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Why do men's bikes have high bars where you can hit your testicles while women's bikes have the bar much lower?

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3 Answers 3

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The tube is low on ladies' bikes for the skirt.

Otherwise, structurally, it is better to have the top tube higher. You can make the bike lighter with the same strength.

One should not be in a large danger of hitting the top tube with testicles or pelvis (which seems more likely to me and is very painful for either sex) if one selects the proper frame size with the correct standover height. Of course, if you are unlucky, it can happen, but there are many other ways how to crash and injure yourself that are more common.

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    These days frame designs have lower top tubes than the past, so the problem of hitting the top tube is probably overstated for a bike built in the last two decades. Low top-tube bike is usually referred to as something like a 'City' bike rather than womans (Some big box BSO sellers have yet to catch up with the times) as plenty of guys ride these, the older generation with restricted mobility especially.
    – mattnz
    Apr 28, 2023 at 21:08
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    Yes, with sloping top tubes and compact frame sizing it is less of an issue. Apr 28, 2023 at 21:10
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    I'd note that it's not that a high top tube is required for high strength-to-weight ratio. Competition trials bikes have extremely low top tubes, but are nevertheless both light and very strong. (It just requires good design and welds in the BB area.) It's rather the specific combination of high seatstays with a low top tube that's weak (because the seat tube is subjected to high leverage from the rear triangle). Modern MTBs make a good compromise, with quite low seatstays and top tube (good for agile riding) but still high enough to support also a raised saddle. Apr 29, 2023 at 0:10
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    Basically, "ladies bikes" is just marketing. "Men's bikes" are never marketed as such, because it is obvious that anybody can ride one if it fits.
    – SamA
    Apr 29, 2023 at 3:53
  • A related painful experience is hitting the same part on the stem, from an abrupt stop that throws you forward but without enough energy to go over the bars. The top tube height doesn't affect the likelihood of that.
    – Chris H
    May 2, 2023 at 19:52
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Historically, the lowered/angled top tube was used relegated to women's frames so they could wear a dress or skirt.

However, in recent years this geometry has been reframed (HA) as "step-thru" since no one wears a skirt on a bike anymore (or at least if they do, it's no longer taboo to show your knees), and people with limited mobility (bad knees or hips) find it much easier to mount the bike. It's also just easier to get in and out of, especially if you have a child seat or other tall load in the back.

Meanwhile, the men's geometry is labeled "step-over" and is used on men's and women's frames in road and mountain biking, since it is a much stronger geometry.

Regarding safety of your testis... A good bike shop will set you up with a bike that doesn't put your family jewels at risk. You should be able to stand over your bike with feet shoulder width apart comfortably.

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    I disagree that no one wears a skirt on a bike. That's certainly not the case in my city! People are all different sizes and need a bike that fits their body, not their gender, so I usually don't think of bikes as "men's" or "women's".
    – SamA
    Apr 29, 2023 at 3:45
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    You've obviously never been to the Netherlands @inund8 :-)
    – deep64blue
    Apr 29, 2023 at 16:09
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    @inund8 No need to relegate the step-thru for people with limited mobility. With tight trousers or child seats, step-thru are easier to live with.
    – Renaud
    May 1, 2023 at 8:37
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    Yup, the standard "swing your foot over the back of the bike" move to get on to a high tube bike means that anyone in a rear-mount child's seat will get kicked in the face. Getting on a high tube bike while there's a kid in a bike seat is super awkward.
    – Tacroy
    May 1, 2023 at 21:22
  • @Renaud Absolutely, step thru's frames are just more convenient.
    – inund8
    May 2, 2023 at 16:10
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It's a mistake to think of bikes as gendered. Anyone can ride any bike, within some limitations, and physiological differences within genders vary greatly. Find a bike that fits your body correctly. If a bike with a high, straight top tube causes you to hit your testicles, consider choosing a bike with an angled top tube or an open frame design. Your gender will not matter to the bike.

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    I generally agree, but there can be slight differences in accessories (mostly saddle and grips). As women (on average) tend to have wider sit bones spacing and smaller hands, some manufacturers propose different finishing kits depending on the "gender". But that's based on average values, and some will argue that saddle and grips are very personal and must changed anyway.
    – Renaud
    May 1, 2023 at 8:06
  • Bikes get built without knowing more than general bodily proportions of the eventual rider, some to a very specific range of sizes within a single frame model. While it may be true that, statistically, females overall have shorter height and wider sit bone, it does not rule out a bike marketed as "for women" as a "men's bike." Obviously I think the question is framed incorrectly. It should be, "is it ok for me to ride an open-frame bike, if I keep hitting my testicles on the top tube of my current bike?" And the answer is, "yes."
    – SamA
    May 1, 2023 at 12:21
  • Step-through frames do tend to come in smaller sizes (in the UK). As someone who needs an XL frame from a brand that comes up big, I doubt I'd find one to fit very easily
    – Chris H
    May 2, 2023 at 19:56
  • Maybe if you had the problem of testicles hitting the top tube, you would decide a slightly smaller than ideal step through would be a good trade off. It can be difficult to find a bike that fits your body well, it can take time, patience, and luck. Looking for a bike to fit your gender, on the other hand, is either an aesthetic pursuit or a fool's errand.
    – SamA
    May 3, 2023 at 0:56

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