Schwinn Sidewinder Women’s 26 Inch Mountain Bike Review 

One of the biggest names in biking, Schwinn has been making high quality bikes for over 100 years and that trend continues with the Schwinn Sidewinder. It can often be difficult to find bikes that are designed specifically for a women’s body type, especially at an affordable price. Often, because making a bike for a man’s body type is more convenient for manufacturers, many mountain biking company’s produce only one version of their bike, the men’s version. While this is not necessarily the end of the world as the differences between men’s and women’s bikes are minor, here at Mountain Bikes Lab we are thrilled to see more company’s like Schwinn design bikes built specifically for women. Mountain bikes like the Schwinn Sidewinder which are built for a women’s body makes mountain biking easier and more accessible to women which is something that should have been done a long time ago!

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Schwinn Sidewinder Women’s Mountain Bike Review

In this mountain bike review we will go over some of the best features of the Schwinn Sidewinder, some differences between men and women’s bike, as well as some frequently asked questions about the Sidewinder. By the end of this review you will know everything that you need to make an informed decision about the Schwinn Sidewinder and be confident in the purchase of your next mountain bike! If you are interested is some of our other review of high quality, in expensive bikes be sure to check out our Best Mountain Bikes Under $400 Buyer’s Guide

Major Difference between Men’s and Women’s Mountain Bikes 

The Schwinn Sidewinder is designed as a beginners mountain bike and because of that many rider’s may not know the differences between men and women’s bikes. These differences can be integral to the quality of your biking experience so it is very important to learn the general differences and then tailor that knowledge to your personal body so that you can find the perfect mountain bike for your body type. While breaking down bike’s into “mens” vs “women’s” bikes, the only thing you really need to know is the differences between these types of bikes and what you feel most comfortable riding. Generally speaking, two of the biggest differences between men and women’s bikes is that women’s bikes usually have a shorter stack height and shorter reach lengths. On average women are shorter than men and have shorter arms, because of this a shorter stack height and reach length allow most women to more easily and comfortably ride their mountain bike. Overall these are the most important and most common differences between men’s and women’s mountain bikes and although it is important to understand the differences it is more important to know your body well. After a little while riding mountain bikes know what type of bike is best for you will become second nature and you will always be able to find the bike with the perfect frame. Now onto the more interesting parts of this review, the actual Schwinn Sidewinder components!

Premium Shimano Shifter and Rear Derailleur

First things first we need to talk about the high quality Shimano parts that the Sidewider come equipped with. The Schwinn Sidewinder comes with 21 speed Shimano Revoshift twist shifter and a Shimano rear derailleur which is quite uncommon for a bike that is less than $400. Known as the best of the best in terms of mountain bike component quality, Shimano leads the way in biking innovation and technology. They are the clear number one brand and because of that their components are rather expensive and seen on professional level bikes. Often on lower level mountain bikes Shimano components are not used as they drive the price up too much however it is great to see that Schwinn decided to go with Shimano for two of the most important components of the bike, the shifter and derailleur. With Shimano parts you will have absolutely no trouble shifting gears or having your chain become stuck or jerky while shifting. For beginners this is often one of the most frustrating and nerve wrecking parts of mountain biking especially as your are going down a hill trying to shift gears. Often beginner have entry level mountain bikes with less than stellar shifters and derailleurs and they have a tough time switching gears. This can be both stressful and dangerous but rest assured with Shimano components you will have no such issues. 

Hard Tail Suspension Fork

Our preferred method of suspension for a beginner bike is certain a hardtail front suspension fork which is what the Schwinn Sidewinder has. This more basic level of suspension is only in the front of the bike and makes for an easier transition to suspension bike for beginners who have never ridden bikes with suspension before. If you read our Mongoose Status 2.2 review you will know that some beginner bikes are now being made with full suspension frames, and while we believe that this is good as it introduces more people to more high level bikes earlier, in general we still think that the hard tail suspension is superior for a beginner bike. Hardtail suspension bikes are easier to ride, provide ample suspension for a comfortable ride, and are easier to control while going over rugged terrain. 

Mechanical Disc Brakes 

Another excellent feature of the Schwinn Sidewinder is its mechanical disc brakes. Most entry level bikes in the past come with grip or caliper brakes which work by clamping the rim of the wheel and stopping you via the friction between the caliper and the rim. This method of braking works decently well however your brakes suffer significant wear and tear and often need to be replaced rather frequently. While this may not be a huge issue to some people having to replace the brakes on a bike is a tedious and something quite expensive process and not having to go through that hassle is certainly preferable. Thankfully more and more beginner bikes like the Schwinn Sidewinder have decided to go with the slightly more expensive but far superior mechanical disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are the little brother to the extremely expensive high end hydraulic disc brake, but while the only give up a small amount of performance they are much more price efficient. We believe that all mountain bikes should come equipped with a minimum of mechanical disc brakes as they have far better stopping power, require far less maintenance, and are almost as effective as hydraulic disc brakes. After testing the brakes on the Schwinn Sidewinder women’s mountain bike on flat ground, uphill and downhill we can confidently say that it performs extremely well. The stopping power was strong but not jerky and when going downhill or on flat ground we came to a stop smoothly and quickly without skidding out. 

Steel Frame

Although it is the worst feature of the Schwinn Sidewinder we would not feel ok finishing this review without mentioning that the frame of this mountain bike is made out of steel rather than aluminum. The most common frame material for decades steel frames have quickly become obsolete in the world of mountain biking due to the emergence of high strength, lightweight aluminum alloys. While this bike is not terribly heavy, it weighs in at around 45 pounds, we would have preferred an aluminum frame. By using a steel frame Schwinn is able to keep their prices down significantly however with an aluminum frame this bike would easily be as high quality as some $600-700 bikes. The steel frame is certainly not the end of the world and you are getting a great bike for you money, especially for a beginner bike, but it would be even better had Schwinn decided to go with aluminum rather than steel. 


Overall the Schwinn Sidewinder women’s bike is one of the best beginner bikes that we have tested and reviewed here at mountain bikes lab. It is reasonably priced and provides far better than average performance for a bike that is less than $400. The Sidewinder comes with high quality Shimano Shifters and a Shimano derailleur, as well has excellent mechanical disc brakes. This components are some of the most important things in a beginner mountain bike and Schwinn did an excellent job providing some of the best components available for a great price. The one downside to this bike is its heavy steel frame, however this makes the bike extremely durable and lowers the cost for someone looking to buy a great bike for an even better price. We would certainly recommend this women’s mountain bike to anyone that is looking for a beginner mountain bike and believe that it is one of the best options for an entry level mountain bike. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How tall do I have to be to ride the Schwinn Sidewinder women’s mountain bike?

The Schwinn Sidewinder women’s mountain bike has 26” wheels and the recommended height for the bikes is between 4’10” and 5’7” however anyone up to 5’10’” would have no problems riding this bike. 

Is the Schwinn Sidewinder women’s mountain bike good?

Yes, after our through testing we believe that the Schwinn Sidewinder is one of the best entry level bikes on the market and we would recommend it to anyone looking to get a new entry level mountain bike.

Why is the Schwinn Sidewinder a women’s bike?

In the biking world you should really ride whatever bike you feel most comfortable in however in general women’s bikes, like the Schwinn Sidewinder, are slightly smaller than men’s bike as well have having a shorter stack height and shorter reach length. This is to account for the fact that on average most women are shorter and have a shorter reach than men, however no “men’s” or “women’s” label on a bike should stop you from riding what you feel best riding. 

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