When it comes to ebikes, there are two primary choices of frame geometry that you can choose from. These include the step through ebike and step over ebike. Just from looking at the frames on these two options, you can see the biggest difference between these frames, which is the presence or lack of a downtube.
This results in a number of differences, but there is no right or wrong when choosing between these frames, only which you prefer. So, let's look at some of the differences between these styles of ebike to help you figure out which one you should choose.
Step-through ebikes allow riders to simply pass their legs through the frame to mount without having to lift their legs up very far. For this reason, they were originally intended as a frame for women wearing dresses to board their bicycles without the risk of tearing clothing.
These are still sometimes marketed as women's electric bikes, and regardless of what you are wearing, a step thru electric bike for women may be your best choice. However, it is important to weigh the actual advantages and disadvantages for your situation and riding style.
Generally, a step through ebike is intended for casual riding, such as a step-thru cruiser bike for commuting to work. With the upright riding position they offer, they are extremely comfortable to ride and offer the best choice for those with mobility issues. This doesn't mean you can't get a step-thru electric mountain bike, but they are less common than step over models.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this frame to give you a good idea of what it can offer you.
- Easy To Handle: A step-through e-bike is easy to handle and requires little effort to get on and off. Combined with their upright sitting position, this makes them safe and easy to use for riders of all ages.
- Extremely Comfortable: Step through ebikes offer easy mounting and dismounting and a highly upright sitting position, making them easy to use and very comfortable.
- Perfect for Casual Riding: The comfort and easy mounting and dismounting make step through ebikes perfect for casual rides such as shopping, running errands, and simply going for a fun ride. Overall, if you are looking for a comfortable ebike, a step through frame should definitely be your go-to.
- Great for Formal Clothes: If you are looking for an ebike to ride to work, or anywhere you need to wear formal attire, a step through e-bike is perfect. Whether it is skirts or a men's suit, this attire is often stiff and makes it difficult to mount and dismount step over electric bikes. In contrast, step through ebikes make it easy.
- Greater Weight: The geometry of a step through ebike is weaker than that of an ebike with a downtube. As a result, these electric bikes are often made thicker and with heavier, more durable materials to compensate. This results in an overall heavier ebike but guarantees that it is safe to ride.
- Often Slower: This is not always the case, but due to their reputation as being for casual riders, many step through ebikes are designed without speed in mind. This often renders them less fit for riders looking for high speed but great for those looking for comfort and stability. If you are looking for high speeds, a step thru cruiser bike can often offer some pretty good speeds and is definitely a good compromise.
- Poor for Steep Terrain: Step through ebikes have an inherently weaker frame geometry that may not be the best choice for riding on steep terrain. When riding uphill, an ebikes frame is put under a lot of stress, and this can cause the frame to bend. Though this bend is often only slight, it can make the ebike less stable and potentially dangerous to ride in some circumstances. There are step-thru electric mountain bikes on the market, so if you do intend to go on steep terrain, make sure you choose an ebike that can handle it.
- Harder to Accessorize: Step through ebikes frames are not built to handle many of the accessories on the market, such as water bottle holders. It has become easier to find accessories suited to this frame geometry in recent years, but you may still notice the difference.
Step Over Ebike
A step over ebike is designed with a down tube, making the distinctive triangle frame that they are known for. This popular frame design is durable and lightweight and has seen very few changes over the years as a result.
The bent-over sitting posture these bikes offer riders, as well as other factors, offer greater speed, power, and balance than step through ebikes. This makes these ebikes a popular option for sport riding.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of step over ebikes to see if this is the right choice for you.
- Greater Durability: The frame geometry of step over ebikes is simply stronger. This design will stand up to a lot of abuse and last for thousands of miles of riding.
- All-Terrain: Step over ebikes are designed to handle rougher terrain. Whether you are looking for rough mountain riding or simply riding off-road, step over ebikes are more capable of handling it due to their frame geometry.
- Lightweight: Due to their sturdy frame geometry, step over ebikes are typically made with lighter, thinner material. This means easier pedaling and a greater top speed as well.
- Weaker Materials: The frame may have inherent advantages in durability, but it is important to keep in mind that the material these bikes are made from is likely to be weaker and thinner. This means that with the exception of some ebikes designed for intense riding, they still may not be up to the demands of hardcore riding.
- Less Comfortable: The bent-over sitting posture step over ebikes require as well as the amount you have to lift your leg to get on and off mean a less comfortable ride. This makes them less suited for wearing formal attire as well as for those with mobility issues.
Between step through and step over affordable ebikes, the decision really comes down to your preference. There is no correct answer, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Plus, no matter what frame you choose, you are guaranteed to have a great time with your ebike once you get out riding, so don't hesitate to choose the one that suits your typical riding better for the best electric bike.