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Any drawbacks with a women-style "step-through" frame?

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Any drawbacks with a women-style "step-through" frame?

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Old 01-04-10, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
More to be seen at Doohickey's The Mixte Gallery.
Thanks for the plug! The picture you show is a classic style mixte. I have seen some (which I still consider a mixte) that have a single top tube that goes to the seat tube following a line drawn from the top of the head tube to the rear dropout; at the seat tube it becomes a pair of twin stays (to make a third set of stays along with the chain stays and seat stays). To me, having the third pair of stays distinguishes a mixte, whether or not they extend all the way to the head tube or they and at the seat tube and continue as a single tube to the head tube. (For an example of this variation, see Rivendell's Betty Foy.)
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Old 01-04-10, 12:57 PM
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Has anyone confirmed that the stays going from the seat tube to the rear dropouts really enhance the ride?
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Old 01-04-10, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Thanks for the plug! The picture you show is a classic style mixte. I have seen some (which I still consider a mixte) that have a single top tube that goes to the seat tube following a line drawn from the top of the head tube to the rear dropout; at the seat tube it becomes a pair of twin stays (to make a third set of stays along with the chain stays and seat stays). To me, having the third pair of stays distinguishes a mixte, whether or not they extend all the way to the head tube or they and at the seat tube and continue as a single tube to the head tube. (For an example of this variation, see Rivendell's Betty Foy.)

Still looks like, at best (Riv) a compromise, and at worst (VO) a cheap knockoff.

If you gave me a Riv and a Soma I would sell the Riv and ride the Soma.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
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.
Yes my friend, you are wrong. Women like to be able to ride in a dress or skirt once an a while. Your statement reflects just how close the bicycle manufacturers have come to brain washing those in North America that cycling's all about sport and speed rather than day-to-day transportation (in regular street clothes, not that damned Lycra stuff).

During the summer months, when there are plays or musical performances in the evening in the small town that I live outside of, I'd like to have a bicycle that's easier to get on and off of while in a dress or skirt. Can you spell S-T-E-P T-H-R-O-U-G-H. I love my mountain bike, but I almost have to lay it flat to get on gracefully when dressed in a skirt or dress.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
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.
They make it easier to mount and dismount when dressed in regular (not formal, long length) dresses and skirts. All the men involved in this thread need to read the blog letsgorideabike.wordpress.com to understand why women like the idea of a real world bike you can ride to work in regular street clothes, i.e. dresses and skirts. Hopefully, the fantasy that all bikes should be light and styled after racing bikes will be put to rest in North America this decade. I'd like to see more utility and everyday "European bikes" become popular in this country.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:39 PM
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I agree with you about everyday bikes. I also realize that many women will want to wear skirts and dresses on a bike. I made my comment about a woman who wanted the bike for recreation and was explicitly thinking about riding it without wearing a skirt. She, like everyone else, ought to be informed before deciding on which style frame to get.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
They make it easier to mount and dismount when dressed in regular (not formal, long length) dresses and skirts. All the men involved in this thread need to read the blog letsgorideabike.wordpress.com to understand why women like the idea of a real world bike you can ride to work in regular street clothes, i.e. dresses and skirts. Hopefully, the fantasy that all bikes should be light and styled after racing bikes will be put to rest in North America this decade. I'd like to see more utility and everyday "European bikes" become popular in this country.

There's plenty of step-through bikes on the market and being sold already. The overwhelming majority are collecting dust in the garage.

They would have been run over by now, but the SUV they're driving instead won't fit in the garage.
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Old 01-04-10, 04:17 PM
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Step-thrus are also great if you're short. I'm 5'2" with short little legs and have a heck of a time finding a frame that really fits well. By the time I can stand over the cross bar, the reach is messed up. I really appreciate a step-thru frame in the winter when I hit a slippery spot - there's nothing like trying to step off the bike in a hurry to make you appreciate a bar that's closer to your ankles than to your waist. Just sayin'. And I'm female - I can't imagine hitting that bar as a male. I've got two step-thru frames that I use as regular commuters. Love them both.
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Old 01-04-10, 04:31 PM
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I'm a guy with long legs and I find myself wanting a step through frame.

Sometimes it can be difficult to swing that leg over the bike and the saddle.

First of all, I've got long legs, so my saddle is up pretty high - that's one obstacle to clear.

Add to that the fact that I've got large grocery panniers with a tall backpack sticking out, or a rear basket mounted on the rear rack - more things to swing your leg over.

And I don't wear lycra, so if I'm wearing shorts or pants, it's easy for those to get snagged on any of the things mentioned above.

I've actually started just high-stepping over the top tub a lot of the time anyway - that way I don't risk getting my pant leg caught on the back cargo and end up falling over. A mixte would be helpful in that regard....
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Old 01-04-10, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
There's plenty of step-through bikes on the market and being sold already. The overwhelming majority are collecting dust in the garage.

They would have been run over by now, but the SUV they're driving instead won't fit in the garage.
Many of the step-through bikes on the market are low quality high-tensile steel things that are unpleasant to ride. This is the main reason I've never had one - that and the fact that they're mostly made in small sizes.
It is often difficult to convince women to spend more money on a quality bike for themselves; they bring up the "I don't want to spend too much in case I don't like it" argument, which is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, the bike manufacturers don't make better ones because they don't think a better one will sell, and people who buy the cheap ones find them unpleasant and won't spend money on a better one because cycling seems like hard work... it goes around in circles.
Of course, there is also this perception that a step-through is just not a "serious" bike. Norco describes the Cityglide 8 on their website as being only for casual leisure riding, despite the fact that it has many of the features that European manufacturers such as Gazelle put on their everyday shopping/transportation bikes.
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Old 01-04-10, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
Many of the step-through bikes on the market are low quality high-tensile steel things that are unpleasant to ride. This is the main reason I've never had one - that and the fact that they're mostly made in small sizes.
It is often difficult to convince women to spend more money on a quality bike for themselves; they bring up the "I don't want to spend too much in case I don't like it" argument, which is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, the bike manufacturers don't make better ones because they don't think a better one will sell, and people who buy the cheap ones find them unpleasant and won't spend money on a better one because cycling seems like hard work... it goes around in circles.
Of course, there is also this perception that a step-through is just not a "serious" bike. Norco describes the Cityglide 8 on their website as being only for casual leisure riding, despite the fact that it has many of the features that European manufacturers such as Gazelle put on their everyday shopping/transportation bikes.


http://letsgorideabike.com/

These women reflect the growing trend among women cyclists. Yes, both of them have more than one bike, but they ride Danish step-throughs, which aren't cheap, or Mixties when riding to work.

Let's be honest, too. Cost doesn't always equate quality, either. There's nothing wrong with steel bikes. Again, there's too much buy in into the marketing myths begun by bicycle manufacturers in the 80's when their focus shifted to how to market bicycles for more money. It's taken a very long time to see regular bicycles, step throughs and Mixties, available again in any number in the US and you don't see them everywhere. I'm hoping that in 2020 when the general pubic speaks of cyclists in the US you won't think of Lycra-clad people trying to imitate professional racing cyclists. Rather, I hope the first image that comes to mind is of an average man or woman, dressed in street clothes, riding a bicycle to get somewhere and enjoying it.
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Old 01-04-10, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
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 [email protected]#$ stair. Without the horizontal top tube means harder to carry on stairs on those Bart startion.
You could have done what I often do, even though I do this with regular triangle frames. I lean down and grasp the bike near the bottom bracket, either on the seat tube or downtube, and stand up. I often also end up with the saddle at just the right height to perch on my shoulder.
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Old 01-04-10, 07:27 PM
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I have what I think is a very simple question, but yet one that many bicycle enthusiast I’ve asked have never been able to answer…

When and why did it become inappropriate in society’s eyes, for a man to ride a step through frame bike? Some people (men and women both) view it almost as if it was some form of Cross Dressing. You don’t have to wear a skirt to ride a step through frame bike… You can but you don’t have to. You can wear any type of clothing you want to...

So, why did men for the most part shy away from riding a step through frame?… even though it is in many ways a more practical frame for utility use. Was it because it was considered manly to race a bicycle, and all the racing bikes were diamond frames?

I’m a man, and have ridden many different types of bikes over my life… I ride a Mixte and a U-frame bike now because of a hip replacement and the subsequent reduction in flexibility from it. But, I have learned that there are many advantages to a step through frame that I never realized, because when I was younger I never wanted to ride one because I was told they were for women, not for men… Looking back I now see just how stupid that attitude was. The different frame types are best used for different purposes… that’s all.

If people are going to continue to argue the ole Step through frames were just meant for women who wore dresses thing. Then they are over looking so many of the advantages a step through can deliver, just because they fear looking un-manly (whatever that is).

I’ll take my Mixte over a diamond frame anytime that I have the panniers loaded, or with a cooler full of lunch, or sodas on the back; when my wife and I ride to the park for a picnic, or daytrip ride.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:05 PM
  #39  
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Oh, for crying out loud. Transportation and utility bicycles have been built with standard "mens' style" frames since the very beginning. They are in no way mutually exclusive, and the prevalence of the men's frame has nothing to do with a sudden uptick in the marketing of bicycles for sport rather than transport. "Back in the day," step-through frames were pushed off into an ignominious, low-end corner of the market, seldom being built out of anything but high-tensile, gaspipe steel. The design is, of course, inherently weaker, and this was made worse by their ghettoization. Of course, the fantastical stories that we hear make it hard to sort truth from fiction:

Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
Again, there's too much buy in into the marketing myths begun by bicycle manufacturers in the 80's when their focus shifted to how to market bicycles for more money.
This is a laughable fabrication. First of all, the bicycle manufacturers operating before the 1980's would no doubt be surprised to hear that they were focused on something other than making as much money as they could by selling bicycles. Second, the idea that there was some sharp moral collapse (because that is always how it is framed by people like you) within the bicycle industry at some point in the 1980's, in which they collectively decided that they would no longer market useful bicycles, is simply farcical. It requires one to imagine some kind of bike industry villain cabal, complete with moustache-twirling, vaudeville-type evildoers cackling madly in darkened rooms.

The reality is a lot more complicated. The market for utilitarian bicycles in the U.S. and many other industrialized nations outside of Northern Europe did drop off, but for reasons more complicated than marketers deciding that they could make more money that way and simply shutting off production. More likely is feedback between the industry and markets, where there was less money to be made selling utility bikes, probably because of the near-total automobilization (if you will) of urban spaces by that time, but without the rise in concern about sustainability and fuel prices that have likely been partly responsible for the recent recovery of the market for utilitarian bikes. This had been in the making for decades. A good example is the buying up and dismantling of streetcar lines in American cities by automotive interests. The bike manufacturers probably don't deserve much blame for trying to survive.

I want to add that there is in fact no conflict between sport and utility cyclists except that which we invent. Commuters and racers are not and should not be enemies! The people making such a big deal about Amsterdam and Copenhagen seem to gloss over or simply fail to mention that, in both of those countries, cycling, both professional and amateur, is a popular, mainstream sport. This is not a coincidence. Sport cyclists do not cut into the market available for commuting cyclists, nor vice versa. It's bizarre that anyone would think that they do. And of course, these are not non-overlapping categories of cyclists. I ride to work in normal clothes on a practical bicycle. I also train and race in spandex on a racing bicycle. I can handle these facts without my head exploding from cognitive dissonance. Can you? In any case, I am far, FAR from the only one. This imagined conflict (and the idiotic, irrational hatred of lycra) is a waste of brainpower. Hey, would you believe that roadies ride what they do while wearing what they do because it actually IS fun and pleasant, not because they're brainwashed fools!? What a shock!

In sum, nothing wrong with step-through frames, but the existence of normal diamond frames is not because of some bizarre marketing conspiracy. Ride what you want, don't worry about what the obnoxious roadies or the shrill conspiracy theorists say to you.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bionicycle View Post
When and why did it become inappropriate in society’s eyes, for a man to ride a step through frame bike? Some people (men and women both) view it almost as if it was some form of Cross Dressing...

So, why did men for the most part shy away from riding a step through frame?… even though it is in many ways a more practical frame for utility use.
You talk like men used to happily ride on mixte or step-through frames all the time with nary a care in the world, and any hesitation that they feel now is a new development. Unfortunately, this isn't true. Evidence? The convertible bike: a girls' bike that could be turned into a boys' bike with the addition of an included, clamp-on, non-structural top tube that made it LOOK (sort of) like a boys' bike. So far as I know, these aren't made anymore. But anxiety about riding a feminine bicycle goes all the way back to the divergence of different styles for riders wearing skirts. The realization that step-through frames have other practical benefits is probably a more recent one.
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Old 01-04-10, 10:15 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
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!
I'd ride one, if I could find one in my size. Most I've come across are 19".
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Old 01-04-10, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bionicycle View Post
I have what I think is a very simple question, but yet one that many bicycle enthusiast I’ve asked have never been able to answer…

When and why did it become inappropriate in society’s eyes, for a man to ride a step through frame bike? Some people (men and women both) view it almost as if it was some form of Cross Dressing. You don’t have to wear a skirt to ride a step through frame bike… You can but you don’t have to. You can wear any type of clothing you want to...
Since 1887, (approximately just 20 years since production began on the modern bicycle) when Herbert Owen modified the top tube and allowed women to gracefully dismount in the then Victorianized society.
So we've been conditioned by approx. 120 years of bicycle gender definition by the top tube placement.
Then I think around 2006, somebody (I think it was Trek) came up with the idea of WSD and thus began the relatively new market for a decent high end diamond frame in smaller geometry for women.
I empathize with your lament. The European market appears to have liberalized faster, but for a long, long time, a step through frame has been synonymous with a womens bicycle.
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Old 01-05-10, 06:03 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post


http://letsgorideabike.com/

These women reflect the growing trend among women cyclists. Yes, both of them have more than one bike, but they ride Danish step-throughs, which aren't cheap, or Mixties when riding to work.

Let's be honest, too. Cost doesn't always equate quality, either. There's nothing wrong with steel
bikes. Again, there's too much buy in into the marketing myths begun by bicycle manufacturers in the 80's when their focus shifted to how to market bicycles for more money. It's taken a very long time to see regular bicycles, step throughs and Mixties, available again in any number in the US and you don't see them everywhere. I'm hoping that in 2020 when the general pubic speaks of cyclists in the US you won't think of Lycra-clad people trying to imitate professional racing cyclists. Rather, I hope the first image that comes to mind is of an average man or woman, dressed in street clothes, riding a bicycle to get somewhere and enjoying it.
I've seen that blog, and I believe they're both riding Dutch bikes (Batavus and Azor) rather than Danish ones. I'm not sure it is a growing trend apart from young people living in inner-city areas. For it to really catch on we'd need to have the sort of roads and urban planning that they have in European cities and frankly it's not there in our maze-like suburbs. (For me, it would take fewer hills - there's no way I can avoid perspiring on the short-but-steep snorters on my commute!)

I'm assuming that the better European steel bikes are chrome-moly, rather than the cheap hi-tensile tubing that I've seen on most step-through bikes here. No, there is nothing wrong with good quality steel, but there is a lot wrong with very cheap components. Especially the kind you see on x-mart bikes.

All my life I've been encountering the "I don't want to spend too much in case I don't like it" argument from other women, so I know it's there. One of my sisters-in-law couldn't be convinced that she'd actually enjoy cross-country skiing if she bought a half-decent pair to replace the crappy department store skis she had - so she gave it up.

On a bike tour with a club years ago, I repeatedly stopped to help a clubmate with a really crappy bike that she was having problems with - a cheap step-through, come to think of it. When I rode this thing to test a gear adjustment, it was clearly out of alignment (wobbling all over) and I suggested she buy a better bike. Once again: "I don't want to pay a lot..."

On a sewing website that I occasionally visit, there is thread after thread from women who want a sewing machine that does everything from denim to fine silk, but don't want to pay more than $100 for it, "In case I don't like sewing after all". Well, guess what - you really won't like sewing on a $100 x-mart machine! The rare men who visit this site get it - they buy quality machines right from the start because they have been taught that you can do a better job, faster, if you have a decent tool to do it with. Some women do get it, but many just don't.

I'm not sure racing culture does dominate the cycling world all that much. It's like cars - the car ads will show a company's entry in the Paris-Dakar or Le Mans but most people will buy their mini-van anyway because they actually have to carry stuff. Most of the local bikes shops here have more hybrid type bikes on the floor than race/triathlon bikes, unless they specialize. And for the record, nothing is as comfortable on a really long ride as lycra shorts. I might commute to work in office clothes if my commute is short enough, but you better believe I'll keep my lycra for long highway rides with my hubby.
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Old 01-05-10, 06:57 AM
  #44  
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Well, at least one very high performance bicycle (that in fact holds the world bicycle speed record for an upright riding position bicycle) was designed to be a step through from the get go. The Alex Moulton is probably the stiffest frame out there. I've got a Double Pylon which is absolutely the most fun to ride bicycle I've ever owned. They even have a sub 20 lb. fully suspended road bike comming out soon.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
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.
Except the triangles on a diamond frame are in the plane least in need of additional stiffness. Modern tubing manufacture or truss design can make a frame stiff where it actually needs to be and eliminate the top tube while giving a higher stiffness to weight ratio.

The truth is that the only thing good about a diamond frame is that it's easy to make from simple/cheap tubing, but it's not 1900 anymore; Today eliminating tube joints means you can spend the savings on better custom tubing, which means you can get a stiffer bike without a top tube.

Of course, any monotube bike advertised as "women's" or "step-through" or "mixtie" is obviously built with a 1900s mindset and, therefore, 1900s manufacturing methods. So in that case you might be better off with a caveman-proof diamond frame, but still the best/stiffest bicycles today are single tube designs (carbon for racing and custom metal tubing for utility).

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Old 01-05-10, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by akohekohe View Post
Well, at least one very high performance bicycle (that in fact holds the world bicycle speed record for an upright riding position bicycle) was designed to be a step through from the get go. The Alex Moulton is probably the stiffest frame out there. I've got a Double Pylon which is absolutely the most fun to ride bicycle I've ever owned. They even have a sub 20 lb. fully suspended road bike comming out soon.
Thats correct sir! Alex Moulton is a visionary, practical, unisex, comfort!



i wish i could afford a newer version...im enjoying this f-frame for the moment
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Old 01-05-10, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
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.
Drawbacks are relative. It depends on what you plan on doing with the bike so get on one and find out for yourself.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky View Post
Except the triangles on a diamond frame are in the plane least in need of additional stiffness. Modern tubing manufacture or truss design can make a frame stiff where it actually needs to be and eliminate the top tube while giving a higher stiffness to weight ratio.

The truth is that the only thing good about a diamond frame is that it's easy to make from simple/cheap tubing, but it's not 1900 anymore; Today eliminating tube joints means you can spend the savings on better custom tubing, which means you can get a stiffer bike without a top tube.


OK, fair enough, but still, the diamond frame still has a cost advantage. I would speculate that the diamond frame still has the best C:SW ratio where C is cost and SW is stiffness-to-weight ratio. (In other words, it's a ratio inside a ratio.) Cost is an essential criterion in every engineering problem, or at least in all mass market products.

The Moultons are excellent counter-examples, and I am grateful for the reminders. Maybe one day I'll get a modern folding bike. My LBS has a few in other brands. I am super impressed. You can get a very nice bike for $600 which isn't cheap but it's not insanely expensive, either. At my LBS, entry level price is about $370 for an ordinary hybrid bike.

I've just fallen in love with Dottie of the blog letsgorideabike. I recommend subscribing to her blog, as I just did. I'm going to spread the word among the people in the bike coalition I just formed.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chucky View Post
Except the triangles on a diamond frame are in the plane least in need of additional stiffness. Modern tubing manufacture or truss design can make a frame stiff where it actually needs to be and eliminate the top tube while giving a higher stiffness to weight ratio.

The truth is that the only thing good about a diamond frame is that it's easy to make from simple/cheap tubing, but it's not 1900 anymore; Today eliminating tube joints means you can spend the savings on better custom tubing, which means you can get a stiffer bike without a top tube.

Of course, any monotube bike advertised as "women's" or "step-through" or "mixtie" is obviously built with a 1900s mindset and, therefore, 1900s manufacturing methods. So in that case you might be better off with a caveman-proof diamond frame, but still the best/stiffest bicycles today are single tube designs (carbon for racing and custom metal tubing for utility).
So, in order to make a simple frame for a city bike, it's best to use elaborate and expensive new technologies. While I would like a Carbon Monocoque cargo bike, I can imagine it's a bit of a niche market.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
OK, fair enough, but still, the diamond frame still has a cost advantage. I would speculate that the diamond frame still has the best C:SW ratio where C is cost and SW is stiffness-to-weight ratio. (In other words, it's a ratio inside a ratio.) Cost is an essential criterion in every engineering problem, or at least in all mass market products.
I'm not sure if custom aluminum tubing for a monotube frame is really more expensive than the extra manufacturing steps necessary to connect the tubes of a multitube design. Moulton's are some of the most expensive bikes for their weight on the planet probably because they have so many tubes (even though they don't have a top tube).

Sure unlike constructing custom tubing you can connect tubes of a diamond frame manually, but if there's anything the march of technological progress doesn't make cheaper it's manual labor. Just a thought.
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