Women's Bicycles

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As I was walking home from campus the other day, I had an amazing realization. For many years I've been wondering why men's bikes have a crossbar and women's don't. After all, men are more likely to want to avoid having something to land on if they slip forward off the seat. Why would women's bikes have the crossbar missing? Presumably men's bikes existed first, since that's things have typically gone. Someone must have deliberately made bikes without that, but how does being female lead to not having such a thing? I've had discussions about this quite a number of times, and no one has ever given me a satisfactory answer during these discussions.

Well, as I said, the reason has now occurred to me, and I think our contemporary situation keeps us from seeing what would have been obvious to anyone a couple generations ago. What I saw when walking home was a woman riding a bike, which I've seen before. What was different this time was that she was wearing a skirt. It wasn't just a skirt. It was a long skirt, and it went down to her ankles. Yet she had no trouble reaching the pedals. Nowadays women wouldn't ordinarily wear a skirt on a bike if they can help it, and if they do it probably wouldn't go down to their ankles. That's why it doesn't occur to most people today to think that a bike would be designed for someone wearing a skirt, but in those days women didn't wear pants very often if at all. They needed a bike that could allow them to have wear a skirt or a dress without interfering with functionality or modesty. It seems obvious once you think about it.

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This made me laugh because it never occured to me that anyone might not know why a woman's bike has no crossbar. For those of us who grew up when all girls were required to wear dresses to school, it seems obvious. I guess it's a generational thing!

Either this is a piece of satire that I don't get, or this is a serious post and I am really, really old.

Personally I always thought it had to do with height.... being that the bikes were 26 - 27" and that ladies tended to be shorter and therefore it was harder to come to a stop and stand astride the bike unless the crossbar were not there.

But I grew up mostly in the 70's and did not wear skirts often. Now that you have undoubtedly uncovered the real reason of skirts.... we now can let the issue rest in peace.


It's obvious from your post that you haven't seen high end women's bikes. They have a crossbar.

It's obvious from my post that I was talking about traditional women's bicycles without the crossbar. The existence of some that aren't like that won't explain those that don't have it, and I was interested in the expanation of those that don't have it.

Funny, I have to worry about this as both my wife and oldest daughter ride bikes in skirts (on somewhat higher end bikes). The biggest issue is getting skirts that don't act like parachutes when they ride.

The woman I saw had a skirt with pretty thick material, and it was a closer-fitting long skirt, so there was no chance of that. In her case, though, it was more important not to have the crossbar than it would be with a skirt that might act like a parachute. That's why this explanation was so much more clear to me from seeing her.

Thanks for that answer, honestly, it was always a mystery to me and my freinds, and we didn't think of asking our parents or older generations as we thought if we didn't know, how would they....foolish reasoning in hindsight, as they did have bikes before we were born...

Will be a great trivia question in another generation or two.

One thinng.....is this no crossbar a Western thing only? or is it international?


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