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The Great Outdoors beckon and you want to answer the call.
There only remains the small but crucial matter of choosing a bike of the right size. Why? It’s because you don’t want to end up with sore muscles at the end of a Nature saunter! Or worse, serious injury!
The right size bike lets you scan the path – far out into the distance. It is a recommended part of most bike riding rules. If it were mountain bike riding, this habit of checking your trail’s quality and unique features is required.
The right size bike quite literally does not give you a pain in the ass. As you ride, you should be able to protect your pelvis, neck, and back. Your contact points with the bike – the handlebars, seat post, and pedals should be within your reach, angling intuitively to your body’s measurements. If your bike’s stem height makes you stoop too much, you will have a sore neck. The sensitive muscles of the neck cannot and should not have your shoulders scrunching it too much.
The right size bike lets you bring the greatest power you can muster to the pedals. The seat post gives you a powerful perch while letting the length and muscle power of your legs translate without strain through your feet. The feet reach the ground comfortably or rest on the pedals.
Also consider…the where, how much, and what with regard to your ride
Before jumping into the depths of sizing, decide on a few things like riding stance and terrain. These factors determine the type of bike you will be most at home. Determine whether your riding is a mere hobby or a long-term activity with several hours you spending several hours a day on the bike.
And last but not the least, don’t be afraid of numbers. Be ready to do a few quick mental hi-jinks. 1 inch is roughly 2.54 centimeters. 1 foot is roughly 30.5 centimeters. If you measure 5 feet 10 inches, that would be almost 178 cm and a 6-footer is nearly 183 cm.
On to bike sizing now – 7 methods and tools at your disposal
This is similar to a thumb-rule – you just follow the numbers:
You keep this chart as a reference for any type of bike and you can be sure that you won’t be too wrong.
Stand with your legs less than hip-distance apart. This comes to about 8 inches or 20 cm apart. This stance makes it easy to measure your inseam length.
Multiply your inseam length by:
This is a rather elaborate method. Consult the following tables for each type of bike you are about to choose.
Road bikes are best suited to racing within city roads and sub-urban paved streets. They are lithe and low on frame weight. Most of these models feature drop handlebars that oblige you to lean forward, giving you an aerodynamic advantage. You can glean the best of their performance on tarred roads and decently-cobbled lanes. They allow you to spend lots of time on the road.
|Rider height (cm)||Frame size (cm)||Manufacturer’s size|
Remember that various manufacturers might give different names. Not every bike maker would feature all the size ranges. You wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are bike makers who make machines exclusively for plus-sized people, battery-powered rides for those eco-conscious riders, and those who undertake cross-country trips.
Commuter Bikes and Hybrids
As the name indicates, these bikes are great for getting around. Most models even append a rear cargo rack or a pannier at the front for you to dump your satchel, beach gear, or extra load. This sizing also works for most cruiser bikes. The common feature among commuters, hybrids, and cruiser bikes is that they prioritize your comfort.
|Rider height (cm)||Frame size (inch)||Manufacturer’s size|
|196 and above||24||XXL|
Mountain bikes have three major tire sizes: 26”, 27.5”, and 29”. The 29-inch tires are best at aiding the suspension that mountain bikes are valued for. They offer clearance from marshy, moist terrain and help in accelerating so you get the full heady experience of scaling a mountain-side. Mountain bikes also have longer wheelbases – length between the front and rear axles. This gives the bike stability. Even so, they can turn tight corners and endure sudden drops.
|Rider height (cm)||Frame size (inch)||Manufacturer’s size|
Women’s bikes are not just smaller. They are also more compact. It is not simply a question of reducing the stack height or wheel-size. It also requires a reduction in the top-tube length, and proportionately, the angle of the head tube and seat post.
|Rider height (cm)||Frame size (inch)||Manufacturer’s size|
These are the four most common women’s mountain bike sizes made by bike makers. They cover women’s height ranges quite comprehensively.
In this method of calculating ideal bike size, you take expertise offered up on Amazon.com. Read up the complete guide. It has tips for both adults and children. It takes into account the inseam length and height of an individual and offers a range of bike frame sizes that are ideal for each bracket.
If you want a one-stop place where you can figure out bike size, visit competitivecyclist.com.
Another such tool is www.ebicycles.com. Their simple, no-nonsense form can be filled in inches or centimeters once you pick the type of bike.
You input your gender, bicycle type you are in the market for, as well as your physical attributes.
This tells you that before buying a bike, you need to be sure of the terrain you shall ride on.
When you consult JensonUSA to determine the bike size that fits you, they go all out. They give you many things to think about ranging from the style of the handlebar to the nitty-gritty of how you plan to use the bike.
They also take into account your fitness condition and special pre-existing conditions concerning your back and neck. Yes, it’s really that detailed. Jenson USA provides an infographic in which you input as many as 6 measurements.
Based on these inputs, the calculator gives you a recommended top-tube length, seat-tube length, stem length, and an ideal range for seat height. It tells you the maximum stand-over height you can mount comfortably and finally makes a recommendation for frame size.
Further still, if you need to consult live help, you can call their advisors for recommendations on frame size, models, and gear.
This is where you use Amazon.com’s expert home services. The page declares the estimated cost of the service straight up. You get to order the service at your home or in-store.
Do note this is something you order after you buy a bike. The expert can come in and fit the bike to your exact measurements.
You will be asked to fill in the bike’s specifications, make, and model. It helps if you can furnish a product URL so that the professional scheduled to visit you brings exactly the right tools.
Ideally, you would use this service before you unbox your new bike. A local bike-shop professional would answer your call and fit your bike to your unique measurements and needs.
Wheloo’s Size Chart
This table gives a general guideline as to how you can choose a bike. As you read product pages, take into account top-tube length as well – it helps to find a suitable reach length. At this point, we don’t bother to furnish a manufacturer’s size denomination, even an indicative one. This is because the naming is not as important as meeting these criteria so that you achieve a good fit.
A good fit: If you find that you meet only some of the furnished measures discussed above, don’t despair. If your budget is decently high and if you did your research without impatience, you are sure to find a bike with adjustable seat posts, handlebars, and options within the wheel-size. Yes, you can find all this in a tensile aluminum, carbon fiber, or steel frame.
And of course, the handy ones among you can swap out a stem or seat post if you’re not satisfied with the standard-issue component. This only puts you more in control. Once you figure out building your bike to suit your needs, your options are virtually limitless.
Don’t sweat the bike size, and don’t forget to evaluate the other features such as shifting and braking, suspension capabilities, and looks.
As you scamper to make sure you get a bike of the right fit, don’t ignore crucial specs on the tires and rims. The number of teeth and spokes, the material that makes up the hubs matters too. Alloy rims and hubs add strength and ductility without adding weight.
Tires are a two-pronged affair. The diametric size is the metric you choose based on your height too. 29-inch wheels give great elevation and suspension and can be found on many road bikes as well as mountain bikes.
Pay attention to the thickness of the tire. Width of 2 inches or more means more grip, making your bike better suited to wet roads. The precious grip such a wide, ribbed tire affords works hand-in-hand with the braking system, making your bicycle reliable on challenging terrains and weather.
By the way, if you get hung-up on tire width, you’ve got to check out fat bikes. They could be a treat on snowy, challenging terrain.
The two that matter – stand-over height and top-tube length
Confused between inseam length and stand-over height? The difference is minor. Inseam length measures your inner leg length whereas stand-over height measures the distance between the crotch and the floor (not your foot). Yes, the distance is minor, but it matters.
Look at it this way. If you have an inseam length of 30 inches, a 29-inch stand-over height of the bike you choose fits you perfectly.
For an accurate measure of your inseam length, stand up straight and barefoot. It might help to stand in front of the mirror so you can see if you slouch or tilt. Ask a friend to measure the length from the foot (bottom of the heel) to the crotch. It helps to note this in both inches and centimeters as different bike makers specify metrics on different scales.
Why don’t you measure torso size, you might ask. Sure, measure this too. Measure from the top of the chest bone to the crotch. Next, measure the length of your arms. Add these two and divide by 2. This gives you the top-tube length. Taking this into account gives you a bike of ideal reach length. However, this is secondary compared to the frame size.
Buying online vs. Buying in-store – Where does your judgment work better?
You think of these things and wonder – hey, I should just walk into a store! Not a bad idea at all.
You probably think the friendly salesperson has several tips on choosing a bike. In truth, this is a tiny smokescreen in your mind where you just want to take another’s word for it – someone who’s sold people lots of bikes. But the operative word there is ‘sold’. The salesperson works on commission. They can probably tell you which models sell a lot in number. They’ll tell you which model won the award for the most popular or good-looking bike in the last year. But beyond that, you’re better off looking at statistics online.
When you check out a bike maker’s website, you are treated to their story – the history of how they came to make bikes, the things they learned along the way, and so on. You see their product lines and pages. The true-to-form bike makers often have dedicated pages to each model. They let you see how the model evolves, what the latest specifications are. They even go on to share their love of riding and offer valuable tips along the way. Look at about a half-dozen of these and you get a whole new perspective of where you wish to ride, what you want the bike to be capable of, and more about sizing, enhancements, and upgrades.
At your local store, you are most likely to find store-brand bicycles. You have big-box stores with a limited range of bikes. You do realize that you are cutting down your options by several-fold. When you open your mind to buying online, you can see that bike makers across the world ship literally to your doorstep. At this point, you get to decide if you want to involve the local bike shop in building your bike.