Unlike other vehicles, when it comes to bicycles, we can see a classification of sorts more often than not. Even though it is not formal by any means, some types are called men’s cycles, and others are called women’s cycles, an apparent parameter being the crossbar. The so-called men’s cycles have a horizontal crossbar, creating a large triangle in its frame, but women’s cycles typically don’t. The women’s cycles rather have a slanted crossbar, although the modern concepts are blurring all these implications.
The horizontal crossbar was a pivotal part of the cycles in its early days. Back then, the cycles used to be made of weaker materials, even wood. The horizontal bar connected to the top of the seat tube provided quite a bit of strength and balance to the cycle frames. This set-up is called a diamond frame and was the usual design.
The lack of crossbar for women’s cycles can be attributed to the social reservations and male prejudices that prevailed in the past. The primary attires of women those days were dresses and skirts, which were often floor-length and wide. If a woman had to ride a bicycle, she had to lift her leg over the crossbar, which made her dress to rise, exposing more amount of legs than others would have liked or even a bit of underwear. It is unnecessary to say how scandalous and unladylike it would have been to do so in those times.
Owing to this fact, the cycle makers began to design models suited for women. They slanted the crossbar a bit, such that it was connected to the middle of the seat tube. It became easy for the women to mount and dismount the cycle without exposing their legs. It was also easy for older adults and people with limited dexterity to hop on the cycle without straining their bodies much. These types of frames were called step-through frames and became popular as the diamond frames.
This tradition has continued till date, though the reasons for it are getting insignificant these days and women rarely ride bicycles in skirts or dresses. Today, the cycles are made of strong materials, and it compensates for the absence of a crossbar.
When it comes to the sports bicycles, for those who do tricks on them, they are normally built with a high crossbar; no matter whether they are for men or women. Even most of the cycle championship organizers insist on having a horizontal crossbar. Most of the racers have their cycles custom-built, the design suitable for their body.
However, this distinction between bicycles for men and women is diminishing. The sturdiness this horizontal crossbar provides is no more necessary as the bicycle frames are now made with heavy material. Instead, the differences between the two types can now be seen in the shorter torso and arm placement on women’s bikes.