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Old 01-03-10, 01:13 PM   #1
agarose2000
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Any drawbacks with a women-style "step-through" frame?

Was wondering if there were any drawbacks to riding a womens-specific "step-through" frame. The types without the top frame bar so you don't have to raise your leg all the way over it to mount your bike.
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Old 01-03-10, 01:35 PM   #2
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The biggest drawback I can think of is that triangles are one of the strongest shapes. Without a triangle on the front of the frame (top tube, seat tube, down tube) the frame needs to be much heavier to maintain the same strength.
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Old 01-03-10, 01:39 PM   #3
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Was wondering if there were any drawbacks to riding a womens-specific "step-through" frame. The types without the top frame bar so you don't have to raise your leg all the way over it to mount your bike.
No, millions in Europe and Asia ride them and, fortunately, they're starting to be marketed again in North America, where bicycle manufacturers' push of Lycra-clad sports biking (to sell more expensive bikes) had almost killed off the concept of the bicycle for regular transportation. I suggest you check out this blog by two women who commute, most often on their Danish bikes. letsgorideabike.wordpress.com
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Old 01-03-10, 02:14 PM   #4
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No, millions in Europe and Asia ride them and, fortunately, they're starting to be marketed again in North America, where bicycle manufacturers' push of Lycra-clad sports biking (to sell more expensive bikes) had almost killed off the concept of the bicycle for regular transportation. I suggest you check out this blog by two women who commute, most often on their Danish bikes. letsgorideabike.wordpress.com
It may be different where you live, but most of the bike shops here are filled with hybrids, mountain bikes, and cruisers. There are far more of those on the racks than road bikes.
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Old 01-03-10, 02:37 PM   #5
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If you are just riding to work, round town, whateve and not trying to win any races then a woman's fram will be fine. you can even ride ina skirt or dress....

You can tour in them, you can add panniers, you can ride up passes, you can ride down passes... you can ride on dirt roads, you can ride on the side walk, you can ride on the road, on MUPs, whereever you want... Still see lots of 70 and 80 olds here in Hungary riding them all over the place and many have been using the same bike for the entire adult life!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 01-03-10, 03:19 PM   #6
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seems like a u-frame would be most useful for someone who's heavy and might have trouble getting on an otherwise-appropriately-sized diamond frame. but of course a u-frame is least appropriate for such a rider, b/c it can't support as much weight as a diamond frame. i could be wrong.
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Old 01-03-10, 03:28 PM   #7
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I had a cheapy around town bike with the step through before I sold it. I used it exclusively for shopping since it has a front and a large rear basket and not too much of a loss if someone stole it(beside it was given to me). I had it loaded up so heavy that the kick stand buckle on me. It is a great bike when I have to step out of it when loaded. The extra payload weight and the tall rear mounted basket makes it hard for me to get off a regular bike without a step through. So far I have jumped curb and ride over pot hole and it has surprised me how well it held up.

Only negative I've found is not having the extra space like a triangle for things like extra water bottle, pumps and etc... However, that is irrelevant with the basket to hold what I can't mount on the frame

Last edited by colleen c; 01-03-10 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 01-03-10, 03:33 PM   #8
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No top tube = you can't straddle the bike between your legs when stopped and waiting for the lights to turn green or texting/reading email or holding a camera.

Drawback? Maybe, but very minimal, IMO.

Last edited by DVC45; 01-03-10 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 01-03-10, 03:35 PM   #9
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It's sort of like a car with doors versus one without (like a Lotus 7 or dune buggy). They are much easier to use, but must be slightly heavier to have the same strength. For most transportation, the tradeoff is a good one. I've been riding my Kettler year round for 9 years and over 20,000 miles, and it is doing fine.

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Old 01-03-10, 03:49 PM   #10
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No top tube = you can't straddle the bike between your legs when stopped and waiting for the lights to turn green or texting/reading email or holding a camera.

Drawback? Maybe, but very minimal, IMO.
This reminded me of why I got rid of it. That was my only bike and I had plan to use it as a commute to work that involve taking public transportation part of the way. The train (BART) had platform usually located up in the air above city road and that where they had the track. I had to either put up with waiting and sharing elavator or simply carry my bike up those !@#$ stair. Without the horizontal top tube means harder to carry on stairs on those Bart startion.
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Old 01-03-10, 04:40 PM   #11
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for a given weight, a step through frame will be weaker than a diamond frame. If you have some reason why you can not lift your leg, or tilt your bike enough, they are a compromise worth making. However, they don't make it any easier to ride wearing a long skirt. The nose of the saddle, combined with the wind from riding is enough to make it fly up under even the best of circumstances.
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Old 01-03-10, 06:49 PM   #12
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I think it's a good time for the return of the mixte frame.
Still strong, but low enough to step over.
And they look snazzy too!
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Old 01-03-10, 07:18 PM   #13
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Some women and men use "mixte" or step-through frames as errand bikes around town or around a campus because they are less likely to be stolen.
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Old 01-03-10, 07:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
It may be different where you live, but most of the bike shops here are filled with hybrids, mountain bikes, and cruisers. There are far more of those on the racks than road bikes.
That is the way it is here, too, mostly. Still these bikes are sport, exercise, recreation, but not serious transportation as such.
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Old 01-03-10, 08:57 PM   #15
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I remember riding a step-through many years ago and what I found it to be pretty unstable going fast or downhill. It was wobbly.
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Old 01-04-10, 12:54 AM   #16
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I agree with JPprivate. I don't care much about strength, because frame breakage is fairly uncommon. But I am concerned about stiffness, and women's frames don't ride as well to me. If you pedal gently, this won't make much difference.
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Old 01-04-10, 08:07 AM   #17
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I'm just thinking out loud but I would think that a true U shaped bike would be lighter (given the same frame size) since you aren't installing that long top tube. This would be a plus, IMHO. There are some "female" varieties of bikes where the top tube is still there but slopes downward. This is what I would consider a true U shaped bike:

http://www.thebicycleescape.com/Imag...omPink_BIG.jpg
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Old 01-04-10, 08:36 AM   #18
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A triangle gives the highest stiffness to weight ratio. A bike with no top tube must have a gigantic down tube if you want it to be as stiff as a regular bike. This will make it very heavy. The bike you posted is a compromise, both heavy and flexible.
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Old 01-04-10, 08:51 AM   #19
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for a given weight, a step through frame will be weaker than a diamond frame. If you have some reason why you can not lift your leg, or tilt your bike enough, they are a compromise worth making. However, they don't make it any easier to ride wearing a long skirt. The nose of the saddle, combined with the wind from riding is enough to make it fly up under even the best of circumstances.
I've been hearing the "weaker than a diamond frame" argument for years. In the case of some older cheapy department store bikes, it was probably true, but I tested a Norco Cityglide 8 a few months back and didn't notice any flex while riding out of the saddle uphill. Perhaps if a 23 year old track sprinter got on it and really stomped on the pedals, that could be a problem, but no-one buys these bikes for hard fast rides.
As for a "long skirt" - how long is long? Knee length? Mid-calf? Ankle length? Only 20-somethings with good legs wear miniskirts, and a women's saddle is always shorter than a mans. A skirt guard to keep it from going into the rear wheel spokes is the main issue with more flowing skirts.
A good compromise is a mixte. Some of the sloping top tubes you see nowadays are almost in mixte territory, so why not go all the way? That new Soma mixte looks like it would be a nice lightweight commuter.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:19 AM   #20
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Some women and men use "mixte" or step-through frames as errand bikes around town or around a campus because they are less likely to be stolen.
Don't know if we're talking about the same thing.
This is the type of mixte frame I was talking about: (From Soma)

I was given to believe that a "true mixte" has a double top tube that extends all the way through the rear triangle to help stiffen the handling.

More to be seen at Doohickey's The Mixte Gallery.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:28 AM   #21
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Yes, that's what I call a mixte frame. That's a really nice one!
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Old 01-04-10, 11:03 AM   #22
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Apart from a less stiff frame and/or heavier frame, there really aren't drawbacks, and really, unless you're riding for performance, that doesn't matter much.

My girlfriend has a rather nice step-through bicycle, the Specialized Globe City 7. Its a great bike and I don't think she cares much that its heavier. (Except that it makes it more difficult to carry it up the stairs out of our apartment.)
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Old 01-04-10, 11:53 AM   #23
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As I said previously on a different thread, somebody has to explain to me the whole "u-frame" being a design for women thing. I know there is the decency/skirt argument from the 19th century. But as it stands now: less muscular, more agile women end up with a heavier and easier mountable bike and more muscular, less agile men end up with the bike that is lighter and harder to mount... ???
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Old 01-04-10, 11:59 AM   #24
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That is the way it is here, too, mostly. Still these bikes are sport, exercise, recreation, but not serious transportation as such.
Perhaps I'm confused. What, exactly, are you looking for bike shops to be filled with?
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Old 01-04-10, 12:22 PM   #25
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JPprivate, you're quite right about that. I've had women come to me looking for a bike or asking for advice, and they expect they need a ladies frame because they figure the reason they are built that way is that it's harder for a woman to mount a bike. I point out that the design originated from the practice of wearing skirts and that women are MORE limber than men. If either sex has trouble mounting bikes, it's men, not women. The last woman with whom I had this conversation with understood my reasoning, but it's funny how many people aren't aware of these facts.
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