Help needed selecting new bike for my lady

Hi all,

I would love to get my girlfriend a new bike as a gift, and would appreciate the forum’s advice in searching for the right steed for her.

She is currently riding a Giant Boulder MTB from the 90s, but would like have something with a step through frame, and sportier, for the paved rides she takes to work along the Gardiner’s Creek trail in Melbourne.

The current bike is:

  • Steel, therefore heavy
  • Wide tyred
  • 3 x FD, which is almost always annoying
  • 26", meaning that wheels etc. are getting thin on the ground.

So for a new bike, I’m thinking the following…

Absolute requirements:

  • 700c wheels
  • Eyelets for fenders and front/rear rack
  • Step through frame
  • Flat bar

Nice to have:

  • 2x or 1x drivetrain. I have always found 3x FDs fiddly and annoying to keep in tune etc., and she currently does all her riding on the middle ring
  • Disc brakes
  • Preferably a rigid fork

I have found a few bikes online that seem to meet a number of the requirements, but as soon as you move up from the base models that have step through frames, the manufacturers go up to women’s specific regular frames.

This bike looks close to perfect, but I can’t seem to find it stocked in Australia.

Does anybody have any suggestions?


My preference is for the Kona Coco.

Northside Cycles in North Melbourne stock them.

Liv Thrive? Thrive 0 Disc (2018) | Women City & Hybrid bike | Liv Cycling Australia

Thanks for the replies! The Thrive disc looks great but isn’t a step through frame, which is what she really wants. Her current bike has a basket on the back, which makes it extra hard to swing a leg over, hence the desire for the step through. Here is a photo for reference… Sorry about the click through.

Is the Kona’s geometry really upright? I think it would fit the bill if I switched the handlebars.

Are you looking at new only?

I reckon a nice ground up build Mixte would fit the bill!

Just did a quick check of the geometry of Kona Coco vs Giant Thrive and they’re pretty matchy matchy except Kona Coco has a ~20mm shorter wheelbase for the Small frame size and ~30mm longer for a Large. As both reach and stack aren’t available for both bikes it’s hard to compare those.

Most step throughs are hideous and ride like lounge chairs.
I’d just get a rigid hybrid commuter.

This guy gets it.

Recently did a similar thing to this. Kate needed a new bike to commute on, down Sydney Rd then a bit along the Docklands SuperHighway. Guards, Rack, and i moved her dyno setup across onto it too.

Narrowed it down to: Step-Thru and Regular

She ended up liking the Alight1 much more. Even though she’s short (like, 5’0") she can still easily step over the top bar when getting on/off (obvs she doesn’t swing her leg round the back.)

Rack up front for easier dismounting/mounting?

Thanks for more great responses. While I cannot gauge AL9000’s sarcasm level, moving away from a step through opens up a lot more options.

Jaseyjase, I’d definitely love to do a ground up build, but if there is one thing I know about myself is that it would take me forever to get organised and actually do, which defeats the purpose.

Geoff, thanks for the info on the geometry. I have learned a lot about bikes over the last couple of years here, with understanding of geometry being one of the biggest exceptions. My gf definitely wants to be in a more aero, but comfortable position, so I don’t want to replace the Giant with something equally upright.

Dfunkt, I am going to have her try step over some of these frames and see how she goes. I looked at the Alight and the Thrive disc models and they look like great bikes for the price.

Larfinboy, front rack is also an option, but I understand that you have to consider the steering etc. I am still looking at a front rack for my Pompino, and would like to try it out before getting one for her.

How about start with something a little more simple

  • find a less upright stem, instant more areo, a quill stem will only be a few dollars, maybe free from an FOAer
  • go 1x, if she dosnt need the tripple front, just take off the rings and go 1x. Keep the middle and get some SS chainring bolts.
  • cant do much about the rear rack, but if she isnt carrying too much then maybe if wont be that bad on steering if you find a nice front rack, maybe with panniers?

Yeah I’m not sure if you have really.

With the exception of the triple thing, I’d say you’re missing a few things here. Steel frames are not “therefore heavy”. Wide tyres are not inherently slow. If you learn anything learn that bit. And there’s nothing wrong with 26" wheels, especially with some of the great new tyre options available for them.

I’ve been through a similar journey with a friend on step-through vs step-over frames. We managed to find a really nice mixte frame for her, but the Surly Cross Check alternative ended up fitting fine. Her worry about stopping on it and having to straddle the cross bar turned out to not be an issue, and she could mount the bike without swinging her leg over the back. She went for the mixte in the end because we had it. The Cross Check would be much more adaptable though. Much easier to fit racks on and tour on and all that.

You have all sorts of options. I think spending good money on a bike with max 28mm tyres and step-through vs something with 45mm+ and rim brakes or whatever would be a mistake. JJ’s suggestions seem good to me. Swap out the stem. Maybe the bars. Get some nice 26" tyres. Swap out to 1x or subcompact double. Check out some of these builds, specifically something like this and this. You don’t have to use drop bars for a similar result.

Bit outside the price range but my other half found a second hand Cannondale tourer, we swapped it out to flat bar. It works a treat. It has a down sloping top tube, not quite step through, but pretty close.
Aluminium. Rack mounts.

kinda like this. With flat bars.

That 'Dale looks lovely, but is well outside the price range. She tried some step over frames yesterday and still thought they were a bit high, so we are very tempted to pull the trigger on this Merida, on sale at my LBS for $700 as its last years model.

I think it’s a pretty good price given the specs, and she seemed quite happy with it too!

The main thing is she finds it comfy and likes it, cos that’ll mean she’ll ride it.

Don’t get to stressed about specs.

Disc is good and it looks like its future proofed for racks and guards if that ever happens.

@eraser215 How did you go with finding your other half a bike?

I got to agree with Dayne and Blakey re step-thru frames. I spent the time and effort building my wife a flatbar crosscheck with 1x9 gripshift and V-brakes. Totally a perfect capable commuter and do-whatever bike. She thinks its perfect and thats the main thing.

Have to concur with Pete:
steel =/= heavy
shitty steel (or aluminium for that matter) + shitty components = heavy

I have a CC in about that size that I need to sell eh…

Hi Dice, WTP,

Your CC is lovely! I wanted to build her a bike but the reality is that it would take forever for me to painstakingly source the frame and all the components etc. for a bike she may or may not actually be comfortable on in the end.

The CC is more like something I would ride, but am quite happy with my Pompino save for not having fitted a rack to it yet.

But more importantly no, I haven’t got her the bike yet. I nearly pulled the trigger on the Merida Crossway, but the one I found was only in size XS.

She was impressed by the Liv Thrives she tried:

These are not step through, and she is coming around to the idea of a regular diamond frame.

The Liv has braze ons for fenders and a rack, and isn’t terrible value. We will check out some more bikes tonight and on the weekend and see if we can find the right thing.

I’m not surprised.