Why so many step-through frames?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Slowroad
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Why so many step-through frames?

Postby Slowroad » 19 Oct 2008, 9:55pm

I shall attempt to not let this turn into a rant! I'm thinking of getting a new bike, one with fattish tyres. I'm small, and the bike shops I've been into say that my current bike, a 19 1/2" frame, is too big. True, it's always been a bit of a reach for the brakes and for the ground! So I've been looking at a number of very reputable manufacturers and stores on the internet for women-specific bikes. I'm astonished at the number of step-through frames, and ones which are a version of mixte. I'd understand this if I was looking at shoppers or town bikes, but I've been looking at hybrids and mountain bikes. I thought that step-through frames were supposed to be weaker, and that mixte frames were better but a bit of a compromise? Or have changes in technology mean that this isn't so any more?
Anyhow, there do seem to be a few men's bikes in small sizes. And better colours - I shall resist talking about bikes in pink and aqua!

random37
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Postby random37 » 19 Oct 2008, 10:05pm

By fat tyres, do you mean a mountain bike?

Peyote
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Postby Peyote » 20 Oct 2008, 8:42am

There do seem to be a lot of step through bikes available, I think it's something to do with the cheaper, large scale manufacturers (raliegh, falcon) churning out large numbers of "male" and "female" versions, the only difference being the angle of the top tube!

Whereas the more expensive brands (specialized, trek) seem to be trying to make bikes that are more tuned to the female form, rather than just smaller versions of the blokes bikes.

Of course you could always go for something in between like this:

http://www.jejamescycles.co.uk/id45229.html

It's got 700x35c tyres so they're quite fat...

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jan19
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Postby jan19 » 20 Oct 2008, 9:01am

Well, I would sat exactly the opposite! I am very short, and am also not at all agile, and for me a step-through is an absolute necessity. A woman-specific bike such as those mentioned earlier are no use at all to me, I simply wouldn't be able to get on it.

When I was looking for a new bike earlier in the year, I had immense difficulty getting a hybrid step-through small enough for me to ride. I ended up with a Specialized Globe Sport which I'm happy with, and subsequently have found some Ridgebacks which might have fitted the bill.

Jan

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essexman
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Postby essexman » 20 Oct 2008, 10:02am

My new bike is a small (i'm 6 foot) and its the right size for me. They make an XL. Is that for the land of giants? I always end up with small bikes. My wife is 5'8 and equally struggles.

That said my current bike was available in step thru and diamond. I went for diamond and have regretted it ever since.

Step thrus have a lot of advantages for utilty bikes. They are not so good for performance bikes (no idea on mixtes).
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paulah
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Re: Why so many step-through frames?

Postby paulah » 20 Oct 2008, 10:13am

Slowroad wrote: I thought that step-through frames were supposed to be weaker,


What are you wanting to do with the bike? I've used step-through frames ever since I started cycling as a child. That was 30 years ago and I've not had a bike break yet - and that includes riding on dodgy bridle paths with broken up cobbles and carrying heavy loads.

Thery're probably getting more popular because utility cycling is on the increase and people who aren't intending to do a 80 mile ride and weigh under 20 stone (mine take up to 16 stone) are realising there's no need for a top bar (or lycra) - and the lack of one makes it far easier to handle in town centres where you have to stop and start a lot.

byegad
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Postby byegad » 20 Oct 2008, 10:20am

I think it's a fact that many women, like my wife, will not even consider a bike that would force them to mount by putting their leg over the saddle, like men usually do. This is a shame as 'mens' frame design with a high top tube is usually stronger, with less flex.
I suspect that once casual female cyclists, again like my wife, learn on a step through they do not want to use the less dignified, my wife's word NOT mine, method of mounting.
It has long been my opinion that a woman has less to lose on hitting a crossbar than a man and, in a logical world, men would use step throughs and women high top tube frames.

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meic
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Postby meic » 20 Oct 2008, 10:24am

My wifes bike had a flat tyre on Friday morning so she borrowed my old Mixte. I could not help but laugh as she always got on it as if it had a top bar, just as I do. I dont think mixtes really are a step through.
Yma o Hyd

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paulah
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Postby paulah » 20 Oct 2008, 10:36am

byegad wrote:IIt has long been my opinion that a woman has less to lose on hitting a crossbar than a man and, in a logical world, men would use step throughs and women high top tube frames.


not to mention hernias, my dad's now had to start using a step through because he can't get on one with a top bar. But apart from that, unless you're a failry serious cyclist, a top bar is pointless, gets in the way and makes things worse if you come off the bike.

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bikely-challenged
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Postby bikely-challenged » 20 Oct 2008, 1:43pm

byegad wrote:It has long been my opinion that a woman has less to lose on hitting a crossbar than a man and, in a logical world, men would use step throughs and women high top tube frames.


Certainly less to lose, but it still hurts if you bang your tuppence on it.
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Slowroad
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Postby Slowroad » 20 Oct 2008, 2:42pm

Thanks for all your replies - REALLY interesting! Slightly embarrassed that I hadn't thought that getting onto a bike more easily is one of the reasons for getting a step-through, and if having a good choice of budget step-throughs is getting more women into cycling, then that's great. I also happily concede that there are some super high-end bikes made for women, though I neither need or particularly want one, great machines though they are.
I think that when I last looked for a bike, 20 years ago, there were far fewer decent bikes made for women, and that the idea then was that a diamond frame was stronger and would take the weight of loaded panniers better. I can see that modern bikes are made with materials which mean that frame geometry is far more varied but presumably as strong. Lots of mountain bikes seem to have a frame shape almost as 'squashed' as a step-through, and obviously they must be really strong. I can't like them though! Call me old-fashioned... I'm after a reasonably-decent but not too expensive hybrid which will cope with city potholes, canal towpaths and bridleways on day rides and short tours. I was a bit narked that the manufacturer I have always wanted a bike from does not do small frames in anything other than step-throughs.
I will persevere and have fun trying lots of different bikes for size.
Cheers! :)

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bikely-challenged
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Postby bikely-challenged » 20 Oct 2008, 4:00pm

Slowroad wrote: I'm after a reasonably-decent but not too expensive hybrid which will cope with city potholes, canal towpaths and bridleways on day rides and short tours. I was a bit narked that the manufacturer I have always wanted a bike from does not do small frames in anything other than step-throughs.
I will persevere and have fun trying lots of different bikes for size.
Cheers! :)


Good luck finding the right bike, it took me ages. My budget was tiny though.

Good time of year for a bargain, loads of 2008 models being sold cheap. I got an Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op brochure through the post today and there's some nice reasonably priced bikes in it.
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kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 20 Oct 2008, 4:07pm

I had to check this but:

I swing my leg over my bike from the rear - i.e. over the rear wheel. The topbar has no relevance to me.

I'm not normally in a position to observe people getting on and off their bikes so don't know what is normal...

Imagining getting on a bike by swinging ones leg over the top bar seems awkward to say the least. Do people do this? If not is the top bar relevant?

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meic
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Postby meic » 20 Oct 2008, 4:16pm

Quite a few riders (esp with tandems) will swing their leg over the handlebars in a kind of high kick.
Yma o Hyd

Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 20 Oct 2008, 4:26pm

kwackers wrote:
I had to check this but:

I swing my leg over my bike from the rear - i.e. over the rear wheel. The topbar has no relevance to me.


The day I do this I will consider myself ARRIVED!!

I'm not normally in a position to observe people getting on and off their bikes so don't know what is normal...

Imagining getting on a bike by swinging ones leg over the top bar seems awkward to say the least. Do people do this? If not is the top bar relevant?


I think that I am probably at my most awkward and inelegant when I am getting on a bicycle! And actually, dismounting is, if anything, even worse!! :evil:

Dee