November 11 2016
Tagged in Choosing a Bike
One of the key factors you have to consider when purchasing a bicycle is the size. If the bike is not the right size for you, you won’t be able to ride it properly, and that more or less defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place. However, this doesn’t mean you have to start consulting charts, which can be immensely boring. This is particularly true if you plan to buy your bike online. The key to ensuring you choose the right bike size is to understand how sizing works. This guide will give you an idea of bike sizes and the factors you have to consider.
Measuring Your Dimensions
The first step you have to take is measuring yourself. There are a few key measurements that you need to determine the right bike size for yourself. This is quite similar to if you have been measured by a tailor when getting a suit made. The measurements you require are
- Leg Inseam: The leg inseam measurement is taken from your crotch area all the way to your foot. You don’t necessarily have to measure yourself. You can take any trousers that fit and measure the length of the leg inseam. This measurement helps you determine the right height, as it gives you an idea of the length of the bike from the saddle to the pedal.
- Arm Length: This measurement has to be taken with your fist closed. Start from the point at which your collarbone ends and extend the tape to the middle of your fist. This is the distance of the seat to the handle of the bike while you are riding.
- Torso Length: Your upper torso has to be measured to determine the ideal seat height. This measurement has to be taken from your sternum, which is located just below your neck, down to your crotch.
These three measurements are essential to determine the right size when you are buying a bicycle. This way, you will be able to reach the handle and the pedals when seated on the bike without having to stretch or changing your position.
Using the Measurements
The measurements you have taken in the first step will then be used here. This might get slightly technical but we’ll try and keep it as simple as possible. If you consult a bike size chart, you will see terms such as ‘Stand Over Height’ and ‘Top Tube Length’. The Stand Over Height is when you get off the bike seat, you stand over it, in a manner of speaking. To get this measurement, you have to add a couple of inches to your inseam length. This way, you can easily disembark and get on the ground without any hassle. For some bikes, you might have to add up to 5 inches, for instance mountain bikes.
The Top Tube Length is slightly more complicated. We suggest that you use a calculator for this. The formula for calculating this is adding your arm length and torso length and then dividing it by two. Then, you have to subtract 6 inches from this number. This number represents the distance between the handlebar of the bicycle and the seat that will be suitable for you. Again, this is to ensure you don’t have to bear any additional strain or fatigue to grab the handle while pedaling your bike.
Let’s take an example to help you understand this better. If your height is between 5’7” and 5’11”, your inseam length would be around 30 inches. This means that the frame size of the bike you select should be around 17 to 19 inches. Hence, keeping all these measurements in mind is crucial for selecting the right bike size. This will come in handy even when you are planning to buy a bike online. You can check the frame size to get a clear idea of the models which you can choose from. Keep in mind that this example is for a hybrid bike.
Depending on the type of bike you want, you will have to adjust the measurements accordingly. Thankfully, you can find a number of charts online that will give you an accurate frame size reference guide so you can determine the bike is a perfect fit for you.
Trying Out Bikes
The thing with bike sizing is that no matter how accurately you have measured the different required lengths, there is still the necessity to go out and actually sit on a bike to check if it is the right size. You might wonder how this might be possible if you are planning to purchase the bike online. However, all you really have to do is head to the nearest bicycle store and sit on a number of bikes. In fact, the staff at the store might also guide you in the right direction regarding the ideal frame size required. One more thing: bike sizing is not a fixed science. Hence, a bit of trial and error is required on your part.
Once you have determined the ideal bike frame size depending on your inseam length and torso length, you should look for an appropriate bike. Then, sit on the bike and see how comfortable you are. Assume the position you would when you are actually pedaling the bike. It won’t be a bad idea to take the bike out for a test ride, if possible. You can also ask a friend who has a bike to let you take it around the block. The first thing you have to do is stand over the bike. You should be comfortably able to mount the seat from this position, with your feet on the ground.
Next, you have to get on the seat. Adjust the seat so that you can comfortably reach the pedals when sitting down. You should be able to grip the handlebars without hassle and use them to steer the bike accordingly. Make sure the seating position is according to your riding style and without making adjustments to it. The seat should also support your body like any other hard surface seat you sit on. This is important for preventing back pain and providing adequate support to your lower torso as well.
These are the main considerations you have to make when choosing the right bike size. Keep all these pointers in mind to ensure the bike you select will be a perfect fit for you. If you face any problems, you can have the seat and other parts adjusted to suit your needs. So, best of luck in selecting the right bike for your needs!