How to Measure and Choose a Bike Size

How to Measure and Choose a Bike Size (Methods & Guide)

Visiting a bike store means you get to try out the bike before making the purchase. But ordering online means that you have to know the size that works best for you. For many, this can be a difficult decision to make. After all, visiting a store that sells bikes means getting to test them first-hand, so you can find the one that works best for you.

However, many people either do not have the time or are not within a reasonable distance of stores which sell the type of bikes that they want. This is why purchasing bikes online has become so much more popular. Buying online (Amazon link) means you can search the widest possible range of bikes for your needs and use the time you have available.

Going online has its issues as well because you cannot actually try out the bike until it arrives at your door and is fully assembled. But there are ways to ensure that you get what you need even when you cannot test it out yourself. Getting the right bike size online means following a few proven methods, so that the bike which arrives at your home is well suited for you.

Why Frame Size is Important

For many years, people had little choice in the frame size of the bikes they purchased. There were a few different sizes, each of which had considerable range which meant that finding the right one may not have been possible. Today, with so many different sizes available and the bike seat adjustment makes it far easier to find the proper size. Understanding why frame size means so much will help you choose the right one for your needs.

Better Control: When you are riding properly with the appropriate bike size, you are in more control of the bicycle. An improper size means having to fight for more control of the bike, especially in rough terrain or when making turns. This means that you have less control when the unexpected happens. Getting the right size means being in better control.

Comfortable: Arguably the most important reason next to control is comfort. The right size means that your legs are extending the proper distance and your weight is well distributed. This means that you can ride for a long time without experiencing pain or numbness. Plus, you can lean forward or sit back to change positions easily.

Versatility: Depending on the nature of the bike and how you intend to use it, the right size will make all the difference. For example, for a mountain bike you might be tempted to go with a smaller size if your plan on rolling over terrain that is rough and unpredictable. A smaller frame gives your bike a greater amount of nimbleness that provides for more control.

Conversely, a taller bike might be more suitable for road conditions as you can stretch out your legs better and ride with less stress. Ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to picking the right bike for your needs.

Methods of Choosing Bike Size

Now that you know the benefits, there are a few methods that you can use to ensure the bike is the right size when it comes to your door.

Bike Charts: After you have chosen the type and manufacturer of the bike, you can use their charts to determine which size is right for you. This is a simple, accurate means of getting the right size as it relates directly to the bike that you are going to purchase. If you have yet to narrow down the choice to one, then use the bike charts of the different manufacturers to get a good idea of what size works best for you.

Height: Your height is the determining factor when it comes to getting the right bike size. The bike size is determined from the pedals up to the top of the frame where the seat rests in the lowest position. Remember that you can adjust the seat up in case you are a little taller. What follows is a simple chart that will help you determine the proper bike size;

  • 4’11” to 5’3”: 15” or Bike Size 13
  • 5’3” to 5’7”: 16” or Bike Size 15
  • 5’7” to 5’11”: 17” or Bike Size 16
  • 6’ to 6’2”: 19” or Bike Size 17
  • 6’2” to 6’4”: 21” or Bike Size 19

If you are taller than 6’4”, then the bike size will be 21” or more. You will need a special chart to determine which is right for you. The same is true if you are less than 4’11” tall.

Measure Yourself: Consider that two people of the same overall height may have legs that are different in length. Take off your shoes, stand with your legs about 6” to 8” apart, and measure the distance from the ground up to your crotch. This will be the standard you use to find the right bike frame size for your needs.

Next, you need to multiply your measurement to the type of bike that you want. Of the three main types, city, mountain, and road, there are some differences which are accounted by the following;

  • City: Your measurement x 0.68 = Frame Size
  • Mountain: Your measurement x 0.66 = Frame Size
  • Road: Your measurement x 0.70 = Frame Size

Keep in mind that the final numbers may not be completely exact, but they are usually as close as you can get. You’ll want to double check such measurements and use bikes you may own as a standard by which to make your online purchase. Plus, once you get the bike, going to a store to have it fit for you by a professional will also help.


Choosing the right bike size takes a little work, especially if you are ordering online. However, by following one or more of the aforementioned methods, you can find the bike that works best for your needs.

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