Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Myths About the Mixte

With the Renaissance of the Mixte still going strong this year, I find myself in frequent discussions over its benefits and drawbacks. And inevitably, I catch myself over-stressing the drawbacks - but it's only because I want to make sure that those who dream of mixtes look at them realistically and not through rose-coloured glasses. There's this idea that the mixte is the perfect do-everything bike, because it can be used both as a roadbike and as a city bike - but I do not entirely agree. So here are some "myths" about the mixte, which I would like to supplement with a more realistic set of expectations:

1. The mixte is a roadbike and a transportation bike in one

In theory yes, in practice not really. The typical mixte frame has roadbike geometry, combined with a lower step-over height than a diamond frame bike. The road geometry is what makes it light, fast, and suitable for being set up as a roadbike. The lower stepover is what makes mounting and dismounting easier, thus making it suitable for transportation.

But while the mixte frame design may work as a roadbike or a transportation bike, you can't actually set it up as both simultaneously. If you set up your mixte with upright handlebars, it will be faster than a heavy, upright city bike, but it will not perform like a roadbike with drop bars. On the other hand, if you set it up with drop bars it may perform like a roadbike, but the positioning will be too aggressive for a city bike. The mixte frame construction has the potential to be either, but you still have to choose.

2. The mixte is easy to mount and dismount

That depends on where you are coming from. If you are used to diamond frame bicycles, then yes it is easier: On a mixte, you don't need to swing your leg around the back, but can lean the bike toward you and step over. However, if you are used to step-through and loop frame bicycles, the mixte may disappoint you. On step-through and loop frames, the top tube is low enough to just freely walk through. The mixte's stepover is considerably higher and requires leaning the bike toward you, then bending your leg at the knee in order to get your foot over. The construction also does not allow you to hop off the bike sideways as you're coming to a stop, as some get accustomed to doing on a step-through.

For comparison: The standover height on my Gazelle loop frame is 18.5", whereas the standover height on my Royal H. mixte is 24" - a substantial difference. Some find the mixte standover to be too high for the easy on-off they seek in a transportation bike.

3. The Mixte is Comfortable

Don't count on it. I've discussed this in an earlier post about buying a vintage mixte, but I still get lots of "I got this nice townie bike, but it's so uncomfortable!" emails, so I wanted to bring it up again. Mixte bicycles look cute and so we tend to assume they are easy to ride. But most of them are essentially roadbikes with upright handlebars, and road geometry does not make for the most relaxed and comfortable ride. Roadbike geometry also presents logistical problems, such as short chainstays making it more difficult to carry panniers, and toe overlap making tight turns trickier.

It is not impossible to find a comfortable mixte. If you're buying vintage, look for one that is a touring and not a road model, and is made of cro-moly steel. If you're buying new, I know that the Rivendell Betty Foy is a comfortable bike, and I've heard good things about the Soma Buena Vista's ride quality as well. And then of course there is the custom route, where the framebuilder can ensure that comfort is a priority. But there is nothing about the mixte design that is inherently comfortable; you will need to put some time into research and test rides.

I hope that all of this does not come across as overly negative. Having gotten one custom made, I am obviously a fan of mixtes. But I do think that it helps to have a realistic understanding of what sort of bicycle a mixte is - which includes not only knowing its benefits, but also its limitations. If you are a mixte owner, what make and model do you ride? how have you set it up? do you use it for transportation or recreationally? and what benefits and drawbacks would you say it has?

53 comments:

  1. I recently had a Soma Buena Vista built up as a transportation bike and I love it. I don't think I would like an upright Dutch or British transportation bike, as I like the more aggressive, sporty feel even just for riding around town. I have it set up with 8-speed internal hub, front hub generator, rack, and partial chainguard and it's just about perfect (I only wish I could get a full chaincase for it). I carry panniers on the rack all the time and have no issue with heel clearance. The only thing that took a little getting used to was the toe overlap on tight turns, but it is not really a big deal.

    I went with the mixte because I really wanted a (relatively) low stepover (e.g. not a diamond frame) but I did not want a really heavy, upright bicycle. There weren't really that many options out there for new frames of this type, but luckily I am really happy with the Soma.

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  2. I have an '84 Trek 420L that I treasure and feel is a good balance between all of these things except maybe stepover. The 420L was a nicer (yet still entry-level) sport-touring model and came with exceptionally decent components. Sadly, I bent the frame a few years ago, and while it's been bent back into shape (hooray for steel!), eventually it will need to be either replaced or repaired once the damaged regions begin to fatigue.

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  3. Sarah, what size chain ring do you have in the front, and do you have to climb many hills? I am going to build a Buena Vista and I am thinking about using the wheels I have on another bike with 8-speed IGH and dynamo front hub, but I'm a little worried that it will limit me on climbs.

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  4. Nova_C - Wow, that is not a very common bike! Sorry to hear about the frame : (

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  5. Sarah!

    That's great to hear about your Soma. My wife just ordered a 58cm Soma Buena Vista frameset that we are going to build up much like yours! It too will be primarily an around-town bike. It will have an 8-speed IGH and VO porteur chaincase. Upright Albatross bars, rear rack, panniers, etc... However, we're outfitting it with 650B wheels with fenders. The reasons are two-fold:

    1) to fit 38mm tires with fenders for a cushy ride

    2) to *in theory* eliminate toe overlap.

    What size tires are you running on your Soma? And what frame size do you have?

    Velouria, I know you said the Soma BV is sporty among mixtes, but for the 58cm frameset, the top tube and chainstays are actually fairly long... much more solidly putting this frame in touring spec than sport spec.

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  6. I have a Schwinn LeTour. It's not the finest of mixtes, but it works for what i wanted. It's set-up as a singlespeed with VO Porteur bars (so it is semi-upright) and a gigantic rear basket. My experience is that I can come to a stop bringing my right leg over the top-tube, but mounting is a pain - the basket makes swinging my leg over the seat, um, awkward.

    I wanted a mixte deliberately for the "mixed" aspect... my other (and favorite) bike is a Raleigh One-Way with a 3-speed hub, done up in Pink and Blue.

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  7. I have a Betty Foy that I love. It is very comfortable, but I do use it for recreation only - no transportation to work as I have a home based business. We do take long treks on our Rivendells and I find mine to be the most comfortable bike I have ridden. I have owned 2 other makes in the last 2.5 years and I have found this one to be the keeper. I am 5'1" tall and the 48cm is perfect!

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  8. @Anonymous 1:12 PM: My front chainring is 44 and my rear cog is 22. I started with an 18 for the cog and the gearing was too high for me. Getting it switched to 22 made a big difference on the hills - I'm able to keep a higher cadence and make it up steeper hills. It is of course going to be different for each person, depending on your strength, etc. I found that with 18 on the rear I spent most of my time in the lower half of the gears, and now with 22 I spend most of my time in the middle range, which feels right. I only go into 8th gear on downhills and I don't feel the need to go faster than what it provides; I'm happy just coasting at that point. Oh, also for my numbers to be relevant for you: my hub is a Shimano Alfine.

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  9. Anon 1:12-- I calculated the gear ratios for the Nexus 8 with 20T cog, 46T chainring and 650B wheels. Comes out to 30-95 gear inches... pretty good range, actually. Not quote alpine gearing, but close. Most touring bikes would have gearing down to about 25 gear inches.

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  10. @somervillain:

    Great, it's neat to hear of other people with the Buena Vista!

    I have the 50cm frame with 700c wheels. The person who built it for me did manage to put 32 tires with fenders on it, however. It is a tight fit (squeezing the brakes does flex the fenders a bit) but it works. It definitely can't go with tires any larger, but 32 is fine for me. For personal aesthetic reasons, I was happier to go with 700 wheels, as I prefer the look of large wheels on small frames over small wheels on large frames.

    (P.S. if anyone in the Boulder-Denver Colorado metro area needs a bike shop recommendation, I got my bike built at Urbanistic Tea and Bike and I highly recommend them).

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  11. I prefer the look of large wheels on small frames over small wheels on large frames.


    Ha! Then you'd probably hate this bike:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/5519824716/in/set-72157625413101060/

    :-)

    Sarah, your 50cm frame has a top tube that's a full 5cm shorter than the one on the 58cm frame, so that may explain why you get toe overlap. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my wife won't have that problem...

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  12. @ Sarah... I love the Urbanistic Tea and Bike shop! It's such a fun place to visit, even if one isn't in the market for a bike. :) It's small, but adorable.

    I had (no longer own) an Electra Ticino. I liked the bike a lot but because it was an aluminum frame (even despite the steel fork), there was a lot of vibration to my hands, which, with my issues, was just not workable. After about 5 miles, my hands were numb or experiencing pain (this likely wouldn't be an issue for people who don't have hand or wrist problems though). I think it would've made a good city bicycle, but because of where I live nearly everything is at least an 16-20 mile round trip, making other types of bicycles much more convenient. I would really only have used it to run to the market, and it really wasn't set up to be a good hauler for groceries. Overall, there are likely other options that would be more conducive as either a road bike or a city style bicycle for most people. It was really pretty though!

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  13. @somervillain:

    Overall that is a really beautiful bike, and has been really nice redone. However, yes, the small wheels do bother me a bit :) But luckily I am short so I will never encounter that aesthetic problem on a bike my size :) I love the lugs and the way they have been outlined, too - that is the one thing I wish the Soma frame had - more lugs...

    The toe overlap is really mainly with the fender. So hopefully with the larger frame and the smaller wheels your wife will not have an issue with it.

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  14. Velouria said...
    " If you are a mixte owner, what make and model do you ride? how have you set it up? do you use it for transportation or recreationally? "

    I own an older Bridgestone "Carmel" model mixte I scored off of e-bay. Beautiful Japanese city bike that was never sold in the U.S. I'd guess it got here when someone shipped their house stuff back from Japan.

    The bike has six speed w/friction shifter & 27" wheels so it must be from the 80's or so. That said, it rides like a cloud it's so smooth.

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  15. I have ended up one of each, transport and recreational. The former is an early 80s Takara with the drop bars and stem shifters swapped out for swept back bars with barcons. It's got a back rack and a huge front basket. I like the mixte for transportation for pretty much exactly the same reasons as Sarah above.

    The other is a R.E.W. Reynolds-branded (they were a shop that took custom bike orders, but then farmed out the frame-making) mixte with 531 tubing. (On a mixte! I know!) The frame is magical, some of the 30-year-old components... not so much. It's sort of a project bike right now, but is still fantastically fun to take on shorter rides.

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  16. You definitely mention it, but I think it's important not to overlook that a mixte is near-perfect as a "faster-style" transportation bike. I built a mixte up for my wife because she wanted a city bike with a front basket and the ability to wear a skirt. However, she did not like the completely upright and heavy feeling dutch-style bikes had. She wanted something she could go "faster" with if she desired to while still fitting within a transportation bike role. I think that's where these frames really shine a bit IMHO.

    You're right, though, that it will not be a true substitute for a road bike when set up for transportation. As people spend more time on bicycles, I think they quickly learn there never really is one do-everything frame or style. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself to justify having several bicycles.

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  17. I have a vintage Follis mixte frame that I re-painted and built up to be my commuter bike. I'm not sure what it's original purpose was, as it had a double chain wheel but no hole for a derailleur hanger. I have a 3 speed IGH on it, upright bars, chain guard, fenders, and I bought a Soma rear rack but have not yet installed it.

    I like that my mixte is fast and light. The shorter chainstays help it fit in the train, and it's light enough that I can hang it up from the bike hook on the train. I couldn't do that with the vintage step-through Huffy I had before. Plus I really love the crisp lines of the twin stays extending to the rear dropouts. It is a little more awkward to dismount, but worth it to me.

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  18. Thanks Sarah! That's exactly the same IGH I have with a 22T rear cog. These wheels are on a 40lb old Raleigh right now with a much smaller chainring. I can get up hills but I wish it wouldn't take so much effort. I could use these wheels and save money now. If it doesn't work, I could get a new rear wheel built.

    Mona

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  19. Great points that mixte considerers should, well, consider. :) That said, my mounting and dismounting experience on my Peugeot has been different. While it's not quite as easy as my step-through (of course) I can easily hop off to one side while coming to a stop. I'm sure this varies according to model though!

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  20. Good to see another Bridgestone owner!

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  21. I love a Mixte, not only is the frame geometry pleasing to look at, but the shape lends a nice little boost of extra speed.

    I ride a Linus Mixte, it's a small frame but fits my 5 foot stature perfectly. Initially I rode her with a slightly aggressive stance, but When I installed my Brooks B67 saddle I noticed that my riding posture immediately became more upright, and it's much more comfortable too. I use my mixte for commuting and leisure. She's a great city bike.

    As for toe overlap; I've just learned from trial and error to keep my peddles in a different position when turning. A slight annoyance at first but I don't even notice it now.

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  22. I have Betty Foy (am 5'2 and very happy with the 48 cm frame); I agree that she's sublimely comfortable. There's something almost uncanny about how smooth and soft and agile she feels to ride. (Uncanny to me because I don't at all understand geometry, materials, etc etc). But as Velouria describes, I found that she didn't work *ideally* for me as an all round transportation bike, though I do like grocery shopping with her on the way home from a fun longer ride. When I'm tired I find the stepover height suddenly seems MUCH higher. And I still get confused by the gears sometimes - I'm so clutsy that at times 24 seems too many speeds... I do love her, though, and if I had to keep just one bike, for some reason, it would probably be her because of the magic comfort thing. I'm so glad I don't have to make that choice, though!

    I've mentioned before that when I sold my car I indulged in an Orco Cicli Ariel to replace the car, and have now got it (I don't think Ariel is gendered) fully set up the way I like. I'm finding that, as I hoped, the lightness and agility of the Italian stepthrough 3 speed provides the balance that many commenters describe as a reason for having a mixte. It's become my main transport/all-round bike. And it's a beauty! (Sorry, no photos yet). It was an extravagance, though - ended up a similar price to Betty.

    But the Bella Ciao and Abici that are now (or soon to be?) available here in the US seem wonderful additions to the range of all-round bikes (light, easy, simple etc) for transportation. I'm very grateful to Lovely Bicycle for emphasizing these bikes and their special curve, and for describing the Abici and Bella Ciao ride qualities so vividly.

    Abici is especially good for short people, but I can't cope well with coaster brakes - I like them as brakes, but have not yet managed to get into good habits about how to position the pedals ready to start again.

    Oh, and (not wanting to be disloyal to the Pashley who started me off on all this) without the car, living in a fairly sprawly small town, I'm still very glad to have Pashley in my stable/garage/fleet, too: I think she should be called the Pashley Porter (as in those Covent Garden porters who used to carry towers of fruit and veg baskets stacked on their heads), not the Pashley Princess. She's my main grocery bike, and very wonderful. But not in the least like a mixte!

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  23. No Nick - The Betty Foy has a lower standover height than any other mixte I've tried, but you're right that it's still not as low as a step-through/ loop frame. Glad to hear you like the Orco Ariel; looking forward to pictures! Abici has been available in the US for a couple of years, and some Bella Ciao models will be available as of this spring/summer.

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  24. We have four mixtes and I love them all for different reasons. My favorite looking bike, an early 80's Nishiki, is the least comfortable and I currently have her for sale...but I'm thinking of holding on to her after riding her to work this morning...and ummm, after ordering fenders for her the other evening. Woops!

    I have an early 70's Raleigh Grand Prix which is the best riding mixte I have. I have her set up with city bars flipped upside down and she looks hot.

    Then there's my '74 (?) French made Peugeot swoopy frame "mixte" which is built for upright riding and does so with grace and style. It's got cushy 650b's on it.

    Then we have my son's mixte, an 80-something Miyata Sport Junior. It weighs as much as my minivan but its his favorite bike all the same, because its a mixte. :-)

    @Sarah - I don't make it over to the Highland's much but when I do, I always stop in Urbanistic.

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  25. I very recently started commuting by bicycle (much thanks to both Lovely Bicycle and Let’s Go Ride a Bike for inspiration and information!). I have two vintage Reynolds 531 Mixtes, both of which are truly awesome.

    I've had Scarlett, my red '85 Raleigh Clubman Lady (made for the English market - it still has the London bike shop sticker on the seat tube!), since December of last year. Only the main frame tubes are 531. She serves as both my commuter and recreational bike for now, with porteur bars, downtube shifters, fenders, racks, etc. This bike has mostly vintage and vintage-inspired components.

    I also recently acquired a blush pink Holdsworth Lady Mistral, from about 1982-84. The whole bike is made of 531ST tubing. The Holdsworth (we call her Georgia) has exclusively modern parts. It currently has albatross bars, and unattractive SRAM grip shifters, which I plan to change for bar ends. No fenders, no racks… the entire configuration is up in the air and I’m not sure what I plan to do with it yet. I may keep the albatross bars and aim for a set up like Riv’s Betty Foy, or I may leave most of the bike as is and swap the bars for drops and leave this as a recreational ride only.

    My bikes are supposedly touring models, though I am not really inclined to agree. For that, I believe they need longer wheelbases and chainstays, more relaxed angles, etc.

    Benefits to these bicycles: they are fast. I can often keep up with and/or pass other cyclists and cars. They are great for hills. The 531 frames are light (Raleigh is 30 lbs, Holdsworth is 24) and the ride is super smooth. I can also carry a good bit of weight in the pannier or saddlebag without it affecting the handling of the bike. They are maneuverable, responsive, fun to ride. And they are beautiful :)

    Drawbacks: I concur with Velouria on these aspects: road geometry, toe overlap, etc. They are slightly twitchy, and as a result these bikes are not particularly confidence inspiring when riding around pedestrians and/or cars, or through tight spaces, at low speeds. Also, I usually pedal with the ball of my foot and will get heel strike with my Fastrider pannier if I forget to pedal with the arch of my foot on the side of the bike with the pannier. Another drawback: these bikes don't have much clearance for larger tires and fenders. The largest tire I can comfortably put on Scarlett with a fender is 28mm.


    I love both of my vintage mixtes, though I still hear Betty Foy's siren song... long wheelbase, stable and comfortable ride, fat tires, gorgeous blue frame... But there's no way I could possibly justify three mixtes!

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  26. I have ridden 2 different mixtes in the past year, and while they have some differences about them, I actually find that my Motobecane super mirage (similar to Marianne) is actually more fun to ride than my Nishiki was, which has more relaxed seat tube angle and longer chainstays. But maybe I prefer the ride of the Moto to the Nishiki because I use it for a zippy fast riding city bike and I don't expect it to be as comfortable and smooth as my Raleigh Roadster, or as fast and comfortable for really long rides as a true road bike would be. As is, my mixte fills an important niche for me.

    I don't have a true road bike for those long distance rides (which I classify as over 20 miles or so), but I don't do a lot of that type of riding at the moment anyway.

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  27. It's nice to hear everyone seems to like the Soma Buena Vista. I was contemplating buying a Velo Orange Rando during their recent sale but couldn't bring myself to pull the $600+ trigger on another diamond frame. Looking for a slightly cheaper alternative, I first looked at the geometry for the Soma ES and then realized that the Buena Vista was actually closer to the Rando than the ES! Tube measurements and BB drop are very close and the Buena Vista's a 73/72.5 whereas the VO Rando is a 73/73. And I've been secretly lusting for the BV anyway.

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  28. This post comes at a good time - I'm in the middle of my crazy mixte project, trying to update a 80'sish Raleigh Rapide. I fell in love with the frame and got it for next to nothing, so I've been hanging new parts off of it and, ignoring the arguments about patina, finally succumbed to the temptation to have it powdercoated. Can't wait to get it back!

    The biggest challenge (for me) is understanding how and what I can replace and how the compatibility works with older bikes. So far I've swapped out the brakes, levers and seat with new parts and I'm looking for a longer stem that will allow me to bring the bars up higher. After much agonizing, I'm keeping my mixte with a drop bar configuration because I want to use this bike to fill the purpose that the 3-speeds just can't do (longer, hillier rides). It has a fairly aggressive riding position and I wouldn't see myself commuting on it much anyhow.

    Anyways, it's a fun project! The LBS thinks I am crazy because the Rapide was a pretty cheap quality bike to begin with, but somehow I can never bring myself to buy a new bike and always end up with these projects. :)

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  29. i sent this back in Sept "i just aquired an austro daimler vent noir mixte". it is made with 531 reynolds and has race geometry, but i use it to cruise around town.because i always ride road (racing) bikes and like the agility of them, i love the comfort and handling of this bike,even with my custom front rack on it. perhaps the Panasonic RIBMO tires make the ride better? sidenote, this bike when original was soooo cool.. black anodized all Dura-Ace on a flat black frame with gold chain and chainrings..mine has been retro fitted with Avocet sealed hubs and BB.. the original headset is still on it..looking for a different pair of upright bars..

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  30. I’ve had my 1984 Centurion mixte (“Petunia”) for about 3 years now, and experience has told me she’s not a great all-rounder. Load her up with a front basket of groceries and she’s twitchy on the handling. Even with a rear pannier or basket instead she’s hard to balance when riding very slowly. For a road/touring bike (not sure which she is exactly) I find this very odd!
    When I bought her I hadn’t ridden a bike since 1994. Ish. I got her on eBay, and merely sat on her to try her out. As she had drop bars at that point and I hadn’t ridden for so long I didn’t want to make an idiot of myself in front of the seller and fall straight off. Those drop bars scared me stupid!
    I know now that a test ride is a must to ensure the bike matches you in terms of fit, geometry and stability. The more I ride this bike the less convinced I am that she’s my perfect match. A shame, because she’s gorgeous to look at and in incredible condition for a bike of her age. I think that at 5’2” I’m an inch or two too short for her geometry.
    I actually find my Pashley Princess a more comfortable ride even on longer rides, despite her weight. She’s more stable, less twitchy in traffic, and the upright position doesn’t give me a backache. The hills are harder though ;-)
    Petunia has had moustache-style bars since three days after I bought her, but while she’s easier to handle with them, her individual geometry means she’s not exactly sit-up-and-beg. You have to lean a little forward when you ride, in an odd position that’s not a road bike crouch but enough to get tiring. (And no, I’m not putting drop bars on her ☺).
    Sitting in my garage is a Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub gearset I had intended to use on her in place of her 12 speed derailleur, but now I’m having second thoughts about the spend on a bike that isn’t as comfortable as the Pashley as an all-round ride.
    I love mixtes. I love their strong frames. I love their shape. I’d love a Betty Foy as from all I’ve read about the Bettys they sound like the best allround mixte available, however, they aren’t available in Australia. Which is probably good for my bank balance!
    So I’m in a quandary about my mixte which is not a good shopping companion nor a comfortable mount on longer journeys. I’m keeping an eye on eBay for a mixte whose geometry and size might better suit my height and my love of moustache-style handlebars.

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    1. I owned a cro-mo Centurion LeMans mixte and she had a more road geometry with drop bars. I pulled the stem up as high as it would go and added upright Dove bars. It helped a lot. BTW, the 1" Origin 8 silver quill stem is a good replacement for some vintage mixte HB stems, when you want to raise the stem higher - yet it's short enough to fit older steerer tubes.

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  31. I ride a Raleigh Misty vintage mixte, set up to feel more sporty. It's set up as a single-speed (freewheel) (was a 5 speed derailleur); right now it has riser bars on it, but I'm in the process of putting bullhorn bars on it, so I can stretch out forward more. Full fenders, which is required in the Cambridge winter, plus a rear rack. I commute to work every day on it (about 3.5 miles each way) and having a pannier rather than a messenger bag is great. I really like how versatile it is; it's a fairly quick and nimble bike normally, but it responds just fine to having a heavy full pannier of groceries on the back, plus the step-over is nice, and it looks cool. My dream is to get it repainted sometime, as it's a gold/champagne color right now, and I think it would be great in a classic British Racing Green.

    Oh, and I'm male, FYI.

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  32. I have three mixtes -- a Raleigh Super Course that is still just a frame, a 1977 Peugeot UE18 and a 1983 Shogun. Not much doubt that I love the mixte.

    The Super Course I will probably build as a 3-speed "path racer" with inverted albatross bars. Not sure yet.

    The Peugeot is stock, bought in nearly NOS condition. Other than better tires (the seller had replaced the tires, but not with anything I consider nice), I'm not doing a damn thing to it. It's the only bike that I have named: Grover, for my favorite muppet. When its Simplex derailers break, I'll replace them with something else.

    The Shogun I planned to sell when I bought the Peugeot. But I really love (and ride) that Shogun. I put mustache bars and a dirt drop stem on it, SKS fenders, a Topeak rear rack and a Brooks B67 (I had one; I prefer unsprung saddles on mixtes but the B17 went on the Peugeot).

    My other bikes are a Retrovelo Paula and a Raleigh Sports (step-through). These bikes are MUCH easier to mount and cushier to ride. When I am heading for a hilly ride or a long ride, I choose the Shogun. If it is a beautiful day with no chance of rain and I don't need to carry more than will fit in a small Timbuk2 bag, I ride Grover. Paula is my limo and the Sports is my Miata/M5.

    I wrote this entire comment yesterday, and the blogspot dumped it when I tried to post it.

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    1. i own a Peugeot Mixe, perfect condition. It rides better than my Bianchi Pista. And has factory installed Racing Deraillers...for $500 less.

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  33. I have a Raleigh Sprite mixte. It is the most upright bike I've owned since I was a kid. It's extremely comfortable. It's a low end model, so quite heavy, and is a garishly bright kelly green. The geometry and weight say city bike, but the lack of accessories and the gearing (too many and too low) make it less than ideal. It probably originally came with fenders but I had to add new ones. The frame isn't nice enough to justify spending a lot of money on parts to make it a more perfect city bike.

    My long-term plan is to buy a nice new transportation bike but I've become pretty attached to this one and will probably keep it as my "beater" bike when that happens (my beater that I actually love and don't want to bang up).

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  34. I should have added that mustache bars and a dirt drop stem on the Shogun come awfully close to making the bike perform double duty. I don't race and I'm not interested in seeing how fast I can get from here to there. I do ride it in charity "races" though. I hook my Arkel Shoppers to the rack and ride it to the grocery store. It is my second favorite bike.

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  35. Hi.. Off topic question.. Can you recommend any step through bicycles new or vintage for my wife?

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  36. Tuvia - For new bikes, see here and here. For vintage, see here. Hope this helps!


    sausend said...
    "...R.E.W. Reynolds-branded (they were a shop that took custom bike orders, but then farmed out the frame-making) mixte with 531 tubing. (On a mixte! I know!)"


    Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for the photo, I need to research this!

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  37. Two of my four bikes are mixtes. The geometry of my Miss Mercian is a slight variation from that of my Mercian Audax. So the ride of each is similar, but one is easier to dismount. I wanted it that way, as I am used to responsive bikes.

    My 1979 LeTour III, however, is more like the "sport" 10-speed bikes that were its contemporaries. While it doesn't have the response of my Mercians, it's still more responsive than other mixtes from its time and price range, and much more responsive than "loop" frames. As I use the LeTour for commuting (I have to park outside) and errands, I appreciate its design: Because I frequently ride in traffic, I want something that I can maneuver pretty easily (I was once a bike messenger, after all) while remaining stable.

    Perhaps I'm unusual, though, in that I rode for decades on diamond frames before I got my first mixte. So my preferences in mixtes have been skewed by the expectations I developed from riding diamond-frame (mainly road) bikes.

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  38. The betty foy is not a mixte, but a step through frame with a higher top tube than most step through frames. A mixte has the double top tube and are not really meant to be mounted like a loop or step through frame. I certainly can't get over mine easily that way-I still have to get on it like a diamond frame bike. my mixte is a low end gitane and is still in progress, but I managed to get it going and it was lovely-the perfect fit-but not the fastest bike out there. I would like it set up as a randonneur that can go far and fairly fast while being able to carry stuff. Living in the country I am going long distances and up crazy hills to get to work or the store so The Mixtes to me were built as female road bikes with fairly upright bars before the mens figured out women could ride with drop bars.
    I would love a peugeot UO-18, or a mixte trek 420 to have something set up as a randonneur/light touring bike. I had a mixte road bike over ten years ago and it was pink lugged and at the time I didn't think anything of it. And it was fast!

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  39. Someone on the bob list claimed that R.E.W. Reynolds frames (no relation to the tubing, but apparently the same Reynolds as the cycling shoes) were made in Steve Woodrup's workshop. Of course they could have used multiple builders, so I can't know for sure mine was done by Woodrup.

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  40. Heather - The Betty Foy definitely is a mixte. Mixte construction is defined by the presence of 2 supporting stays from the seat tube to the dropouts, which the step-through and loop designs lack. It is those stays that prevent the seat tube from warping from too much weight/pressure during strenuous riding. The original mixte design has those twin stays going all the way from head tube, past the seat tube, to the dropouts, but later designs (and later = in some cases since the 60s) feature a single top tube that splits into twin stays at the seat tube, as this was considered more structurally sound. The Betty Foy emulates this later design. Not my favourite mixte construction, but still a mixte. And the interruption at the seat tube allows them to get the stepover height lower, so there's that practical benefit as well.

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  41. Peppy (the amazing four-paw drive cat)March 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    The kink in the mixte stays that allows for lower stepover is not unique to single tube mixtes. I've seen some twin stays that bend and I even saw curved twin stays. They looked kind of neat, actually.

    Having said that, I like single tube mixtes much less than twin stay models, all other issues being equal.

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  42. go three at the moment. One 90`s DBS w shimano7. One 1980 Gitane that I like a lot (if only it was a bit bigger..) and a 70 or 80`s moto w great tubes that I need to start building up soon.. Find myself looking for them all the time. There is a lot of them around, but most of them smaller and low end (gas pipe). My 90`s is one of them, thinking of letting it go since it is heavy and "dead" compared to the (low end) Gitane. I need a size 58, so maybe I`ll end up buying a Buena vista if you folks say it is wort it.

    I am suprised Velouria rides her mixte with a B72. Did not feel good when I tryed on the gitane, but it is all about geometry. Badmother

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  43. Badmother - I find the B72 to be surprisingly versatile. Though the B17 works well on this bicycle too.

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  44. well, here I find myself. never really considered a mixted until my Pash struggles. H knows what I want more than I do and has directed me towards a Soma Buena Vista - which for many reasons, especially my longing for the City - could be a good fit. I enjoyed reading other people like these bicycles (thank you Sarah!). And ad ~ I think H could have written what you said; what we both want most of all is to ride together casually (not always on our road bicycles) and me to keep up. Thanks for the great comments everyone!

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  45. I've just bought this gorgeous Raleigh Misty Mixte after reading your informative blog.
    Thanks ever so much for helping introduce me to this delightful bike!!

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hpskip#!/photo.php?fbid=10150188436929324&set=a.10150188436804324.330754.514839323&type=1&theater

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  46. Hi, I have an early 80s Shogun and a later model Raleigh. The Shogun has a wobbly, squirrel-y feel which I find unsettling to say the least. I am in the process of restoring the Raleigh but don't want to put a lot of time in if it rides like the Shogun. Is it possible to have two identical frame sizes with different feels? Any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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  47. haha this post is very old but i'd like your opinion on Mixte frames as tourers?
    I just acquired a mixte vintage triumph frame (virtually for free) and was planning to build it up into a tourer but my (male) friend said in a very dismissive way that mixte frames are not suitable for touring... not strong enough he says.

    what do you think?

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  48. Frame comfort (as opposed things like setup, tyres, wheels and saddles) is down to geometry and materials. How to 'test' geometry and steel? I can't do it on a page, or even by looking at the lugs. It sounds way to obvious but the easiest way is to look at the spacings in the frame and angles, but even these can be deceptive - replacing 27s with 700Cs - and a longer reach stem somehow diminishes rake.. no, the easiest and simplest thing to do is ride it, as you suggest, and in riding itm the best test is this: go no hands, and ride no hands round a couple of corners. If you can ride no hands round a corner on a bike (on first riding it) the steering is probably very nice and relaxed - and that's going to be a comfy old bike. The early mixtes were pretty comfy, the later ones (in stiffer steel) used the same geometry, but not quite and they don't feel the same.

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  49. Thank you for this and all you other posts on mixtes. I have been thoroughly educated! If I were to go for a Betty Foy or a Buena Vista, how does one go about testing these before committing to buying one? Do the framebuilders have bikes preassembled in different sizes to test drive before committing to a purchase?
    Thanks!

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  50. Hey! I like the leather around the grips of your Peugeot. Is it just normal leather or is it something special? What do I need to do to have the same thing on my Peugeot bike? Thanks!

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  51. I normally towed my daughter's 20" wheeled bike with a mountain bike equipped with street tires. After several close calls of knocking her off as i mounted my bike i decided to get a mixte for easier mount/dismount, and the fact that riding 8 miles on the small 26" wheels got me tired way too fast, especially hauling myself, my daughter and her bike. I found an older KHS Gran Sport, swapped the drop bars for risers and the older 27" wheelset (the rear was missing a spoke or two) for an old set of 700C wheels I had sitting around, coupled w/ 28mm tires I was using on my fixed gear. Yesterday's trip to pick her up from school was much more pleasant...didn't get tired like I did on the MTB.... I'm 5'10" but have short legs. The frame is a 48cm, but w/ the attachment for the trail gator i'm running an extended seatpost.

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