Step-Over versus Step-Thru Electric Bike Frames

Step-Over versus Step-Thru Electric Bike Frames - GOTRAX

Just like no two people are the same, no two electric bikes will carry the exact same build and design. One of the features riders will see differ most often is the bike's frame. While e-bike frames come in many shapes and sizes, two main categories stand out: step-over and step-thru frames. Both styles see use by all kinds of riders, and many e-bikes even offer both frame options. So what is the difference between them, and which one is best for you? Today, we'll be going over the benefits and drawbacks of both frame styles to help you pick out a ride that suits your needs.

Pros and Cons of a Step-Over Frame

A man riding the GOTRAX Tundra fat tire electric bike in a step over frame style.

Step-over frames more closely resemble a traditional bike. They have a top tube that runs from below the handlebars to below the seat, creating a triangle or diamond shape. You can see this in bikes like the CTI or Tundra in their step-over frame styles.

Step-over frames are great for providing additional stability during a ride. The extra tube on the frame creates a sturdier build that helps the bike better tackle tough terrain, including both rougher paved streets and unpaved trails. Not all step-over bikes are built for the off-road, but those that are appreciate the added durability that the top tube provides. Even step-over bikes intended for use on the road benefit from the extra stability during rides.

The familiar geometry is also nice for those more used to a traditional bike riding experience. Though e-bikes of all kinds are fairly easy to hop on and ride, experienced cyclists looking to make the jump to an electric ride will appreciate a bike that has a similar feel to those that they’re experienced with.

That being said, step-over frames can be difficult for some to mount. Shorter riders, riders with more limited mobility, or riders who like to load their rear cargo racks may struggle to get a leg over a step-over bike. Step-over bikes are great for riders that fit them, but they can be a challenge for riders who can’t quite find a step-over bike that works for them.

Pros and Cons of a Step-Thru Frame

A woman getting ready to ride the GOTRAX Tundra electric bike with a torque sensor in a step-thru frame style.

Step-thru frames have been gaining popularity in recent years, especially among e-bike riders. These frames lack the top bar between the handlebars and seat of the bike, leaving the center open. Many of our e-bikes have step-thru frame options, but bikes like the F2 and the CTI 3 were designed exclusively as step-thru bikes.

Step-thru frames are a convenient option for any rider. Thanks to their open design, you only need to take a small step in order to mount them. This is fantastic for shorter riders or riders who may have a more difficult time hoisting themselves onto a step-over bike. They also make it easier to dismount the bike for brief periods during a ride, such as when coming to a stop at a traffic light.

They’re especially great for riders who like to set out in style. While the best outfit for any ride is going to be made up of good riding clothes, travelers who don't have time to change once they reach their destination will appreciate a bike that better accommodates clothing items like dresses, skirts, and tighter pants. Just make sure that whatever you wear still allows for enough movement to safely and properly operate the handlebars, brakes, pedals, and other controls of the bike without getting caught or tangled in its moving parts.

Of course, no frame is without its downsides. The removal of the top bar causes the bike to lose a bit of stability. Step-thru bikes are perfectly capable of handling all kinds of rides if they’re designed to do so, but step-over bikes will handle rougher rides better overall. This shouldn’t be an issue for city and neighborhood riders who use an e-bike in place of a car, but off-road riders may want to keep the frame design in mind when picking out a bike.

Which Style Should You Choose?

This is a tough question, as it really comes down to your individual needs. There are bikes in both frame styles that are a good fit for all kinds of riders. We offer a variety of both step-over and step-thru options, so we’re sure we have a bike that’ll suit you. No matter what style you ride, just remember to stay safe, follow the rules of the road, and always wear a helmet!

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