a left-eyed girl

living in a 2 dimensional world

Her name is Mixte

with 7 comments

I have been wanting another bike for quite a while. Dennis the Frankenbike is super awesome and I love him to absolute death, but his frame is just a bit too small for me and I really need to get a larger frame that actually fits me before my right knee explodes (yes, I’ve been having knee pain and it’s a bit annoying). I just recently got a new job and have decided that part of my new income will go towards the new bike fund.

The main question was, “What kind of bike do I want to get?”

Of course there are a couple types of bikes that I really love:

Fixies: Yes, I am secretly a wannabe hipster and I love the sleek lines of the fixed gear bikes. What’s even better is that they are ridiculously simple and only have one gear. The ones that I’ve been looking at have flip-flop hubs so I could switch between fixed gear and single speed (same deal but with the ability to coast), depending on how I wanted to ride. To be honest, I would probably never use the bike as a fixed gear and end up using the coaster all the time.

Classic 3-speed lady bikes: The appeal of these is pretty obvious to me. It will give me the bonus of having more than one speed, but still retain the simplicity of not having too many. The nice thing about some of these is that the gearhubs are internal and require little maintenance. Plus, the upright riding position and step-through frames are something that I am definitely interested in, as I prefer to ride tall and straight instead of hunched over the handlebars. I don’t really need to be aerodynamic as much as comfortable.

Road bikes: Oh my are these sleek little monsters. I adore old road bikes like nothing else, and I will always slow down to check them out when I pass them parked on the street. Skinny tires, tight lines, efficiency. Oh and they have gears. Lots and lots of gears. I like the idea of this, but at the same time, I find gears to be horrifying. I have horrible gearaphobia, and I can’t really explain it.

And this brings me to the bikes that I am currently coveting: the mixte. What the hell is a mixte? Well, it’s a bicycle that has a step-through frame that is sort of between the men’s triangle and the women’s low-profile. The main way to tell them apart from non-mixte bikes is to look at the top tube; if there are two skinny tubes instead of one thick one, then you’ve got a mixte on your hands.

My oh my. I love the mixte. I love the look, the upright riding position, the presence of gears (but not too many), and the step-through frame. A lot of mixtes have integrated fenders and look quite fetching with a basket in the front. (Oh love.)

Now I’m just poking around at the new bikes and the used bikes on Craigslist and hoping I can find something I really adore to bring home and spoon with Dennis the Frankenbike.

Written by Reese

November 11, 2009 at 2:39 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Every time I see what looks like a fixie that’s really set up to coast, I have to stop myself from yelling “POSEUR!” at the rider. Problem is, you can get away without brakes on a fixie… till the chain snaps / falls off / etc. Part of my problem is that the way fixies are configured is degenerate mechanical fetishism with no attempt at actual engineering analysis.

    They make mixte roadies. Joy had one before he sold it on eBay. Pretty much, the mixte is just the second strongest way to build a frame, stronger than a step-through (ladies) but weaker than a normal frame. So there’s nothing inherently making it have to be the vaguely city-bike-ish mixte design that they presently have. It’s just that if cyclocross bikes don’t become the next fixie, it’ll be a mixte. 😀

    Thing is, riding position is more amenable to adjustment than you’d think. If you buy a modern road bike and flip the stem so it angles upwards instead of downwards, perhaps shortening it, you can get a more upright riding position.

    And you are progressing in the normal way, actually fairly similarly to me, which means that you’ll probably end up riding a little less upright as you get faster and ride more. Not flat-back-roadie but not upright-ladies-bike either. I also used to think that it wasn’t useful to get a roadie with a more aerodynamic position. 🙂

    My problem with the mixte is that you give up one of the two water bottle mounts. That bugs me. Otherwise, it’s actually reasonably optimized for all riders. Less chance to groin-grind on the top tube for anybody who keeps their genitals between their legs.

    (as opposed to on their knees, like Star Trek 6. Those people need to ride recumbents. Actually, given recumbent riders… 😀 )

    Depends on how crazy you want to get. My urge for engineering optimization makes the idea of buying a frame and building it up to my specifications… which is actually fairly pricey without a donor bike for parts… sound very appealing. So you could buy parts and a mixte frame.


    November 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm

  2. @ken: All good points. I do think that getting a single-speed bike (coaster or fixie) would defeat the purpose of getting a second bike that would not be exactly just like Dennis. See, I’m funny in that I do not like have to duplicates of the same thing. I have one pair of black shoes, and one pair of gold shoes. And three pairs of boots (one short black, one tall black, one slouchy brown). I try not to duplicate things if I can help it.

    Hence, I will probably not get another single-speed bike since Dennis so appropriately fits into the single-speed category. I am actually hoping that whatever bike I get, I will retain the same not-flatback-roadie but not-upright-lady position I have right now with Dennis. I actually like that positioning a lot. So upright would be good, but not super hoity-toity upright!

    And yeah, building my own sure sounds like a good idea, but goddamn it’s expensive and I don’t even have a clue where to start.

    The Trek Allant WSD is actually looking pretty damned cute to me right now. Useful for carrying stuff, comes with fenders, nice riding position, and most importantly, it has gears.

    Gears are key.


    November 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm

  3. Hmm…your post reminds me that I get funny knee “problems” now after riding for a few years. My knees pop .

    So, what sort of adjustments are good for your knees?


    November 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

  4. See, from my POV, all of the bikes you mention except the road bike feel like having two pairs of black shoes.


    November 11, 2009 at 8:04 pm

  5. If you’re having knee issues, the fixie’s not the way to go.

    But Mixte? Check out the Soma Buena Vista. Very yummy.

    Yokota Fritz

    November 11, 2009 at 11:50 pm

  6. Oh, and Palo Alto Cycles is a Soma dealer!

    Yokota Fritz

    November 11, 2009 at 11:51 pm

  7. @Jeannie: When I get knee issues, the first thing I do is make sure my seat is raised enough. I tend to get pain when my seat is very low, which puts unnecessary stress on the knee joint while pedaling. You want to make sure you’re getting enough leg extension while pedaling, but not too much such that your hips are wobbling back and forth on the bike. I would suggest to raise the seat a little bit at a time until the knee pain goes away.

    @wirehead: Yeah yeah…… Looks like the mixte won!

    @Fritz: Ah, such nice bikes in there, but goddamn does anyone work there? I couldn’t get anyone to even look at me for the 15 minutes I spent in there. I do have to go back today and get some tubes, so hopefully someone I can flag someone down.


    November 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm

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