Bike Size Chart: How to Choose the Perfect Bicycle

 

People buy bikes for different purposes: For racing, road-biking, mountain-biking, touring or commuting. Whatever the reason you have for spending your hard-earned money on purchasing a bicycle, it is very important that you get the perfect bike for yourself. Or else, you would be throwing away your money.

In this article, you will discover the different bike size charts for the mountain bikes, road bikes, and the city/commute bikes. It is generally believed that the most appropriate way to increase cycling pleasure is to know what exactly is good for you. These charts and other vital information presented in this article will help you accomplish your goal in choosing the perfect bike.

Some criteria to consider when choosing a perfect bike for yourself

Highlighted below are some essential criteria you should strictly consider when deciding on which bike to go for.

(1) Bike’s frame size: Normally, a bike’s frame size can be classified as extra small (XS), small (S), medium (M), large (L), extra-large (XL), or double extra (extra extra) large (XXL). While an extra small bike is perfect for a kindergarten student, a medium bike may the most appropriate one for his/her brother who is in high school. To have a pleasurable biking experience, you must settle for a bike’s frame size that will make your biking goal possible.

(2) Giving due consideration to your height (Biker’s height): To achieve maximum biking comfort, riders are strictly advised to buy bicycles that are compatible with their heights. If you are very tall and your bike is the one meant for a shorter cyclist, you will experience pains in several parts of your body: Legs, back, neck, wrists, and so on. [See some charts below to choose the perfect bike for your height]

(3) Inside leg (Inseam) measurement: Your inside leg or inseam is the length of your inner leg, from the top of your thigh to the ankle. You must have the accurate measurement of your inseam so as to select the best bike that will not be too high or short for your leg. A biker who mistakenly chooses a shorter bike instead of a higher one, based on his/her inseam will always have cramps or pain in his/her leg/thigh!

couple on mountain bikes

Bike size charts

Provided below are some useful bike size charts that can guide you in choosing the perfect bike for yourself.

Biker’s height and bike size

Biker’s height Bike size (inches)
4’ 11” – 5’ 3” 13 – 15
5’ 3” – 5’ 7” 15 – 17
5’ 7” – 5’ 11” 17 – 19
6’ 0” – 6’ 2” 19 – 21
6’ 2” – 6’ 4” 21 – 23
6’ 4” and taller 23+

Mountain bike size chart

Rider’s height Leg inseam Recommended frame size
Feet/Inches Centimeters Inches Centimeters Inches Centimeters Size
4`10”-5`1” 148-158 cm 24-29” 61-73 cm 14” 47-49 cm XS
5`1″-5`5″ 158-168 cm 25-30” 63-76 cm 15” 50-52 cm S
5`5″-5`9″ 168-178 cm 26-31” 66-78 cm 16” 53-54 cm M
5`9″-6`0″ 178-185 cm 27`-32` 68-81 cm 17″ 55-57 cm L
6`0″-6`3″ 185-193 cm 28`-33` 71-83 cm 18″ 58-61 cm XL
6`1″-6`6″ 193-198 cm 29`-34` 73-86 cm 19″ 61-63 cm XXL

Road bike size chart

Rider’s height Recommended frame size
Feet/Inches Centimeters Centimeters Size
4`10”-5`0” 148-152 cm 47-48 cm XXS
5`0″-5`3″ 152-160 cm 49-50 cm XS
5`3″-5`6″ 160-168 cm 51-52-53 cm S
5`6″-5`9″ 168-175 cm 54-55 cm M
5`9″-6`0″ 175-183 cm 56-57-58 cm L
6`0″-6`3″ 183-191 cm 58-59-60 cm XL

City bike (including commuter or hybrid bike) size chart

Rider’s height Leg inseam Recommended frame size
Feet/Inches Centimeters Inches Centimeters Inches Centimeters Size
4`10”-5`1” 147-155 cm 24-29” 61-73 cm 14” 47-49 cm XS
5`1`-5`5` 155-165 cm 25-30” 63-76 cm 15” 50-52 cm S
5`5`-5`9` 165-175 cm 26-31” 66-78 cm 16” 53-54 cm M
5`9`-6`0` 175-183 cm 27`-32` 68-81 cm 17″ 55-57 cm L
6`0`-6`3` 183-191 cm 28`-33` 71-83 cm 18″ 58-61 cm XL
6`1`-6`6` 191-198 cm 29`-34` 73-86 cm 19″ 61-63 c XXL

city biker

How to calculate your potential bike size

In addition to the different bike sizes shown in the charts above, you may want to do your own calculations before choosing your perfect bike size. Follow the simple instructions below to calculate the frame size of your perfect bike:

Step One: Remove your shoes and stand with your legs apart, about 15-20 cm (6” – 8”) from each other. Then use a meter rule or a tape to measure the height from the ground to your crotch.

Step Two: What kind of bike do you want to purchase? At this stage, you need to decide whether you want a mountain bike, road bike, or a city/commute bike. After making this important decision, the next thing to do is to calculate the right frame size for that particular bike you are interested in. Let assume you want a road bike; road bikes come in different sizes such as extra small (XS), small (S), medium (M), large (L), extra-large (XL), or double extra (extra extra) large (XXL). The next step will help you determine the best bike for you.

Step Three: Bring out your calculator and carefully do the calculations as follows:
City bike – Leg inseam (cm) x 0,685 = Your perfect frame size
Mountain bike – Leg inseam (cm) x 0,66 = Your perfect frame size
Road bike – Leg inseam (cm) x 0,70 = Your perfect frame size
Let assume your leg inseam is 80cm, then the perfect frame size for your right road bike size is 56 cm. According to the chart above, your perfect bike will be a small-sized road bike.

a girl and a bike

Other ways to choose the perfect bike for yourself

Check out these other methods for selecting the best bike sizes:

(1) Talk to a bike expert: If you find using the bike size chart and the simple calculations above a bit difficult, you can approach a bike expert who will be able to help you select the right bike for you. Visit a bike shop in your neighborhood, join a cyclist association, or befriend a reliable and experienced rider. Anyone in each of the categories listed above can relieve you of any concerns about which bike to go for.

(2) Discover the right saddle height: The most common mistake among cyclists is that they settle for bikes that have wrong saddle heights. Getting the right saddle height is very essential in enjoying a pleasurable ride. Here are some problems you may face if you mistakenly chose a wrong saddle height: If it’s too low, you will not be able to have enough power on the pedal. Take for instance, while racing a mountain bike, if the saddle falls one inch below the normal, you may end up losing about 25-50% of your pedaling force. If you are racing against other cyclists, it is imperative that you fix your bike’s saddle height issue before starting the race. Or else you may lose the race because of inability to use your maximum force. Outlined below are the processes for fixing saddle height problem:

  • With your elbow, lean to a wall while sitting on the bike. It is also possible for someone to help you do this.
  • Put your leg to lowest point but parallel to the ground.
  • Change the height of your saddle by moving it up or down until you have nice bend behind your knee. This should be about 30 °; you don’t have to be bothered about getting the exact angle.
  • Test out your ride to discover if it feels good. If not, you can still adjust it until you get the perfect saddle height. You can also adjust the seat to rear and front.
  • Don’t forget to mark down on your bike the right saddle height, if you have found it. This will save you time next time you want to fix that problem.

man riding a bike in a cloudy landscape

How to know that your bike size isn’t the perfect one

There are five unique ways you can detect that the bicycle you have got isn’t the best one for you. On most occasions, people just purchased the bikes recommended to them by bike shop owners or experts. Sometimes, the shop owners are only interested in selling the bikes they have in stock and do not necessarily care about whether they are the best ones for the buyers or not. In such a situation, these four signs will let you know that you have got a wrong-sized bike:

  • Back pain: If you ceaselessly suffer from back pain, there is every possibility that your new bike isn’t the perfect one for you. Something may be wrong with its frame size, saddle, and other parts that do not match your preferred bike.
  • Too-high saddle: When your new bike’s saddle is too high for riding comfort, you probably have spent your hard-earned money on a wrong bike size.
  • Too-low saddle: A bike with too-low saddle will be difficult to ride, and you may have to struggle every time you are the bike.
  • Changes in the bike’s stem: If you notice that your new bike has some changes in its stem, it means that the current frame isn’t the original one, and you may have to undertake further stem changes to make the bike useful for you. In this case, you are already creating a situation whereby the bike will be subjected to continuous mechanical fixings, a condition that could make it break down very soon.

What to do to a bike with a wrong size?

Once you discovered that the bike you have bought wasn’t the perfect size for you, you can ask the shop owner to change it to the right one for you. But if you are unwilling to let go of that bike, maybe because you like its color or design, here are some actions you can take to fix the size issue:

  • You can move your bike’s saddle to the front or rear—this will resolve a headache you may have about the pedaling force. To enjoy a bike, you must place yourself in a situation whereby you can exert enough force that will make the bike move at the desired speed. Badly located saddle prevents smooth riding and it may completely discourage you from participating in a race or other events that require a huge amount of pedaling force.
  • You should think of buying a longer or shorter stem—This arrangement changes your body position and puts you in the right frame to pedal smoothly and enjoyably.
  • You should buy a longer seat post—This is also about being seated in the right position so that your legs can move freely and comfortably as required. If you are a short cyclist and your bike’s seat is too high for you, you will surely have to endure a lot of pain during cycling.

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