My wife generally does not share this passion (aka obsessive behavior) with me and her road bike has been gathering dust since we moved to CA. I totally understand that, her weekly running mileage (50-100mi) does not leave her much time for bicycling, and the terrain around here could be considered "expert", with lots of steep hills.
So imagine my surprise when she asked me if I thought there was a bike she could ride to school on a combination of pavement and dirt paths. I started immediately web searches and fantasized about belt drive, internally geared bikes (something I wished I had myself in my stable) but then decided her new bike should be a 29-er hardtail with a low stand-over height and decent components.
Turned out, there were not that many bikes fitting this description, I finally narrowed the selection to Specialized Myka Expert or Giant Rainier. The second surprise came when I checked with about fifteen Specialized dealers within a 25 mile radius and none of them carried the bike at all, not just in my spec and size selection! They were all willing to order the bike upon a deposit, but that somehow beats the purpose of seeing before buying? I finally found Evolution Bike Shop in Cupertino and these guys were willing to order the bike with no deposit and no obligation to buy. In a week, the bike was ready as promised and we went for a test ride. She liked the bike immediately after a spin around the parking lot so we we brought her (Myka) home.
When my wife took the bike out of the garage the next morning before breakfast in her pajamas for a 3 minute ride around the house, I started to suspect something was up:
OK, it is actually a nice bike: a sculpted M4 aluminum frame, Shimano components (shifters, derailleurs, hydraulic disk brakes, hubs), Rock Shox Tora fork, 660mm wide straight bar, Specialized Captain Control 2.1 tires.
I like couple of things: cable / hose routing under the top tube (I always hated the way Spec bikes route all cables and hydro hoses under the down tube and bottom bracket), full housing rear derailleur housing, even rack eyelets on seat stays!!! Well, the saddle and grips are girly white but at least they are not pink.
The only issue is the bike weight: I don't know it but it feels heavier than both of my XL size mountain bikes. I guess none of the big brands came up with ways to make the women specific bikes light enough in this price category.
Here comes the"best bike" part: my wife has been riding her bike to college pretty routinely and she has been excited about how well the bike feels on a pretty rutted dirt path through the Waterdog Canyon. She has even included a singletrack section in her commute! So after five years, I found the world's best bike for her, there is no other explanation.
I guess the big S figured this out, too since in June they launched a fancy carbon race version of Myka called Fate. It is supposed to be lighter and will cost three times as much.