November 13, 2005

    Why do men’s bicycles have a crossbar and women’s bikes do not? Was it made like that back in the day so women could wear skirts and ride a bike?

Tiffi 104

    Something like that. Early bicycles all had what we now call a “top tube” parallel to the ground, for stability’s sake. As manufacturing methods cranked out stronger frames, bikes no longer needed a top tube to keep them from, well, bending in half.
    At this point someone (history has lost the name of the first person to think of this) (but probably a man) decided that women, who often wore skirts, didn’t want or need to kick their legs over the tob tube. Thus came the “girl’s frame” or, in geekspeak, the “step-through” or “drop” frame.
    Some who bristle at the term “girl’s bike” note that many men, especially in China, ride bikes with step-through frames—especially the more stable “mixte” (rhymes with “sixty”) configuration.

Mr Bike

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