step-through frames

jujubi

Active Member
Location
London
Whenever I hang around the ladies' section of a bike store eyeing up bikes with a classic low top tube, some shop assistant invariably comes up to me just to tell me that, at my height, I don't necessarily need a women's specific bike with a step-through frame. And they always look as if they're setting me straight on some particulary silly or outdated idea.

What if I want one?

Ok, I agree it's always good to have some choice, and if I don't find a ladies' bike that suits me, I might consider a gents' bike, but is there any reason not to start off by looking at the classic low-tubed ladies' bikes? Seing as they often come in frame sizes up to 21 inches, it shouldn't be too hard to find one for a 6ft girl. And I just find step-through frames quite convenient. I like to keep the bike between my legs when doing things such as window-shopping or posting letters. I like not kicking people swinging my long leg over the saddle. I like to be able to just slip off the saddle to find secure footing when I've come to a halt just above a pothole. And yes, I sometimes wear skirts. Etc.

So why does nobody want to sell me a step-through bike unless I insist?

Are there any disadvantages to step-through frames? Are they less stable? Do they support less weight? Are the bikes of lesser quality in general, because serious modern lady cyclists prefer male or unisex bikes anyway?

for clarification: thinking about a 400 quid sporty hybrid, e.g. Trek FX.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
If you like the step through, buy one :laugh: You're the one riding it! The 7.3 looks good (I have the 2009 non step through and it's a great bike)

http://store.cycle-revolution.net/product/66772/2010_Trek_73_FX_Step_Through

I can't see how it'll be of any lower quality than the non step through version of the same bike - presumably the components are the same (for comparison http://store.cycle-revolution.net/product/66773/2010_Trek_73_FX_WSD )

Just check the 20" is big enough given your height. I am 5'9 (32" inside leg, long arms) and have the 19", having just bought an XL men's Crosstrail, the Trek feels quite small now, might just be the different geometry.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
jujubi said:
What if I want one?
So why does nobody want to sell me a step-through bike unless I insist? because serious modern lady cyclists prefer male or unisex bikes anyway?
Demand one.
Because many cycle shop assistants see bikes as toys and not the functional modes of transport which of course they are.
The term 'serious' often means seriously interested in sport and leisure cycling along with a disdain for utility cycling.
:laugh:
 

youngoldbloke

The older I get, the faster I used to be ...
There is a view that the step through frame is not a strong or as rigid, and therefore not as efficient or responsive, as the 3-tube-triangle frame - why not try both versions? The compact frame with steeply sloping top tube could be regarded as uni-sex anyway.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
jujubi said:
Are there any disadvantages to step-through frames? Are they less stable? Do they support less weight? Are the bikes of lesser quality in general, because serious modern lady cyclists prefer male or unisex bikes anyway?
Yes to all those. In purely engineering and performance terms, the two-diamond frame is inherently better.

So why does nobody want to sell me a step-through bike unless I insist?
Why do estate agents always send you details of 3 bedroom semis? It's what they have most of and what brings them most profit.

Bike sales staff are nearly all young men. They have never ridden a step-though frame and hardly ever worn a skirt. They cannot understand that you might have criteria other than performance and actually mean what you say.

You may have to resort to the finger-jab in the chest and 'now listen here, sonny..'
 
I ride a step-through (Kona Africabike) as my daily for all the reasons you mentioned.

The performance benefits of the regular/ 'gents' style frame has been greatly overstated.
 
OP
J

jujubi

Active Member
Location
London
Thanks for all the helpful comments!

The other day, in Evans, I was showing interest in a 20 inch step-through Trek 7.2 FX, and the assistant (though generally very polite and helpful, I have to admit) pointed out the same bike (with the same price) with unisex-frame. So I asked him: "And the advantage would be...?" And he had to think for a minute or two to come up with the "possibly more responsive"-argument. It seems that it's just engraved in their mindsets that male(ish) bikes are better.

BTW I'm a little confused by the sizing. The FX, for example, comes in different sizes for step-through and the female-specific diamond-shape. Does that mean that the 20 inch step-through is actually bigger than the 19 inch ladies'/unisex, or are they measured differently?


ASC1951 said:
They have never ridden a step-though frame and hardly ever worn a skirt.
:laugh: You make it sound as if skirt-wearing was more common among men then riding ladies' bikes. This is new to me, but I sort of like the idea.
 

soulful dog

Veteran
Location
Glasgow
The other advantage given is that if you want to sell the bike on again at some point in future, there's more of a market for gents bikes so you'll find it easier to sell.
 
soulful dog said:
The other advantage given is that if you want to sell the bike on again at some point in future, there's more of a market for gents bikes so you'll find it easier to sell.
I'm not sure that's correct. And even if it is I don't think it's a good reason to buy something that you don't actually want.
 

soulful dog

Veteran
Location
Glasgow
I think you're probably spot on mickle, it's just a reason I've seen given quite a few times on why not to buy a woman's version of a bike. I always though it was a bit of a pointless reason, but it's possible resale value might be a consideration for some.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
There may be less demand for women's bikes (although more and more women seem to be cycling nowadays especially for fitness/commuting), but there are also far fewer women's bikes for sale...
 

youngoldbloke

The older I get, the faster I used to be ...
vickster said:
There may be less demand for women's bikes (although more and more women seem to be cycling nowadays especially for fitness/commuting), but there are also far fewer women's bikes for sale...
I think the two go together don't they? I am sure that if the demand was there it would be catered for by the big brands and the retailers. However it is interesting that there are more and more bikes like the AfricaBike available, marketed as utility bikes and not sex-specific. For hybrids, maybe the demand is catered for by there being very little difference - a few cm. maybe - between some of the steeply sloped compact hybrid frames and their female-specific version. For a more expensive bike I am sure a step through frame makes it less easy to sell second hand, though 'pre-owned' WS road-bikes are always in demand.
In fact I get the impression that there are more and more womens' road-bikes available, but that is more a question of size and proportion - correct fit - not step through frames.
 
OP
J

jujubi

Active Member
Location
London
Good point, vickster. I've shopped around for second-hand female bikes, and it's not really as if there's a bargain waiting for you at every corner. I guess it's just a more specific market and seller and buyer would probably have to find each other on the internet. So it might be helpful to get a popular brand and model, as interested parties might be searching ebay or gumtree directly by brand name.
 
OP
J

jujubi

Active Member
Location
London
youngoldbloke said:
However it is interesting that there are more and more bikes like the AfricaBike available, marketed as utility bikes and not sex-specific.
So is it really just the "female"-tag that puts people off? Sad. I thought we'd made more progress...
 
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