Gender Bending Bike Frames

I picked up on older English three-speed at side-of-road a couple weeks ago. I tuned, oiled, chained and polished. I’m still working out a solution for the dull paint.

Found bike on roadIt’s a step through, which is commonly referred to in North America as a ‘ladies bike’. Originally, the ladies frame was called that because it made mounting and dismounting the bike much more palatable while wearing a skirt. The leg did not have to swing so high over the top-tube. As a side-effect, they are much faster to mount and dismount too.

My observation is that there are more of these 70’s vintage bikes around in ladies style than mens. I chauvinistically infer that’s because they were ridden less and more gently and therefore survived much longer in numbers.

To the point now, this bike is a pretty standard affair for that vintage bike. It’s got nice swept back bars, comfortable riding position, stock fenders. I’m looking forward to riding it to work next week, mostly so I can freak out the establishment. After that, I’d like to keep it as a neighbourhood cruiser because I can ride it with my flip-flops and it screams ‘no helmet’.

I personally don’t have any masculinity issues riding a step through frame. Should I? Is the ‘gender frame’ an anachronism these days? Is your answer different when the bike in question is new?

6 thoughts on “Gender Bending Bike Frames

  1. Step-through is just better, regardless of gender (unless you are very tall and require a larger frame). I ride a pretty new Dutch step-through, and the curve of its frame is not something I think about much.

  2. Watching Canadian Pickers this past week, they purchased a 50’s or 60’s woman’s cruiser. They even said with older bikes, that it’s far easier to find a woman’s frame.
    Last year when watching American Pickers, they found a 50’s men’s frame and were ecstatic. I believe their reasoning for more woman’s bikes was because not as many women drove then, so they relied on bikes more.

    As for men riding what’s considered a “woman’s bike”…I don’t think anyone pays attention nowadays. People seem to hop on any bike now, so long as it’s going to get you from Point A to Point B…and is comfortable.
    There was a time when certain small cars were considered as “cars for women”, but now nobody thinks twice if they see a man driving one.

    I actually see more men riding bikes with the step through frame then women…And I’m seeing more women ride bikes with the raised bar…Maybe this is just a quirk with people in St. Catharines :p

    My bike I think was made as a uni-sex bike. It has a higher bar, but low enough to be a step through.
    (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanz4/5454154462/in/set-72157626286937142)

    Of course I rescued it as someone was throwing it out, so I can’t say I cared much about the frame, however when I need to get a new bike, I’m going to look for one with a step through frame.
    When I do grocery shopping I need a box sometimes on the back, and it’s difficult to lift my leg over the box, so the step through frame makes life much easier.

  3. Most folding bikes are step-through frames and never marketed exclusively to women… the step-through frame isn’t quite as strong as a regular diamond frame but most women tend to be smaller than most men so I guess that isn’t a massive concern. A mixte frame is a better looking and sturdier step-through design. I have one I want to build up… and I ride a step-through raleigh twenty. Step-throughs are much nicer to mount when you have a heavy load on the bike too, especially the folder.

  4. I just scored an old two-toned mixte frame (red and rust!) a few months ago. It’s currently at the powdercoaters getting re-done in Heritage Green with a chrome fork. I did ride a ‘mens’ single speed bike before but all the parts are coming off that one and transferring to the mixte frame asap. I love the look of the mixte styling which is why I’ll be riding one real soon. It’s not about being gender specific, or how you look on the bike, or how you are seen by society. It’s just about going for what you want and that is all that matters. I’m still keeping my old frame as a back up as I have never ridden a mixte before. If it happens that I don’t like the feel of it, then I will just swap everything back over. Again, it’s about what works for you, not everyone else! :-)

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