The right bicycle fit makes cycling more comfortable and can prevent chronic injuries caused by misalignment of your joints on a poorly sized bike. While you can use your height as a starting point to choose a frame size, bike fit relies on several body and bike measurements.
Frame sizes are marked in inches for mountain bikes and centimeters for road bikes. The measurement comes from the length of the bottom bracket to the top tube on the bike's frame.
Stand Over Height
When you straddle the top tube of the bike, you should have an inch or two of clearance between the bike and your pubic bone. Inseam, as opposed to height, affects this stand over measurement.
Adjusting seat height allows you to fully extend your legs during your pedal stroke. Be careful. It's possible to raise your seat high enough to pedal properly even if the frame is too small for you.
Cockpit length refers to the distance between your saddle and handlebars. Cockpit length changes in proportion to the frame size. The length of your torso and arms determines how you will fit in the cockpit.
Women-specific bikes change the proportion of the cockpit to stand over height measurements because most women have longer legs than torsos compared to men.
Article Written By Kathrine Cole
Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.