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Old 03-04-17, 10:02 AM   #1
Big Lew
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Step through touring bikes

I've toured with traditional touring bikes for many years, compiling many thousands
of miles as I visited places all along the west on North America. Even though my age
is catching up to me, as well as arthritis, I would still like to do some more. My problem
now is in swinging my leg up high enough to easily clear my seat, both in getting on, and
in getting off my bike. Has anyone toured with a step through frame? Would they stand up
to the rigors of touring fully loaded?
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Old 03-04-17, 10:23 AM   #2
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If well made they should hold up. I did a google search and found this link:
A Complete List of Womens Touring Bikes: Step Through & Mixte - CyclingAbout

I think the ones with an extra set of stays between the rear dropouts and the seattube where teh top tube intersects the seattube might be stronger, or might be lighter for the strength. The definition of a mixte frame has been somewhat fluid over the years, but I consider a frame to be a mixte frame if it has this third set of stays.

Instead of using an extra set of stays, Thorn uses an extra tube in front of the seattube to add that reinforcement.
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/thorn-st...rames/?geoc=US

To get on a bike, I bend my knee sharply and swing my knee over the top tube in front of my saddle. Have you tried that? You have to stand a bit further forward to do it that way and you might have to lean the bike more to the side. It helps to have a frame with a steeply sloped toptube to do that, but my rando bike has a horizontal top tube and I can get on the bike that way on that bike too.

When I was a kid I had a paper route (that really dates me, doesn't it?). And I had some giant steel baskets on the back of the bike and often piled up more bundles of papers on top of that rack. I learned as a kid that it was easier to swing my knee over the toptube than it was to swing my leg over that big pile of papers on back.

And, one last option would be a folder like a Bike Friday, a lot of people tour on Bike Fridays.

A neighbor several years ago put an old Bianchi Advantage mixte frame bike in the garbage. Lugged frame and fitted with a triple crank and six speed cluster, probably from the 80s. It was extremely low mileage and in very good shape. I brought it home and use that on my indoor trainer for exercise in the winter. If it was a taller frame (it is quite short and my seatpost is extended beyond the safe criteria) I would consider it for touring if I had a light load of only rear panniers.

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Old 03-04-17, 10:34 AM   #3
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My fiancee bought an old Maruishi mixte for our last tour. Didn't seem to have an issues compare to my normal bike.
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Old 03-04-17, 10:38 AM   #4
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Bike Friday with one of their trailers?
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Old 03-04-17, 11:22 AM   #5
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My main problem is in the hip not allowing a backwards or high swinging movement
for a quick dismount. Sure, I can just straddle the frame with both feet on the ground,
but then I can't get off the bike without laying it down.
If I can get the bike moving while standing on the pedal, and then as it's moving, take
my time to get my leg over the seat, I'm off and on my way.
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Old 03-04-17, 11:33 AM   #6
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I ride a step through as a commuter and like it very well. The step through design is quite convenient once you get used to it.
I wondered if it would be flexy at all but so far it is stiff yet responsive, more so than my touring mtb and I'm 210lb's.
This season I am setting it up for light touring/randonee stuff. I already have a frame and handlebar bag so I may just go one step further and get a seat post bag as well.

I just posted this pic yesterday but here it is again.



It started out with flat riser bars with twist shifters which were fine but I decided to put trekking bars on. That was a straight swap over and it worked well.





But then I decided to do a dropbar conversion on it. I didn't want to spend a lot on bar end shifters (can't find any used ones cheap around here) but I discovered new shimano friction/index stem shifters that fit my stem for only $17 so I added them and interuptors.



From here I plan to swap out the crankset for one with lower gearing as I find the current one a little too high for big hills. My knees are hurting this season. It's a biopace triple with 175mm arms and a 28T granny and I am going to try going to 170mm arms with a 42T gear. Total swap out will be approx. $100.

An earlier pic from 2016:



And one from 1816:


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Old 03-04-17, 11:39 AM   #7
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I'll thrown in a vote for a Brompton... it's been a relevation for me and I've owned folders since '91. Only bike that has rekindled my interests in bicycle touring after ~3-decade hiatus (but then, again bike/gear security is a high priority where I like touring along the Eastcoast).
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Old 03-04-17, 11:46 AM   #8
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A few years back a couple guys from Sweden. passed down the Pacific coast, they had started , in Anchorage AK, and were headed to FL.

On step thru Commuter bikes with a Shimano 8 speed IGH. It was November, when in town here.
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Old 03-04-17, 12:04 PM   #9
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A few years back a couple guys from Sweden. passed down the Pacific coast, they had started , in Anchorage AK, and were headed to FL.

On step thru Commuter bikes with a Shimano 8 speed IGH. It was November, when in town here.
Thanks, as I've said before, if it rolls, someone will tour with it. My first long tour was with an old 28" first
world war ccm single speed when I was 14. I couldn't swing my leg over the seat then either but I was much
more agile and flexible so could make it work for hundreds of miles.
I don't think a brompton would suit my needs as I tour away from towns and cities so need extra gear
and provisions for wilderness camping.
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Old 03-04-17, 12:09 PM   #10
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But people do.. Rear rack on Bromptons support a backcountry back pack standing Up, and their front touring bag is quite spacious.
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Old 03-04-17, 12:54 PM   #11
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Hey Big Lew,

Back in the early 80's, Nishiki made a SWEET mixte. We all know how great the Japanese frames were back then. Here's what I'd do:

1. Buy a mixte frame of reputable quality.
2. Complete overhaul and refit with new components, wheels, & carbon fork.
3. Outfit it with bikepacker-style bags and gear.

How cool would that be? Center the weight on the frame, and you would obviate the need for traditional panniers and racks. Your arthritis and age will thank you. Travel lighter. Go faster. Feel better!
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Old 03-04-17, 01:18 PM   #12
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I build this one for my girlfriend a year ago, and she likes it a lot. I've added a rear rack since then and it has lowrider eyelets on the fork, so it's definitely suited for touring, which we intend to do at some point. I will probably add a granny ring and either drop or butterfly bars before we decide to go touring.

Step-through/mixte frames with proper touring qualitites are rare on these parts though, it took me four months of searching the classifieds pages here and in our neighbour countries before I found the perfect frame (we live in Scandinavia, and I bought it from a guy in germany).
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Old 03-04-17, 01:38 PM   #13
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...I don't think a brompton would suit my needs as I tour away from towns and cities so need extra gear and provisions for wilderness camping.
FWIW, I am rigged for full wilderness camping (clicky) - just like to keep all my touring options open (rural, urban, nice hotel, camping, train, bus, etc.). But if you stick to rural with low theft risk, then it's probably not worth the few % efficiency loss for a small folder.

I will definitely second the "travel lighter" recommendation above, though - modern UL multi-tasking camping gear has been the other revelation that rekindled my interests in touring. As comfortable (actually more) as I've ever been, yet so much easier to pack, set-up, take-down, carry, and RIDE... esp. as we sure ain't getting any younger .
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Old 03-04-17, 04:41 PM   #14
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I build this one for my girlfriend a year ago, and she likes it a lot. I've added a rear rack since then and it has lowrider eyelets on the fork, so it's definitely suited for touring, which we intend to do at some point. I will probably add a granny ring and either drop or butterfly bars before we decide to go touring.

Step-through/mixte frames with proper touring qualitites are rare on these parts though, it took me four months of searching the classifieds pages here and in our neighbour countries before I found the perfect frame (we live in Scandinavia, and I bought it from a guy in germany).
Nice looking bike for sure!
I have 2 touring bikes, one for the rough country roads, and the other for the main highways.
Both have been upgraded, including axles, to take the extra weight needed. If I can find an appropriate
step through frame, hopefully I can move much of the components over and I'll be good to go.
Many of the roads left for me to explore in my Province in Canada are quite isolated which requires carrying
extra gear as well as provisions for several days, so this is why I'm asking about the sturdiness of the step-
throughs. I considered something lighter and using a trailer, but I really don't want to go in that direction.
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Old 03-04-17, 05:53 PM   #15
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Not strong enough. Step through is for 100 pound girls in skirts. Big in you name? 250 pounds? Yea no. Not on isolated canadian roads. Try streching, yoga, some form of exercise.
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Old 03-04-17, 09:38 PM   #16
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Do you have a lot of experience with 100 pound girls in skirts or are you just talking out of your ...?

As stated earlier, I'm 210 and ride one just fine and find your comments rather rude.
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Old 03-04-17, 11:27 PM   #17
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I ride a step through as a commuter and like it very well. The step through design is quite convenient once you get used to it.
I wondered if it would be flexy at all but so far it is stiff yet responsive, more so than my touring mtb and I'm 210lb's.
This season I am setting it up for light touring/randonee stuff. I already have a frame and handlebar bag so I may just go one step further and get a seat post bag as well.

I just posted this pic yesterday but here it is again.



It started out with flat riser bars with twist shifters which were fine but I decided to put trekking bars on. That was a straight swap over and it worked well.





But then I decided to do a dropbar conversion on it. I didn't want to spend a lot on bar end shifters (can't find any used ones cheap around here) but I discovered new shimano friction/index stem shifters that fit my stem for only $17 so I added them and interuptors.



From here I plan to swap out the crankset for one with lower gearing as I find the current one a little too high for big hills. My knees are hurting this season. It's a biopace triple with 175mm arms and a 28T granny and I am going to try going to 170mm arms with a 42T gear. Total swap out will be approx. $100.

An earlier pic from 2016:



And one from 1816:

Nice! I assume it'll take a bit of getting used to stepping through, but so do using clip-ons.
Someone suggested exercises, but that won't fix my situation as I badly broke my left hip and the
collateral damage and progressing arthritis has limited sideway movement even with stretching and exercise.
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Old 03-05-17, 01:42 AM   #18
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It is what it is.
In Holland, a place where cycling is a daily activity, step throughs are quite common.
I say ride what works for you. If someone needs a top tube to represent their manhood that's their problem.
The fact that you are actually out there being active on any kind of bike is more than 90% of the population is doing.

There isn't much to get used to really. You just find you don't need to raise your leg so much to get over the top tube. Once you are riding it's all the same.

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Old 03-05-17, 01:55 AM   #19
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It is what it is.
In Holland, a place where cycling is a daily activity, step throughs are quite common.
I say ride what works for you. If someone needs a top tube to represent their manhood that's their problem.
The fact that you are actually out there being active on any kind of bike is more than 90% of the population is doing.

There isn't much to get used to really. You just find you don't need to raise your leg so much to get over the top tube. Once you are riding it's all the same.
Yes, step through bikes are very common in Europe, thanks for your input, I'm now 71 and
have lived my life not being concerned about what others are hung up about. The biggest
obstacle I think I'll have is trying to locate one. I can have one made, but the cost is very high.
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Old 03-05-17, 02:03 AM   #20
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Well, a high quality true mixte in a large size may be a challenge but step throughs like the more common hybrid style I ride are more common.

Here's one but probably too small: https://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/bik/5990679514.html

Here's another: https://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/bik/6025035969.html

Too bad you could not mash both together. One looks like it has a chromo frame and nice looking rims, the other has drop bars and maybe a bit bigger sizing.

Now, if you have 3K you can take a local bike building course at the UFV Abbotsford Airport campus with Paul Brodie and build your own step through as part of the course. It's what I'd be doing with my holidays if I had a few extra K's kicking around

Bike frame building 101 - University of the Fraser Valley (UFV)

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Old 03-05-17, 05:43 AM   #21
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I woke up this morning thinking of you, Lew. Maybe it's time for a recumbent?

Easy Racers Recumbent Bicycles | Bicycles | Easy Racers Series | Tour Easy

Can't go wrong with one of these.
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Old 03-05-17, 08:14 AM   #22
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https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca...specifications

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca...specifications

You have me shopping again. I was convinced at the end of my tour last year my next tour bike was going to be a step thru, or semi. Think I will stop at the Giant dealer after Church and look. I did build a new touring bike this fall on an impulse purchase, need to mile it up, ha-ha.

I haven't heard of any step-through bikes having a frame failure, ever.

Hope this helps,


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Old 03-05-17, 10:01 AM   #23
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... I assume it'll take a bit of getting used to stepping through, but so do using clip-ons.
...
When I ride my folding bike with a really low single tube (combined top and down tubes), it takes me less than 5 minutes to get used to stepping through the frame.

But it takes longer to again get used to a conventional frame after that.
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Old 03-05-17, 05:29 PM   #24
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When I ride my folding bike with a really low single tube (combined top and down tubes), it takes me less than 5 minutes to get used to stepping through the frame.

But it takes longer to again get used to a conventional frame after that.
Interesting perspective. So from this could we assume that riding a step-through will spoil you?
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Old 03-05-17, 06:22 PM   #25
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Interesting perspective. So from this could we assume that riding a step-through will spoil you?
I've ridden the step through bikes in Holland. If I were in a position where I was getting on and off the bike regularly, or had an issue stepping over the top tube, it wouldn't concern me one bit to be on one. If you ever look at city rideshare bikes that are popping up in America, which get used and abused by people with no incentive to care about their well being daily, they are almost exclusively step thru for ease of use, and don't seem to be falling apart in any great number.
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