Pinnacle Willow Two, £449.99, www.evanscycles.com
Recently reduced by a hundred quid to the price shown, the Willow Two is the higher-specced of two women’s-specific bikes in Pinnacle’s expanding mtb line-up. Like its stablemate it is built around a very nicely finished double-butted aluminium chassis; the colourway is listed as deep gloss purple, though it appears almost bronze in most light. It has a steeply-sloping top-tube so that mounting and dismounting doesn’t feel like getting on a horse.
Up front there’s a Suntour suspension fork which sports 80mm of travel — enough to take the edge off potholes, Sustrans-type trails and easier off-road terrain. As a cheap unit it’s quite weighty, but it has a surprising amount of adjustment and a lockout, which you can turn on for more efficient road riding and climbing. Other than the fairly compact geometry, including a 70-degree head angle for confident descending, there are a number of touches to appeal to generally smaller female riders: narrower handlebars, a wider, more padded saddle and shorter crank length. There’s also a range of headset spacers to adjust the bar height up or down as required. However, our testers felt the stem could be shorter to reduce the reach a little more.
The 24-speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain has proved very dependable and the range of gears is more than sufficient for the hills of the south-east and weekends in Wales. Likewise the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes proved very confidence-inspiring. The Kenda Karma tyres, with their low profile knobs, were also a great choice for mixed town and country riding, and particularly sticky in the wet. Bosses allow you to add bottle cages or pannier racks if needed.
Overall the bike weighs less than 30lb, which is impressive for such a ‘cheap’ bike. Available in four sizes, XS-L , there should be one to suit most women up to 6ft tall. Jane K
PROS Value, versatility, brakes
CONS Be careful with sizing