My old friend, inspiration, and mentor* Sheldon Brown, states that a “Mixte” is a ladies’ style of bike characterized by twin top tubes that extend all the way to the rear dropouts. He further states that there is a variant with a single top tube and the extra set of stays. He says if it don’t have three sets of stays, it ain’t no mixte.
I have always been leery of this interesting pedantic fact, because:
- Sheldon presents the definition with no supporting evidence
- In French, “Mixte” means “co-ed” in the old-fashioned sense, which seems appropriate for all step-through frames
- Really, who cares?
His main point was “don’t use the word mixte to refer to any old ladies’ frame bike,” because it’s a specific style.” I generally skirted** the issue: I tried not to make any embarrassing gaffes, but didn’t correct people on the internet.
Cut to the big mixte news this week on the iBOB list: Greg Reiche posted a link to a C. S. Hiroshi page about creating a ladies bicyle, specifically a “Sport.” One of the pictures showed a publication from FNCRM (Fédération Nationale du Commerce et de la Réparation du Cycle et Motocycle), a French bicycle and motorcycle trade group. Another image was of a page of that publication, showing some of the different styles of step-through frames.
I’ve redrawn the graphic here. Don’t sue me, bro. Mixte – Twin tubes from the upper head lug all the way to the rear dropouts. Hot.
Sport – A single top tube, with a third set of stays. Also hot. Rivendell and J.P. Weigle style. Sheldon calls this a kind of Mixte.
Berceau – Bendy twin top tubes, for more standover height. Lots of potential, but I’ve never seen a truly sexy implementation of this style.
Jumele – Twin top tubes, with NO third set of stays. I have never seen this style of bike. Doofy.
Anglais – Second top tube, no extra stays. Angelina’s Steyr was this style. Workmanlike.
Col de Cygne – Swoopy top tube, with supporting struts to the down tube. Nice, but tend to look heavy.
Double Col de Cygne – Swoopy top tube, and down tube, with struts. Trying too hard?
I propose that Americans call the “Sport” style “Mixte Sport.” Other bike nerds know what you’re talking about, and it clarifies Sheldon’s postion.
* Internet-style. He may or may not have recognized me on the street. ** See what I did there?