Author Topic: Step thru frames  (Read 2843 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline pzyduck

Step thru frames
« on: November 16, 2012, 09:37:44 pm »
Anyone ever tour on a step thru framed bike? AKA a women's bike. I have a friend who wants to do a tour and isn't sure if her bike will work or not.

Offline dombrosk

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 09:03:52 am »
I wish this style of frame was more available.  Yes, I do tour on a 'women's bike' AKA mixte AKA step-through-frame, and I really prefer it.  But to get my bike I ended up having a custom frame built for me. 

Here's a photo:

In addition to being able to step-through the frame the generous stand-over height is a real plus. 

As you can tell from the photo, I'm far from an ultra-light tourist.  I've never had any concerns with stability with the frame, and I've gotten pretty close to single-track mountain bike terrain with it, fully loaded.

As Americans begin to ride more for basic transportation and the baby-boomers (hi gang!) continue to age, I think this style of bike will become more popular.  When I'm in countries where people use their bikes on a daily basis, I see very few 'racing' style bikes and a lot more step through frames.  Actually on one tour a German man came up to me and after discovering that I was American asked me, "Das ist ein Amerikaniches Fahrad?!?"  That's an American bicycle?  I pointed to the 'hand-made' decal on the front tube and he understood.

If your friend's bike can mount racks, is comfortable for a day in the saddle, and has (or gets) the proper gearing, there's no reason to fear the step thru frame.
Happy Touring!

Offline DaveB

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 09:16:33 am »
I guess it depends on what you mean by a "step through" frame. 

The traditional American Woman's frame with two parallel downtubes and no effective top tube is very flexible and unsuited to carrying heavy loads.  Whatever strength it has comes from heavy wall tubing so it will be very heavy and very few if any came with good components or suitable gearing.

The Mixte design shown above is stiffer and better suited to touring and some relatively high quality bikes were made in that configuration.  It is far preferable to the American Woman's frame. 

 If your friend isn't too heavy herself and her load isn't excessive she can probably use her bike what ever design it is but a mixte woud be by far the better choice if she can't use a standard diamond frame ("Mens") bike. 

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 246
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 03:20:41 pm »
The traditional American Woman's frame with two parallel downtubes and no effective top tube is very flexible and unsuited to carrying heavy loads.  Whatever strength it has comes from heavy wall tubing so it will be very heavy and very few if any came with good components or suitable gearing.

The "parallel top/down tube frame" for women's bikes are not exclusive to US bikes, as there were many British bikes that had the same design, and European countries had some variation on the theme.

Speaking of "Step-Thru Frame Touring", back in June I ran into a German woman touring the Pacific Coast with her very Euro step-thru frame bike.



If I were to look for a step-thru style frame, I'd definitely go for a mixte frame.

Offline pzyduck

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 05:17:09 pm »
Here is her bike. I already told her to get better wheels, but I am wondering if the frame will hold up. She wants to go from Northern California south to L.A. then west to Houston. If she keeps her load light, this should work shouldn't it? I know it's not ideal, but she is a college girl and doesn't have a lot of money.

Thanks.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 11:09:05 pm »
It might work, although there's a vicious circle on the horizon ...

When I look at a seatpost rack with no other struts for support, I think "Very light loads only."  (I think my daughter's seatpost rack has a 25 pound limit.)  That's fine for inn-to-inn touring.  But then you say she doesn't have a lot of money, and I think camping.  But that typically weighs a lot.  Unless she goes for ultra-light camping, but then you're talking gear that starts to get expensive again.

Offline pzyduck

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 09:13:39 am »
Yes you right. The rack is gone. A frame mounted one will replace it. As are the wheels. I told her she needs 36 spoke double wall rims. I am more concerned about the frame.

Online staehpj1

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2012, 12:05:54 pm »
Unless she goes for ultra-light camping, but then you're talking gear that starts to get expensive again.
Not necessarily.  I think my full ultralight kit was about $1000 dollars for bags, camping and cooking gear, and basically the whole works.  It includded a lot of fancier than necessary gear.  That number assumes that you already own the clothing basics, a bike and a rack.  That was for a pretty crazy light outfit (12.5 pound base weight).  For not all that much more weight I listed some alternate gear that would lower the total cost to $300 and would still be acceptable.  That particular list was for a tarp and bivy setup, but you could easily swap that for a Eureka Spitfire 1 tent at the same cost.  I think you could still be under 20 pounds base.

Check out:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
In particular the ultralight on a budget section.

« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 12:08:15 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 246
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 12:07:22 pm »
pzyduck, my two cents: I'm a big proponent of "ride what you got", especially if you have no choice. And I understand being broke.  She might get through the ride with not a lot of major issues and have the time of her life. People have toured on worse.
Or, she may scrap the ride after a week because of discomfort and mechanical failures, and never want to tour again.

You're already talking about replacing wheels, and show concern for the frame. With all that, I would advise getting a different bike. It doesn't have to be a brand new touring bike, there are plenty of good used deals out there that wouldn't set her back that much. Is there any local bike co-ops around her? She may be able to get a good deal and learn how to work on her bike.

Offline DaveB

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 12:24:15 pm »
You're already talking about replacing wheels, and show concern for the frame. With all that, I would advise getting a different bike. It doesn't have to be a brand new touring bike, there are plenty of good used deals out there that wouldn't set her back that much. Is there any local bike co-ops around her? She may be able to get a good deal and learn how to work on her bike.
+1 on getting a more suitable bike.  You have the classic "silk purse out of a sow's ear" situation. If you are going to change the wheels and racks and prehaps provide suitable touring gears buying a more suitable bike used or via a co-op may not cost any more and will give a much more suitable foundation.   

Offline John Nelson

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2012, 01:08:41 pm »
I'd say that there's a 90% chance that this bike will make it, without changing a single thing. I wouldn't even bother getting new wheels. Is 90% good enough? If the bike breaks, she can always stop by a WalMart and buy another one, for less than the cost of getting new wheels.

Make sure she rides this bike on enough long rides before she starts (with her gear) to be sure it'll be comfortable enough. To me, that's a much bigger issue.

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 246
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2012, 01:26:58 pm »
Make sure she rides this bike on enough long rides before she starts (with her gear) to be sure it'll be comfortable enough. To me, that's a much bigger issue.

Very good point. Is there anywhere nearby that can be a good overnight camping destination? Can she go on a short tour (3 days or so) before the big one?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Step thru frames
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2012, 07:50:47 pm »
I have no problems with the frame of the pictured bike.  Its strong enough to make it through a tour.  Looks like oversized aluminum tubing.  My problem starts with attaching racks to it.  It does not look like there is a rear rack mount on the seatstays.  So you may have to get creative to attach a rear rack.  Maybe one of those Old Man Mountain rear racks that don't need traditional rack mounts.  And the suspension fork is not something I would want.  And mounting a rack to it will require the Old Man Mountain rack.  These are expensive racks.  High quality but expensive.  Budget was mentioned as a concern.  You could go with a rear rack only and tour ultralight.  But that costs.  I'm kind of favoring going with a different bike.  A used touring bike should come with racks already installed.  Might be able to get it for not much more than the Old Man Mountain racks.