wanted: bike. requirements: cute, huge.
January 5, 2014 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Can a 6'1" tall Canadian lady ever find a mixte under $800?

I'm in the market for a new bike. For once, I've finally saved up enough money to buy not-used -- but I'm not rich, and I'm not at the point (or city) in my life where investing in a $1000+ bike is going to be possible.

Online calculators like this one suggest that I should be looking for a 23" frame (58 or 59cm -- I need to get someone else to measure my inseam). I love the sleek clean lines of the (too-small) Electra Ticino and the (too-pricey) Soma Bueno Vista but I can't seem to find a mixte that's big enough that I can actually afford.

Am I stuck with a men's frame? The Giant Via 1 is the cutest I've found so far, but I don't want to give up home on a bike that I can wear skirts with unproblematically.

Please, askme, help me to find the cute, affordable, massive mixte of my dreams! Oh, and I need to be able to buy the bike in Toronto, Canada.

(Alternatively, please suggest cute, upright-riding diamond-frames. My thanks.)
posted by monkeymonkey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
This Public bike might suit ya.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:50 PM on January 5, 2014

I have the first generation of this Globe Daily 1 step-through bike from 2009 and it's wonderful. Been through two run ins with cars and plenty of rain and snow. Very decent bike, and not overly flashy such that you'd worry about it getting stolen. They have nicer models if your price range is more flexible, but this one certainly falls under your current budget.
posted by ancient star at 8:57 PM on January 5, 2014

I would suggest using that bike height calculator as a starting point only for a couple of reasons:

1. General bike sizing tends to be based on men's average proportions, and we are ladies are different, never mind there being lots of difference among individual people.

2. That calculator seems to be sizing mixtes like regular road bikes. I think the sizing is a bit different for mixtes, especially if you are looking for an upright bar. I have three bikes, a traditional road bike, a cyclocross bike, and a mixte, and they are all different sizes (I don't even know the size of my mixte, actually; it's old and used and it felt right).

All of this is to say it's worth riding a few smaller mixtes to see how they feel.

Are you familiar with Linus Bikes? They make a three-speed mixte that comes in three sizes, including 56". It's US$675 and they have several dealers in Toronto.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:58 PM on January 5, 2014

Have you ever tried riding a standard (double-diamond) frame in a skirt? I've done this successfully, although I've only tried once (Halloween costume). Perhaps more persuasively, I know several women who say it works just fine for them.

Your options will open up a lot if you're willing to consider standard frames. I suspect one of the reasons you're having trouble finding a bike big enough is mixte frames are traditionally marketed toward women and your height is well above 95th percentile for women. 58cm is not rare among standard frames.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:28 PM on January 5, 2014

I'm a couple of inches shorter than you and have a men's Electra Townie. It's almost low enough at the back to step through, although I'm not sure how you'd do with a skirt.

I used to have a Pashley Princess Sovereign, which was fine for my height, but it was heavy and would probably be expensive to buy in Canada.
posted by mippy at 2:51 AM on January 6, 2014

I have a Raleigh Passage. It looks like it fits your specs, unless I'm misunderstanding something in the terms. It's an older bike so you'd have to see their current line-up, but Raleigh is available in Canada.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:23 AM on January 6, 2014

I have a Biria step thru 7 speed and love it. Wear skirts all the time. Looks like there's two shops in Toronto that carry them. For me it made riding occasionally change to a daily rider for almost all errands, to work, and for fun.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:40 AM on January 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I like the look of this Marin Bridgeway (not a true mixte, but a step-through) but of course you would want to test ride it.
posted by mikepop at 7:11 AM on January 6, 2014

FWIW, I've never had a problem wearing skirts with a non-step-through frame and do so frequently; the top tube tends to hold them out of the range of anything that might catch fabric. The only skirts that are ever a bother are tighter pencil skirts, and those are not much easier on a step-through. There's nothing wrong with preferring a step-through for either looks or for ease of mounting, but if it's mostly due to the skirt question, you may not require a step-through.

A good chain guard and (probably aftermarket) skirt guard may be helpful here (and would on a step-through as well.) I've been meaning to install a (homemade, crocheted) skirt guard on my bike, but it's mostly for the bling factor -- the combo of my fenders and racks (and I'm almost always carrying panniers) keeps my skirts from going anywhere near my rear wheel.
posted by asperity at 7:41 AM on January 6, 2014

Oh yeah, about sizing: effective top tube length is what you'll want to concentrate on for sizing a step-through frame. It's not like standover height is going to be a problem here -- you want your reach to be comfortable, and you want to have your saddle at a height that'll allow you to pedal comfortably. The bike websites and catalogs should list this number, and you can compare it to what you're getting on fit calculators. Try one that suggests effective top tube length (and maybe run the numbers for both road and mountain bikes, since nobody really makes a fit calculator for upright city bikes anyway. Take the answers with quite a bit of salt.)
posted by asperity at 7:53 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: I'm going to encourage you to still look at used bikes unless you absolutely must have new. Toronto is big enough that there will be a good selection of used bikes. If you could find the Soma you linked used, or a similar good condition vintage steel frame, you could strip it down and go for all new components but not a new frame. Dollar for dollar you will probably get a higher quality, more durable frame that way. Everyone who is telling you to consider effective top tube is right on, no matter what bike you get in the end. This is as important or more important to proper fit than the listed seat tube size.

Mixtes almost HAVE to be steel at your size to be strong and safe and not flexible like a wet noodle. You will have alot of exposed seat post with your long legs on a mixte, and you should consider a steel one for extra strength. I would discourage any aluminum designs at your height, the feel of the ride is not going to be as good as steel with a mixte and it's going to sap your pedaling power, not to mention the components will be cheap crap if the whole bike costs under $500. Decent steel frames do not get any cheaper than the Linus and Public models already linked above, and can get much much more expensive when you throw in nicer components, so you're still looking at used if those options aren't a good fit.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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