It's true: the step-thru bike frame was originally created, near the tail end of the 19th century, for the population of riders who donned low-hanging skirts and dresses.
The frame was designed so that riders could get on their bikes quickly (less area to sweep the leg over, Johnny), easily (stepping through rather than over to prevent pulled muscles, or worse), and gracefully (lest the underlying unmentionables be on display for all the world to see).
And so it came to be that step-thrus would forever more be stamped with pink labels and sold to girls. As is often the case with platitudes, unfortunate though they may be, a stigma is but a viewpoint -- and one that may require a new headset to get a leg up on what’s actually important about bikes: utility, convenience, and joy.
But enough of the bike puns.
"They open the door to so many more riders," says Cory Tsai, associate product manager at Rad Power Bikes. "Being able to maintain a larger wheel size, at 26 inches, while offering increased comfort and accessibility, makes step-thrus the ultimate in bike design."
When it comes down to it, the step-thru is one of the original utility designs. The frame has a low or absent top tube, making for a short standover height. The frame geometry keeps the center of gravity low, providing increased strength and durability. Having the frame body closer to the ground also helps the bike balance across varied terrain. These purposeful features make step-thru bikes the perfect ride for so many riders.
Need more convincing? You might need a step-thru if…
• You are vertically challenged. The low-step frame is great for shorter riders -- no more swinging your leg over a tall bike; just step through it (get it?!).
• You don’t want to strain yourself. Akin to the above, this style is beneficial for those with hip or joint pain, limited mobility, or reduced flexibility. Mounting a bike without overextending yourself means being able to mount a bike again -- something we’ve heard from a number of riders that they thought they’d never be able to do again.
• You want a relaxed ride. The frame lends itself to a more laid-back style of cruiser handlebars, making for a more comfortable, upright riding position, and the 26-inch wheels offer superior stability over obstacles in the road or bike path.
• You appreciate Euro flare: The style has long been popular with the Dutch, who are also the leaders in biking overall, so you can trust them!
• You wear
dressesclothes. Yes! It is in fact easier to ride a step-thru in a dress, but it's also easier to ride if you wear clothing in general. The frame puts less stress on clothes and allows you to get on and off easily.
Here at Rad, our riders loved the utility, style, and accessibility of step-thrus so much that we designed two different ebike models within the last two years.
In 2018, we added to our commuter line with the RadCity Step-Thru, a true comfort cruiser (available in black and pearl). This year, we launched the brand new RadMini Step-Thru -- a hybrid between our RadMini fat tire ebike and our RadCity Step-Thru -- built to be rugged, easy to ride, and with our lowest standover height yet.
Step up to a step-thru, and see what you've been missing.