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One of my most useful bicycles is my 58cm 700c Xtracycle based on a Novara Xpresso cyclocross style frame. Lately, as the kids are getting bigger and my back isn't getting any younger: I crave a much lower top bar. I would consider a used mixte frame, a step-through frame, or other really low diamond frame. Recommendations for sturdy and faithful frame models appreciated. Ability to handle 3 rings and 8 cogs plus a chain stay bridge preferred.

These areas would help me evaluate the frames I might find:

  • Stability: I have heard some people mutter that mixte frames are "unstable" as donor frames. Is this substantial? (I get some shimmy and flex in my present Xtracycle but I'm running a cro-moly frame but it doesn't bother me.)

  • Fit: Is there a more limited range of geometry among these frames? Could I find frames like these around 56-58cm or about 19.5 inches? If it is a large "WSD" style frame, how much difference does that make for a male pilot?

  • Strength: Are frames with lower top bars any weaker? Steel is not a requirement, but I expect to load it up with camping gear and elementary school age kids.

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Have a look on the second hand market for 'Giant Trail' mountain bikes from a few years ago. These had an unusual frame design with a lower top tube, wider, more stable bars and disc brakes. Giant Rincon Trail, Giant Boulder Trail were a couple of the affordable models I remember.

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That's not an "unusual frame design". Other than the little curve between top tube and seat tube it's a standard mixte frame. The frame is quite strong, and in fact has a reputation for being stiffer than a diamond frame -- almost too stiff. Was a popular BSO youth "mountain bike" frame for a couple of decades before the fancy suspended frames took over that market. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 14 '11 at 12:21
    
Trek makes a few bikes with this style frame, one such model is the Neko (trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/dual_sport/neko/neko/#) –  Kibbee Nov 14 '11 at 14:00
    
I like this frame design, and I like the Neko's frame design. They make me think that should look at early 29er frames because I don't need disk. However the market on hardtail 29er frames seems pretty slim. –  memnoch_proxy Dec 2 '11 at 18:19
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