How to Choose the Size of a Road Bicycle

How to Choose the Size of a Road Bicycle
You may be tempted by the low prices on the Internet, but it's hard to fit a bicycle online. Getting on and taking a test ride is the best way to choose the correct size for a road bike. Go to a store and find a staff member who's knowledgeable about the subject. Ask for tips, get help in taking measurements and keep looking until you find the right fit.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Pick a road bike to test ride. When you straddle it, make sure it has about one inch of space between your crotch and the top tube. Less than an inch can be painful; more than an inch can negatively affect your riding position.
Step 2
Test the seat. When you're sitting on it and your foot is on the pedal all the way down, your leg should be almost straight. Adjust the seat until you achieve this position.
Step 3
Make sure you're comfortable when you reach from the seat to the handlebars---this will affect how well you handle the bike and how stable you feel. The bike shop staff can give you guidance on this, but in the end, it's a matter of your own comfort level.
Step 4
Take measurements if you can't get to a store and ride a bike. Measure your inseam by standing against a wall with bare feet about a foot apart. Hold a ruler horizontally at your crotch and get someone to measure from the ruler to the floor. Use a Web site sizing table, like the one at, to find your best fit.

Tips & Warnings

Frame sizes vary from one road-bike manufacturer to the next, so test your fit and comfort on each bike before you take it for a ride.

Article Written By Barbara Dunlap

Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.

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