Saturday, March 06, 2010

Not a girl's bike

I've had to correct a few people on the Urbana's step-through frame when they call it "a girl's bike." Then Fritz made this post. He's also reviewing an Urbana. But mine is cooler because it has the kickstand and a chain guard.

Locked up next to a commuter-adapted Bianchi mountain bike at the JCCC campus

Culturally, women weren't allowed to wear trousers in the olde days. That, as you know, has changed. The step-through bicycle frame allowed them to easier mount and dismount the bike without flashing the audience. Also, it allows women to ride without their skirts riding all the way up to their crotches, which would be somewhat inappropriate.

As it turns out (and as Fritz mentions), the design also makes it easier for a man to get off of a step-through bicycle. Imagine that! In urban settings, it's not uncommon to see people riding a few miles from their lofts to their offices slowly whilst wearing business casual attire, suits or dresses with skirts. Suit pants and dockers don't like it too much when you pull a Chuck Norris roundhouse maneuver to get on or off the bike. You simply don't have to worry about that with a step-through frame. You can tilt the bike to reduce this effect to a certain extent, but if the rack is loaded with stuff, you might not want to do that, either.

At any rate, the traditional diamond-frame design allows for a stronger, lighter bicycle. In fact, many bicycles designed for women these days are not step-through frames. Step-through frames are gaining world-wide unisex popularity for utility and recreation applications where the weight and speed of a bicycle aren't quite as important, particularly among the elderly who are prone to be less bendy than us darn whippersnappers. Like Fritz, I've come to enjoy the ability to get on and off the bike a bit easier. I'm also really enjoying the chainguard, much for the same reason I liked it on the Swobo Baxter: I can wear long pants and I don't have to worry about my cuffs becoming stained or masticated by the evil chainring monster.


BluesCat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BluesCat said...

Some biking snobs say similar things about Bluetiful, my recumbent: "That don't look like a REAL MAN'S bike, BC! Matter of fact, it don't look like a BIKE, at all!"

I guess all the standard Shimano and SRAM components on it don't count. Hm.

Revrunner said...

Hey, KC. Glad to see you're keeping up your cycling ways!

Paul in Minneapolis said...

I love my Euro bike. I would love it better if it had a step-through frame.. As you said, mounting and dismounting the bike loaded down and a package on the back rack makes it almost imposable to kick a leg that high..
I once saw a woman with a baby seat on the back rack. She dropped something and couldn't pick it up.
I'll be glad when step-thourghs become common, like they are in other places around the world.

-Paul in Minneapolis

Yokota Fritz said...

"Suit pants and dockers don't like it too much when you pull a Chuck Norris roundhouse maneuver to get on or off the bike." Heh heh -- I've split a pair of pants or three pulling that maneuver!

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