The beaten track might be the faster and more conventional way to enjoy the open air, but you don’t need a certificate in the power of persuasion to convince anyone that the real fun is to be had off the beaten track. Off-road cycling of all varieties is booming and has been for many years. Mountain biking aside, cyclocross has been making waves, just as more recently, new disciplines such as gravel or “groad” riding have lit the touch paper for many two-wheeled enthusiasts eagerly searching for that next thrill.
In line with the surging popularity of all things ‘off-road’, the range of kit and equipment has ballooned. Let’s take a look at some of the women’s bikes and kit ready and raring to accompany you on your next adventure.
You’ve heard of Paris-Roubaix? Possibly the greatest one-day race on God’s green earth but for the lack of women’s equivalent? Ridiculous though that is in this day and age, this historic race takes the traditional road bike and gives new meaning to the idea of rough terrain. The clever chaps at Specialized harnessed the unique power of ‘The Hell of the North’ and poured it into the unique and innovate Roubaix and women’s equivalent, the Ruby.
The most recent iterations of these bikes incorporate the proprietary Future Shock suspension in the headtube which focusses on vertical compliance rather than the traditional axial flex which typically makes the handling spongy and the acceleration sluggish. Ultimately, the Ruby is a neatly wrapped combo of stiff and responsive frame combined with ample cushioning up front at the handlebars, protecting the hands and arm which have always taken a beating over the lumps and bumps of cobbles or ragged roads.
The Ruby may have been designed with the broken roads of mainland northern Europe in mind, but the geometry and endurance characteristics would be perfectly suited to almost any dodgy road surface and many an unbeaten track, at home and abroad.
The road less travelled is where the real fun lies but that doesn’t mean that you have to trade speed and performance for a spongy ride. The Diverge is designed to be an all-rounder, more than capable of getting you from A to B nice and quickly while also taking the crown of ultimate weekend adventurer.
In response to customer feedback, tyre clearance and frame weight have been updated specifically in the new models of the Diverge. Now, the frame accommodates tyres of up to 700x42mm and takes design pointers from the Roubaix so that its E5 Premium Aluminium construction is lighter and stiffer than before. With a modern version of trail bike geometry adapted for the road, an updated Future Shock suspension system and the disc brakes you’d justly expect on an off-road bike, the Diverge is ready for adventure, whatever the terrain.
If you’re just looking to take your riding off the road and onto the canal paths or through the park, there are options for less seasoned riders. Take, for instance, the Specialized Ariel. At first glance, it certainly looks like a bike ready for the unpaved road thanks to its suspension fork, flat bars and disc brakes. Listed under our ‘fitness’ category, the Ariel is designed to equip newcomers with the reliable, safe and motivating companion for their first adventure. With multiple specification options, there is an Ariel for everyone, whatever the budget or goal.
Just as you might dress differently for whatever the day may hold for you, your bike deserves the same treatment. If you’re planning on straying onto cobbled roads or tearing down a gravel track at the weekend, you’re going to want to wrap your wheels in something appropriately resilient, like the aptly-named Turbo Hell of the North tyre. Elsewhere, you might consider double-wrapping your bar tape like some of your favourite pros, or else inserting Body Geometry Bar Phat gel pads beneath the bar tape. This provides your hands with a little extra cushioning for the rough terrain.
With any luck, you should now be all set to take on any adventure that has been building in your imagination. But don’t forget that our in-store staff are always on hand to answer any more questions you might have. Now, adventure calls!