Why Do Men’s Bike Frames Have the Top Crossbar Horizontal, But Women’s are Slanted?
I think I speak for all men who have accidentally had their foot slip off a bike petal in saying, it is true that the horizontal bar on men’s bike’s frames is a little more ‘hazardous’. However, the bar is horizontal for a very good reason, namely structural integrity. In the early days of bike-design, this additional strength was even more important than it is today, as bikes used to be made of materials that weren’t nearly as strong as modern bikes, such as wood.
As to why women’s bikes are typically different, women used to pretty much exclusively wear dresses and getting your leg lifted over a high bar while wearing a dress was quite scandalous in the early days of biking and even today would be slightly hazardous for skirt wearing women’s ability to keep their underwear off the internet with the pervasiveness of high quality cell phone camera’s. 😉 Thus, to protect a women’s virtue, they originally made bikes with slanted crossbars for women to make it easy for the ladies to modestly mount their bike. This obviously reduced the structural integrity of the bike, but better to be injured than potentially show the world your legs or lady bits, apparently.
Given women don’t typically make a habit of going around riding bikes in dresses anymore, today the slanted crossbar for women is mostly just tradition. Although, I knew a woman in college who mostly wore dresses and skirts and rode her bike everywhere, so I’m sure she appreciated the slanted crossbar (particularly as she hated underwear, but that’s another story; she also lived in a VW van on campus… yes the hippie was strong with this one). With modern materials that bikes are made of it is no longer necessary to maximize the structural integrity of the bike, so no real need to change the tradition, except for with some high end women’s bikes which can achieve the desirable goal of shedding a little weight by maximizing structural integrity.
Bonus Fact: Contrary to popular belief, the gyroscopic effect of your bike wheels spinning have little to do with your ability to ride a bike. Read more about why not here: Gyroscopic Effects Have Almost Nothing to Do With Your Ability to Ride a Bike
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