achieve maximum comfort of the ride.
This cruiser features aluminum wheels with wide, white tires – for easy rides through beach sands, and glossy, black rims – to add that stylish, sleek look.
The guard will protect your long beach dress from getting caught in the chain.
This eye-catching bike is available in a wide range of colors: mint green, teal blue, coral, navy, cream and light plum – for every character, mood and style.
● Shimano 7-speed external derailleur
● Wide whitewall tires featuring waffle tread and black-walled rims
● Front and rear hand brakes
● Wide cruiser bike handlebars
● Rear rack for a bike bag
● 17-inch durable steel frame and aluminum wheels
● Available in multiple colors: from mint green to light plum
This classic and classy Schwinn Destiny bike is perfect for riding to school, work, or leisurely cruising around the park or on the beach. Its elegant shape and vintage flair make it a real eye candy.
The durable steel frame, lightweight alloy rims, padded, spring cruiser saddle, and upright riding position make it a perfect choice for relaxed, chill rides. The single-speed with a coaster brake is there to ensure easy and safe braking and pedaling.
The vintage-looking handlebar basket and rear rack with wood deck offer convenient space for your necessities, while front and rear fenders will protect you from splashing water and dirt and add an elegant retro flare.
● Rider’s height: 5’4″–6’2″
● Frame: steel, 18″, rigid, cruiser
● Single-speed with coaster brake
● Lightweight alloy rims
● Padded cruiser saddle
● Rear cargo rack
Women’s and Men’s Bikes: Is There a Difference?
There actually is.
A comfortable bicycle is all about anthropometry. In layman’s terms, what matters the most is the balance between your proportions and the structure (height, length, wheel circumference) of a bike. Bicycle designs incompatible with your anthropometric measurements might make your rides uncomfortable if not plain unhealthy.
Women, on average, are shorter and have shorter torsos. Women’s bikes usually account for this factor by having shorter reach lengths.
Ladies also generally have narrower shoulders, which is reflected in shorter handlebars – to reduce the stress on your arms.
Saddles, designed for women, also differ from men’s bike seats: women’s saddles are usually wider and often feature cut-out channels – to relieve soft tissue discomfort.
That being said, you can always go for a unisex or male bike, because what ultimately matters is the comfort of your personal ride – not what the label on the bike says.
What to Look for When Choosing a Bike
Size. Even if you go specifically for a women’s bike, remember that not all women (hence not all women’s bikes) have been created with equal proportions.
If you buy a bicycle in person, you will usually have a chance to consult with a professional and, preferably, get a test ride – to see if it works for you.
When shopping online, pay attention to the size charts with the measurements of the bike.
If you are looking for a new bike because your old, faithful one is falling into pieces from the many years of frequent use, you might use its proportions as a point of reference.
Weight. As a woman, you might also be interested in the weight of the bike. As a matter of fact, gender is not the decisive factor here: for example, if you live in an apartment building without an elevator, you might want to seriously consider whether the idea of carrying a heavy bike up and down those stairs will not discourage you from frequent rides.
Structure. The basic components, which you have to consider when looking for a bike, are frame, brakes and gears. You might also be interested in the saddle and rims.
Accessories. The price of a bike will also depend on the number of accessories. Although, each one separately, they may not seem to cost much, at the checkout they might sum up to a pretty penny. Before ordering a bike, sit down, relax, imagine your usual (or potential) biking route and purpose and decide, which accessories you might need, and which will be just a waste of money and space.
Color and design. The color of your bike will not influence the comfort, safety, and speed of the ride. However, it might influence your mood: for example, if you generally dislike green color, but are forced to mount a green frame every day.
Have any questions about finding women’s bikes under $500? Leave a comment below.