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Old 10-20-07, 10:14 AM   #1
JoeyMac
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Boys on Girl frames

When I was a kid and got my first bike, I was so overjoyed at the idea of having a bicycle, that I had no clue that parents had pulled a switcheroo to save money and given me a girl's frame spray-painted blue. I proudly rode it up and down my grandparents neighborhood, while all the other redneck kids laughed at me. Finally one of them explained that my bike was a girl frame, and I didn't believe him. To prove his point he pulled out a pocket knife and scraped away a little bit of blue paint from the fork to reveal a pink gloss finish underneath. I was crushed. My bike then sat for a little while, I refused to touch it. My parent's didn't understand or care. Then one of the older kids from the neighborhood offered to fix my bike for me, and he took it, and swapped out my girl frame with an older boy's frame, one of the little stingray styled frames. It was spray painted silver and looked bad ass, my first cruiser! I still have it:

I felt way cooler on that bike, and no one harassed me about the gender of my bike after that. Now I am wondering, as adults, does the bike gender thing make as much of a difference? I see bums and teenagers around town riding obvious girl frames, but are there any serious riders who would to admit to riding a girl's frame? I will. my girlfriend has a 65 Schwinn 3- speed Co-Ed Cruiser that is a lot of fun to cruise around on. So far no one has given me a hard time about it. Your thoughts?
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Old 10-20-07, 10:21 AM   #2
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The "girl's frame" is actually called a mixte, and are regarded by some here as unisex. I'm not a fan of mixte frames, so I've never given much thought about whether I'd worry about owning a mixte. I have ridden them in the past, but they belonged to someone else. On the other hand, in my experience, most kids get this brand of petty behavior out of their systems before high school. There are new, and more interesting forms of petty behavior, and a person can support only so much of that at a time.
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Old 10-20-07, 10:42 AM   #3
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I think the first bike I had was a girl's frame as well. But then again, my oldest brother had one of those old Schwinn's with the spring on the front suspension. As best I recall, it was a girl's bike, too, but the thing weighed 50 lbs, was black, and there sure wasn't anything very feminine about it.
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Old 10-20-07, 01:54 PM   #4
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Then one of the older kids from the neighborhood offered to fix my bike for me, and he took it, and swapped out my girl frame with an older boy's frame, one of the little stingray styled frames. It was spray painted silver and looked bad ass, my first cruiser!
Wow, what a kind kid. That's one of the nicest stories I've ever heard. When you're young and beginning to develop an identity, I can certainly understand how hard it would be for a boy to have a "girl's bike". I've been seeing more and more men ride step-through frames lately. They seem to be especially popular with dads who have a child seat attached to the bike. Makes sense to me.
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Old 10-20-07, 02:04 PM   #5
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Wow, what a kind kid. That's one of the nicest stories I've ever heard. When you're young and beginning to develop an identity, I can certainly understand how hard it would be for a boy to have a "girl's bike". I've been seeing more and more men ride step-through frames lately. They seem to be especially popular with dads who have a child seat attached to the bike. Makes sense to me.
I hadn't thought about that angle. I'd totally rock a mixte if I had a dohicky mounted on my bike that blocked my traditional mounting technique.
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Old 10-20-07, 02:24 PM   #6
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No, I won't ride a girl's bike. A girl's bike is weaker than a boy's bike. In my opinion, girls should not ride girl's frames.
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Old 10-20-07, 02:25 PM   #7
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The "girl's frame" is actually called a mixte
A mixte is actually a specific type of step-through frame. Instead of one large toptube, a mixte generally has two smaller tubes that run down to the seat tube, then continue on to the rear dropouts, forming a third set of stays. The idea being that this puts less strain on the frame than a regular diamond frame with the toptube repositioned.

A mixte frame:


A traditional-style step-through bike:


To confuse matters, I don't believe anyone makes tubing for a mixte's twin toptubes anymore, so a mixte made today would have the standard single toptube, but with the mixte's third set of stays. Also, some step-through-type bikes made today don't have a toptube at all, instead using a strengthened downtube, with a brace between the seattube and downtube down near the bottom bracket.

In any case, there historially hasn't really been such a thing as a men's bike or a women's bike. Step-throughs were marketed to women for the modesty-while-wearing-a-skirt aspect (which has caused the step-through to continue to be seen as a women's bike), but a lot of utility-type bikes have used stepthrough designs as well. Today, some manufacturers make female-specific models, but the difference is that the geometry is more suited to a woman's body, not just that they moved the toptube.

Personally, I'd love to have an old mixte frame. I think they're cool.
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Old 10-20-07, 02:59 PM   #8
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I ride a Dutch step-through bike most of the time, they are quite common in Europe.
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Old 10-20-07, 03:07 PM   #9
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I think there are plenty of step-through bikes that carry heavy loads just fine.



My own works great. The frame does hold up. I pull and carry far heavier loads than this.

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Old 10-20-07, 03:29 PM   #10
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My current utility bike happens to be a step through frame. I ride either one style. My wife only rides the "ladies" frames. She has trouble A) finding a diamond frame small enough and B) doesn't like having to "throw" her leg that far in the air to get on a bike. She also wears skirts when riding on occasion...

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Old 10-20-07, 04:47 PM   #11
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"Girl's bikes" or Step Through Frame Bikes are popular with shoppers and people that have a child carrier on the rear track. Lot of older riders prefer the design and makes it easier for them to mount and dismount their bike with a load of groceries or goodies. Suppose you can make the same argument if your child is in the back.

Personally I don't see a problem, but some cling to the stigma, if a boy is seen riding a girl's bike rather than looking at the practical advantages of the design.
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Old 10-20-07, 07:22 PM   #12
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I use a old Schwinn Suburban step thru frame on my trainer. Lots easier to get on than my roadie, and a good workout! I don't put excess wear my tires, cassette and other parts on my "good" bike or have to mount and dis-mount it from the trainer on nice days. Plus it is nice to ride on days where fenders matter.
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Old 10-20-07, 07:36 PM   #13
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What is obvious about a 'girls' frame?
It is a bike, and someone, somewhere may have attached an arbitrary gender based identifier on it.

If it works, and it is comfortable, why worry.
And... a properly designed frame can carry a load just fine.
Its actually really nice to 'step-through' when carrying a kid or a load on the front / rear rack. Makes starting and stopping all that more elegant - and if you are wearing pants or nice street clothes, it might actually save you from tearing a seam by throwing a leg over the saddle.
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Old 10-20-07, 07:37 PM   #14
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No, I won't ride a girl's bike. A girl's bike is weaker than a boy's bike. In my opinion, girls should not ride girl's frames.
What?
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Old 10-20-07, 08:10 PM   #15
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So called girls bike were invented because at the time, most women wore dresses and a male bike would show more than they wanted to in the good ole days. Of course, how many women ride a bike today wearing a dress???
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Old 10-20-07, 08:22 PM   #16
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Theoretically, a girl's frame is weaker than the man's frame, other things being equal. But then again, I never broke ANY frame, so that's kind of a moot point. And I'm not sure if it's my imagination, but it seems to me that when you start looking at ol' cruiser style bikes on Craig's List, there are more women's frames available now than men's. Maybe they didn't get worn out as much or something.

Less obvious is that women's frames are often smaller frame sizes than men's.
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Old 10-20-07, 08:58 PM   #17
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Of course, how many women ride a bike today wearing a dress???
<raises hand>
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Old 10-20-07, 09:04 PM   #18
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<raises hand>
So do I.

Nothing more comfortable than riding a bicycle in a skirt :-)
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Last edited by Sianelle; 10-20-07 at 09:13 PM. Reason: forgot to say something
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Old 10-20-07, 09:05 PM   #19
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What?
Sorry, what don't you understand? Or do you think the design of a girl's bike is of equal strength as that of a boy's bike?
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Old 10-20-07, 09:18 PM   #20
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Old 10-20-07, 10:11 PM   #21
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So called girls bike were invented because at the time, most women wore dresses and a male bike would show more than they wanted to in the good ole days. Of course, how many women ride a bike today wearing a dress???
+1.

No difference in male and female anatomies suggests that bikes with sloping top tubes are for girls, and bikes with the horizontal top tube are for boys. It's just a choice between greater durability and stiffness of the "boys" frame and the convenience of the "girls" frame. That's why professional road racers always go with the "boys" design (yes, even female racers, imagine that ), and utility riders often prefer the step-through frames for easier mounts/dismounts. It's not about gender, it's about function.

This whole boys/girls frame designation should just die. Women-specific design that are tailored to female anatomy are a different matter - but they may very well have a straight or nearly straight top tube.

Unfortunately, when you register a bike with the Toronto Police, you have to tick off one of three boxes: male, female, or kids frame. That's especially dumb since lots of frames don't even fit this division at all. How do you categorize a mixte frame? A folding bike frame? A recumbent frame? A semi-compact frame? Really, there are too many bike styles out there to try to lump them into these silly categories.
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Old 10-20-07, 10:25 PM   #22
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I'm sure those designations were from the 60's and 70's, Chephy.
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Old 10-20-07, 11:01 PM   #23
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Nothing more comfortable than riding a bicycle in a skirt :-)
I'll have to test that theory someday. At least once I find a 60cm mixte...

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Old 10-20-07, 11:48 PM   #24
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I've thought a lot about the gender classification among bikes and I've never really concluded why things are how they are. I think the contributing factors are marketing and the societal view that there is a gender divide wherein certain items are gender specific.

I have seen manufacturers as of late make women specific bikes that aren't just step through, geometry changes that are supposedly better suited to a woman (I wouldn't know, being a man).

Step through is the more functional frame design though, no doubt about it. Yet I still ride a diamond frame so I guess I've just played into the system
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Old 10-21-07, 12:36 AM   #25
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What?
It made sense to me. The poster thinks these frames aren't as strong as the diamond frame, and for this reason, both women and men should ride diamond frames.

When it comes to serious sport, I agree, but that's already how it is. For casual riding, I think it probably doesn't matter. I'm not so sure how I feel about those single-tube step-through comfort bikes. They kinda scare me, though I'm willing to be proven wrong there. It seems like a awfully great load to place on a single tube.
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