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Looking for a Unicorn (bike) - High performance, lightweight, low step

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Looking for a Unicorn (bike) - High performance, lightweight, low step

Old 10-04-22, 04:56 PM
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wooljersey
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Looking for a Unicorn (bike) - High performance, lightweight, low step

I am looking for a unicorn. My wife rides a Seven Axiom titanium with S&S couplers (I have a ti Dean with couplers as well). We love to travel and ride and do a fair amount of travel with our bikes by air. Recently she has been having some trouble lifting her leg over the seat to mount the bike. So we are looking for a lightweight/high performance step-thru or low step bike. The problem is that I am skeptical about whether some of the mixte frames that are currently on the market have a low enough step over height. She's been pretty spoiled by her Seven.

We will be at the Philly Bike Expo next month to talk to several custom builders but we are definitely open to suggestions.
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Old 10-04-22, 09:11 PM
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Guys here know a lot of stuff. I would also ask here: https://www.velocipedesalon.com/forum/forum.php
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Old 10-04-22, 09:38 PM
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Does this bike need to be coupled? TicCycles can do that work and regularly does for several high end builders. It might be worth talking to them (actually Dave Levy) ahead of time so you don't end up with a step-over that has coupler challenges that aren't seen until it is in Dave's hands. (I think I recall correctly that Seven was one of the builders that sends bikes to him to be coupled. Could easily be wrong but in any case, I've seen some awfully nice spanking new bare frames in his shop awaiting the saw. Dave's got the process down and it's worth other really good builders' time to just send the frames to him and get on with the next.
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Old 10-05-22, 02:41 PM
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What about a dropper seatpost? If the saddle was 4 inches lower would she be happy with that?
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Old 10-06-22, 08:52 AM
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There is no shame if leaning the bike over as much as it takes to get a leg over the saddle. I sometimes do and maybe more often than I realize.
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Old 10-06-22, 11:01 AM
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One can mount a bike either by holding the bars and throwing the leg over the seat, or holding the seat and throwing the leg over the bars (particularly good if doing heavy touring).

How low of a step through do you need to go?

If one hunts, one can find a vintage step through made with Reynolds 531 tubing, some Columbus tubing, or some Vitus tubing. Mom has a Motobecane Grand Jubilee Mixte which was nice for the day. But I've seen other vintage manufacturers too.

For newer frames, there is the Soma Buena Vista.

Rivendell makes the Clem Smith Jr. I don't know much about it. It appears to be a fairly heavy duty "touring bike". There is one for sale here in Eugene, but absolutely HUGE.

If you are going to get S&S Couplers installed, it may be beneficial to find a bike with two main tubes rather than three.

I don't know quite what I'd hunt for. There are a couple of Motobecane Grand Touring Mixte frames on Ebay. One step below the elusive Grand Jubilee.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/255630142908

https://www.ebay.com/itm/255733265498

Here is a Buena Vista which is fairly new.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/204110485506
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Old 10-06-22, 11:07 AM
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Another thing to look at are the folders.

https://bikefriday.com/product/bike-...ket-road-bikes



I've got an older Pocket Rocket. Not quite as nice as some of my road bikes, but it is OK, and makes a good travel bike. Surely quicker to pack than an S&S bike.

They have a suitcase for the bike that converts into a trailer.

I've met some smaller women that absolutely loved their Bike Friday bikes. Many different models available depending on your needs.

And all made right here in the USA in Eugene, Oregon. The company does have pretty good customer service.

They also have packable Tandem bikes.

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Old 10-07-22, 09:58 AM
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I'm reasonably certain I've heard Dave Kirk say that he can build mixte frames, and if your wife is spoiled by a Seven she'll be super-happy with a Kirk. But you should ask him, 'cuz I might be totally misremembering.
Kirk Frameworks | Custom Bicycles
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Old 10-07-22, 03:27 PM
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Does it have to be folding bike?

My gf rides a Liv gravel bike. While not a step through it has a huge top tube drop. We have the carbon wheels and gp5000 tires for this ride in this picture.


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Old 10-09-22, 08:45 PM
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My wife has the same issue. I’ve ordered a mixte steel frame from Handsome and have the same concern that it might not be low enough. I’m hoping to build it around 25lbs.

A true low-step and low weight might be tough as well as incorporating the S&S couplers.

I would try to search out mixte frames or bikes before the Expo to get an idea how low the top tube has to be and then talk to some builders. Also get the geometry of the Seven and see how close you can get to a similar ride.

John
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Old 10-12-22, 10:12 PM
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I suppose something like a Trek FX 3 Stagger would be a letdown after a Seven Axiom titanium model.

With hip replacements, I have a similar problem. I've even thought of getting a custom titanium step-through frame made in Taiwan, as one poster here did, although his was not a step-through. If your budget is not as constrained, maybe a US-made custom?
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Old 10-22-22, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
There is no shame if leaning the bike over as much as it takes to get a leg over the saddle. I sometimes do and maybe more often than I realize.
I showed this little trick to the Mrs....mind blown.
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Old 10-22-22, 12:47 PM
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I like the idea of using a dropper post for this. The PNW coast dropper also adds some suspension. The 27.2 droppers all only go 4 inches, though. And they’re all satin black, which is an aesthetic problem for the class of bikes we're talking about in this thread. Controls are a problem too. If you want a double front, the lever is in the way. Mountain bikes now are set up with the dropper pull lever on the left in the place the shifter pull lever used to be. The small rocker levers are not as nice to use.

Rivendell still makes a step through that is more classic than the Clem. I forget what the name of it is now. It’s not the Cheviot anymore. Platypus, now. It’s still about the same level as a mixte

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Old 10-22-22, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I like the idea of using a dropper post for this. The PNW coast dropper also adds some suspension. The 27.2 droppers all only go 4 inches, though. And they’re all satin black, which is an aesthetic problem for the class of bikes we're talking about in this thread. Controls are a problem too. If you want a double front, the lever is in the way. Mountain bikes now are set up with the dropper pull lever on the left in the place the shifter pull lever used to be. The small rocker levers are not as nice to use.
There is a dropper with an integral lever. I don't think the OP is coming back but it seems like the solution since his wife loves the bike and a Seven with couplers was not cheap. Also, I have a Seven with a black seatpost and it looks fine to me.
KS ETEN Lever Dropper Seatpost | Jenson USA
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Old 10-23-22, 02:38 AM
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Looking for a Unicorn (bike) - High performance, lightweight, low step
R&E Cycles (aka Rodriguez) in Seattle should be able to custom-build what you're looking for. They have a step-thru option for their frames. They can do custom geometry. They can do traditional geared derailleur or Rohloff. Can add S&S Couplers.


https://www.rodbikes.com/profiles/pr...php?tag=single

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Old 10-23-22, 08:50 PM
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Found my Unicorn!!!

Thank you all for the replies! She has tried leaning the bike over and that helps. Two years ago she fell and hit the back of her head while dismounting (thankfully wearing a good quality helmet) so she is also a little spooked by this.

I am actually the cyclist in the family having done road and criterium racing as well as solo touring when I was younger. I like the idea of a folding bike for this application but my wife wants a bike that looks somewhat normal (meaning like my Dean). Cycling has always been an important part of my life. For a long time, my wife didn't ride so I rode very little but several years ago I bought her a Specialized Dolce and then her Seven and now she loves to ride. As we approach our 40th anniversary, cycling has become a key part of our vacations and something we love to do together. Price was no object -- not because I am rich but because cycling is something that we love doing together -- my goal was to find a bike that she would love so we could continue riding together.

I have checked out all the builders you recommended. I was talking with Black Sheep in Colorado to build this bike but their lead times were too long since we are planning on riding in France next year. In the end I chose Zinn (Zinn and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance) in Boulder. They had a similar bike in stock so we flew top Colorado to see if the bike would meet her needs. The bike they had in stock was built for an older gentleman who no longer has sufficient balance to ride. She like the bike and felt comfortable mounting it. I would have bought the used one but it didn't have couplers and for my travel bikes I prefer rim brakes.

The bike for me has always been a love story, now the bike is part of our 40 year love story ...

Leonard Zinn was great to work with and he will be building us that unicorn over the winter.


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