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In the U. The bar is a matter of tradition. This picture is from the s :. Today most women riding a bike do not wear heavy skirts and clothes-guards are rare, but the low bar persists.
This goes to show how strongly we invest in purely symbolic gender differentiation. There is no need for a high bar and there is no need to differentiate bikes by gender in this way. We could do away with the bar distinction in the same way that we did away with the clothes-guard.
For individuals who embrace the valued category, this is a disaster. A male-coded bike frame is just one small way to preserve both the distinction and the hierarchy. The upper bar isn't purely decorative; the triangular structure it makes adds significant rigidity and strength to the frame. Note that on the "girls" mountain bike in the first picture, it still has an "upper" and a "lower" bar, it's just that the upper bar is much lower, and the actual lower bar is almost vestigial, forming a small triangle near the pedal mount.
I actually bike commute on a regular basis, and I wear skirts while I do it. So I much prefer a bike without the high bar, but they're really hard to find these days. Since I usually buy used bikes, I haven't had one in ages. As a guy, I would have preferred not to have that top bar there.
I remember many a time when I would have to make a sudden stop on the brakes, and I would slide off my seat onto that top bar. I always thought the whole thing was weird. It's just easier getting on a bike with a low bar I wish we still had the clothes guard.
I can't tell you how many pant legs I have caught in the chain mechanism on my bike while pedaling to work. I forget to stuff my pants in my sock. It's a pain to have to change my clothes once I get to work, and it's a pain to get the grease out of my pants. But I suppose if we brought that back, the guards would only be on women's or girls' or sissy bikes. That's interesting, I knew that there were "girls" and "boys" bikes but I never knew that the difference was the upper bar.
My bike does not have an upper bar, and I find it easier to ride because it makes it easier for me to get on and off the bike without tripping. Actually, I remember when I bought the bike the salesman said to me that I wouldn't have to buy a heavy-duty lock for it because "no one would want to steal a girls' bike.
Re Anon's comment, I recall even as a child my male and female friends both thinking that it was ridiculous that the high bar would be on the "boys bike" since boys' parts were on the outside. Of course, in our patriarchy-influenced mindsets, we saw the solution was to switch the boys and girls bikes rather than eliminate the distinction altogether I remember riding boys's bikes when that was all I could access, but I also remember feeling funny about it.
This isn't a US-only phenomenon. I lived in Berlin for a bit in the early '00s and bought a used women's bike there that lacked that top bar.
I'm a man, but it was cheap and I liked the bike, so eh. As noted above, a bike with a top bar is structurally sounder, though the degree to which this is important for bikes that only see use on paved surfaces may be debatable. I wonder if part of this is a persistent belief than men need a more "rugged" bike because they're prone to more extreme and rad bike-destroying activities.
After having a few of my friends get thrown from their bikes after having pant legs caught in their bike chains, the return of the clothes-guard might not be a bad thing, especially for people who use their bikes to commute to work. I started reading this blog a while back but never commented, but as an avid cyclist I have to say the top tube bar of a bicycle is not purely decorative as this post suggests. It provides more stiffness to the frame, and thus is more energy efficient under hard pedaling effort.
Tour De France racers didn't start racing diamond frame bikes to differentiate them selves as male, it is because it is a faster bike. In children's bikes there will never be such strain on the bike, since their strength is low, as is their weight, so I could see how a top tube is largely irrelevant for kids.
Another frame type aimed mostly for women, called a mixte, has a set of two smaller diameter top tubes that go back to the rear triangle at a lower slope angle than a traditional diamond frame bike. This allows for still easily getting on with a skirt or dress but with much more lateral frame stiffness than a woman's bike without a top tube.
Bikes can be used for many purposes, but for anyone looking to go fast or far, or trek up hills, the energy efficiency provided by having a top tube, makes the top tube far more than an accessory to imply gender. My husband is studying bicycle repair and said the same thing, that bikes with the top bar are sturdier and more stable. I found that horribly disappointing because I love to wear skirts and have a hard time mounting a bike with the bar in the way. But I'm also heavier than average, so I need a bike with a very sturdy frame and a "woman's" bike is simply not going to cut it.
How much to do you want to bet that if word got around that high bars were for 1 men and 2 heavier women that there would be a rush to buy the lowest bar you could find? The attitude would go from "Ew, girl's bike! The upper bar makes the bike more structurally rigid because triangles are excellent , which means it can be lighter weight for the same rigidity. Bicycle weight is an important consideration for many cyclists. Bikes without such a bar are much easier to ride in a skirt and in the UK such bikes do usually come with a chain guard, which is also useful for keeping trousers out of the chain and Every Bike Should Have One and also simply physically easier to mount and dismount which can be useful if you find raising your leg over the bar to be physically challenging.
Also very much easier to dismount from hurriedly, if for instance one is falling off one's bike if for instance a bus has just tried to run one over, no, not bitter, not at all. A Mixte frame French for unisex, and in France socially viewed as a unisex bike has some of the useful rigidity with most of the useful step-through-ability. I want one, but they are not very common by which I mean 'cheap' It irritates me enormously that such bikes are sold as "women's" and "men's" or girl's and boy's instead of with more descriptive terms to do with the properties of the frame.
Any frame-type has its merits and its downsides and you should consider what sort of bike you want by what you want it to do compared to what it is good and bad for, not by some arbitrary "boys do this, girls do that" line. Because it is my primary mode of transport and this ability to ride it in everything I own is an absolute requirement of any bicycle I purchase.
It very much bugs me that this is one area in which often feminine is equated with bad, which means that whilst many women ride 'men's' bikes, few men ride 'women's' bikes. As a historian and utility bicyclist, I have to add my two cents. While I understand what you're saying about gendering bicycle consumption, and you are spot-on in observing the original historical reason for the difference, you're also quite wrong in citing the s advert as evidence that a top tube is unnecessary, or that this provides support for your assumption that both women and men implicitly identify "female" bikes as inferior because of the different configuration.
I have plenty of female friends who closely identify with, and are empowered by, the perception that there is a bike designed specifically for them.
Or, many of my female friends ride "male" bikes simply because they fit them better. I also have a lot of male friends who ride bikes without the top tube in the "male" configuration because it's easier to mount and dismount, especially with cargo.
Indeed, many dedicated cargo bikes are now and have always been built without the top tube to facilitate handling the bike while mounting and dismounting with heavy loads. Likewise, folding bikes typically do not have a "male" top tube. Indeed, quite a number of "hybrid" bikes are specifically marketed without gender distinctions.
I think you're crying foul about something that no longer carries the cultural baggage you think it does, and in the process, you're actually reinforcing the stereotypes you decry. I think you really missed the mark with this one. One more point about the men's frame- it allows the bike to be much more easily carried.
I am female and live in an urban area. I keep my bike inside my apartment. It's so much easier to carry my men's style road bike upstairs by putting the top tube on my shoulder, compared to my women's style cruiser both are relatively heavy bikes. So I will likely stick to men's frames for that reason and because I mostly ride road bikes now and you don't see women's frames on road bikes often, especially racing bikes as was stated above.
If I want ride with a skirt, I simply put a pair of bike shorts on underneath. A real distinction between men's and women's bikes would be that men and women on average have different leg to torso ratios.
Women generally have longer legs than men, so women's bike have a shorter distance between the handlebars and the seat for the same frame size. On high end mountain and road bikes, the top tube on women's bikes is almost at the same angle as men's bikes, so the frames have the same strength.
The handlebars are usually smaller and seat is designed for women. But, this is only an average statement, so some women fit better on "men's" bikes, and some men would fit better on "women's" bikes.
Sure, some women love pastels and floral designs, but most that I talk to I work at a bike store and sell bikes hate the lack of choice and the assumptions that are made about their preferences.
This is a timely post for me because I just bought a new bicycle, and it's my first "boy's" bike. It's a silly thing to care about, and it was far from my primary concern while shopping, but I have to admit I was a bit tickled. I don't go out of my way to avoid feminine things these days, so I think this was a vestige of my childhood, when I often preferred clothing and shoes that looked more masculine even if they were found in the girls' section of the store.
There's a really great episode of the The Moth podcast about the gendering of bikes called Oliver's Pink Bicycle. Here in Holland, there's another consideration, and a reason why women, and nowadays quite a few men, ride "women's" bikes, which is that the Dutch ride a lot with children's bike seats on the back and sometimes also on the front of the bike, obviously with children in them. Having a seat on the back means you cannot swing your leg over the back of the bike in the traditional way most men mount a bike, because you would kick the child in the head.
Instead you have to lift your leg over the frame in front of the seat. Traditionally, women carried the kids on the back of the bike, back and forth to school and the shops, but nowadays you'll see just as many men with kids in a seat, and more often than not, they're on what you are calling "women's" bikes.
It's not easy balancing a bike while you're getting on or off it when you have the weight of a child on the back wheel, and a baby on the handlebar seat, a no-top-bar bike is just safer and easier, and the distinction, at least here, seems to be fading. In response to this post, my mother age 66 noted that when she was young, the rumor was that using a boy's bike would imperil your technical virginity from straddling the bar, which I find just mindblowing.
Oh also, since the bar is really particularly inconvenient for the testicularly gifted during short stops, etc. For a number of years now, downhill racing mountain bikes have had a sloped top tube do a search in Google Shopping on "downhill mountain bikes" to see images.
No one confuses this racer with someone who cares about riding the correctly-gendered bike scroll to the middle of the page to see images.
Based on these models, the definition of the re-invented women's bicycle seems a bit lackluster. I understand that some may find empowerment in a distinction for women, but is it true that all bikes are specifically designed to accommodate the dimensions of whatever might constitute a male body?
I don't think that styles of dress e. However, this does seem to pose some interesting questions about the role of self-objectification within an equation of personal mobility, bodily strength, and environmental stewardship. And just for the record, I recently read in a bicycling magazine that light blue is a ubiquitous color trend for bicycles this year?
Many of the Trek woman's bicycles in fact are light blue in color, however the way the light blue interacts with other colors within the design may produce an idea of femininity. Ok, maybe TMI, but I have really badly hurt myself on boy's bikes.
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There is a spike in female cyclists across the country, which is super awesome. Most women ride unisex bicycles and do just fine, but what about male-specific bicycles? A woman has slightly smaller hands than a man, too, which is another important thing to consider when purchasing a bike.
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In the U. The bar is a matter of tradition. This picture is from the s :. Today most women riding a bike do not wear heavy skirts and clothes-guards are rare, but the low bar persists.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Baby Biker: 4-Year-Old Has Insane Motorcycle Skills
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About the Ride
When a local cycle club, invite a couple of new members to join them, little do the club realise, that they will soon be involved in a couple of illegal bookmakers putting the squeeze on the son of one of the Members, a stolen bike, a deserting soldier on the run from the police, and a love triangle, that's bound to lead to trouble. During the late 40's and the early 50's, there seem to be hundreds of these clubs. This film shows a fascinating look at a North Country mill town, with a refreshing absence of traffic jams, yellow lines , traffic wardens, and other things we have become accustomed to seeing on our roads today. Sign In. A Boy, a Girl and a Bike
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Role reversal: Dudes replace sexy pinup girl on motorcycle