What Size Bike do I need and why does it matter?


2466538473_0552877ea8_zIf you often ask yourself the question “what size bike do I need” then read this post to find out more.Getting the right size of a bike is one of the key factors that you need to put into focus as you choose the right bicycle for yourself or any of your family members. Irrespective of the type or purpose of the bike you intend to buy, sizing remains an indispensable consideration. The reason is if you do not get the correct sizing, all the other factors will not benefit your choice of the bike because you will be unable to use it properly and comfortably.

As a smart buyer, you need to make sure that you have made every effort to get the right sizing before you get out your cash or credit card to make payment for that bike you have elected. The fitting needs to be exact so that you don’t end up with a “loose” oversized bike. You also need to ensure that you don’t choose a bicycle size that is too small for you so that you don’t end up with a “tight” undersized machine that will compromise your level of enjoyment as you cycle. The important thing here is to ensure that you strike a balance between the two extremes.

In this post, I am going to take you through a step-by-step and comprehensive coverage of what it takes to get the right bike size and why it is vital to land on the exact size. As the post progresses, we shall cover the following key areas: fitting the bike; the main components to consider in the sizing matrix; the consequences of lading the wrong bike size; the benefits of getting the right size of bike; valuable tips in how to choose the correct bicycle size; choosing the correct bike size for kids; and the final thoughts about this vital sizing consideration.

Fitting the Bicycle

You can get the correct bike size by using the readily available sizing charts. By making optimal use of charts, you will save yourself the hassles of ending up with the wrong size. You can get these sizing charts on the Web even though every serious bike shop will always provide them free of charge for their customers. But you need to make the final choice based on how comfortable the bike will accommodate you because a chart is a rough guideline. So, make sure that after using the chart, get yourself onto the bike and confirm the comfort and ease of riding that bike.

The main components to consider in the sizing matrix

The choice for the right bike size will encompass different components on the bicycle. This section is going to share with you some of the main ones and why you need to consider them.

8665639618_c7c4bf884b_z  Frame size

The frame is the leading component that you need to put into focus as you settle for the right size of the frame that will meet your biking needs. If your bike frame is too big or too small, you will have difficulties cycling. For example, you will have challenges extending your legs into a complete cycle if your frame is too small. On the other hand, if your bike’s frame is too big for your size, you will also be unable to achieve a complete drive from your leg rotations. So, ensure you strike the right balance.

Seat position

Another part you need to look at is the position of the seat and the post. You need to test the comfort of the saddle’s positioning so that you don’t end up in an uncomfortable sitting and cycling position. Make sure that you adjust the seat and post so that you don’t end up riding in a position that is sliding forward or bending backward. You need the perfect balance so that you can ride without undue pressure on your back. Also, you need to ensure that the position of your saddle allows for your feet to naturally rest on the pedals. Ensure that you have a position that your heaps are not moving to either side of the bike as you strive to reach the pedals.

Handlebars position

Another component you need to look into is the sizing of your bike’s handlebars. This consideration is more valuable for a rookie than it is for a veteran. The reason here is that if an inexperienced rider uses a bike with wrong handlebar sizing, they can end up with backaches, sore arm wrists, and strained shoulders. You also need to take this factor seriously because handlebars are sized based on the overall size of the bike’s frame. However, the width of these bars will vary depending on the type of bike you have decided to buy. For instance, a tour and race bike will have handlebar width that is in harmony with your shoulders, but mountain bicycles have handlebars that are broader than the rider’s shoulders.


Another main area of sizing you need to take care of is the wheels. You will have to look at the size of the wheels based on the kind of the bike you are selecting. The reason here is that different kinds of bikes will have varying wheel sizes. You also need to understand that the sizing of the wheels is measured by its diameter. But it is easier to get the size of the wheels without measuring them because every wheel has its size written on it.
Another factor you will have to put into consideration is the purpose of the bike you want to buy. This is because bicycles are grouped in categories such as touring, off-road, and road bikes. Mountain bikes are known to have smaller wheel sizes that are also wider and stronger compared to other bike types. On the other hand, touring and road bikes have slimmer wheels compared to their mountain bike counterparts. Their rims are also thin and lighter when compared to mountain bicycles.
However, the story is different if you are looking for the correct bike size for your kids. The reason here is that children’s bike frame sizes depend on the age of the kid. They come with little trainer wheels that you will need to adjust to a higher level as the child gains more experience as they ride. You may need to check the size based on the age of your little one and other factors that we shall see in the section I have dedicated to this matter towards the end of this article.

3153577921_a382eaa61d_zBike pedal and crank

Another area of sizing you will need to consider is the pedals and cranks of the bike. All bike pedals come in three different styles, namely toe clip, clip less, and standard. When you get the right size of pedals, you will be assured of transferring riding motion to the bicycle in a manner that is efficient.

What are the consequences of the wrong frame size?

So what is wrong with missing the right bike size after all? There is a lot at stake if you choose a bike that is either too big or too small for you. You need to pay special attention to the handlebar’s stem length and the clearance of the stand over. This section will examine some of the challenges that you will experience when you get the wrong bike frame size.

An oversize bike will give you the following problems:

  •    Backaches: A bike that is too big for you will cause you backaches. The reason here is that you will struggle to reach the handlebars, and this challenge intensifies when you ride for a long time.
  •    Limited stand over clearance: If your bike is too big, you will experience a reduced stand over clearance that will cause to suffer from winces.
  •    Reduced and limited control: Another consequence of riding a bike that is bigger than your size is that you will have limited control over it. When you can’t control the bicycle well, you may end up compromising your own safety and that of other road users.

An undersized bike will cause you these problems

  •    Injury resulting from long cycling sessions: If the frame of your bike is too small for you, you will end up cramping yourself in a small position that will expose you to overall body pains especially if you are riding for a long time.
  •    Toe overlapping challenges: If your bike is too small for you, you will end up with overlapping toes that will clip the front wheel.
  •    Excess stand over clearance: If you land a bike that is too small for you, you will end up with an excessive stand over clearance that will cause you back pains especially if you are engaging in cycling for a long time.

Making the necessary adjustments

But how can you be sure of getting the right frame for yourself or your family members? The best way to be sure is by testing the bike yourself. You need to take time and mount the bicycle yourself and see how comfortable it feels to handle every component of the bike.

You need to test different bicycles in a different environment so that you can know what works best for you. Additionally, you have to ensure that all the contact points of the bike fit well. The handlebars, seat, and pedals need to be just right. You need to fine tune the bicycle by adjusting some of the parts such as the stem and handlebars. However, these adjustments will only benefit you if you get the right size.

6325088077_704c3516fd_zWhy is the right frame size important?Understanding the Benefits

So why is an exact bike size beneficial? In every way!This section will examine why correct sizing is important and the benefits you will get if you land the correct one. Just keep on reading below to learn more about some of these benefits.

  • Enhanced comfort: As a cyclist, comfort is one of the few vital things you cannot compromise or trade away for anything else. Correct fitting will ensure that you ride the bike in a manner that flows well with your biometric features and positioning. The sizing will ensure that you engage your joints and muscles while occupying a comfortable position.
  •    Reduced chances of getting injured: It is not uncommon for riders to get injuries due to riding a bike that is either too small or too big. The right fitting will ensure that you sit well so that you don’t suffer joint, muscle, and back pains by striving to strike your balance as you do your cycling. The reason here is that if you have the right fitting, you will be riding in a neutral position that does not place increased workload on your joints and muscles due to imbalance.
  •    Better performance:Another benefit of getting the right size of the bike is that you will enjoy an enhanced performance. The reason here is that you will be riding in a position that allows you to have a complete scope of engaging your muscles in a balanced manner leading to faster and faster riding.Additionally, you can ride for longer when you are in a more balanced position than if you are in a confined position where you are struggling to reach the handlebars and pedals.
  •    Improved safety and control: When you are riding a smaller or bigger bike, you will always struggle to control it. Lack of proper control of the bike will make the bicycle to start wobbling and losing control in such a manner that you may compromise your safety. But all this can be avoided if you are sitting on a bike that fits you well because you are in full control of things. If you want to know how this principle works, try giving an adult bicycle to a 7-year old boy and see how they will struggle to try to control it.
  • Faster learning for beginners: Another benefit of getting a bike your size is that it facilitates the faster development of cycling skills and techniques. New riders will enjoy riding the bike, and in the process of doing so, it will be easier for them to acquire better riding experience and techniques.  But the story will be different if a rookie is struggling with an oversized bike that they can hardly control. A comfortable riding position is instrumental in facilitating and motivating the learning process.
  •    Long-term savings: When you get a bike sizing that fits you well, you will save yourself a lot of money in the long-term. The reason is that it will be easier for you to find the right size of bike parts in the future. If you were prompted to by the bike based on the design and other factors that don’t include the fitting, you might end up losing money trying to look for spare parts that don’t fit the machine well.
  •    You will enjoy your cycling: Biking is supposed to be an enjoyment session and not another drudgery that you need to endure and suffer as you wait to throw it into the garage. When the fitting is right for you, you will enjoy every moment of it and get all the fun you deserve from your riding adventures.
  •    Reduced overall fatigue: Cycling is an activity that consumes energy, and it will definitely leave you more tired than it found you. However, when you are riding in a comfortable position, you will avoid unnecessary fatigue that arises from riding a smaller or bigger bike.
  •    Reduced foot hotness: If your bicycle’s frame size is right, you will reduce the “hot foot” thing that you will suffer when you ride a bicycle that is not fitting you well.
  •    Lesser numbness in the hands and fingers: If you get the right fitting of the bike frame, you will reduce the amount of numbness you will experience especially if you are riding for a long time.
  •    Lesser saddle discomfort and genital numbness: Another benefit of riding the right size of the bike is that you will cut down on the amount of saddle discomfort that you will experience after a long riding adventure. Additionally, the amount of numbness and discomfort that your “sacred things” on the saddle will undergo will be drastically reduced.
  •    Serenity:If you get the right size of bike and you know that you are going to enjoy the benefits we have covered in the preceding paragraphs, you can rest assured that all will be well as you use your new machine. Peace of mind will be automatic because you will have saved yourself all the avoidable issues we have discussed above.

Some Valuable Tips to help you choose

Are there straightforward tips that you can use to get the right size of bike for you? The answer is a big “yes.” This section is going to share with you some insightful tips that I believe will guide you through the size determination process and help you get the right fitting.

Consider your riding style

One of the factors that you will need to consider before you settle for a bike size is your riding style. If you are a mountain biker, most of the time you will be cycling while bending forward. If you are used to a road bike, you will be spending most of your riding time in an upright position. That is why two riders with the same height, but having different riding styles may still need different bike sizes.

BICYCLE SIZE CHART Your height matters

Your height is another factor that you will need to consider in the size selection equation. You have to take measurements for your height and your inside leg. But how do you do that? You will need to stand against a wall and mark it with a pencil so that it is on the same level with your head’s top. Afterward, you can take measurements from the ground up to the mark you made on the wall.

If you want to measure your inner leg, stand against a wall and hold a book in between your legs into your groin while ensuring that it is flat against the wall.

Bicycle type matters too

Another tip you need to have at your fingertips is the kind of bike you want to buy. For example, if you are going for a road bike that you will need to ride while in an upright position, you will need a bigger size. Likewise, if you are going for a mountain bike that requires aggressive cycling while occupying a forward bending position, you will require a smaller size compared to a road bike. So, you need to keep this consideration in mind as you make the final decision on sizing. Just make sure that whatever bike type you are going to settle for, let it fit you well.

Understand how to measure bicycles

Another tip you need to have at the back of your mind is how different bikes are measured. In most cases, bikes are measured by the length of their seat tube. The measurement starts from the center of the bottom or that of the bolt that is connected to the crank arms. However, the rule does not have a copy paste universal application since there are slight variations in the way it is done based on the type of bike brand in question. The measurement of the bike also varies based on the type of bicycle at hand. For instance, some bicycle types such as mountain bikes are measure in inches or by general descriptions such as large, medium, and small. On the other hand, road bikes are measured in centimeters and descriptive terms such as small, medium, and large. The length of most bikes usually gets longer as their sizes increase even though some brands on the market are known for being either larger or smaller than other brands.

Stand over height

Another thing you need to understand as you make a decision to settle for a particular bike size is the stand over height. This height refers to the tallness of the bicycle’s frame from the ground. This measurement is also expressed in terms of your leg height minus 2 cm. If you want to get this height easily, you have to measure it while wearing your shoes.

What about choosing the correct bike size for kids?

Kids are serious consumers in the biking market, and the equation is not complete without them. In this section, I am going to share with you some of the valuable tips you need as you make the final choice of the right bike size that will serve your child better. Additionally, children are a special category clientele hence you need to pay special attention to their sizing. I have made a list of the things you will need to take care of as you finalize the purchase process of your child’s bicycle.

Don’t over rely on the chart range

Well, I know you may think that I am trying to trash the importance of age as a factor because we have charts that give sizes based on age brackets. On the contrary, I need you to understand that the fact that two kids may be the same age,but that does not automatically mean that they are the same height or size. You need to use the age bracket as a guideline, but you have to make the final decision based on the actual size and height of your kid. Additionally, you have to factor in the inside leg measurement as you get the right size of bike for your little one.

Don’t buy a bike that your child will grow into

Buying oversized things expecting kids to grow into or with them is a common tradition with all parents. This tendency may have some valid application in other areas, but when it comes to bikes, you need to buy a bike that your child will enjoy and use well in the present. The reason here is that a bike has serious safety factors attached to it hence if you buy them bike that is bigger than their size, they may have difficulty managing it. An oversized bicycle will be too cumbersome and wobbling, and it may end up killing your child’s love and passion for bikes.

2076551095_9073fce8e2_z  When in doubt, ask the experts

There is no harm in you asking the right questions from the right person if you are not sure of anything. If there is an issue that is not clear, you have to ask the experts (a good bike shop has trained workers who can advise you) so that you can save yourself avoidable errors that can cost you money and also compromise the safety of your child. Additionally, making consultations will save you many hours of searching the Internet while the answers could be locked up in a 10-minute chat with a specialist. Remember, most of the answers on the Net come from people who you may be rubbing shoulders with on the floor of the bike shop. Don’t forget that your search for answers on the Web may end you with more confusing questions than answers!

Don’t settle for the first bike

Another key that you need at your fingertips is not settling for the first bike your child test rides. You need to test at least three bikes so that you can come up with the best size that suits your child.

Let the child test-ride the bike

Another factor you need to consider as you make the final decision on the correct size of bike for your child is the practicality of the bicycle. After you have put the measurements and all the other considerations into place, you have to get your kid on the bike and see how well it fits them. This is the best way of ascertaining the suitability of the bicycle. You need to check out if the child’s feet can freely touch the ground when they are not cycling.Also, check if the child can ride the bike in a relaxed and controlled manner. In addition, you have to take into account the proportions of your child’s body and their personal riding position.

Closing Remarks

Finding the right bike size is one of the major considerations that you will need to have at your fingertips before you make payment for that bike you have fallen in love with. If all the other factors are fine, but the bike can’t fit you, you can be sure that you will have wasted your hard-earned cash, precious time, and efforts trying to get a machine you won’t be able to use. That is why it is imperative you ensure that you have landed the right frame size that will facilitate the proper usage of the bike.

The benefits of getting the right bike size are many, and cannot be overstated. For instance, a fitting size will give you greater control over the machine; hence you will enjoy better safety on the road as you ride. Additionally, a suitable size will save you unnecessary fatigue after a riding session because you will not be straining to reach the handlebars or pedals.

On the other hand, failing to secure an appropriate bike size has its own load of consequences that you can suffer. For instance, a bike that is not your size will expose you to muscle and back pains because you will need to keep bending forward or backward seeking for an ideal cycling position. Moreover, failure to find the right size of bike frame can reduce the speed of learning for new users because you need a properly fitting bike to help you master the necessary biking skills and techniques.

So, next time you go out shopping for a bike and ask yourself “what size bike do I need” make sure you go for the one that fits you or your family members well. Finalizing your purchase process this way will enable you to enjoy all the benefits that we have shared in this post while avoiding the many consequences of landing the wrong bike size.

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