We’re Looking for a Non-Pricey Step-through Bike

Mr. Ding and I are on a quest to buy a steel frame, step-through bike for a tall rider (5′ 10). In this case it’s for a new rider who’s not going to ride it everyday and everywhere – she’s going to ride around the residential area of Oak Park on short family rides.  Having said that, an expensive new Dutch bike like a WorkCycles, Batavus, or Gazelle is out. Same with Pashleys. And based on my experience even a used Pashley might not fit right for this rider as I’ve found them a bit too small (Though I am 6ft tall). Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Steel frame
  • step-through
  • internal hub or derailleur
  • anything but coaster brakes (or at least 1 hand brake)
  • Tall enough for a long-legged 5′ 10 rider
  • 3 or more gears
  • priced $300-$600


Our first favorite was the Manhattan Green bike – an amazingly nice steel-frame Dutch-style bike that I’ve heard only good things from folks who have them.  Unfortunately the step-through version does not come in a very tall frame and one tall woman I know who rides one, rides the men’s version for just that reason.

Our big favorite right now is PUBLIC Bike’s C3 in the large frame size.  It’s on the high-end of our price range, but since you can now buy them locally from Copenhagen Cyclery in Wicker Park, we can avoid the shipping charges. The manager says he gets them about 4-5 days after an order is placed.

  • Today I just came across a mention of the Biria CityBike – going to have to go check one out. I’m familiar with the super-low step-through Biria bikes for adaptive riders, and those frames do not come very tall at all. No idea how this one runs.
  • I’m also wondering if we should venture down the big-box store route  (….shudder…) and consider one of those Hollandia bikes  (designed in NL, made in China) that Wal-Mart sells.  I just thought of this option so no research done yet. I”m not sure how tall the frames are. The post on Bike Portland and all the comments over the summer about these bikes was interesting but I still don’t know anyone who has purchased one. I’m curious about these bikes, but not sure I want to buy one to assuage my own curiosity.
  • Obviously an old Schwinn would be great, but I’ve never come across any step-through Schwinns that are very tall.  Am I wrong here?

If you’ve got any suggestions that meet our criteria listed above,  for a used or new bike, please let me know.

Tags: , ,

  • Afuentes71

    I have a Batavus Fryslan that I will sell for $500 but I live in New York. I would ship but I wouldn’t know how to take the bike a part for shipping.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Interesting idea. What size is the Fryslan?

      • Afuentes71


        The Fryslan is 50 cm, I am 5’4″ but I fine the too big.

  • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

    Hmmm.. interesting! According to their list of retailers, 4 stores in Chicago carry Bobbin bikes. I’m pretty familiar with the stock at two of the stores (J.C. Lind and Copenhagen) and I don’t recall any Bobbin bikes in stock. I’ll have to call around the other ones too (Blue City and Boulevard Bikes). Thanks for the top and the link to the great review and coments on Lovelybike dot com.

  • Grim

    I don’t live in the USA but I saw that bobbin birdie had arrived over from the UK. Lovely bicyle had a review of it (http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2011/12/bobbin-birdie-lands-in-america.html). May be another one to look at.

  • Judith

    Hi, I just found this blog and am enjoying it.
    Barnard’s Schwinn in Oak Park carries a lot of refurbished Schwinns, and could probably advise you on what frame sizes would be available. My sister has a 1964 Traveller from there and is very happy with it.
    Because of arthritis issues I went with a super low step through Biria, though you did say it wasn’t large enough to fit her. It’s a great bike except for the saddle that had to be updated before it killed me. Kozy’s Cyclery in Chicago carries the Biria Citbike. At their central store it’s great fun to ride around the floor trying out a bike and listening to the old wooden floor boards creak.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Thanks for finding me Judith! Those super-low Biria’s are a great design for folks who need that extra-low stepover, but yes, the design means they don’t come very tall. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that their Citibike is a different story. We will definitely stop by Kozy’s and do a test ride.

  • Dhin

    Working Bikes has a slew of step throughs right now. They have  a pretty big stable of nice  already fendered oldies and this is a quiet time of year to browse through what they have. Don’t know about the height thing though.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Good to know – they are next on our list!

  • http://ChrisBaskind.com Chris Baskind

    I sure like the spec on the Public C3. I know someone who bought one last year — also tall, and it fits. 

    On the lower end, this bike has my interest. We all know not to buy bikes assembled at department stores, but I’m gonna go look and see what the quality of the frame and hardware is like. It’s the Schwinn Gateway, available in a step-through:


    Under $200 — steel frame, chainguard, fenders, some level of Shimano derailleur. Interestingly, wheels are marked at the European 28-inch size. Wondering if this was built for the Euro mass market, and whether it might be an acceptable machine, if assembled and adjusted properly.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Hmmmm, that Schwinn Gateway is intriguing. I too wonder if it might be acceptable. May have to go check it out. Wish it were as well made as the 30+ year-old Schwinns that abound in Chicago.

      • http://ChrisBaskind.com Chris Baskind

        Yeah, I’m a fan of US-built Schwinns, too. Check store availability online (the website polls local stores for stock). Everything close to me is sold out. 

        A lot of bikie folks would sniff at such an inexpensive bike, but I’d be delighted to see an acceptable-quality machine of that basic design in the $200 to $300 class. Let’s get some people on sensible bikes.

  • Jami

    I wish more step through bikes were available for taller riders! I’m just 5’8″ but run into this problem. Rant aside, I know a gentleman who rides a trek 7100 wsd frame and used an extra long seatpost.

    The Giant Sedona may be another option, though the seatpost modification may be necessary.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Thanks for the suggestion Jami! I’ll look into that extra-long seatpost idea.

  • http://twitter.com/mpherson Marissa Pherson

    Trek 700 WSD is steel step-through style 7 speed.
    Or the Trek Atwood WSD is a steel 7-speed (eco-bike, too!): http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/recreation/atwood/atwood_wsd/#
    There’s more variety in aluminum frames: any Trek hybrid series (includes 7000, 7100, etc.) WSD, Trek Navigator series WSD, any Trek Pure Lowstep (Feet first geometry, some offer internal 3-speed hubs), Trek Cocoa WSD (Dutch look-alike with paint matched fenders and chaincase, internal 3-speed hub).

    Bonus: your Trek dealer will likely have lower prices than the MSRP on the TrekBikes site. And they’ll probably offer you a free 30-60 day check-over to tighten everything up after you’ve broken it in.

    • http://dingdingletsride.com Ms. Ding

      Thanks for the suggestions though none of these Trek bikes come in larger than a 19′ frame – generally too short for a 5’10 rider with long legs. We originally didn’t want to spend more than $500 but had to raise the range a little, even so the Cocoa is right there at the top price-wise and not as tall as other options at that same price.