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, kid’s bikes, hybrid bikes, balance bike, 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.
What Size Bike Should I Get?
The age-old question asked by bike shoppers is always, “What size bike should I get?”
Finding a bike style that you love is easy, but finding a bike that fits is a little more difficult. Many people consider bike sizing a complicated hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. When all the components are weighed, you can obtain the bike sized correctly for your body and needs.
Let’s dive in!
Method #1: Bike Size Chart by Height
This formula is very simple: Your height / Bike Size
Here is an easy to follow bike size chart by height. Many people also call the following information a bike frame size chart. The chart takes into consideration your height and the size of the bike’s frame. Clearly, certain heights compliment certain frames. The following table is the criteria followed to make the bike size determination.
Bike Size Chart/Bike Frame Size Chart
|4’11” to 5’3” (150-160 cm)||13 to 15 inches|
|5’3” to 5’7” (160-170 cm)||15 to 16 inches|
|5’7” to 5’11” (170-180 cm)||16 to 17 inches|
|6’0” to 6’2” (180-188 cm)||17 to 19 inches|
|6’2” to 6’4” (188-193 cm)||19 to 21 inches|
|6’4” or taller (193+ cm)||21 plus inches|
Please remember, if you have the correct frame size for your height then other components on the bike can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. Also with most bikes, the handlebars and saddle post rise and lower.
Method #2: Calculate Your Bike Size
In this method we will use simple math to find out the correct bicycle size.
Formula: Bike Type x Leg inseam = Your frame size (in centimeters)
Just follow this simple formula to get the right bicycle size:
- Bike Type: Select your bike type from the following:
- Road bikes – x 0.70
- Mountain bikes – x 0.685
- City bike – x 0.685
- Measure your leg inseam: Remove your shoes and stand straight with your legs about 15-22 cm apart, now measure the length of your leg from the ground to your crotch as shown in the picture.
- Road bike – 0.70 x Leg inseam = Your frame size (cm)
- Mountain bike – 0.685 x Leg inseam = Your frame size (cm)
- City bike – 0.685 x Leg inseam = Your frame size (cm)
For example, if your leg inseam is 65cm and you are looking for Road bike, the correct size would be 65 x 0.70 = 45.5cm
Method #3: Bike Size Charts
1. Road Bike Size Chart
Road bikes are traditionally sized by their seat tube dimension. That is the distance from the top of the seat tube to the center of the bottom bracket cup. However that is not the only dimension you should pay attention to when size your bike. The top tube measurement along with the length of the stem and reach of the handlebars are also important in determine the angle of your back as you are riding. For some riders a long reach will have them hunched over into the bike and thus also being more aerodynamic. For casual riders a less aggressive angle means more miles in the saddle and less pain on the back.
The seat tube is measured in centimeters usually starting on the small end around 46cm and ending in the large end somewhere around 64cm. You can imagine the longer this distance is the longer all the measurements on the frame are going to be as well as bike manufacturers have a pretty good range of frames corresponding with the different sizes of people out there.
Below is a road bike sizing guide. Now, sizing guides are not the be all end all of your bike fit. You might find that a bigger bike fits you better in top tube dimensions or you just the like the aggressive feel of a smaller bike.
My track bike is a 56cm, my touring bike a 54cm and my road bike a 53cm. Different types of bikes have different feels to them based on the different measurements of the tubing.
Following is a road bike size chart that matches your height to the bike’s size.
|XXS (44)||4’8” to 5’1” (142-155 cm)|
|XS (48)||5’1” to 5’4” (155-163 cm)|
|S (51)||5’4” to 5’7” (163-170 cm)|
|M (54)||5’7” to 5’10” (170-178 cm)|
|L (56)||5’10” to 6’0” (178-182 cm)|
|XL (58)||6’0” to 6’3” (182-190 cm)|
|XXL (60)||6’3” to 6’5” (190-196 cm)|
|XXXL (62)||6’5” to 6’9” (196-206 cm)|
Some manufacturers have started using small, medium, and large for road bikes as well as changing the road bike geometry by putting in a more sloping top tube like a mountain bike. Sizing conventions like this can accommodate a wider range of riders; all they need is a longer seat post. The Cannondale Synapse and GT Grade are good examples of this. If you ride an extra small you might have to sacrifice the 700c wheels for 650b’s.
- The 7 most important road bike sizing tips
- Why you need to worry about road bike sizing and fitting
- How to size your cyclocross bike (Cyclocross will follow the same conventions as road bikes.)
- Another road bike size guide (from Evans Cycling)
2. Mountain Bike Size Chart
Mountain bike sizing conventions are different than road bikes depending on the age of the bike. Pre 2000’s bikes used the same A-frame geometry of road bikes, but used a smaller diameter wheel and pulled the bottom brackets further from the ground. They made use of longer cranks to get leverage for those steep climbs and flat handlebars for more side to side control. Old bikes would come in sizes like 16.5 inches, 17.5 inches, 19 inches and 21 inches. It wasn’t until the 2000’s when major manufacturers switched it up to a small, medium, and large convention, did mountain biking and modern technology really take off.
Of course you want to find what is comfortable but think of smalls as for people who are 4’11” to 5’4”, mediums are for those 5’5” to 5’9”, and larges for those 5’10” to 6’3”. There are extra large and extra small frames for those of you on either side but you may have to sacrifice tire size for a comfortable fit. What I mean is someone who is really small may not be able to comfortably ride a 29er.
Mountain bike seating positions are usually less aggressive than road bikes and plus the bike does most of the work so there is no need to be hunched over churning super hard. Your head needs to be up looking for obstacles and dangers. Find a bike you feel comfortable on and make sure you are satisfied before you pay… and of course use the following bike size table!
Mountain Bike Size Chart
|4’10” to 5’2”||13” to 14”|
|5’2” to 5’6”||15” to 16”|
|5’6” to 5’10”||17” to 18”|
|5’10” to 6’1”||19” to 20”|
|6’1” to 6’4”||21” to 22”|
|6’4” to 6’6”||23” to 24”|
Important Things to Know When Sizing a Mountain Bike
Sizing mountain bikes is a little different than other bikes. With MTB, you truly need a ride that fits your body because you might be traversing some perilous trail conditions. You simply ride a mountain bike differently than you do other bikes.
When you are pedaling, and your foot reaches the bottom of the stroke then you will only see a slight bend in your leg. Ideally, your leg should be 80 to 90 percent extended so you can pedal with all the power of your leg muscles to climb hills and ride a cross rough flat terrain.
Mountain bikes are available in standard sizes, but the bike’s geometry is a bit different and the way you ride matters. Also, you must think about the top tube length, your stand over clearance, seat height, and the reach because you are not going to be riding a mountain bike like you do a road bike.
Looking Closer at Bike Sizes
Let’s take a closer look at the mountain bike sizing considerations before we explore the size chart:
- Top Tube (effective top tube ETT) is the horizontal distance that is between the seat tube and the head tube. You will look at this tube when measuring the mountain bike.
- Reach is the expanse between the bottom bracket that runs to the center head tube. Most riders use the reach to measure the mountain bikes’ length. Remember, if you are descending on steep single-track then you want to feel the bike’s length as you ride.
- Stand over is height is completely different from a mountain bike than other bikes. With others, a two-inch clearance will suffice but with a mountain bike, you want at least three to five inches between your crotch and the top tube. When measuring the height, you will want to wear whatever shoes you regularly cycle in to get a true indicator of the bike’s size.
The reason for the added standover inches needed with a mountain bike is so you can jump free of the bike. You don’t know when a tough trail ride can go wrong and you can start to tumble. You want to jump free of the bike which means having adequate inches between you, the bike’s bar, and the saddle.
The Top Bar of the Mountain Bike and Size
One factor that might change the inches required is if the slope of the top bar is extreme which would provide you with the needed room to safely ride the bike. Therefore, the standover height is not a true indicator that the mountain bike fits your body. You must take all the other considerations into account when shopping for the correct mountain bike size.
However, when you descend on a trail, your seat should be in a lowered position that is about 3 inches different than in the ascent position. It is not uncommon for most mountain bike enthusiasts to ride with a dropper seat-post which allows you to raise or lower the saddle with a push of a button so you can quickly adjust your ride to the terrain without ever having to dismount.
Understanding Sizing Women’s Mountain Bikes
Women are typically narrower in the shoulder than men and many also have longer legs than their torso. You can purchase women-specific mountain bikes that have narrow handlebars and compact/shorter frames. However, many women do not require a female mountain bike and instead opt to ride men’s’ MTBs
Learning Sizing Kids Mountain Bikes
Mountain biking is fun for the entire family, you and old alike. Many parents want to buy a bike that is larger, so their child has time to grow into it. However, when riding backroad single-track it is important to have a bike that fits your child. Your little one should be comfortable riding the bike. Stand over height for a child’s mountain bike should average two to four inches clearance.
When your child sits on the bike, they should have their legs slightly bent when they reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. Also, when sitting on the bike they appear in an upright position while holding the handlebars.
3. Women’s Mountain Bike Size Chart
As mentioned, some women prefer a mountain bike designed specifically for their feminine size. Overall, the frame is normally just narrower on a female MTB? However, other women might prefer the standard MTB sizes (often referred to as men’s bike sizes).
Women’s Mountain Bike Size Chart
|4’10” to 5’2”||13” to 14”|
|5’2” to 5’6”||15” to 16”|
|5’7” to 5’9”||17” to 18”|
|5’10” to 6’1”||10” +|
4. Hybrid Bike Size Chart
Hybrid bikes are popular for commuting and leisure riding. Many have MTB styling, but the tires are always very narrow and smooth. Unlike a road bike, a hybrid has flat handlebars. Below is a chart that will help you find the right size hybrid bike to meet your needs. Also, when you stand over the hybrid bike, you should have a minimum one-inch clearance between your crotch and the top of the bike.
Hybrid Bike Size Chart
|4’10” to 5’2”||13” to 14”|
|5’2” to 5’6”||15” to 16”|
|5’6” to 5’10”||17” to 18”|
|6’1” to 6’4”||19” to 20”|
|6’4” to 6’6”||23” to 24”|
5. Bike Size Chart for Kids
Kid’s bikes are a little harder to size and at times, a little easier. First, some disclaimers; does the fit have to be perfect?
You are going to spend so much money trading up bikes year after year to try and keep your child on the perfect size bike. Cycling can be an extremely expensive sport and kids change their minds all the time about what they want to do. I think you should support them in their endeavors but no need to break the bank. A common strategy is just to get things a little bigger and let them grow into it. I see no reason why that strategy shouldn’t work here.
Kid’s bikes are so small, that the measurement you often end up looking at is wheel size. They have bikes with 12in, 14in, 16in, 18in, 20in and 24in wheels. If any of these frames seem too small then they might be able to fit a small adult 26in wheel size bike. I am not sure that someone under 4’11” could comfortably ride a 700c wheel whatever the frame size may be. Keep these things in mind when you are looking and make sure to try out a few options.
Below, you will find a basic bike size chart for kids:
|Height||Age||Bike Wheel Size|
|3’1” to 3’3” (90-100 cm)||3 to 4||12”|
|3’3” to 3’7” (100-110 cm)||4 to 5||14”|
|3’7” to 4’0” (110-120 cm)||5 to 8||16” to 18”|
|4’0” to 4’5” (120-135 cm)||7 to 9||20”|
|4’5” to 4’9” (135-145 cm)||8 to 11||24”|
As you can see from the above chart, children’s bikes are measured by wheel size. Remember, sizing is important with a child’s bike because if it is too big or small then the kid will have a hard time balancing correctly.
- Guide to kids bike sizes and bike size charts for kids (Everything you need to know.. literally!)
- The worlds biggest reseller of kids bikes
- How to find the correct bike size for your kids
3 Easy Steps to Calculate Your Bike Size
Sizing a bike isn’t difficult.
You’ll need a tape measure to complete the task. Without a doubt, you will also need a calculator. Three easy steps to calculate your bike size: Stand with your shoes off so your legs are spaced 15 to 20 centimeters apart and now measure from your crotch to the ground. Choose the bicycle type Calculate your bike’s size based on the following:
- City bike: Leg inseam x 0.685 = bike frame size
- Mountain bike: Leg inseam x 0.66 = bike frame size
- Road bike: Leg inseam x 0.70 = bike frame size
If you don’t enjoy math, then you can always use a free online bike calculator to determine your bike’s size. You simply input your measurements and the bike type you want to buy calculates the perfect size to fit your needs.
Important factors to know:
What size of bike you get depends on a lot of things. You’ll want to take these crucial factors into consideration to ensure you buy the correct size bike for your needs.
Height and Inseam
Your physical height and the length of your inseam matters when picking out a bike. Interestingly, everyone has unique body styles. A man who stands 6’2” might have a very long torso and only have an inseam of 32” but another man who is the same height might have a very short torso with long legs which makes him sport an inseam of 36”. The same is true for the physical build of a woman or child.
If the bike’s frame size is not correct, then you might have a hard time pedaling the bike and feeling uncomfortable. When a bike is too small, your legs and torso become cramped and you cannot fully extend your leg to maximize cycling power. However, if the frame is too large then you simply won’t attain the leg rotation required to successfully pedal at higher speeds. The best way to check the frame size of the bike is to simply stand over the frame. Make sure both of your feet are on the ground. Ideally, you should have an inch between your crotch and the bike’s frame if it is a hybrid, racing, or touring bike.
Mountain Bike Frame
If the bike is a mountain bike, then the distance should be about 2” between your crotch and frame. Remember, when you are measuring the bike’s frame for a child, then have your little one sit on the bike’s seat and place only the balls of their feet down on the ground while still being able to reach the handlebars in comfort. A child should have only 25 to 50mm between their crotch and the frame’s top bar when standing over the bike in the above-mentioned position.
Position of the Seat
All riders are different. Many like the seat tilted a tad bit forward and others like a more backward position. However, the most popular remains level. When measuring a bike’s fit, have the seat positioned the way you prefer so that your feet rest on the pedal and when you extend your legs, your feet almost completely touch the ground. Your hips should never sway from side to side to enable your feet to reach the pedals or ground.
- How To Fit Your Bicycle
- How to set-up the seat height and saddle position on your MTB
- How to get your road bike position right + seat position
- How to adjust your bike seat (with pictures)
Handlebars and Their Position
A bike that fits right has handlebars in the correct position. When positioned incorrectly, you can suffer from back pain, wrist soreness, and shoulder discomfort from the strain. With racers or touring bikes, you will find that the handlebars are the width of your shoulders. Road bikes have their handlebars positioned approximately an inch below the top of the saddle. A mountain bike has even lower handlebars to create a greater center of gravity. Hybrids have a high seat, so your body is positioned in a very upright fashion. All these positions are not written in stone. Most bikes allow you to adjust the handlebars. When sizing a bike, you must think about the handlebars and how it fits your body and riding style.
Wheel Size Measurements
Wheel size is measured by the diameter of the wheel when the tire is mounted. You’ll notice the size written on the sidewall in most cases. The size of the wheel is dependent on the primary use of the bike. You’ll find that most mountain bikes have a 26” or 29” wheel. A larger sized person who enjoys mountain biking often opts for a 29” wheel. The tires on mountain bikes are also wide.
Hybrids, road bikes, and touring bikes usually have a 29” wheel that is slim (only 18-25mm). The large wheel enables the bike to roll effortlessly across the pavement. Years ago, road bikes regularly had 27” wheels. BMX bikes typically come in two sizes: 20” or 24” wheels. The wheel size is a huge deciding factor in the bike’s size. A child’s bike’s wheels differ but are usually 12” wheels for a child age 3 go 5, 16” tires for a child age 5 to 7, 20” for a child 7 to 10 years old, 24” or 26” for those 10 and over.
FAQ: The Most Common Questions
What if You Fall Between Frame Sizes? Let’s Say Between Medium and Large Frame?
If you fall between bike sizes, then you can choose between a medium or large frame if it is adjustable. However, if you have long arms, then you might want to go with a large frame to a more comfortable ride and control the bike.
Is the Correct Bike Fit Really That Important?
Your bike should fit the way that you feel comfortable riding. Yes, you can watch the pros ride and want to emulate their style, but you might not be up to that form. If you sit too far forward across the handlebars, then your knees could start hurting. Achilles pain is another common complaint. Numbness and hot spots might also plague your body. Also, if your placement is too far back, then your muscles won’t transfer power accordingly. All factors must be taken into consideration when picking the correct bike fit.
What About Women? Do I Need a Women’s Bike Size Chart?
Above, you’ll find a helpful sizing chart for women. A woman’s bike design usually takes into consideration the narrow frame of a woman, but this does not mean that you must ride a woman’s bike if your body is larger or you are more comfortable with a bigger bike. Also, take a few moments to check out the women’s bike size chart above if you feel that you would be more comfortable with a bike designed for a woman’s body.
How Do You Know When You Purchased the Wrong Size Bike?
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.
What About a Bike Size Chart for Touring Bikes?
Okay, let’s talk touring bikes, a close cousin to road bikes and commuters. Many things go into making a bike comfortable for you but first, it starts with the geometry of the frame. Touring bikes often have longer stays (longer wheelbase) because the rider needs to able to carry panniers on the rear rack without clipping them with every pedal revolution. However, if you have longer legs and smaller feet like I do, the long wheel base isn’t necessarily an issue. In fact some people tour on road bikes which have even shorter wheel bases.
You will be putting some serious miles on the bike so you need to imagine yourself being in the saddle for hours at a time and 5 days a week or more. You don’t want to be reaching too far or be hunched over, but at the same time being directly vertical is going to bring all your weight down into your saddle which is hard over long rides.
I like to think I ride with my back at about a 75 degree angle to the ground. The keeps some weight in my hands, makes coming out of the saddle for hills easier, and being mostly upright I have a pretty good understanding of the world around me. However this is completely variable and the reason why you see touring handlebars with multiple positions; so the rider can change hand positions and stretch the back, or sit upright and relieve some pressure.
It is important to feel comfortable so make sure you have your bike dialed in before you get into a habit of riding it with the wrong saddle height, handlebar reach, or cleat placement. Your body adjusts and even the wrong fit bikes can feel comfortable for some time, but beneath the surface it is doing more damage to your muscles, bones, and soft tissues.
A quick story to illustrate my point; my friend got a professional bike fitting for his first major road bike purchase. I’m talking laser levels, ergonomic stationary bikes, video cameras, $800; the whole shebang. Fast forward about 3 years and 1000’s of miles on this bike, he takes it in for a routine seasonal maintenance. After 2-3 short rides, he starts getting major pain in his knee. Sensing something was up, he takes it back into the shop and finds that one of his pedal clip spacers to raise the height of his clip for his shoes was left off when he picked the bike up. Something as small as few millimeters of space greatly affected how he felt on the bike and ended up sidelining him for 3-4 weeks of recovery.
How to size a Cruise or Cross bike?
These are all different names for basically the same type of bike. Imagine a bike ideal for commuting with an upright position, wider tires, disc brakes and flat handlebars. Most will be sized using the small, medium, and large convention but you may find some outliers. These bikes are often cheap and oddly enough able to fit people more comfortably outside the normal ranges. I work with them and I routinely ride larges and extra larges with no real problems.
I am 5’8” and these bikes should be much too big for me but with the proper saddle height they become just fine. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing though. Cruisers are more of a one size fits all; you can just get a different seat post and be fine because the bike is not engineered for performance. These bikes are only meant to be ridden a few miles at a time so don’t spend too much time shopping around and not on your bike enjoying the ride.
Do I Need a Bike Wheel Size Chart?
Well, your bike’s wheel sizes are dictated by the type of bike. You’ll find three key measurements when it comes to your bike’s wheels.
- Diameter: All bicycle wheels are grouped by their individual diameter. The measurement is in millimeters. It runs from the rim edge across the hub axle to the other rim edge.
- Rim Width: Rim width is obtained by measuring the inside of the rim’s edges. The measurement will also be in millimeters. Also, this is the measurement that lets you know how the width of your bike’s tires.
- Tire Width: The measurement is obtained by measuring across the tire when it is inflated. This is the measurement that you use to determine the rim width that you can use.
In this article, we have outlined a wide array of sizing charts and pointers on what size bike you need. Above all, you will be able to use the bike size chart for your needs so you can find the perfect ride. Whether you are trying to size a road bike, mountain bike, or kid bike, the charts outlined are all beneficial. Remember, having the correct size is imperative so you enjoy a comfortable and fulfilling ride. Whether you are ordering online or buying from a bike shop, this bike size guide will undoubtedly prove indispensable.