GEAR | Diamond Frame Bike


Recently an older man saw my bike and asked, "Why are you riding a boy's bicycle?" I just shrugged and said, "Because it's a better design." I hadn't really thought about it.

Today bike frames are designated less and less by gender (although it is still very common), and more frequently as either a "diamond frame" (gents) or a "step-through frame" (ladies). The step-through frame was made simply to accommodate skirts and dresses and clothing that could easily catch on a cross bar—the equivalent of riding sidesaddle on a horse.

I originally thought a diamond frame was a better design because I think they look better aesthetically, but I learned that diamond frame bikes are also typically lighter and therefore faster as well as structurally much stronger.

I'd love to know: What do you ride and why?

I lean towards pre-war/mid-century classic repro bikes like the above:
Linus Roadster Classic, Schwinn Coffee 1-speed, Velorbis Student Balloon, Kettler Men's City Commuter.

34 comments:

marigold said...

I typically wouldn't buy a bike that I couldn't carry up stairs if I needed to. With a 'diamond' style, as you call it, the crossbar just slips over your shoulder, whereas with a ladies bike you're forced to lift with your arms, which can be a drag. Also, women's bikes tend to be more cruiser style - the seat sits lower in relation to the handlebars. It makes you look more ladylike as you ride, but you'll have zero momentum. More efficient design FTW!

Lizzie said...

Great point, I didn't even think about the added bonus of carrying the bike more easily.

Anonymous said...

I ride a Dutch 'omafiets', which is the step-through style. I prefer it because I'm short, so it's easier for me to straddle a step-through bike. But if I could find an 'opafiets' (men's style bike) small enough for me, I'd gladly ride it. In Holland, we don't discriminate. :)

Amanda said...

Josh and I inherited a pair of 1974 Peugeot bikes from my grandparens that they purchased in France back when but hardly used. As you might expect, one is a "ladies" touring style bike and technically that one is mine... However, I admit to riding off with Josh's diamond-style racing version from time to time, because I prefer the curvy handlebars!

Shannon said...

I live in San Francisco and climbing steep steep hills on a step through is completely impractical! I like to ride bikes aggressively and let's face it, if you want to go FAST, you need a men's racing bike to get into the best aerodynamic position :)

Cyd said...

I ride a single speed by Redline, diamond frame (first I've heard of the term!)I put upright handlebars on it and I LOVE IT. I wouldn't mind the Linus though, I've seen it before and I love the sleek glossy frame. Charge bikes are pretty dope too.. I would love the Plug in purple, but look! The "Spec" is a step through frame that looks pretty sleek. My verdict: diamonds do feel faster, lighter, and swifter, but I'd love to ride in a skirt so I'd ride that Spec or a vintage "Wicked Witch of the East" bike if my Boston apartment could only hold them!

Orchid Grey said...

Until recently I rode a mens road bike, simply because that's what i found on the side of the road. Last summer I bought a vintage road bike at a flea market with a women's step through frame, and as much as it's a beautiful bike, I realized how much ore I liked riding the diamond frame. The men's diamond frame is also SO much easier to lug around, up stairs, get in the back of the car, etc.

Philippe Booch said...

I ride a 22 years old "old dutch" Batavus, I bought it the day my second doughter born. It still in a very good shape.
It is a diamond style... I'm a man.

bob myaing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
corkgrips said...

i bought my girlfriend one of those Linus bikes last year and often give it a spin myself anytime she's out of town, certainly a good bang for your buck.

p.s.
it's a top tube, not a 'cross bar'

Alexandra said...

I ride a Pashley Princess Sovereign. It's very elegant. Definitely a lady's bicycle!

http://herribbonsandherbows.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I ride a department store bicycle from the 60s. It is a step-through cruiser, but much lighter than the newer cruiser bikes I've seen. Can't beat the $15 it cost me at a church garage sale, and it fits me better than any other bicycle I've ever tried. Plus, I can easily ride it if I am wearing a skirt. That said, I'm in the market for a second bike of the men's road bike variety to take on longer trips and commutes. Is that excessive? Maybe.

Camille said...

A (male) friend gave me his old cruiser/step-through bike (I think it was from The Bay, circa the 1970s-it does the job!), so that's what I have been riding as of late. I had a few back and tailbone injuries due to dancing ballet for many years, and the cruiser style, with a spring seat, is what suits me the best at the moment. Before my injuries, I didn't care though!

Joy said...

I never knew there was a difference between bikes (like I thought they were unisex). Whatever, we girls are going to own them Gent's bikes either way. I need one right now! Happy Bike Month.

Joy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shantel said...

A Moulton F-frame. Designed to be a family bike with a low-slung step-through frame and lever-adjustable seat.

Jeannie said...

I love my step-in frame, because I like to do precisely that: step in, and out! It does help that on the rare occasions I am wearing a skirt/dress (with shorts beneath), that the bar is low enough :) Great post, love this blog!

Ashley B said...

My "city" bike is an old men's steel bike from the 80's with neon stickers my husband gave me when he gave me the bike for my birthday. I never really thought of the frame before, but I do have to kick my leg up really high to get on (a definitely issuefor skirt riding). It's too heavy to do anything but city cruising, but I do love it! Fun post!

Anonymous said...

There is another reason for the female/male design. It is the same reason women rode sidesaddle and has to do with the fear that riding in the "normal" position would "damage" a woman (that and modesty.)

My grandmother (God bless her) never learned to drive but rode a bike now and then. She was aghast when I brought out the 10-speed Schwinn.

Much discussion ensued between them and my mother (God bless her!) insisted that her (grandmother) reasoning was "old-school" and HER daughter would not be subjected to such ridiculous ideology.

Simon said...

Another great post. Your blog has become essential reading in our house. Thanks.

victoria / cats dreaming in keylime said...

Well, don't really have to worry too much about stairs, since vintage schwins - ladies, always.

Emily Greene said...

I have a cream colored Linus bike, like the one picture at the top, but I have the mixte. It's not that I see it as a more female bike, I just find it more comfortable. I love my Linus, though. I couldn't recommend it more!

Lizzie said...

All of these answers are so interesting! Thanks everyone!

paulina said...

Hey, I ride an 80s diamond frame bike. Light-weight chromoly. I love it. Its called a "time machine" and is like this one,
but in red!

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Philippe Booch said...

Ho, I forgot to say that twebnty two years later, my daughter (the bike's sister) offered me a wonderful brooks saddle.
Cool !

Paulina said...

Hey, I ride an 80s diamond frame bike. Light-weight chromoly. I love it. Its called a "time machine" and is like this one: http://i1101.photobucket.com/albums/g435/himmiesutton/Time%20Machine%20Fixie/tmfa3.jpg

but in red!

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Rick said...

In the golden age of bicycles, lots of folks rode "mixte" bikes, or step throughs. It was a more convenient form for folks carrying loads, male or female. Mixte's may not be ideal for racing, as Shannon mentioned, but they are still great all-purpose bikes when designed properly. I'm not associated with the company, but I've been fortunate enough to ride Rivendell's Betty Foy, and it can do just about anything my rugged touring bike does, and at speed.
http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/betty-foy-frameset/50-685

Amy said...

I have a bit of a collection (a Fuji touring bike, a Batavus Old Dutch and a vintage Schwinn tandem...my man owns a bike shop - how can I resist?) but my day-to-day ride is the Linus Roadster Sport in olive green.

These bikes are amazing! Clean, classic and zippy. I just posted about my love of them (and the boy bike in general) here: http://www.amykenny.ca/?p=1690.

My most recent jaunt on Linus here: http://www.amykenny.ca/?p=1818

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Claire said...

I ride a motobecane silver mixte, the mixte is a mix between diamond and none. my mom got it for me for $20 at a garage sale!