Would you wear a shirt to a party that’s two or more times your size? Or a couple sizes smaller? It’s not enough to match your clothes to the occasion, it’s important to wear the right size to begin with. When it comes to bicycles, you may not get the leery eyes of friends or partygoers when you’re not riding the right size, but your body and overall biking experience will suffer for it. In a way, that’s a lot worse.
To drive what we’ve established above home, when it comes to choosing the right bike frame for your needs, size is definitely important. The frame itself needs to be large and tall enough to provide plenty of leg room and push while small enough to maintain proper balance. Finding the right size when you visit a bike store is no issue as you can try out several models. However, when you are ordering online there is no way to try it out until the bike arrives at your home.
What is a Bike Frame?
The frame is the main structure of the bicycle where the wheels, handlebars, and seat attach. The most common type of riding bike uses what is known as a diamond frame which is a combination of a long triangle shape in front where the front wheel and handlebars connect and a smaller rear triangle where the rear wheel connects. The seat and pedals with gears go on the top and bottom respectively.
There are other types of frames, but the essential shape of the bicycle and its frame has remained roughly the same for well over a century. The major changes have been to the materials used in making the bike frame. Heavier metals such as steel have given way to aluminum and now carbon fiber which are not only lighter, but stronger in some ways. Although different somewhat in shape and materials, the size of the bike frame is the main determination on which one is right for you.
Why the Right Size is Important?
There are good reasons why the bike you ride needs to fit properly. An improper fit, even if it is only off by a couple of inches may have a dramatic effect on your riding experience.
- Improper Balance
- Straining Leg & Back Muscles
- Cramping & Other Body Issues
Maintaining the proper balance is crucial to getting the most out of your bike. Plus, it will help you in staying on the bike when doing turns or going over rough terrain. A proper fit will stretch the legs without straining them. You will keep proper posture which avoids back problems, cramping, and other issues that affect the quality of your ride.
However, even if you are present in the bike shop to get the right fit, you may consider getting assistance from a professional.
A Professional Fit
A specialist can help you get the right bike for your needs in terms of its overall size and fit. Whether you are buying a new bike, a used bike, one from a store you have visited, or online, a bike specialist can provide all the right assistance to ensure that your size matches the bike frame.
Trying the Bike Out in Person
The best way to find the right bike is to ride it yourself much like test driving a vehicle. Look over the different bikes, narrow down your choices to the ones that best fit your needs, then try them out. Be sure the manager of the store knows what you are doing, but either they or someone from the store will be with you when trying out the bike.
Neutral Position: Riding a bike requires sitting upright and bending forward when needed. Sitting upright is a neutral position which should be comfortable. You should be able to maintain proper balance along with control of the bike itself. Bending forward will obviously put some pressure on your neck and back, but that should only be temporary in nature.
Pay Attention to Your Body: When on the bike take note of your body position. Does it strain your back, neck, or legs? If so, then the fit is not right for your needs. Another issue is areas of the body which go numb. This indicates that too much pressure is being put into one place.
You may not be able to pedal far, but you should get a good idea of whether the bike fits your frame or not. You can start with the bike chart from the manufacturer, but nothing beats sitting on the bike itself.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of visiting a bike store that carries the type or manufacture of bicycles that they desire. This means that ordering online will require a different set of standards. If you follow a few steps, you can get the right bike frame size for your needs. By doing a little work, you can save yourself a lot of grief by getting the proper size the first time.
Ordering a Bike Online
Types: Are you looking for a simple road bike, mountain bike, or other type of bike? Everything starts with the type that you want along with the difference in style between men’s and women’s bikes. Once you have made that selection, the next consideration is the manufacturer of the bike if you have a particular style. While knowing all the manufacturers is not necessary, you should consider that each once has their unique sizing chart that will ensure they provide you with the right bike for your size.
Height: The size of the frame will be based on your height. While the fit may not be perfect as differences such as the length of the legs for example, you can get pretty close to the right frame size for your needs. Although there are general charts that will help you get an idea, it is best to use the frame chart from the manufacturer. This is because their frame chart will be based on the bike sizes they offer.
Bike Size: Generally speaking, the taller you are, the larger the bike. Most bikes for adults will fit individuals who range from 4’10” up to 6’6”. If you are shorter or taller than this range, you may need a specially built bike to fit your size. The sizes themselves range from XX-Small to Medium to XX-Large. Keep in mind that there are slight variations between standard bikes and mountain bikes, although the overall range is about the same.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to bike fits. Therefore, a general bike chart will give you a rough idea of the size, but only the chart from the manufacturer should be used when making an order.
A bad bike size won’t necessarily ruin your experience forever, but a continual dose of happy bike rides usually have the right bike size as part and parcel of its equation.