How To Choose The Right Bicycle Size

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So you've decided to purchase a bicycle, and you're trying to figure out the perfect ride for you style. One question I get asked very often is how to choose the right bicycle size, and it's a very valid question to ask. Using a bicycle frame size guide is important, as it will help you pick a machine that will suit your body and riding style perfectly. If you don't, you can expect to have a difficult time: riding will be more difficult, more work, and it may result in some sort of injury. 

Bikes that are too large are very unsafe, as you won't be able to stop properly. Ones that are too small will be poor for your posture and your back, and you won't get maximum efficiency. Riding will be a frustrating experience with a poorly sized frame, so you want to be careful!

This article is intended to teach you how to choose the right bicycle size, and you can use it as a go-to bicycle fram size guide for your purchase. 

How To Choose The Right Bicycle Size: Different Frame Sizes

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Bicycle frame size guides can be confusing. You'll see a bunch of numbers thrown around, mainly in inches. The fact is, most people who list 'bicycle frame size' have no idea how to even measure their bicycle. Sometimes they will just guess, other times they will look at the size of the wheels and assume that's the accurate measurement. It is not!

When learning how to choose the right bicycle size, remember that all frames are measured in the same way: along the downtube. Unless you have one of the extremely rare bikes that doesn't have a downtube, this should be an easy thing to do. 

One thing to mention: as you've been learning how to choose the right bicycle size, you've no doubt noticed that mountain bikes and road bicycles have different measuring standards. This is because mountain bikes have an entirely different frame geometry than road bikes. The stance is higher, and the length and angle of the forks (the rake) is altered for higher clearance. What this essentially means is that mountain bike sizing seems smaller than road bike frame sizing. Keep this in mind when you're learning how to measure a bicycle frame size. 

How To Choose The Right Bicycle Size: Bike Frames

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Ok, so here's the guide on how to choose the right bicycle size for road bikes. Bicycles are usually measured in either inches or centimetres, with cm being more common due to its ability to be more precise. Road frames vary from around 46 cm for very short people, to 64 cm for quite tall folks. Of course you can have a custom road frame built for any size, but these are the standard sizes you might find in bike shops. 

To learn how to choose the right bicycle size, know that you'll need to walk into the bike shop with two measurements: first, your own height, in feet. Second, you'll need your inseam length. This is the same as the measurement for trousers, the length of your leg from the inside upper thigh. This will help the bike staff determine your standover height (the height at which you can stand over the bike frame comfortably).

Here's a little trick for determining how to choose the right bicycle size. Generally, your height in feet / inches will correspond nicely. Just take two inches off your height, and it corresponds fairly accurately to the frame size you'll need. 

For example: If I was 5'10 in height, I would take off two inches, making it 5'8, and then remove the comma... 58 cm! Chances are, a 58 cm frame would nicely fit a person who is 5'10. Note: This will only give you a general size, it is not perfectly accurate!

This trick only works for mountain bikes. 

Here is a sizing guide to help determine how to choose the right bicycle size. It's quite a bit more accurate than the method I described above.