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Performance of mens frame vs womens.

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Performance of mens frame vs womens.

Old 04-10-19, 10:05 AM
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Performance of mens frame vs womens.

Hi there. Just looking to gain some knowledge with this post.

Can anyone give me give any evidence there is any performance difference between vintage lugged mens frames and 'womens' frames with dropped crossbars.

It was after a discussion with a friend about the flex of double butted 531 adding to its comfort, made me curious whether the less efficient frame structure on dropped crossbars could actually produce a more comfortable flex. Is the tubing thicker to compensate? any noticeable difference at all?

*edit personally I am big fan of riding dropped frames! And find it funny that companies claim a bike should have a different frame structure for women.

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Old 04-10-19, 10:23 AM
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There is very little evidence out there that flex has any effect on performance.

Unless you are on schedule to compete in your 3rd TdF this year, it's a moot point, driven by advertising and manufacturers' need to sell new bikes.

Nobody on this forum, especially, or the Road or the Racing, for that matter,
that is not a world-class TT, Triathlete, or road racer has any real reason to even discuss it.

A thread title like this, though, will be a magnet for trolls and self-titled bike "studs." More like duds.
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Old 04-10-19, 10:46 AM
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If you could find a woman's frame that was built to the same attention/materials as a top shelf men's frame, then a comparison could be made.

This makes it easy because you asked on a vintage forum. The comparison is limited to what was produced.

ETA- Did anyone put as much effort into a woman's frame as they did the men's? You would already be starting with a design deficit (structural) in the woman's frame, so what would have to be done to overcome this first hurdle?

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Old 04-10-19, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Erzulis Boat View Post
ETA- Did anyone put as much effort into a woman's frame as they did the men's? You would already be starting with a design deficit (structural) in the woman's frame, so what would have to be done to overcome this first hurdle?
It was a serious discrepancy for years, as the market wouldn't bear it.
Now, there's money in it, so it's happening.
Fastest growing cycling demographics are female, long-term effects of Title IX and other changes.

Georgena Terry was a pioneer in the design of frames "for women."
Specialized long ago recognized that the same frames perform much differently in different sizes.
Most makers now have digital matrices to build in what steel frame builders instinctively knew, years ago.

Customizing for sizes is still fairly expensive, but not relatively as high as it used to be.

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Old 04-10-19, 04:38 PM
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I know of men that ride 'step through' frames just because- whether just because it's what they have, or it's easier for them. FWIW, Rivendell has done a few step through bikes that have been not "female oriented."
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Old 04-10-19, 05:01 PM
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I have no idea if performance between equally built frames would differ.....part of the issue is that you don't see a lot of vintage slope tube or mixte bikes beyond about a 21" frame size

I suspect that anyone who saw the triangle vs square demo in physics has at least a sub-conscious bias to assuming the frame that looks more like a triangle is stronger than the one that looks like a parallelogram.

rivendell puts extra top tubes (mid tubes) on really large frames so that would imply that they think that frames that big (and less triangle like) need some level of strength additions

for reference here is current rivendell step thru in 60 cm it looks like the designed it to get a bit more triangulation. and custom lug for the top/mid tube

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Old 04-11-19, 08:31 AM
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Traditional frames with small diameter tubes flex quite a bit in normal use. You don't have to be TdF material to make that happen. This a feature not a bug.

Women's frames not well reinforced at the seat tube/toptube junction fail in a distinctive pattern. The seat tube above the junction folds forward. This doesn't happen because the rider weighed 300 pounds or because a top competition male professional was using the frame for training. It's a normal use failure. Before that failure happens a lot of flex has occurred. No cognate failure occurs in diamond frames.

The Rivendell shown above has a good solid lug at seat tube/toptube junction. The toptube is also relatively high for a women's frame. Doubtful that one would ever break. It is still going to flex a whole lot more than a diamond frame. Frame also shows double eyelets at forkends. Carry a load on any frame designed like that and you will get plenty of flex. Carrying loads puts stress on frames just as severe as racing use would. Very possible to use a frame very hard without being big and strong. People do all sorts of things to bikes .
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Old 04-11-19, 09:38 AM
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Speaking of flexing, the word has a different meaning with today's youth and people in the know. My son and daughter are frequently talking/laughing about people flexing.


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Old 04-11-19, 10:25 AM
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Most female non-diamond frames were restricted to the entry level category, so they already have a fairly comfortable ride, due to the relatively slack geometry. In theory, the lack of a top tube will provide additional vertical compliance, though I can't say by how much, as I don't ride them. I don't believe designers paid any extra attention to the designs or tried to compensate because females typically aren't as hard on their bicycles. I do know that the female and mixte frames that came though our shop in the 1970s used the same size seat posts as the male versions, indicating that at least the seat tubes were the same gauge.

However, since these frame are typically entry level you also get the other attributes of entry level bicycles, such as heavier weight and less responsive handling. I have seen some top class, non-diamond, female frames, but they are relatively rare. The trending C&V approach to increased comfort seems to be a good quality frame with as large a tyre as possible fitted and run at relatively low pressures.
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Old 04-11-19, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by WillBradley1 View Post
And find it funny that companies claim a bike should have a different frame structure for women.
Obviously it's so we ladies can easily mount a bike with our long skirts. Silly man.
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Old 04-11-19, 03:52 PM
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I've always thought that the old mixte format was superior in many ways to a traditional diamond frame. They are actually stiffer, if all else is the same, and can ride like little rocket ships. This is especially true of the type like the one squirtdad pictured in post #6 . Higher end mixtes were always somewhat of a rare thing, but they were made. Strictly speaking, a mixte is not a woman's frame, as you might guess from the name. They were originally intended to be gender neutral. In practice, this wasn't how they were perceived back in the 70s and 80s, when they were common. Nowadays however, they kind of are. It's kind of hip to ride them for boys and girls.

Actual ladies frames, the kind with double down tubes and no extra rear stays -- those are theoretically weaker and perceptibly floppier. They do offer some advantages for all riders though. Easier to step over is an obvious one. They are pretty easy to move around too, for getting up stairs and the like. Riv has certainly been pushing dropped frames for everyone, both mixte and double downtube types. A lot of urban bikes are essentially dropped frames. If you increase the tube diameters, the floppiness can be compensated for.

Obviously, the need for special frames for women is largely archaic, at least for sport riding. It's not that often that most woman are going to wear a dress to ride a bike. But it might make sense for an urban utility bike, just in case. I've certainly seen urban hipster chicks enjoying vintage dropped frame bikes.
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