Quite a few bike manufactures are making women’s specific bikes these days and many of them are employing the tweener, 27.5 wheel size. Raleigh has joined the party with its 2014 Eva hardtail line which has switched to 27.5 wheels throughout. Last year’s Eva models were all 29ers and I had the opportunity to review the Eva 29 Comp (Dirt Rag Issue #172). I’m excited to get a chance to ride the 2014 model and compare the two.
Like most women’s bikes, the Eva 7.5 has some feminine-type touches such as swirly flower, art-nouveau type, and swooping lines decorating the frame. I don’t mind the feminine touches as long as the bike isn’t pastel or overdone with pink. I love that the 27.5 looks more like a traditional mountain bike too, and doesn’t have the weird dip in the top tube and wonky looking chainstays like the 2013 model.
The Eva 7.5 comes equipped with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, a 3×9 Shimano 11-34t drivetrain and a 100mm RockShox XC30 fork, a very similar build to the 2013 model. Raleigh has (thankfully) put wider (660 mm) handlebars on this years Eva and I’m excited about that; last year’s were a little too narrow (at just 640 mm) for my taste.
On my first excursion I felt the 2014 model has a more of a cross-country-race feel as opposed to the more laid back, all mountain feel of the 2013 model; this despite being very similar on paper with regards to heatube and seatube angles (of course the wheelsize plays a huge part in the feel of the bikes).
The 27.5 is very playful and quick to respond. I’m more of a hang-on-and-plow-over-it type of rider, often lacking finesse, so being able to focus on my technical riding skills is refreshing.
So is the wheel size change for popularity reasons or to actually create a better riding experience? I’m about to spend the next six weeks finding out. Keep your eye out for the review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.