Step through or not?

Geoff.D
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Geoff.D » 4 Sep 2017, 7:31pm

The question is a valid one, but step throughs aren't purely the preserve of women. So, it can be answered by a man just as easily. It might well have been placed in a different section to avoid any suggestion of condescension.

My understanding is that the manufacture of step through frames, in late Victorian times, was actually for women. And the women in question were well-to-do, taking to bicycles as a leisure activity. It was to protect their "modesty" at a time when they were expected to wear skirts for all activities (tennis, horse riding, hiking, etc). It was also considered indecorous to "show" any length of leg above the ankle, especially if not covered by boots, long socks, etc. So, the cross bar just wasn't socially acceptable. They were neither allowed to wear trousers, nor to throw their leg over (same thing for horse riding where side-saddle was the accepted style for gentlewomen). The step-through allowed them to ride in a long skirt.

None of this applies now, thank goodness. So, the step-through frame is gender free. It has its pros and cons, as does every iteration of the cycling machine. A road bike costing 5K, and weighing only 6Kg, has a host of limitations for the tourist, and the shopper and those towing of a dog trailer. A step through has limitations hurtling down a Welsh forest single track.

Horses for courses.

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Si
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Si » 5 Sep 2017, 10:25am

None of this applies now, thank goodness


This issue still persists in some parts of society. I work with lots of Muslim women, teaching them to ride. For many the lower the cross bar the better as you can only do so much with slap bands. A little like Britain in the Victorian period, use of the bicycle may be having an influence of women's clothing design again.

Geoff.D
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Geoff.D » 5 Sep 2017, 2:11pm

Si wrote:
None of this applies now, thank goodness


This issue still persists in some parts of society. I work with lots of Muslim women, teaching them to ride. For many the lower the cross bar the better as you can only do so much with slap bands. A little like Britain in the Victorian period, use of the bicycle may be having an influence of women's clothing design again.


Yes, you're quite right, Si. I was writing from a culturally blinkered view. My mistake.

The bike had a part to play in the emancipation of women in late Victorian times and into the first part of the 20th Century. Actually, it might be argued that the struggle (in the arena of cycling as a whole) is still needed.

As you say, it's possible that cycling may influence the position of women in the Muslim culture (whilst not assuming that the Muslim world is homogenous). And there are a range of other cultures in which the bike is having a significant affect on society. In this I'm thinking of the many stories coming out of Africa, where strong utility machines are transforming locally isolated communities (farmers, students, water carriers, bike tech careers, etc).

Long live John Starley (and the previous engineers on whose shoulders he stood) !!

Bonefishblues
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Bonefishblues » 5 Sep 2017, 2:20pm

Tangled Metal wrote:My sexism has been exposed! :oops:

You are right there, good point well made.

BTW my grandad rode a step through all his life. In his day they all had them. A big, heavy, black bike with a built in front basket. Whereas fashions changed and men stopped cycling to work so much or they got modern bikes, he never did. Same bike he had in the 50s right up to IIRC the 90s. Used to get to the train station (work) and supermarket for a top up shop.

Some builders have established a specialism in the area (worth a repost, I hope). See the The Tito d'Italia, amongst others, on here:

http://www.beaumontbicycle.com/

Vorpal
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Vorpal » 5 Sep 2017, 2:24pm

One of the points I was trying to make earlier is that some people still avoid step through type frames purely on the basis that they are women's bikes, and they don't want to be seen riding something they perceive as feminine. It is not an issue that affects only women who wear conservative clothing, but also men who have grown up with the idea that they are women's bikes.

I've known someone to stop cycling because he could no longer get onto his bike and refused to try a step through frame. His doctor (also a cyclist) was pretty insistent that he either start going to spinning classes, or find a bike that he could ride, so he ended up getting a recumbent. But how many doctors would be persistent about something like that? Most will be happy if their patients go for a walk a couple of times a week and attend a gentle exercise class for elderly people once per week.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Si
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Si » 5 Sep 2017, 2:46pm

Yes, when we were giving away free bikes (worth around £350) last year we ran out of diamond frames and one or two chaps did kick up a fuss solely because they were offered "women's bikes" to the extent that they turned down the free bike! Interesting because the bikes were targeted at the most deprived areas of the city and before we started one or two people had worried that people would refuse them because the (very distinctive) bike might mark them out as being poor....but no, not one issue with this.

brynpoeth
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby brynpoeth » 5 Sep 2017, 2:55pm

I once saw a bike with a step-through height of zero

The front and back wheels were joined by a thick tube that described an elongated U

Heavy and expensive maybe, but the tube would protect one a bit if it was on the outside
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Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

Cobbsie
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Cobbsie » 21 Sep 2017, 10:53pm

I dislike step through bikes, I dont see the point in them. But that comes from having biked for 40+ years with the last step through I remember having as mine being a trike that we filled the back bucket carrier with water and drew pictures riding round with the water trickling out of a hole in the bucket.....think I was about 6 - 7.

I never found step throughs in the least bit useful carrying them up hills.....how do you do that?? and when trying a friend's 'ladies bike' out the habit of getting on chucking a leg over the saddle stayed and I didn't use the gap in any useful way. Never had an issue with child carriers getting in the way of the leg over and although it did used to flit through my mind to avoid planting a foot in my kids face there was plenty of clearance...... I used the carrier on my mountain bike at the time.

Having recently bought a bike my irritation is that walking into a store as a large older lady most shop sales people before I've hardly opened my mouth, started steering me to a step through shopper (really?) even after saying err no this is not what I want i want to do xyz they still pointed me at step throughs....the shop that got my business in the end was the one where all of the staff on the various visits I made didn't open their mouths, listened to what I wanted to do with my bike and then pointed me to what I'd thought I wanted in the first place....not a step through in sight...thank you!

Saying that...I wont rule a step through out when I cant chuck my leg over the saddle and can see the utility in a folding bike.

So....it maybe that as a female cyclist having spent the majority of my youth and middle ages on mountain bikes chucking them up and down hills I have a bias that is to do with the way I used bikes (how do you carry a step through up a hill on your shoulder??).

Maybe I am guilty of the whole 'image' thing who knows!

Geoff.D
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Geoff.D » 22 Sep 2017, 9:52am

Cobbsie wrote:I dislike step through bikes, I dont see the point in them.
.....................
Maybe I am guilty of the whole 'image' thing who knows!


It's quite possible that you are guilty of the "image thing", Cobsie. Image does play a large part in a consumer's preference. Many a sporting rider wouldn't be seen dead on a tourer with rack and panniers. But, I don't think you are. In explicitly asking yourself the question, it seems that you've overcome that particular temptation. Indeed, you've described how you've come to a very clear recognition of what it is that you currently want from a bike, and your determination not to be swayed otherwise by any stereotyping.

However, there is something that puzzles me. You do say that you won't rule out a step through when you can no longer throw a leg over at the saddle. In effect you're recognising that your needs may change. Doesn't that answer the implicit question in your opening two sentences? Isn't it true that the range of bikes has developed to cater for differing needs? The step through has a place, just as my recumbent does. Both are valid, and the "point" is defined by the person who choses them.

We're a broad church. Thank goodness.

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RickH
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby RickH » 22 Sep 2017, 1:20pm

I've never found there to be any problem with flex on my Circe Helios tandem, despite the small frame, even with 2 adults aboard at speed - 40+mph - on a less than pristine quality road surface. The stoker end of the frame is small enough to accommodate a 3 to 4 year old with the saddle right down (& crank shorteners fitted).
IMG_3945 (Medium).JPG

Mike_Ayling
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Mike_Ayling » 25 Sep 2017, 3:06am

bovlomov wrote:
Trying to get my foot over the crossbar risked kicking the child and/or dropping the bike.


Front rider on a tandem teaches one how to get one's foot over the crossbar!

Mike

Geoff.D
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby Geoff.D » 25 Sep 2017, 10:42am

Mike_Ayling wrote:Front rider on a tandem teaches one how to get one's foot over the crossbar!
Mike


Thinking back over the years I've used several techniques for getting my leg over (no rude comments, please !!).They seem to be related to the ageing process -

1. I could hold the saddle and swing my leg forward and over the handlebars
2. I could scoot with one foot on the nearside pedal, and swing my leg over the back whilst moving.
3. I could run alongside my cycle speedway/ downhill bike in the 60's and jump over at speed
4. I could hold the handlebar end, face 90 degrees to the bike and swing my leg over the bar.
5. I could hold the bars, lean forward, torso horizontal and swing my leg, extended, over the saddle
6. I could hold the bars, lean forward to a lesser extent and swing a crooked leg over the bar, with the knee leading and the foot clearing the saddle (my technique on the tandem)
7. And now, after one hip replacement and arthritis in the other, I lay my d/f on the ground, step into the diamond with one foot, reach down and lift the crossbar whilst stepping out of the diamond onto the other side !!! :D
8. On my Morpheus semi-recumbent tandem I've put a dropper post on the back so that I can virtually "walk" onto the saddle from behind whilst it's on its centre stand.

Is it no wonder I've gone over to the dark side for most of my riding ? The unifying factor in all these is that, once aboard, the pleasure of riding is just the same

I'm sure there are other ways, too.

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bovlomov
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby bovlomov » 25 Sep 2017, 9:59pm

Mike_Ayling wrote:
bovlomov wrote:
Trying to get my foot over the crossbar risked kicking the child and/or dropping the bike.


Front rider on a tandem teaches one how to get one's foot over the crossbar!

Shall I enrol in ballet or yoga classes?

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bovlomov
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Re: Step through or not?

Postby bovlomov » 25 Sep 2017, 10:03pm

Geoff.D wrote:
Mike_Ayling wrote:Front rider on a tandem teaches one how to get one's foot over the crossbar!
Mike


Thinking back over the years I've used several techniques for getting my leg over (no rude comments, please !!).They seem to be related to the ageing process - 1...2...3..
<snip>
I'm sure there are other ways, too.

Thanks, I'll try some of those, but not all are suitable when a child is on the back.

Anyway, a step through bike serves the purpose very well without recourse to gymnastics.