Bike Sizes: What Size Bike Frame Do I Need - Complete Guide - Honest Bikers

Bike Sizes: What Size Bike Frame Do I Need – Complete Guide

Life is not easy especially with loads of work stress and study pressure. You are often too occupied and submerged in it you barely remember to take care of yourself and end up worn out and frazzled. It’s so very important to do whatever it takes to escape this mundane lifestyle. And what could be more enjoyable and amusing than cycling? Cruising through your neighborhood or a busy street or even amidst mountain or beach on a bike has to be the greatest form of sports. It can also be deemed as a healthy form of exercise. And this low impact physical activity can be enjoyed by people of all ages from kids to adults. Not to mention it is a time-saver, especially if you live in a busy city with insane traffic 24*7. Biking is useful for every aspect. According to a survey, around one billion people ride bicycles every day. Some for recreational purposes, some for transport while some use it for exercise. With the passage of time, different types of bikes for different activities have been introduced. For example road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, BMX/Trick Bike, cyclocross bike, track bike. Tandem and so on. Among these road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes are the most used and common bicycles. Whatever the bike it is, you have to follow some quintessential guidelines; especially when it comes to the size of the respective bike. And these rules should apply for everyone including men, women, and kids as well. In order to determine your bike size, have a look at the exposition below.

How to Measure a Bike’s Frame Size

Bikes are usually measured according to their frame size whereas frame size is solely connected to the length of the seat tube which is basically the vertically part of the frame that is used as a backup of the seat and seat post assembly. The measurement is usually done from the center of the bottom bracket (BB) or the center of the bolt that connects the crank arms. However, this may vary from brand to brand. Some measure to the top where the top tube connects the seat tube or the center of the top tube. Different measurement is used in terms of different bikes. Mountain bikes are measured either in inches or descriptive units (small, medium) while they use centimeters as well as descriptive sizes when it comes to road bikes. Hybrid bikes can be measured I both ways. With the increase of size, bikes get longer (depends on the frame size). This also differs based on brands. There are a few steps which you need to follow in this regard:

Step 1:
Spot the top of the seat tube. This is the point where the seat tube is connected to the bike frame.

Step 2:
Look for the bottom bracket which is basically a cylindrical shaped part at the bottom of the seat tube. This is where the pedals are attached.

Step 3:
Measure the length of the seat tube from the top of the seat tube to the center of the bottom bracket to determine frame size.

Step 4:

You can convert bike measurements if needed.

Measure Your Heights

You will have to measure your height to find the right-sized bike. Here are the basic measurement techniques:
 Your leg inseam- It starts from your crotch where the saddle would be. And ends at your feet.
 Your torso length- It starts from your crotch and ends at the V-shape curve beneath your neck.
 Your arm length- It’s the length from the end of your collarbone to the middle of your closed fist.

You can have these measurements done by yourself or have a friend do this for you.

The types of Bikes

As mentioned earlier, bike sizes differ basing which type of bike you are choosing. For instance, a mountain biker who prefers maneuverable bike and comparatively rough ride might go for a size smaller than the usual size. On the other hand, a cross country cyclist who is on the lookout for a flatter and faster mountain bike might prefer a size larger than usual. It’s more dependent on personal likings, use and comfort as well.

Stand over height

Most bike size charts consider standover height. It determines how tall the frame is from the ground. The measurement ends at the top of the top-tube. However, theoretically standover height is your inseam along with another 1-2 inches for comfortable clearance of the top tube. According to some sources, road bikes require 1-2 inches clearance whereas mountain bikes need 2-4 inches. However, if you are using a bike with a step-through frame, then this measurement doesn’t work because the top tube is already lowered.

Trial and Error

After thoroughly scrutinizing everything, you might dodge a bullet and get yourself the perfect sized bike. However, you can never be sure if you really get the right bike unless you can give it a trial. Not to mention, lots of bikes these days come with the option of seat and height adjustment. So somehow it all comes down to what you feel comfortable and easy with. Sometimes bikes seem accurate sized after you give it a couple of trials because you get comfortable with it. Nonetheless, these basic guidelines should be followed.

As I have already mentioned bike size vastly depends on bike type. So before you get your desired bike, take a look at which size should be accurate for which bike. Although there are different size charts for different bikes, here we would be discussing the three most common types of bikes including road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes.

Road Bike Sizing:

Road bikes are the most common and widely used bikes. They are mostly used for daily commute and short trips. So there is not a sliver of option to compromise comfort when it comes to a road bike. The more accurate the size you get, the more comfortable you are going to feel riding it. Besides, it would be easier to operate and you would be able to ride it with more efficiency and fun. Road bikes usually come in 2 styles – racing road bikes which also goes by the name ten-speed (long in the top tube and low at the front for faster riding) and sportive road bikes which are more apt for exercise ( these have comparatively shorter top tubes and are high at front ends for extra comfort). Cyclocross bikes are considered as road bikes although these are more like off-road bikes and used for adventure and exploration.

As mentioned previously, road bikes are measured in centimeters or descriptive size like small or medium and it’s basically the frame size which determines the road biking size. Compact road bike frames with the tilted top tube, will either demonstrate a measurement based on a classic frame or a general size like small or medium.
The size does not only vary from manufacturers, but there are also different sizes of road bikes for men and women. There are specific charts including detailed information about the size of road bikes for men and women which you need to check after you are done measuring your basic as described above. (Leg inseam (cm) x 0. 70 = your frame size).

Road Bike Size Chart (For Men)

Here is a table that includes information regarding men’s road bike size according to their heights.

Rider height Suggested frame size

Feet/Inches Centimeters Centimeters Size
4`10”-5`0” 148-152 cm 47-48 cm XXS
5`0″-5`3″ 152-160 cm 49-50 cm XS
5`3″-5`6″ 160-168 cm 51-52-53 cm S
5`6″-5`9″ 168-175 cm 54-55 cm M
5`9″-6`0″ 175-183 cm 56-57-58 cm L
6`0″-6`3″ 183-191 cm 58-59-60 cm XL
6`3″-6`6″ 191-198 cm 61-62-63 cm XXL

From the chart above, you can get a clear idea regarding which frame size you should go for according to your height.

Men of average height can choose from the various range of small to medium while taller men from 6 feet to above 6’5 feet can go for bikes with large frames.

Road Bike Size Chart (For Women)

According to an exposition, women who take up biking as a hobby often find it difficult to settle for the perfect sized bike. Women’s body structure is different from men and men are usually taller in height. Women generally have shorter legs and longer torso while men have longer thighs and a shorter torso. This is a significant difference between men and women’s body which affects the size of the bike. Hence it is important to follow a different size chart for women otherwise it would be the haphazard situation while choosing a bike. The following chart will give you a detailed idea about women’s bike size according to their heights.

Rider height Suggested frame size

Feet/Inches Centimeters Centimeters Size
4`10”-5`0” 147-155 cm 44-46 cm XXS
5`0″-5`3″ 155-160 cm 47-49 cm XS
5`3″-5`5’’ 160-165 cm 50-52 cm S
5`5″-5’8” 165-172 cm 53-55 cm M
5`8″-5’10” 172-180 cm 55-57 cm L

Mountain Bike Sizing:

Mountain bikes are different from road bikes and used for long-distance trips; especially over rough and rutted terrains, throughout hilly areas. Therefore these bikes require to have more endurance, strength, balance, and comfort. You are planning to take a long ride with this one so naturally the size matters as well as comfort. Here you also have to more meticulous regarding the safety option.

Mountain bikes are generally available with 26 “wheels but recently they have come up with 29″ and 27.5″ (650b) wheeled bikes. These new sized bikes are faster and even better on unfriendly bumpy tracks. As discussed earlier, mountain bikes are measured in inches and also in descriptive sizes like small, medium and large frames. (Leg inseam (cm) x 0.66 = your frame size.) Like road bikes, mountain bike-sized also vary based on different brands and gender.

Mountain Bike Size Chart (For Men)

Take a look at the following chart to get a clear picture of men’s mountain bike size according to their heights.

Rider Height Suggested Mountain Frame Size

Feet and Inches Centimeters Frame Size (inches) Frame Size (cm) Frame Size
4’10” – 5’2″ 148cm – 158cm 13″ – 14″ 33 – 37 XS
5’2″ – 5’6″ 158cm – 168cm 15″ – 16″ 38 – 42 S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ 168cm – 178cm 17″ – 18″ 43 – 47 M
5’10” – 6’1″ 178cm – 185cm 19″ – 20″ 48 – 52 L
6’1″ – 6’4″ 185cm – 193cm 21″ – 22″ 53 – 57 XL
6’4″ – 6’6″ 193cm – 198cm 23″ – 24″ 58 – 61 XXL

If you glance over this chart, you would notice the significant difference between road bike size and mountain bike size for men.

Mountain Bike Size Chart (For Women)

Some mountain bike brands like Yeti, Specialized, and Santa Cruz believe that a perfect bike doesn’t require different measurements to work for male or female riders. Hence they have come up with features according to women’s body build and strength, for instance, a women-specific saddle, slender handlebar, and shorter cranks. They also have smaller frame sizes and different color patterns for women. Other brands, like Liv and Canyon, focus on pragmatic research when it comes to women’s bikes. These designs are measured in the same way as other mountain bikes (from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube). Here’s a chart detailing women’s mountain bike size according to their heights.
Rider Height Suggested Mountain Frame Size
Feet and Inches Centimeters Frame Size (inches) Frame Size (cm) Frame Size
4’10” – 5’2″ 148cm – 158cm 13″ – 14″ 33 – 37 XS
5’2″ – 5’6″ 158cm – 168cm 15″ – 16″ 38 – 42 S
5’7″ – 5’9″ 168cm – 178cm 17″ – 18″ 43 – 47 M
5’10” – 6’1″ 178cm – 185cm 19”+ 48 + L

Hybrid Bike Sizing

Hybrid bikes are an amalgamation of touring bikes and mountain bikes. They are widely popular for their versatility and stability. People have been more reliant on hybrid bikes due to the multifaceted features and these bikes are ridden by billions of bikers for both leisurely purpose and daily commute. Hybrid bikes fit in the mountain bike category, however, it has rather smoother and narrower tires. They also share similarities with road bikes except they have flat handlebars and they weigh a lot more than a typical road bike. However, like most bikes, hybrid bikes are also measured by frame size (The distance in inches from the center of the crank to the top of the frame at the seat tube.)

The sizing technique is almost similar to mountain bikes sizing which mean they will run a few inches smaller than your usual road bikes. Naturally, you have to measure your height accurately to determine the actual frame size fit for a regular hybrid bike. Although here inseam measurement comes first since leg length is more relevant than your torso size. Well, of course, most shops allow you to take a test ride so that you can understand the size and fit of the bike.

Hybrid Bike Size Chart (For Men)

This following chart would help you understand the accurate hybrid bike sizing for men according to their height.

Rider Height Suggested Hybrid Frame Size

Feet and Inches Centimeters Frame Size (inches) Frame Size (cm) Frame Size
4’10” – 5’2″ 148cm – 158cm 13″ – 14″ 33 – 37 XS
5’2″ – 5’6″ 158cm – 168cm 15″ – 16″ 38 – 42 S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ 168cm – 178cm 17″ – 18″ 43 – 47 M
5’10” – 6’1″ 178cm – 185cm 19″ – 20″ 48 – 52 L
6’1″ – 6’4″ 185cm – 193cm 21″ – 22″ 53 – 57 XL
6’4″ – 6’6″ 193cm – 198cm 23″ – 24″ 58 – 61 XXL

Basically hybrid bike sizing for men is similar to mountain bike sizing.

Hybrid Bike Size Chart (For Women)

Like other bikes, women’s hybrid bikes are shorter than men’s bike in length. They also come with flatter handlebars and smaller frame sizes. And most definitely they have shorter top tubes which makes them shorter than a similarly sized unisex bike. Well, this doesn’t really affect the saddle height or stand-over clearance; basically body height and leg inseam measurements are important to find the appropriate sized women’s hybrid bike. This diagram below gives a clear idea:

Rider Height Suggested Hybrid Frame Size

Feet and Inches Centimeters Frame Size (inches) Frame Size
4’10” – 5’2″ 148cm – 158cm 13″ – 14″ XS
5’2″ – 5’6″ 158cm – 168cm 15″ – 16″ S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ 168cm – 178cm 17″ – 18″ M
5’10” – 6’1″ 178cm – 185cm 19”+ L

Finding the Right Kids Size Bike

Biking is not only an adult’s thing, but kids have also been obsessed with biking for ages. Why wouldn’t they be? It’s fun, recreational and utterly vigorous exercise. So having your kids learn biking from an early age wouldn’t go in vain only if you give them the perfect sized bike. In fact, there can be no compromise with the size or comfort if you want them to be habituated to biking. However, in the case of kids, it’s a bit difficult to choose the right sized bike given the size of the wheel is considered to determine the accurate size rather than frame size. Another crucial factor is the increasing growth of the kid which may leave a bike unusable after a couple of years. Since it’s all about wheel size, it’s often a dilemma to pick the right one. Choosing too small or too big wheel is a no because your kid would face difficulty to control the bike in that case. So you have to know the proper wheel size for your kids according to their heights. This chart might help:

Kids Bike Size Chart & Wheel Size

Wheel Size Age of Child (years) Height of Child (inch) Height of Child (cm)
Balance 2 – 4. 2′ 11″ – 3′ 5″ 88 – 105
12″ 3 – 5. 3′ 3″ – 3′ 8″ 98 – 112
14″ 4 – 6. 3′ 5″ – 3′ 10″ 105 – 117
16″ / 18″ 5 – 8. 3′ 8″ – 4′ 2″ 112 – 127
20″ 7 – 9. 3′ 10″ – 4′ 6″ 117 – 136
24″ 8 – 11. 4′ 2″ – 4′ 9″ 127 – 145

This table below might come in handy when you are going to need information about your kid’s bike frame size according to their heights.

Kids Bike Size Chart & Frame Size

Frame Size Height of Child (inch) Height of Child (cm)
Balance 2′ 11″ – 3′ 5″ 88 – 105
12″ 3′ 3″ – 3′ 8″ 98 – 102
14″ 3′ 5″ – 3′ 10″ 105 – 117
16″ / 18″ 3′ 8″ – 4′ 2″ 112 – 127
20” 3’10”- 4’6” 117-136
24” 4’2” -4’9” 127-145
See Teenager Bikes 4’9″ + 145+

Measuring your child before you decide to purchase the bike is important. You can do it either at the cycle shop where an expert can help you get an accurate measurement. They would have your kid try out new bikes for a little test ride and get the saddle and handlebar at the right height for them. You can measure them at home all by yourself as well with the help of a measurement tape.

This is how you can measure your child’s inseam at home.

 Make your kid stand against the wall with their shoes on; feet slightly apart from each other.
 Put a hardbound book between their legs, spine towards the crotch.
 Keep raising the book the spine of the book reaches its crotch.
 Level the book with the floor and measure from the ground up to the spine; that’s their inseam.

After you are done with the necessary measurements, you can pick up the right bike for your kids. For additional information regarding kid’s bike size, you can check out articles published by different stores to get more help.
Apart from size, there are several more things which you would have to consider before purchasing a bike. The ultimate buying guide of the road bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike and kid’s bike are briefly discussed below.

Road Bike Buying Guide

There are three types of road bikes- beginners, intermediate level and advanced level. You have to follow a separate guide for each category.

1.Beginner road bike buying guide
You have to consider 3 things in case of a beginner level road bike.
Frame material – Beginner’s road bikes tend to have aluminum or steel frame. Aluminum is light yet strong and affordable as well for bike frame manufacturers. Steel is comparatively heavier, although steel frames are quite comfortable.
Transmission (gears) – The transmission on beginners road bikes tend to be “8, 9 or 10 speed” – which refers to the number of cogs on the cassette at the back. The more gears the bike has, then likely you are going to have the “perfect gear”. Although the highest gear and lowest gear are the same, regardless of how many speeds your gear setup is.
Wheelset – Most beginner bikes are supposed to have shallow sections, high spoke count wheels. This ensures the rider that the wheels are going to be more durable and reliable.

2.Intermediate level road bike buying guide
These are the 4 key points regarding the intermediate level road bike buying guide.
Frame material – Intermediate level bikes are made of carbon fiber which happens to be a unique modern composite material. The material is a great source of firmness (aiding power transfer), comfort and lightweight.
Transmission – As you add a little more to the budget, you can get the more upgraded gear set in intermediate level bikes. Most intermediate level bikes come with the 11-speed transmission in the form of Shimano 105 or Ultegra, SRAM Rival or Force, or Campagnolo Potenza.
Wheels – The wheelset in these bikes will be more upgraded and advanced. Better wheel bearings, lighter spokes and rims, and deeper profile rims will all combine into lower rolling resistance and better aerodynamics.
Disc brakes – Another spectacular thing about intermediate level bikes in they come with disc brakes that have amazing stopping power. Therefore it adds more to the safe option of the bike.
3.Advanced level road bike buying guide
Here are the major points highlighted by the same category explained above when you are going to purchase a more expensive and advanced bike.
Frame material – Generally advanced level road bikes are made of carbon fiber material given they offer more stiffness and comfort; at the same time, they are very lightweight.
Transmission – Most advanced level bikes have electronic gear set like Shimano Di2, SRAM eTAP, and Campagnolo EPS which provide smoother and more perfect gear shifts.
Wheelset- Advanced level bikes tend to be faster. So most of the time they come with carbon fiber wheels with deep-section rims; these provide aerodynamic, weight advantages and more speed.

Mountain bike buying guide
There are several things to ponder over other than the sizing factor when it comes to mountain bikes. Check out the following tips which would help you find the perfect mountain bike.
1. Choose a wheel size
Diameters have settled to a flexible, easy, binary choice of 27.5in (650b, aggressive trail and downhill) or 29in (XC and trail). Although wide-rimmed plus sizes and trendy 29in downhill wheels are more popular due to the stiffness and lightweight.
2. Choose hardtail or full-suss
Hardtail mountain bikes offer you better parts spec than full-suss bikes at the same price. Plus there is less maintenance and issues with these bikes. Full-suss mountain bikes, however, are more advanced and upgraded.
3. Beware overly flashy trinkets
It’s easy to be tempted by a nice rear mech (derailleur) but you have to keep in mind that quality matters more than the look. So don’t get fooled by attractive yet low-quality components when it comes to choosing your perfect mountain bike.
4. Choose suspension quality
Thoroughly check the reviews of the forks and shocks of the bike you are going to purchase and use the manufacturer’s site to get the accurate model.
5. Look for a futureproof design
Try to look for more popular/trendy axle diameters and spacing, plus headset, bottom bracket, and even Seatpost diameters.
6. Keep some extra bucks
You may want to save some extra bucks to buy a few additions for your mountain bike for e.g. a solid trail helmet with ample coverage and strong construction, glasses to get rid of flying crude, backpack to store your stuff for long trips, sticky shoes for flat pedals and also clipless pedals.
Hybrid bike buying guide
These following points need to be checked before you make a purchase of a hybrid bike.
Most hybrid bikes feature flat handlebars for a more comfortable position and balance.
2. Frame
As we know the hybrid bike blends of both road bike and mountain bike, hybrid bikes use both mild steel; and also aluminum and carbon fiber. You will also have to consider the weight of these materials based on how much the bike would be used on and off-road. Another aspect of the hybrid bike frame is its comfort. Most of the hybrid bikes feature geometry for more relaxed and smoother riding. It can be squeezed to enhance performance on certain rides.
3. Wheels and tires
Hybrid bike tires are mostly a halfway-point between thin road tires and the thicker tires which can be found on mountain bikes. If you are planning to ride grass, rutted trails or muddy route, then you need to consider the tread on your hybrid tire. On the other hand, if you would using the bike mostly for the daily commute through regular cycle lanes; you can go for a road-style smooth tire for performance on the flat.
4. Brakes
Road bikes use V-brake that is placed on the frame of the wheel squashing the wheel itself to provide stopping power whereas mountain bikes have dis brakes to serve the same purpose. Typical hybrid bikes can have either of the two or even more composite brakes like fluid-based SRAM to provide the necessary stopping power.
5. Fork and suspension
Suspensions smooth out uneven rutted terrain and absorb bumpiness while fork holds the front wheel. So if you are going to use the bike for long trips and adventure, go for additional suspension rather than a front fork that directly connects to the wheel axle.
6. Panniers and accessories
Using add-ons for your hybrid bike totally depends on how you are going to use it. If you are going to use it solely for work purposes, then panniers and racks are essential. That would help you carry your necessary equipment to works, for instance, a laptop or briefcase. For the weekend cruising towards the mountain, you are going to need things like water bottle cages and pump holders.
Kids’ bike buying guide
When you are getting your kid a new bike; there are a couple of things to consider other than the sizing of the bike.
This is the first and foremost thing you need to think about when you are purchasing a bike for your kid. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made a protocol regarding this and the rest of the world are following it so the bike consumers don’t have to face problems regarding safety. Previously kids’ bikes had some common features like spiky gear shift knobs and large bolts which wouldn’t guarantee any safety. Now bikes without a derailleur have well-mounted chain guards.
2. Brakes
Kids bike tend to have either coaster brakes (brakes on the back wheel that are engaged by pedaling backward), or handbrakes (brakes engaged by a clasp on the handlebars that squeezes brake pads against the rim of the wheel) or both. Kids have tiny hands and a limited amount of hand strength hence coaster brakes are more suitable for them until they are strong enough to handle handbrakes. However, before they start using a multi-speed bike with a derailleur, they should gain some experience on a bike with both types of brakes, especially handbrakes since bikes with a derailleur can only have hand brakes.
3. Wheels
According to the CPSC safety protocol, kid’s bikes front wheels must have safety mechanisms so that even if the nuts on the axle come apart, the front wheel would remain intact. The hub, spokes, and rim should be the metal in this case.
4. Frame
In the case of kid’s bikes, the posts (seat post and handlebar stem) coming out of the frame need to be bolted tight and cannot be turned. Also, the seat post and handlebar stem need to grease before they are put together so that they don’t freeze up due to rainfall. Well, it’s not possible to check this until you bring the bike home. After you take them out, grease them well and reinstall them while making sure the bolts are tight and the bike is totally ready for your child.
5. Drive train
According to CPSC rules, kids’ bikes without derailleur must-have chain guard. These are pretty useful and prevent shoelaces and pant legs from getting caught between the chain and the chainring which staves off the possibility of an accident. The better crank arm/bottom bracket sets are usually three pieces, where the crank arms fasten on. Second, best is three-piece sets where the crank arms are put together with cotton pins. The third best would be one piece crank/bottom bracket sets. These are basic things on kid’s bikes. However in all cases, if you hold the pedal and try to jiggle the crank from side-to-side you shouldn’t feel any play, and when you spin the crank, the bottom bracket should spin freely.
Final Verdict
Nothing beats cycling when it comes to taking off some steam and enjoying a smooth and fun ride. It’s an effective exercise for both adults and kids. It’s also a time saver if you live in a busy suburban area. However, everything comes down to one major point which is the perfect size of the bike upon which the comfort and safety of the bike depend largely. Other issues are also equally important and need to be checked when you are buying a bike, but if the size is botched everything fails. So it doesn’t matter which bike you are getting yourself, check and recheck everything especially the sizing to find the most perfect bike for you. Happy cycling!!

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