Whether you are looking for the best cruiser bike, a road bike, an electric one, or a mountain bike, finding out the right size can be really difficult, as it makes all the difference between a quality purchase and one you’ll have to refund. So what do you have to take into consideration when making such a purchase?
Finding the bike that works the best for you is quite a challenge, just as it is when you are trying to find out which sizes are the ones that you should look for. In the olden days, you only had to go to the local store and pick from the 2 or 3 models that were available, but now things have changed a lot.
Your height and weight are the most important aspects when you look for the right bike frame size. As a result, we have created this helping guide for you, so that you can form a general idea of what size of bike you need and we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible, as it can involve a lot of complicated math.
The guidelines from the manufacturer
A very simple way of managing to determine what size your bike needs to have is to rely on the guidelines that come from the manufacturer, which will make the connection between different heights with various bikes. Unfortunately, that is not always the most helpful way of finding out the best result for you.
Because there aren’t any standard sizes among bike producers, thus making all of them have a different approach to their bike design, it’s better to try and understand the geometry of the bike and how that affects you, so you will be able to pick the size that is the best fit for you.
The anatomy of a bicycle frame
All bicycle producers are going to have a list of the measurements for all elements of the bike, so understanding what they are referring to is a very important step. Frames can come in different sizes, in order to make sure they fit all possible riders. This makes buying the right size very important, but you also need to know about the stem and the bar width.
In general, we can divide the geometry of the frame of a bike in three categories, which are as follows: traditional, semi-compact, and compact. All three have their differences and can serve various purposes, which is why it’s important to learn about them and figure out which one fits you best.
The traditional frame will have a top tube that will run parallel to the ground. As you will stand over the bicycle, you will notice there will be less space, which is why finding out all about sizing is so important in this case. This will help you make sure your top pick will be as comfortable as you want.
A compact bike frame has a different design compared to a typical bike that has top-tube frames. This means that, as you compare such a bike with one that has horizontal-top tube bikes, you will notice some 2 – 3 inches extra when it comes to the seat post, which is to be expected.
Speaking about contact points, they should be pretty much the same, which means that you also need to pay attention to this when you buy a bike since a compact one should have the same feeling as the conventional type when checking out the riding position. It’s really not as complicated as it might sound.
A compact frame will have a sloping top tube, a smaller rear triangle, but also a shorter wheelbase. This will lead to a better standover clearance, as compared to a typical geometry frame, but also to a ride that may be a bit stiffer than you are used to, but you will have the guarantee that it is a safer and more responsible one.
The semi-compact frame is not that different from the compact one. If there is a notable difference between these two, then it is the fact that the sloping angle of the top tube may not always be as great, making the standover clearance smaller, while the effective top tube distance is a bit longer.
Top tube lengths
As you think about what frame you should go with, remember that the thing you must pay attention to the most is the length of the top tube. This is the distance that you measure from the head tube to the seat post if the bike has a sloping top tube; you can also just measure the top tube length if the bike has typical geometry.
Why is this so important? Well, let’s just say that if you buy a bike that has a top tube that is too long, you’ll find yourself in a position in which you are overreaching to the handlebars, in a position rather similar to that typical of a racer. Obviously, that is not a very comfortable position, especially if you are going to make a long ride.
As comfort is highly important, you may be tempted to choose a shorter and more effective top tube length, so that your rides will go smoother. But, the best thing you can do is to choose the size that fits you the best, as this will really guarantee the success of every trip from now on.
How to measure the top tube length
A long time ago, all bicycles had horizontal top tubes, but now a slope has been added. Checking out the spec table of a bicycle, you will notice that it has a real top-tube length. But, in order to make sure that everything is fine, it is recommended that you will measure the horizontal top tube length, for the best results.
That would be the distance, horizontally, between the centreline of the head tube and the centreline of the seat post. Take the measurements using a clinometer app, or anything that will stay horizontally fixed, with no slips. This will guarantee that you have taken the correct measurements.
The vast majority of cases, when it comes to bicycle manufacturers, will have bike sizes using the top tube length. For mountain bicycles, the frame size will usually have a dimension of S, M, or L, while for road bicycles, the sizes are more versatile, as they include S, S/M, M/L, L.
Unfortunately, these measurements that you see, for some reason, are often reinterpreted by different brands differently. As a result, the S size in a road bike brand, which will be about 54 cm, is going to be equal to the medium frame in other brands, which leads to a lot of confusion among people who want to buy a bicycle.
Because of all of these differences, it is really important that you know how to make the measurements yourself. If you want to order online and you can’t take the measurements yourself, you can always ask the manufacturer, before placing your order, about it, and just to be sure, a return policy is always good to have.
In case you plan on buying the bike from a physical store, you will run into the same problem. In order to make sure everything will fit properly, you can always ask somebody working there about the different sizings and take a mental note of the numbers that are mentioned to you.
Of course, you can take matters into your own hands and do some measurements by yourself – you can ask for permission if you think that would be a problem. Having done the measurements yourself, you are going to see for yourself the differences for the same size between different brands.
Regardless of where you choose to buy your bike from, you must always keep in mind that there are differences between brands, and finding out the size difference is going to direct you to the model that is best suited for you. Simply asking or measuring yourself is the way to go as you will find the best road bike for you quite easily and with little effort.