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-   -   Step throughs (https://www.bikeforums.net/utility-cycling/1149833-step-throughs.html)

FrontFive 07-16-18 05:20 AM

Step throughs
 
I've just got back from Helsinki where I had a great time riding around on the ubiquitous city bikes. These bikes were like nothing else I've ridden being heavy, step through and with an upright position. I loved the practicality and the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed just pootling about on them. So much so, that I'm seriously considering getting one for my commute and general shopping duties.

One of the things that most surprised me about these bikes was how convenient and comfortable the step-through design is. However I haven't seen many men riding one. Why is that? Do any men on here ride a step-through?

Stadjer 07-16-18 10:51 AM

Don't know if this is the right subforum, but I did in the past. I've always like bikes but there have been large parts of my life that I just needed a cheap old bike so it wouldn't be a nice steal and it usually got stolen anyway and I had to get a new one, so I wasn't very precise about the features. Two roundish wheels was the main concern. I always like the oma design most, but these days I park my bike inside and I demand a good return on speed for effort. So I ride a tall men's roadster these days.

Step throughs are considerably more wobbly and the energy that goes into the flexing of the frame doesn't go into forward motion. For me that means riding at 20 km/h gets a sweaty job on a step through and I don't want to sweat cycling, for cycling slowly it doesnt matter that much. But I'm quite tall and about 90 kg, I guess the wobble is much less a problem for lighter and shorter people. I assume the modern wide tube aluminium step throughs are more rigid but not as rigid as their top tube counterparts, and I'd probably get me a double top tube model. So the question probably is whether it is the step throuhg you liked so much or the upright position and the 'lazy' geometry, that comes with top tube bikes too.

FrontFive 07-17-18 03:59 AM

Thanks for the reply. I have to admit that I preferred the upright position and lazy geometry more than I preferred the step through itself. I wasn't worried about going fast so the weight of the bike was probably advantageous as it steam-rollered over and through everything. The bikes I used in Helsinki were aluminium and seemed more than stiff enough (I weigh 105 kg). However the cycle paths in Helsinki were universally smooth which is not something that can be said of the roads and paths in the UK, so I may be better off looking at steel frames.

Banzai 07-17-18 06:40 AM

Talking about the very minor energy loss from frame flex regarding city bikes where one soft-pedals around town at a leisurely and non-sweat-inducing pace is silly. Itís just not a real factor.

Also, under those conditions the twist isnít much of anything anyway. And itís why thinner-tubed steel mixtes still have a top-tube, albeit near the BB, while AL ones are built large diameter.

Stadjer 07-17-18 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by Banzai (Post 20452603)
Talking about the very minor energy loss from frame flex regarding city bikes where one soft-pedals around town at a leisurely and non-sweat-inducing pace is silly. Itís just not a real factor.

Also, under those conditions the twist isnít much of anything anyway. And itís why thinner-tubed steel mixtes still have a top-tube, albeit near the BB, while AL ones are built large diameter.

Why do you think mixtes exist? Because they flex less than step throughs and that's important. It's especially important for the non sweat inducing pace because that same pace will induce sweat when you have to use energy to flex the frame.


Originally Posted by FrontFive (Post 20452403)
Thanks for the reply. I have to admit that I preferred the upright position and lazy geometry more than I preferred the step through itself. I wasn't worried about going fast so the weight of the bike was probably advantageous as it steam-rollered over and through everything.

Up to 20 km/h they are probably more efficient in use than other non aerodynamic bikes.


The bikes I used in Helsinki were aluminium and seemed more than stiff enough (I weigh 105 kg). However the cycle paths in Helsinki were universally smooth which is not something that can be said of the roads and paths in the UK, so I may be better off looking at steel frames.
Maybe height is more important than weight, I hadn'tt noticed it for years with all those step throughs I've ridden but these days I'm more like a 20 km/h non sweater than at 15 km/h pace before. I noticed it after I had bought a step through in good condition for city use and it turned out be hard work to keep a decent pace. I told a friend who is about the same height and he was surprised, as a top tube was about his only requirement for the cheap bikes he always uses.

mel2012 07-18-18 06:21 PM

I'm a woman, so maybe my perspective is biased, but I believe the bias against step-through frames has everything to do with gender stereotyping ("that's a girl's bike") and very little to do with functional considerations. My Bike Friday Haul-a-Day is a stepthrough design and bi-partable to boot and I regularly carry myself, my kids (combined 130 pounds), plus cargo and while there's some "flex" it's nothing that's not manageable. My Workcycles Fr8 stepthrough (which was built like a tank) had no flex at all. I also have a flat bar hybrid stepthrough frame and it's no more "flexy" than my husband's equivalent Trek FX 7.2 bike. I use that bike as a "utility" bike as well and the stepthrough certainly makes it easier to mount and handle when loaded with 50 lbs of groceries. It also belies the assumption that a stepthrough frame necessarily requires a less aggressive geometry -- many of the Trek "Stagger" frames have a fairly aggressive geometry. I also have a Brompton, which is a step through design, and while I will concede that has more "flex", that's an inherent part of the design.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that stepthrough doesn't necessary mean either: (1) flexy or (2) upright and slow.

Stadjer 07-19-18 04:00 AM


Originally Posted by mel2012 (Post 20456109)
I'm a woman, so maybe my perspective is biased, but I believe the bias against step-through frames has everything to do with gender stereotyping ("that's a girl's bike") and very little to do with functional considerations.

That's not the case here. it's not considered masculine to show that you care about things like that, and the laid back posture the oma invites is very masculine. There's a company here that leases bikes for 12 euro's a month, and swaps them within a day when there's something broken, and it uses only oma step throughs. It's a huge success among young men, they bike slowly usually.


My Bike Friday Haul-a-Day is a stepthrough design and bi-partable to boot and I regularly carry myself, my kids (combined 130 pounds), plus cargo and while there's some "flex" it's nothing that's not manageable. My Workcycles Fr8 stepthrough (which was built like a tank) had no flex at all. I also have a flat bar hybrid stepthrough frame and it's no more "flexy" than my husband's equivalent Trek FX 7.2 bike. I use that bike as a "utility" bike as well and the stepthrough certainly makes it easier to mount and handle when loaded with 50 lbs of groceries. It also belies the assumption that a stepthrough frame necessarily requires a less aggressive geometry -- many of the Trek "Stagger" frames have a fairly aggressive geometry. I also have a Brompton, which is a step through design, and while I will concede that has more "flex", that's an inherent part of the design.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that stepthrough doesn't necessary mean either: (1) flexy or (2) upright and slow.
Yes, but the FR8 is a very sturdy bike. I've ridden step throughs single speed oma's for years and thought they were great, but now I'm heavier, ride faster and mainly in top (3rd) gear I can feel it. I also have a compact bike that is very rigid but has small wheels with wide tyres, it's very nice for short slow errands and feels quick but any further it becomes hard work. I don't mind the effort but it has to be rewarded with speed otherwise pedalling becomes plodding. If it wasn't for the flexing I'd ride an oma.

I'm not saying it's the case for everyone at all time, it's the case for my 6ft 4 on a steel step through in the 15-25 km/h range. Flex is of course more of a problem with the taller frames.

mel2012 07-19-18 09:37 AM


Originally Posted by Stadjer (Post 20456618)
That's not the case here. it's not considered masculine to show that you care about things like that, and the laid back posture the oma invites is very masculine. There's a company here that leases bikes for 12 euro's a month, and swaps them within a day when there's something broken, and it uses only oma step throughs. It's a huge success among young men, they bike slowly usually.



Yes, but the FR8 is a very sturdy bike. I've ridden step throughs single speed oma's for years and thought they were great, but now I'm heavier, ride faster and mainly in top (3rd) gear I can feel it. I also have a compact bike that is very rigid but has small wheels with wide tyres, it's very nice for short slow errands and feels quick but any further it becomes hard work. I don't mind the effort but it has to be rewarded with speed otherwise pedalling becomes plodding. If it wasn't for the flexing I'd ride an oma.


I'm not saying it's the case for everyone at all time, it's the case for my 6ft 4 on a steel step through in the 15-25 km/h range. Flex is of course more of a problem with the taller frames.


This is fair point. I don't have any experience with taller frames, since they're very hard to find in the US (I had a hard time finding a stepthrough that was large enough for me at 5'7"). Your point about the bike leasing raised an interesting thought. Bike share programs are becoming much more popular here in the U.S. and every program I'm familiar with uses stepthrough frames for a "one size fits all" approach and because the bikes tend to be heavy. I'm wondering if that will help de-gender stepthrough bikes here in the U.S.

Stadjer 07-19-18 10:38 AM


Originally Posted by mel2012 (Post 20457118)
This is fair point. I don't have any experience with taller frames, since they're very hard to find in the US (I had a hard time finding a stepthrough that was large enough for me at 5'7").

I had a small size step through once, with 26 inch wheels and it wasn't flexing very much despite having 2 diagonal tubes which is probably the least rigid design of that day, but of course there were other issues with riding at a decent pace.


Your point about the bike leasing raised an interesting thought. Bike share programs are becoming much more popular here in the U.S. and every program I'm familiar with uses stepthrough frames for a "one size fits all" approach and because the bikes tend to be heavy. I'm wondering if that will help de-gender stepthrough bikes here in the U.S.
I can't think of any other reason to want stepthroughs to be de-gendered than the success of bike share programs. Difficulty to find a tall step through to buy is a different issue. It's a shame a lot of share bikes aren't very appealing to men. Not because of the step through but because of the general geometry. The great thing about the oma geometry is that it lets you find you own riding posture and allows for a very wide range of people and their body sizes. If you can chose you're own posture you can make it as masculin as you want. Or feminin, the oma definetely allows for the most elegant riding posture. It's not about how the share bike looks, it's about how the rider looks and feels on it.

The bike swap business here is not a bike share though, it's your own bike until it fails for some reason and they swap it for the same type of bike within 12 hours at a location of your choice, so you have an operational bike every day. It has become very popular within a year, they are using all kinds of different colours in frames, fenders and racks otherwise people wouldn't be able to find their own swap bike among all the others.

fietsbob 07-20-18 10:42 AM


I haven't seen many men riding one
\
where are you looking ?



1) I'm not in Europe, where they make larger Oma..bikes ..

I ride a Folding bike which functions as if a Step thru for me

If I had a child in a bike baby seat, I'd prefer a step thru frame
for taking my turn of taking the child with me, while I was doing the shopping..











...

Dan Burkhart 07-21-18 09:23 AM

Step thru = girl's bike. Real men don't want to be seen riding those.:D

FrontFive 07-23-18 01:34 AM


Originally Posted by mel2012 (Post 20457118)
Bike share programs are becoming much more popular here in the U.S. and every program I'm familiar with uses stepthrough frames for a "one size fits all" approach and because the bikes tend to be heavy. I'm wondering if that will help de-gender stepthrough bikes here in the U.S.

I think there's something to this. I wouldn't have discovered the benefits of a step-through if it hadn't been for cycle hire schemes in Helsinki, London and Glasgow. Before trying them I had a similar attitude to Dan, but as I wanted to cycle to my destination rather than walk I swallowed my pride and prejudices and hopped on, and they were great as a practical means of transportation. In Helsinki there were just as many men on step-through bikes as there on ones with a cross-bar, possibly more. I am really struggling to see the benefit of the double diamond frame over a step-through for a city bike. The arguments about the additional stiffness of a double diamond frame makes sense when talking about a bicycle built for speed and handling, but when you just want to get from A to B safely and in comfort then the value of those benefits of the double diamond frame reduce drastically.

Stadjer 07-23-18 03:26 AM

[QUOTE=FrontFive;20463677 The arguments about the additional stiffness of a double diamond frame makes sense when talking about a bicycle built for speed and handling, but when you just want to get from A to B safely and in comfort then the value of those benefits of the double diamond frame reduce drastically.[/QUOTE]That reduction is relative. It's not additional stiffness, if you design a frame for it's primary function, connecting two wheels and a bracket to get forward motion from human energy, a step through is not a good design. I like them, I like the way they look, I like the riding posture of an oma both for ladies and for myself, I like it that there are bikes for people who can't swing their leg over, for people who want to cycle wearing a dress or skirt and who want to carry one or two childeren on the rear rack, but it's a compromised design because of it's reduced stiffness.

It's been quite a good compromise since 1904 and it has gotten better with aluminium and different step through designs, but it still comes with drawbacks. How big the drawback is depends on the size of the frame, the weight and strength of the rider and the speed he or she wants to travel at. For me as a tall man it becomes very real when A and B are more than 2 km's apart and I want to get there at 20 km/h safely and in comfort. It's the difference between sweat and no sweat. I'll happily ride a step through, but not as my own daily bike. For me it's not the difference between a girl's bike and a men's bike, it's the difference between a general purpose bike and a bike that fits my needs.

FrontFive 07-23-18 04:31 AM

Stadjer, that's a good point. I'm also tall (6'3") but I less interested in going quickly. My commute is only 7km and I'm quite happy to just pootle along. I have other bikes for when I want to go fast.

MJH 07-24-18 08:29 PM

Iím loving my Specialized Roll low entry very much. Age - 69, full left knee replacement, & full right hip replacement. I donít need to go that fast anymore. My normal ride is 17 - 20 miles averaging 11 - 11.5 mph. I also can more easily get on & off my Bike with a load of groceries.
I highly recommend this bike. The large size is fine for me. 5í 10Ē & 240.

PaulH 07-25-18 05:03 PM

About 20 years. It's the same idea as buying a car with doors.

Stadjer 07-26-18 01:51 AM


Originally Posted by FrontFive (Post 20463735)
Stadjer, that's a good point. I'm also tall (6'3") but I less interested in going quickly. My commute is only 7km and I'm quite happy to just pootle along. I have other bikes for when I want to go fast.

It's your bike and your pootling, whatever makes you happy, I'm not speaking on behalf of the Step through Elimination Front. Nothing wrong with an informed choice for a step through.

FrontFive 07-26-18 02:12 AM


Originally Posted by MJH (Post 20467801)
Iím loving my Specialized Roll low entry very much. Age - 69, full left knee replacement, & full right hip replacement. I donít need to go that fast anymore. My normal ride is 17 - 20 miles averaging 11 - 11.5 mph. I also can more easily get on & off my Bike with a load of groceries.
I highly recommend this bike. The large size is fine for me. 5í 10Ē & 240.

That is a nice looking bike.

100bikes 07-26-18 02:26 AM

"Swim with the Sharks" author Harvey Makay was a customer of mine.
A mature man, with a bit of a hip issue, and when I showed him a "step thru",
he asked if it wasn't really a girls bike.

I told him "Not if you are riding it"

He bought it, and sent me signed copies of his books.

I-Like-To-Bike 07-26-18 11:10 AM


Originally Posted by FrontFive (Post 20470212)
That is a nice looking bike.

This is another good looking 3-speed bike that I frequently ride about town, especially in bad weather due to its all weather coaster rear brake. No flex, comfortable, easy mount/dismount for a 71 YO man.

https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...8522cb3494.jpg

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...1bec552a61.jpg

MJH 07-27-18 11:19 AM

Thatís a great bike. Iím really sold on the step through for me.
I talked about my Roll a little & here is some more info. It is the Comp 1x low entry. So far the lesser number of gears has been great. I only have to worry about shifting the rear. No Hill has been too steep, but I do mostly paved trails that are reasonably flat. It really is so much easier to get on & off.
I highly recommend it!

MJH 07-28-18 09:17 PM

Iíve searched for Calvin Bicycles & found nothing. What brand Bike is it? Or am I missing something?

Tamiya 07-28-18 10:45 PM


Originally Posted by FrontFive (Post 20450109)
Why is that? Do any men on here ride a step-through?

Meh. i'm more curious, do you still swing your leg over the rear wheel or thru the middle? :P


hotbike 07-29-18 05:37 PM

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...6f35f94e53.jpg

Extended Sides on Rear Panniers
If this bike wasn't a low step-over bike, it would be difficult , if not impossible , for me to swing my leg over the rear cargo crates. The sides of the Panniers re extended with extra boards to increase capacity for loose bulky material. I made them to resemble tail-fins, like a fighter-jet.

fietsbob 08-07-18 10:37 AM


Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart (Post 20461076)
Step thru = girl's bike. Real men don't want to be seen riding those.:D

A few years 2 Guys from Sweden passed thru town , mid november..

,they were on 29 wheel step thru Commuter bikes with Nexus 8 speed IGH.. brought from their home..
they had started in Anchorage AK.

They were flying home at the end of their trip From Florida..





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