step through bikes dreamer seafoam

Step Through Bikes: The Ultimate Guide – Buy w/ free shipping!

What are step through bikes?

Step thru bikes or step through bicycles are simply bikes that have a curved top bar like the bikes you see above. We offer some of the best women's and men's step through bikes in both cruiser step thru and Dutch style step thru models. In the Netherlands, this frame style is referred to as the "Oma" frame which means grandmother bike. While many people associate this frame style as one for ladies, that's no longer the case at all. Men's step through bicycles are all the rage, especially step through bikes for seniors who want something that's easy to get on and off of.

There are step through city bikes, comfort bikes, cruiser bikes, lightweight bikes, city bikes, upright bikes, urban bikes, and electric bikes (ebikes). This bike style comes in single speed, 3 speed,  7 speed, and 21 speed. There are step thru bikes with disc brakes, step thru's with hub gears, and women's step through cruiser bikes with a basket.

These bikes are known for their designer looks and easy step in and out capability. We've spent a lot of time perfecting the curve of the top bar so that it flows gently and doesn't have any ridges. They're our most popular selling product and it's obvious why. They're awesome looking!

We created this guide to help you become more educated about this bike style. We've included answers to many of the questions we get all the time including "which bike rack is right for step thru bikes?" and more...

Step through guide glossary

What are step thru bikes?
Can a man ride a woman's bike?
Step thru bikes for older folks and seniors
How to mount a step thru bike
Step through bike carrier options for easy car transport
How to carry a step through bike on a car
Hitch mounted Platform Rack
Frame Adapter for Trunk Racks
Trunk Rack
Roof Rack
Step through bike with hub gears
How to lock a step through bike?
Step through electric
What size step thru bike do I need?
How do I know if a step through bike fits me?
Where do I put a water bottle?
Should I get a step through bicycle if I haven’t ridden in a long time?
How lightweight is my step through?
Where do I store my step through bike?
Can I ride a step through in the rain?

step thru bike

Our Popular Seafoam Step Thru

I’ll bet you’ve wondered why step thru bikes have a lower crossbar compared to diamond frame bikes. Well it has everything to do with fashion and the sex of riders.  Step thru bikes have been long categorized as bikes for women, but that's no longer the case. These bikes are great for  anyone who prefers the ease and comfort of easy mounting.

Up till the 1890’s bicycles were mostly used by men. After all, you couldn’t ride them side saddle the way most women rode horses in order to be ladylike. Since women wore long skirts the crossbar was slanted down so they could step through the frame without having to lift their legs over the crossbar. This was purely for modesty since a woman showing her ankles (or anything further up) was a no no.

Today the two bike styles are not as gender based as they were originally. They’re now considered to be just two different designs. In fact, many female cyclists tend to prefer the men’s style with the horizontal crossbar and many men prefer the ease of mounting a step through.

You may have noticed a recent trend with some higher end women’s bikes where a horizontal crossbar is added so they look like a men’s bike. Does this mean that this new design is the same as a men’s high end bike? No. There are other differences. Since women on average have shorter arms and torsos, narrower shoulders but wider hips and often a different leg to torso ratio than men, the top tube, the reach, the width of handlebars and other specifications are modified to suit a woman’s build.

Can a man ride a woman's bike?

step through bike by grafitti wall

You’ll be interested to know that women’s bikes (also sometimes called a “girl’s” bike) are not as gender specific as they may sound. The lowered crossbar makes them much easier and safer to mount and dismount for both genders and for people of all ages with physical disabilities or seniors with mobility issues.

The step through design is also great for bike rental programs because it fits people of different heights and sizes much more comfortably than the men’s design. If you are very short, for example, it may not be as easy to throw your leg over a horizontal crossbar but the step through women’s design is no problem at all.

Increasingly, men’s BMX bikes are using the slanted crossbar design to reduce the chance of injury from men hitting the horizontal crossbar while doing tricks.

Step thru bikes for older folks and seniors

peach step thru bike

The lowered crossbar of a classic step thru bike makes it a design that is very appealing to people of both genders who are older, who have disabilities or even seniors as mounting this bike is as simple as stepping through the frame.

To swing your leg up and over the horizontal crossbar of a men’s bike requires some level of flexibility and range of motion that tends to decrease with age for most people. However, mounting a step through bike is so easy that there is no upper age limit for bicycling with that design. It’s truly all access.

How to mount a step thru bike

step thru bikes

Because there is no horizontal crossbar or tube on a step thru bike, mounting one could not be easier. In fact, it is even intuitive for most people.

Simply hold the frame by placing your hands on the handlebars, step up and through the frame with your inside leg and then seat yourself comfortably.

Step through bike carrier options for easy car transport

platform step thru bike rack

Our step thru bike on a platform hitch rack

There are different options for carrying your step through bike in or on your car. Without any accessories, there is the option of removing the front wheel and stowing the bike and wheel in your trunk. If your back seats fold down, you may not even have to remove a wheel.

If that does not work because of lack of room or lack of a wrench, there is the traditional option of a bike rack mounted on the back of the car. It can either be attached with a trailer hitch or by straps with hooks that wrap around the trunk door (also known as a trunk rack). The bikes rest in a cradle. While it’s quick and easy to remove this type of bike rack, a lock is suggested, and you might have restricted access to the back of the car.

The final option is the roof rack. You can carry up to four bikes and there is no damage to the paint of the car. You will need a lock and remember the extra height when approaching low entrances to garages and such!

How to carry a step through bike on a car 

When you think about getting your step through bike, one of the questions you may have is how you will transport it on your car for either a vacation or just to drive across town to ride near the water.

Hitch mounted Platform Rack

 

swagman cruiser bike hitch rack

Our favorite style of bike rack suitable for the step through frame is the platform rack, which holds the bike by the wheels. These racks are meant for hitch mounts or towball mounts.  This option is the fastest when you transport your bike often, the easiest to mount, and does not require a frame adapter like the one below.

As the name suggests, a hitch-mounted bike rack is a permanent investment, as the rack is attached to the vehicle with a hitch. They’re sturdy, durable and once you’ve paid the upfront cost for the hitch and someone to install it on your car (or you can do it yourself), you’re home free. Once again, mounting either a platform of hitch mounted trunk rack to the hitch takes all but one minute vs 10-15 minutes for a trunk mounted rack. However, this model will interfere with direct access to the trunk; though many models can be folded down when trunk access is needed.

 

Curt-trailer-hitch

You'll need a good hitch which you can find at Curt. We like the Curt site because you can easily type in the year, make, and model of your car and you'll be recommended the right hitch!

Frame Adapter for Trunk Racks

 

rhino-rack-adapter

One of the first things you’ll discover if you start to investigate how to carry a step thru bike on your car is that many of the bike car racks are designed to hold the bike by the top tube (the horizontal crossbar), which of course the step through frame does not have. So, a few solutions to this issue are as follows.

A “frame adapter” like this Rhino Bike Bar Adapter is a temporary top tube for the step through frame that allows you to use many of the common bike racks with arms (like below). A frame adapter connects the bike’s handlebars to the seat post. The good news is that it is pretty inexpensive. However, it will require a little extra time every time you transport your step thru bike.

Trunk Rack

Swagman gridlock trunk rack

A trunk-mounted bike rack, like the Swagman Bicycle Carriers Gridlock 3 Bike Trunk Rack above, that will hold your step thru bike is much less of an investment and you can attach it or remove it from your car at will. It’s portable so can be used on multiple vehicles and it’s great if you only need a bike rack occasionally. If used occasionally, you will have to attach it before each trip and then remove it afterwards which can add a lot of time to your day. Also, if there’s more than one bike, they may sway or even contact each other when on the rack.

Roof Rack

Swagman gridlock trunk rack

A roof rack, like the above Swagman Race Ready is one of the most versatile options but it’s not inexpensive. While it’s secure and very stable, you will need a reasonable amount of strength in order to lift your bike or bikes high enough to get them onto the roof rack. Plus, there is the danger of driving into a roof with low clearance.

Overall, if you're frequently transporting your bike(s) we recommend investing in a hitch and platform hitch rack that fits to your car model and if you go once in a while a trunk rack is great option.

Step through bikes with hub gears 

A hub gear (also known as an internal gear hub or a gear hub) is a gear ratio changing system for bicycles that uses epicyclic gears. An epicyclic gear train has two gears mounted in such a way that the center of one revolves around the center of the other.

In effect, the gears and lubricants of a hub gear system are sealed rather than exposed to the elements. Because they are not exposed to water, grit and such, one of the prime advantages of a hub gear system is that it lasts longer and requires much less maintenance.

Hub gears also can change gear ratios when the rear wheel is not rotating. This advantage would be useful for commuters or mountain bikers. And this gear system is easier to use for people new to bicycling because there is usually just a single shifter with no overlapping rear ratios.

Additionally, there is a single chainline, which can be fully enclosed with a chain guard to protect it from water and dirt plus clothing will not come into contact with the grease and dirt of a chain.

A few major downsides of the hub gear system are that it is more expensive and weaker than the derailleur system with its exposed gears. It’s also a heavier system with the extra weight on the back wheel. This can affect braking.

The hub gear system makes it nearly impossible to change gears while pedaling because you need to release pressure first. Because the hub gear is part of the wheel, you can’t change the wheel without having to also change the hub gear.

How to lock step through bikes?

You’re so happy with your new step through bike and are riding it everywhere. But you’ve started to wonder if you’re doing everything you can to lock your step through bike securely. You’ve even questioned whether you’re locking your bike correctly!

It’s a common fear and one that has some merit as bicycle thefts are growing in number as bikes become more popular. Statistics show that a bicycle is stolen every 30 seconds in North America, which adds up to $500 million in losses per year.

First things first when locking your bike. Find a busy public place with low crime to lock your bike. If that’s not available, then choose some place well-lit with the highest foot traffic possible.

If there’s a bike rack available, many people don’t realize that some spots on the bike rack are better than others for locking. Try to find a spot in the center of a bike rack as this will make removal harder for a thief.

We like to recommend the double or triple lock method, which is basically to lock the front of the bike, the back of the bike and something else on the bike to a fixed object or bike rack. While it may sound obvious, make sure the object you’re locking to is not a pole or a street sign so that your bike and lock cannot be lifted up and over the object.

You will want to lock through both wheels ideally as wheels are expensive. Use a U-lock to first secure the front wheel and frame to the fixed object or bike rack. Also make sure that the keyhole of the U-lock is as hard as possible to access, for example, facing another bike. You don’t want a very long U-lock as the longer the shackle the more easily bolt cutters can be used on it. Then do the same thing with the rear wheel and frame and some other spot on the bike if you are triple locking.

Alternatively, you can remove the front wheel and take it with you along with anything else that is easily removable like pannier bags, lights, etc. We offer our best commuter bike package that includes a great locking system.

Step through electric

You’ve decided to get a bike. Great! And you’ve narrowed down the choices to a step through or an electric model. If you’re wondering what the benefits are for each, read on. We’ve got you covered!

A step through bike model has many advantages compared to other kinds of bikes. The first advantage is its easy access. A step through bike model is the most accessible style for the widest number of people.

Its appeal is broad (younger, older, experienced, inexperienced, those with mobility issues, etc.) because the design is very forgiving for both getting on and off. There is no horizontal crossbar to lift your leg up and over, which can be a huge factor for people with limited mobility or older people who maybe haven’t ridden a bike in a long time. If you have a lot of mobility issues, you can even lean the bike frame toward you to make the step through part even easier. Just step through the frame, get comfortable on the seat and you’re ready to go!

A step through frame also allows for a wider range of clothing since there is much less of a chance for fabric to be ripped because of the angled frame. This means you can use a step through frame bike on more occasions. For example, if you wear a skirt or dress to work, a step through frame allows you to get on and off the bike with ease. There are no worries about your skirt riding up while getting on your bike!

Another bike advantage of step through frames is their degree of safety. If your bike is hit or you have to swerve quickly, and you know you’re going to fall over, a step through frame allows you to easily protect yourself by hopping off and maybe even avoiding a fall entirely because you can rebalance the bike once your feet are on the ground.

The advantages of an electric bike are somewhat different. The appeal of adding a motor to a bike frame is rather obvious. You are going to be able to bike a lot farther than without that motor.

This has appeal in two directions. One, the electric bike will be advantageous if you are just getting back into biking after a long time off or if you’ve never biked at all and you want a little assistance while you’re getting into the swing of things.

An electric bike will also beckon those who are not very fit and would like to lose some weight. By enabling them to stay on a bike longer by using the motor now and then, this can be enough encouragement to start some on that exercise program they’ve long put off.

If you live in a region with a lot of hills (or if you’ll be transporting your bike to a hilly region for recreational riding), an electric bike could be just the ticket. By providing a little boost for the toughest hills, or by enabling you to tackle a bigger hill than you would have without an electric bike, this model could further your fitness goals.

Lastly, for commuting purposes, an electric model is perfect for those who want to ride for environmental or cost reasons but feel challenged by the distance of the commute. By using the motor now and then, commuting time can be reduced just enough to make it a viable option to a car or public transit.

A month-long study done by Boulder, Colorado officials with electric bikes and volunteers showed that biking at least 40 minutes three times a week at approximately 75 percent of each person’s heart rate capacity (about 12 miles per hour) reduced body fat and improved aerobic fitness and blood sugar control significantly. Equally as important, the participants in the study said they had fun and intended to continue using an electric bike.

What size step thru bike do I need?

size-chart

You’ve finally decided to get a step through bike, but you don’t know what size bike you need. It’s a common question. Luckily there are a few easy things to check and get right so you can get out on the road with your bike as soon as possible.

The stand-over height is a common way to determine what size bike you’ll need. For a men’s bike with a horizontal crossbar, you measure your inseam length and then add another 1 – 2 inches to clear the crossbar. For step through bikes, this measurement doesn’t matter because you don’t need to clear a crossbar.

Another important measurement is the length of the top tube. The ideal length of the top tube depends on the length of your torso. Add your torso length to your arm length in inches and divide by two. Subtract 6 from this number and the answer is the perfect distance between the seat of your bike and the handlebars.

Then find a sizing chart for the type of bike you want and plug in your height; your inseam length and you’ll get a recommendation for the bike frame size.

How do I know if a step through bike fits me?

Riding a bike that’s the wrong size is both slower and less efficient than riding one sized correctly for you. Over time, the wrong sized bike will put mechanical stresses on the body that can even lead to injuries.

A step through bike is the easiest of all frame types for people to ride and is also the easiest to fit correctly. The most obvious thing to look for with fit is that when your feet are flat on the ground astride the bike (preferably wearing the shoes you’ll ride in), you should be able to hold the handlebars comfortably without bending over or reaching up.

Because there is no horizontal crossbar (also known as a top tube), the rider sits upright instead of bent over. So, one of the important fit factors is distance to the handlebars. This is called the reach.

If the rider is female, another fit issue is the width of the seat (also known as the saddle). Women have wider hips and bigger sit bones (also called sitz bones) than men so they need a wider saddle in order to be comfortable.

Where do I put a water bottle? 

Sks-adapter-bottle-holder

Congratulations! You’re now riding your step through bike regularly, but you can’t figure out where to put your water bottle when you’re out on the road. Step through bikes don’t have water bottle cage mounts on the frame because the frame doesn't really allow for it like it does on a diamond bike frame. There are however some awesome options like this SKS Bottle Cage Adapter which can attach easily to handlebars as well as your seat post!

Also, a more attractive option is a coffee cup style holder like this nifty Bookman Cup Holder. It takes up minimal space and your water bottle will be very handy when you need it.

Another option is the pannier bag like this Detours Pannier Bag. We love these bags so much we even included it in our Best Commuter bike package! If you keep your water in the unzipped pannier, it’s pretty easy to take a drink at a red light and replace the bottle without having to look behind you.

The last option of course is to mount a basket like this Nantucket Pannier Basket on your step through bike and then you can carry 10 water bottles at once for really hot days!

Should I get a step through bicycle if I haven’t ridden in a long time? 

A really common question is whether someone should get a step thru bike if they haven’t ridden in a long time. As the average age of our population rises, it’s a very important point to address and a question that will come up more and more.

For someone who hasn’t biked in years (or maybe ever), the step through bike frame is the most forgiving model for absolutely everyone. Age, gender, ability, mobility level — none of these matter with the step through bike. It’s truly the easiest model to get you riding right away because it has no barriers.

Because of its unique frame with the angled crossbar and no top crossbar, getting aboard means simply stepping through the frame and situating yourself on the seat. That was easy!

The appeal of a step thru bike for exercise is quite easy to see. For those with less flexibility riding upright on a step through model is so much easier than being bent over on a racing bike model. It’s also low impact on the joints and a highly practical mode of transportation, whether it’s a commute to work, a ride to the store for bread or the means to ride regularly with friends. It has all the benefits of an exercise class but without being confined to a studio! You’re out in the sun and fresh air and what better way is there to exercise than that?

In fact, it’s not uncommon for people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or even older to comment on how much fun they are having once they start riding a bike again! It’s an easy way to feel like you’re a kid again.

How lightweight is my step through?

While UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) regulations limit the weight of a serious racing bike to around 15 pounds, the step through bike has no such limitations and they are heavier because they’re not used for racing.

A step through bike frame is about equal in weight to a traditional diamond frame (often called a men’s bike) where the frame is made of two triangles that form a diamond. However, the step through frame requires thicker tubing to compensate in strength for the loss of the horizontal crossbar on the diamond frame.

Steel is a good material for a step through frame because it absorbs road shocks well and provides a very good ride that some bicyclists refer to as “springy.” This translates into comfort over a longer ride. Structurally, a steel frame is stronger than an aluminum, titanium or carbon frame. If a steel step through frame were ever to break in a crash, for example, it’s easily repaired by a welder, which is not the case for a frame made of another material.

You will definitely notice the weight of a bike when you carry it from your home to the road or to your car. This is why you want your step through bike to be as light as possible for ease of carrying.

Our steel frame step thru bikes at Peace Bicycles weigh only 30 pounds on average and that’s with the rack, front/rear lights, coat/chain/fenders guards and bell attached! You may well wonder how we’re able to get the weight that low. Well, the answer is simple. We use alloy parts wherever possible.

An alloy is a metal mixed with other elements such as magnesium, titanium, iron, chromium, etc. to bring in the best qualities of the other metals. Alloy generally refers to an aluminum alloy.

Where do I store my step through bike?

If you’ve just bought a step through bike or you’re considering getting one, great! It’s a decision that will bring you many years of pleasure.

There is one question that all bike owners (or wanna-be bike owners) will have and that is where will I store my beautiful bike? Since a good quality step thru bike represents a reasonable investment, it’s a very smart question to ask.

Essentially there are four options for storing your step through. It can be stored outdoors, indoors, in a garage or using a do-it-yourself solution.

An outdoor storage solution is the most intuitive for most people though not always the most practical, especially for people living in cities or in a multi-unit building or high-rise. Let’s face it. Your step through is going to get a little dirty when you start riding it around. You may not want to bring it indoors but because of weather conditions and/or fear of it being stolen, you may have to. If outdoors is your only option, you will need a very good locking system.

Pro-bike-tool-bike-cover

A bike cover, like the one above from Pro Bike Tool can also be used outdoors. It’s the cheapest outdoor solution if you want some degree of coverage and a cover will keep the rain and snow off your step through bike. Bike covers are usually made of vinyl and can be purchased for well under $50.
maybron-bike-cover

 

Here's a cool bike cover from Maybron that we like!

yard-stash-bike-cover

And and another one from Yard Stash that is quite cool!

pedalbase-bike-shed

 

An interesting hybrid storage solution that bridges outdoor and indoor storage is the bike shed, like the Pedalbase 3 above by the The Bike Shed Company. If you don't have any yard space at all, a lane way or possibly even an unused parking space would work well for one of these. They come in a range of sizes and can accommodate anywhere from one or two bikes up to about 10. They successfully solve the inclement weather issue and security can be as tight as a super-thick padlock that no one could cut through.

If you’re committed to bringing your step through bike inside (or you have to because you don’t have a yard, or you’re worried about theft), you will be happy that you’re using the most secure option. There are a few indoor options for storage.

A wall-mounted bike rack offers the huge advantage of keeping your bike off your floor and somewhat out of the way. The rack is permanently fixed to the wall and your step through bike will be supported by the seat (rather than the top tube of the frame, which is how many wall racks work). This solution is inexpensive, and your bike can become wall art of a sort!

Wall-mounted bike hooks are another indoor storage solution that hangs the bike by its wheel rather than a point on the frame. The major disadvantage is that the bike will stick out into the room, so these are best used in a corner or mounted on the ceiling, which is the absolute cheapest way to store a bike. A storage hook will be less than $10 or you could use a hook of appropriate weight from the hardware store to suspend the bike by a wheel. Depending on how tall you are, you may need a short ladder to get it up and down.

Vertical bike stands are particularly good for a rental apartment or any place where you don’t (or can’t) drill a hole in the wall or ceiling. Priced from about $100 to several hundred dollars, some of them can accommodate a step through frame. A tension-rack style vertical stand runs from the floor to the ceiling.

A bike stand will accommodate a single step thru bike and will keep it upright, so it doesn’t lean against the wall. They’re also very affordable.

A bike hoist is essentially a pulley lift that secures your bike almost at the ceiling when not in use. They work very well with a high ceiling as the bike is much less visible this way.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garage to store your step through bike, you have a lot of options because you have security already covered (it’s indoors) but it’s not a living space so you don’t have to worry about aesthetics. Just about any of the indoor storage solutions can be used in the garage.

If you’re looking for do-it-yourself storage for your step through bike, well you’re also in luck! Many of the options mentioned can be built if you’re handy, from the bike shed to some of the indoor storage options to getting creative with some basic building tools. How about transforming a wooden pallet into a wall-mounted back rack? Or making your own stand-up bike rack with one pallet angled on top of a base pallet. The possibilities are endless.

Can I ride a step through in the rain?

Once you get a step through bike you will become addicted to riding if you are not already because riding a step through is just the best experience ever. And with that will come times when the weather is honestly not so great, but you need to get somewhere. Or maybe you’re halfway to where you’re going and the bad weather hits. Either way, you will need to know what to do when it’s raining.

There are cities like Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco that get a lot of rain and also have a lot of bicyclists. They are fine with riding in the rain because they’ve learned how to do it safely and comfortably.

You may wonder whether you need any special equipment on your step through bike for riding in the rain. The answer depends on how you define special equipment. You will definitely need front and rear lights, for example, if you’ll be riding in the rain but you should have them anyway. And you should use them whenever it’s raining even if it’s not dark out. Foggy car windows and cars with slow windshield wipers will have reduced visibility so you want to make every possible effort to be seen in the rain on your step thru bike.

Fenders are a great addition for riding in the rain because they’ll keep you a lot drier and the people biking behind you will be thanking you for not getting sprayed! If you ride through one really heavy downpour without fenders, you will go out and get them the next day because your shins and feet will be soaked through.

When it comes to clothing to wear for biking in the rain, depending on how cold it is either a synthetic rain jacket or a wool sweater or jacket should suffice. Wool will repel water as will a rain jacket, which is what you want. Cotton will absorb water, which is not what you want. You can also add a pair of wool pants or rain pants, but the latter can be hot as they don’t breathe if the material is synthetic. The other recommended clothing is a pair of warm gloves that ideally are quick drying. There’s little that feels more miserable than biking with cold, sodden hands even if the rest of you is dry.

Remember, step through bikes are also known as Dutch bikes and Holland gets a lot of rain! After reading this guide hopefully you have had all your questions answered and if not, please leave a comment below and we'll provide a quick response!

Peace Bicycles

administrator

2 comments

  1. Wende Erickson

    Our Popular Seafoam Step Thru How
    much is this model with a cover and
    the carrier ? Will the carrier fit
    any car does the car need a hitch? Wende

    1. Peace Bicycles

      Bikes comes fully equipped standard with rear rack and chain cover for $699.99. You’ll have to get the carrier separately at this point:)

      It depends which one you choose. What kind of car do you have?

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