Ladies Vintage Style

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Ladies vintage and retro style bicycles


Chappelli Women’s vintage style bicycles on a photo-shoot at Goat-Island

The Chappelli Ladies Vintage Style bicycle is designed with the discerning female rider in mind.

Features of our Ladies vintage bikes include:

  • Super Light-weight frame with classic 1950’s vintage style step through geometry and standard retro front and rear mud-guards.
  • Easy to use gears with the reliable and low-maintenance Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.
  • No messy external gears that can rust, bend and break and no dropping of the chain along your way!
  • Super fat 32mm tyres that provide cushioning over rough surfaces and reduce chances of slipping or getting caught in ruts and tram-tracks.
  • Genuine leather grips for comfortable riding and your choice of swept back handle bars for more comfortable upright position when riding.
  • The bikes can easily be fitted with a front rack and basket or rear rack if preferred.

Our range of ladies bikes come in a range of distinctive colours that will set you apart on the roads. Choosing a Chappelli ensures that you not only stand out from the crowd but you arrive at your destination with minimum effort and feeling as comfortable as possible. We believe biking isn’t always about simply getting from one place to another but how you look when you arrive!

Why are internal hub bicycles perfectly suited for women’s vintage bicycles?

Internal hubs have many benefits over traditional derailleur gear bicycles that are so common today. Chappelli’s Ladies Vintage bicycles use the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub which is incredibly reliable having being around for over 50 years! It provides the rider with 3 simple gears which provide an equivalent range to that of 6 speeds on a normal deraileur bicycle. However because the mechanism is contained in the hub its is less prone to getting damaged, rust and dirt meaning that it is easier to maintain and lasts longer. The benefits are numerous but here are few:

3 Speed Hub Benefits

Unisex Bicycles for Women


A lot of women prefer to ride unisex framed bicycles instead of the step-through women’s frames. The step through are easier to mount and dismount from and are better if you wear a lot of dresses or skirts when riding but otherwise the spec’s on the bikes are much the same, so then its all about the look and the style.

History of Women’s Bicycles

Women have been riding bicycles along as they have been around. However most people underestimate the cultural significance of the humble bike as an agent of change for women. Bicycles have been credited with assisting women’s emancipation through allowing them to travel greater distances to meet up with fellow crusaders and supporters, organise and attend meetings and helped liberate women from the heavy dresses fashionable at the time. See brain pickings for more references and information.

Women vintage bicycle circa 1900
A young girl on a women’s bicycle typical of the time. Circa 1890.

Today’s women’s vintage style bicycles look very similar the bicycles that women’ rode on at the turn of the 20th century right up until the late 1970’s. The bicycles all had heavy set frames, a step-through frame to allow for heavy dresses and corsets and swept-back handlebars to allow for a more lady-like riding position. The first bicycles were made of heavy steel tubing and steep rims which meant they could weigh well over 25kg and no only one gear, however with little option for many women to get around ladies bicycles quickly became the transport of choice for women to get around. This advertisement from Featherstone advertising its ladies bicycle suggests that a bicycle could add to a women’s power and minister to a women’s health and happiness.  The added power is probably from riding around on 25kg of machine in a 3kg dress!   Women’s vintage style bicycles today have kept much the same ladies bicycle style but have become much lighter due to advances in technology and materials, they also have gears which is a god-send for riding longer distances especially if carry cargo or riding up hills. So whilst they may no longer be as good for your power, they will still improve your physical health and mental well-being.

Featherstone women's bikes

How to ride a vintage ladies bicycle

Here are 20 tips for women riders from 1895 (from a list of 41!) Most of them seem to be about fashion when riding a bicycle. Some of them are probably still quite apt today, particularly the one about cable-cars!

  1. Don’t wear tight garters.
  2. Don’t forget your toolbag
  3. Don’t coast. It is dangerous.
  4. Don’t boast of your long rides.
  5. Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”
  6. Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
  7. Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”
  8. Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.
  9. Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.
  10. Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.
  11. Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.
  12. Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.
  13. Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
  14. Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.
  15. Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”
  16. Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.
  17. Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.
  18. Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
  19. Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.
  20. Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.

For the full list see this brain-pickings article.

Ladies vintage bikes as a fashion accessory

With the increasing number of women riding, women’s fashion began to quickly adapt to allow women to ride in greater comfort. As you can see from the list above published in 1895 there were a lot of rules about what women could and couldn’t wear. However as bicycles became more popular women because to ride in much looser, lighter garments that were more comfortable to ride in. Strict fashion rules began to relax and the public attitudes followed. The bicycle became not only an important mode of transport for the modern women but a must have fashion accessory. Young couples in love would have their photographs taken with a bicycle to show how modern and sophisticated there were. In September 1893 Figaro captured the public mood with this cover of a young women and her beautiful looking bicycle, the epitome of fashion! Almost 125 years later and women’s vintage bicycles don’t look much different even if the attire has somewhat.

Le Figaro women's bike cover
Cover of Figaro in 1893. All images courtesy of