Bitch on the Blog

September 22, 2013


Filed under: Gymnastics — bitchontheblog @ 12:10
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I could google this but, frankly, I want an answer: Why do men’s bikes have a crossbar high up? What is its actual purpose? Other than giving  men an excuse to execute that elegant Ballet manoeuvre of swinging their leg over in a half circle- particularly when dismounting. I don’t get it.

I once had a friend – he was the adopted son of an Opera singer. Not that his mother’s occupation contributes anything to this story. Other than that she hit a high note. As did I one day when visiting them for the weekend. Thomas brought out his bike and let me ride it. We were twelve. Oh, dear. Never ever have I been hit so hard between my legs as when having to brake hard, no time to dismount in an organized fashion. Eye watering. The type of pain when tears spill out involuntarily, your eyes wide and astonished at what the world has in store for you. Yes. So that was an education.

So, guys (and guyesses), particularly the engineers among you, please do enlighten me what purpose that bar serves. Thank you.



  1. I can answer that….. I remember being told why my sister’s bicycle was different to mine……it’s not so much that men’s bikes have a cross bar but that women’s bikes don’t/didn’t. It’s to do with modes of dress in the early days of cycling and also to do with women’s “modesty”. Imagine swinging your leg out and back and over whilst wearing a long skirt,,,,,, it’s as simple as that really. Rather like riding side saddle on gee gees.
    The cross bar was simple engineering… triangular structures being of essence rigid. Bike frames (male) are made up of two triangles….it seems that only one is required if you look at a female bike.

    Of course someone did adapt the use of culottes from horseriding to cycling:
    From Wikipedia
    Alatter-day use of the word culottes describes a split or divided skirt or any garment which “hangs like a skirt, but is actually pants.” During the Victorian Era (mid- to late-nineteenth century) long split skirts were developed for horseback riding so that women could sit astride a man’s saddle rather than riding side-saddle. The term “culottes” was co-opted from the original French definition of the word to describe these split riding skirts. Later, split skirts were developed to provide women more freedom to do activities such as gardening, cleaning, bike riding, etc. and still look like one is wearing a skirt.

    (I make no apology for such uses as 2like” for “as if” BTW

    NOw to research the etymologies of mode and modesty…..

    Comment by magpie11 — September 22, 2013 @ 12:34 | Reply

  2. If it is of any consolation to you, I prefer the ladies version because, with my replaced hips I cannot mount and dismount the way men are supposed to. Moreover, I often wear lungis/dhoties and as Magpie points out, it is more accommodating!

    Comment by Rummuser — September 22, 2013 @ 13:06 | Reply

    • Ramana, no it’s no consolation to me that you are given little choice. Though most sensible. Not least after having been given the lowdown on what truly happens by our very own Gray Dawster’s comment.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:32 | Reply

  3. The cross bar increases the strength of the frame significantly with a small increase in overall weight. In the old days, when men were men and women were, um, you know, the men would peddle harder, ride longer and abuse the bike much more, thus, the need for the extra strength. Women were more likely to stop and chat with other women, thus, their bike needed to be designed to be more comfortable in this role.

    Comment by Looney — September 22, 2013 @ 13:52 | Reply

    • Most women’s bicycles also have the “crossbar”” lowered….. and in some modern designs it is reduced greatly…..

      Comment by magpie11 — September 22, 2013 @ 15:28 | Reply

    • Looney, yours is such a charming answer. Evocative of the days when men were men, women were women, and children walked to school.

      Zola’s “Germinal” springs to mind. Why I do not know. As far as I remember the men didn’t cycle to the mines.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:35 | Reply

  4. Yes it’s all to do with having a skirt

    Comment by finlaygrayJohn — September 22, 2013 @ 14:48 | Reply

    • What about Scotsmen that ride bicycles? Hmm…


      Comment by Gray Dawster — September 22, 2013 @ 21:49 | Reply

    • My thought entirely, John. Combine that with Gray’s questionmark over Scotsmen and, suddenly, being a cross dresser – depending on what choice of bike you are faced with – becomes a rather attractive option.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:30 | Reply

  5. Comment by magpie11 — September 22, 2013 @ 15:28 | Reply

  6. From Wikipedia: The women’s bike…”design, referred to as a step-through frame or as an open frame, allows the rider to mount and dismount in a dignified way while wearing a skirt or dress.” It’s a compromise in that, without the crossbar, the frame is somewhat weakened.

    Comment by mike (Currently visitinging family near Madison, Wisconsin) — September 22, 2013 @ 21:08 | Reply

    • Mike, spot on. And will lead to another post and observation on the subject of choice between dignity and safety should I still have the will to mount another saddle.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:38 | Reply

  7. I think this was a cruel invention by a disgruntled female,
    you see it is not designed for anything but excruciating pain.

    The kind of pain that only happens whilst slipping forwards
    after heavy breaking, and… Well that bar is unforgiving you
    know? Of course you probably won’t find any kind of data,
    no references towards this contraption of terror, but perhaps
    next time you see a guy breaking heavily at a red light, you
    may just witness his, in technical jargon, The Crunching of
    the Nuts, which is what the creator always envisioned.

    Have a lovely rest of weekend my dear and great friend…

    Andro xxxx

    Comment by Gray Dawster — September 22, 2013 @ 21:47 | Reply

    • Thank you, Andro. It’s only Monday evening yet the weekend already a distant memory in the mist of time.

      Call me naive, and I am: Since no man has ever said a word (to me) about any pain inflicted by said bar I thought men being mysteriously bolstered where woman is pelvic. In the name of research I have just conducted my own on a significant sample. Straight from the Angel’s mouth: Yes, he did get, once, hit where it hurts by said bar. ONCE? In years. How do you guys do it? You’d have to pay me to get onto one of your contraptions again. However, and this is of no interest to anyone but myself: I am absolutely certain that in the city of bikes, Amsterdam, the barless by far outweigh the other kind in numbers. A sort of unisex version of a hair dressers. As to the ‘Creator’ and his vision. The guy was in too much of a rush (seven days? I ask you), so the odd design fault to be expected.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:49 | Reply

      • Luckily I left bicycle riding a long time ago in favour of driving my car but if guys enjoy those pedal irons so much then that is for them to experience the pitfalls and not me. I think the Amsterdam version is much simpler, and more importantly, kinder on the slip-ups…

        Have a wonderful Tuesday Ursula.

        Andro xxxx

        Comment by Gray Dawster — September 24, 2013 @ 09:10 | Reply

  8. All these comments are true. A triangle (bar across top) is stronger than a V (girl bike with no bar). Female bicyclers don’t buy girl bikes. I’ve never seen one.

    Comment by bikehikebabe — September 23, 2013 @ 14:39 | Reply

    • I rode my bike in a skirt ONLY ONCE. The skirt got caught in the back wheel.

      Comment by bikehikebabe — September 23, 2013 @ 14:45 | Reply

      • I once climbed a fence, Cynthia – wearing a petticoat. I can still hear it rip. It was Sunday. And anyway – at that age – I refused to wear trousers. My mother didn’t raise so much as an eyebrow.


        Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:27 | Reply

  9. That’s what I get for waiting until Monday to do all blog catching up…everyone has told you what I already knew. So I’ll make something up. The men have the crossbars so they can be gallant and carry their beloved with them everywhere they cycle. Mind you, Beloved must be good in the balancing and taking quite a bit of pain departments, but what Beloved is worthy of the name if s/he isn’t endowed with either or both of those talents? [Did that make up for the truth?]

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — September 23, 2013 @ 19:52 | Reply

    • Oh my god, Lorna, that is so romantic. You have added the feminine touch, and transported me back to that marvellous scene in ‘Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid’ when Paul Newman takes Robert Redford’s love interest (Katherine Ross) for a ride.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — September 23, 2013 @ 20:28 | Reply

      • That’s what I was thinking. Remember the tune, “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head”? Such a great scene…

        Comment by Lorna's Voice — September 26, 2013 @ 20:07 | Reply

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