How to Pick the Right Size Bicycle

How to Pick the Right Size Bicycle
Cycling is one of the best activities a person can take part in to stay fit and active. Yet without the right size bike, a normally fun and exhilarating activity becomes a nuisance, and can even be dangerous. Before choosing your next bicycle, take a look at the steps below to help determine a bike size that suits you.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Measuring tape
Step 1
Know these basic guidelines when searching for the right size bike. If you're between 5 feet and 5 feet 8 inches tall, your bike should have a 16-inch frame. An 18-inch frame is the proper size for riders between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 1 inches tall, while taller riders should look for a frame measuring 20 to 21 inches. Ask a bike sales associate for help finding a bike with the right frame measurements, if the bike is not labeled with a size in inches.
Step 2
Find the frame size yourself if there's no sales associate around by measuring the vertical seat tube (not the adjustable seat tube) attached to the bike's main frame. Measure from the lower frame where the pedals are located to the top of the seat tube where the seat post connects to the main frame.
Step 3
Stand in front of the bicycle seat and check whether your pants inseam is at least an inch above the top tube of the bike frame. If this is the case, you've found the right size bike frame for you.
Step 4
Sit on the bicycle's seat and place the pedals in their lowest position. At this point, your leg should be fully extending when your foot is on the pedal closest to the ground. This guideline is meant to help protect your knees from undue strain and make for a more comfortable ride. If your legs are not fully extended, you should raise the bicycle seat up until they are.

Tips & Warnings

Do not confuse the bike's labeled parts. When a bike is labeled as being "20 inches," for example, this is referring to the size of the bike's frame, not to the size of the wheels, which vary depending on the bike style.

Article Written By Laura Dixon

Currently based in France, Laura Dixon has been a freelance writer since 2008. Dixon specializes in various topics including health, travel and culture. Previously, she worked as a weekly newspaper reporter in Central California. Dixon holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and international relations from the University of California.

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