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How to Find the Right Size Bike

With summer coasting along the horizon, you might feel inspired to buy a new bicycle. If you start your search now, you'll be ready to get out and enjoy warm weather and sunshine while becoming even more active on your own or with friends. Sure, walks and hikes are great, but there's nothing like getting out in nice weather for a bicycle ride.

If you have never shopped for a bicycle—or if it has been several years since you did—you might need some help figuring out the right bike for you, starting with sizing.

Why Is Finding a Bike of the Right Size So Important?

You might wonder what the fuss is about concerning bicycle sizing matters. Sure, you could probably make a rough guess as far as your height and not ride away wholly dissatisfied. You might even enjoy some decent leisurely rides. However, proper sizing is essential if you are serious about getting the most out of your bike.

Determining the right bike size for you is like any other aspect of the bicycle—or bicycle gear—buying experience. You need to find the right size helmet, riding shoes, and apparel, so it makes sense you need to figure out and buy the right size for the most important component: the bicycle itself. Like the other components, ensuring your bike is the right size will ensure comfortable rides every time you take your bicycle out of the garage, basement, or another sheltered area to hit the road.

Even better, it means you'll get the performance out of your bike and yourself every ride. And good performance isn't just for fitness or amateur athletic-focused cyclists who ride the trails at 15 or more miles per hour.

You can want, demand, and ensure performance from your bicycle and yourself, regardless of your current fitness level or future fitness or athletic goals. If you just want to go to the park and ride at less than 10 miles per hour for fun, you still want to do so in comfort—perhaps more so in this case than others, since it's for sheer pleasure—and a bike fitted to your stature will help you do just that for as long you'd like to.

You don't want to continually bump your knees on the handlebars or not be able to have your feet reach the ground when you come to a stop. An undersized or oversized bike will cause you discomfort, distress, and possible danger if you can't come to a quick and smooth stop for any reason. But at a minimum, a poorly sized bike diminishes the fun factor.

Does the Type of Bike Matter Regarding Sizing?

The short answer here is "yes," sizing matters, regardless of the type of bike you want to buy. Whether you want to seriously ramp up your fitness quickly with a road bike, go off-road with a mountain or hybrid bike, or commute to work or around town with a commuter or e-bike, your two-wheeled transport device needs to fit your body.

You might see someone out riding an adorable beach cruiser and think, "How much can it matter? It looks like a nice smooth ride, regardless." It matters. Even low-key, fun bicycles need to fit, so you can get the most out of the time you spend on yours. Since your body is part of the riding process, you want to make sure that you and your bike are well-suited to each other, meaning well-sized.

Proper sizing is crucial if you are serious about bike riding and want to get the most out of your investment. This isn't the place to cut corners for this purchase.

Is It More Important for Men or Women to Ensure Proper Bike Sizing?

Since women's bicycles traditionally feature the step-through entry design, it's easy to think that sizing matters somewhat less for women, or at least for anyone—male or female—who chooses to buy this bicycle style. While that does lessen some issues, such as entry, it won't help regarding issues of your legs being too long, causing your knees to hit the handlebars, or for you to sit too low on the saddle, leaving your feet akimbo when you stop.

Everyone needs to make sure their bike fits properly: men, women, and children. Each person's body is different, and you will discover those differences one way or another. It's better that you learn them before ordering a bike, getting it home, and realizing it feels awful. Then you have to go back to the drawing board. If you didn't take steps to find the right sizing the first time, the chances are strong you will if you have to start all over again.

Bike Sizing is Supposed to Improve Your Bicycling Experience—Not Cause Stress and Worry

Bike sizing isn't intended as a punishment, even if it might feel that way. It is stressful and worrisome, but once you get started, it isn't so bad. Again, it is like learning your proper shoe or swimsuit size. It's a pain to do it, but you need to.


What Are Key Bike Sizing Considerations to Keep In Mind?

You might know the general idea of bike sizing, such as finding a frame that fits your frame. But how does that work? What other factors are subject to sizing?

It would be great if you could ask "What size bike do I need?" and quickly get the perfect answer just by sitting on a few bikes. Life rarely works like that. What's more, there are several bike frame sizes out there, and your search is more about hitting a skilled homerun than landing somewhere in the ballpark.

Here are some things to consider as you start your bike sizing and shopping adventures.

What is a Bike Frame and Why Does Its Size Matter So Much?

The bicycle frame is the basis of a bicycle and its primary component. It is the body of the bike where the manufacturer fits the wheels and other components and consists of two triangles: a primary triangle located at the front, and a rear triangle paired to the main triangle. Together, these two triangles are the double triangle or diamond frame. The double triangle structure is strong and provides riders with peak safety and security, as they offer the perfect combination of being strong, solid, and lightweight.

With all that in mind, it makes sense that you need to ensure this central part of your bicycle is the right fit. You can make minor adjustments over time, whether on your own or if you coordinate with your trusted bicycle seller, but you want to get as close as possible to the right fit before ordering and delivery or pickup.

If you still wonder why sizing is so important, here are some reasons sellers want to make sure you focus on proper sizing:

  • Improves overall rider comfort
  • Prevents injuries
  • Diagnoses potential saddle discomfort to avoid it
  • Ensures proper posture to avoid back pain
  • Helps avoid the need to strain to reach the pedals
  • Reduces or eliminates pain and numbness
  • Removes discomfort associated with riding
  • Reduces rider fatigue by enhancing efficiency
  • Enhances overall performance on the bike

What Measurements Do You Need to Take to Get the Right Bicycle Fit?

You can take your measurements for sizing in two ways: in a store or online.

The In-Store Stand-Over Test

Schedule a time at your favorite local bicycle shop for in-store measurements or stop in to see if they do sizing sessions. Even if you can't do a formal sizing session when you stop for an unscheduled visit, you can do some stand-over tests on bikes that appeal to you. Choose a bike you like, then stand inside the bike and over the middle of the top bike tube. You should see some clearance between you and the bicycle of around two to four inches for mountain bikes and one to two inches for road bikes.

It would be best if you still did proper measurements of your in-seam to ensure you have the official numbers to back up your choice, but a quick stand-over test is a good place to start. Further, you can use what you learn from the type of bicycle you test out in person, like a fat tire bike, when searching for a bike you might choose online.

Finally, if you find a bike you like, and the seat seems a little high or low, you can typically adjust that in an instant with the quick-release tool on the bike seat post.

Online Measurements

If you haven't visited a store to do a stand-over test, you'll have to take out your tape measure and crunch some numbers. But first, note your height. After that, measure the inside of your leg, which is also known as your in-seam. This is the best method to find out the optimal size bike for your height and leg length.

Double-check your height by standing against a wall and marking the spot on the wall at the top of your head with a pencil. Then, measure from the floor to the site on the wall where you marked your height. If you have someone to help you, this step is more straightforward and goes more quickly and smoothly.

How to Measure for an Adult Bicycle Frame

Now that you have the vital numbers, you can use them to determine the best size bike for you. Most bike manufacturers intend for bicycle buyers to measure from the center of the crank axle to the top of the seat tube.

Remember that top road bike manufacturers use measurements in centimeters (cm) versus imperial numbers or inches. Remember to bring your phone to do a quick conversion at the store, or do it on your own with your computer if you plan to buy online. You will find several websites that provide the conversions for you in a table form.

Online Bike Sellers That Go Above and Beyond to Help Bike Sizing Simple and Painless

Fortunately, standard bike companies share sizing information in inches, making life a lot easier. Since the bike buying process can be a little stressful—like many larger purchases can be for value-conscious bike riders—it's always good to know that the bike seller is looking out for you.

What's better than providing a complete sizing strategy geared toward ensuring your comfort and satisfaction?

Top sellers offer quick on-site quizzes to help you determine the type and size of bike you want to buy. Once you enter the type of riding you do and your height and weight, the seller will generate a list of bikes that might work best for you. The options it selects for you might surprise you. You might have thought you wanted a hybrid, but it turns out a commuter or beach cruiser will suit your needs. You still choose in the end, but it's worth considering why the results point you in one direction over another. Choose what is best for you.

After that, you can start exploring the customization recommendations. Your quiz will help determine what extras you might like on your new bicycle, such as a front basket, rear pannier, or both. And you can always add to those customizations, so you can fine-tune the selections and get your bike, your way.

If you still have questions once you do all the measurements and take the Six Three Zero online bike fitting quiz, our team will be happy to work with you to ensure you find the perfect bike in terms of size, fit, comfort, style, customization, and more.

Contact us to learn more about all our fun, functional, and perfectly sized bikes of all styles, so you can buy your ideal bike and start riding as soon, comfortably, and effectively as possible.


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