While we are often taught how to cycle at a young age we are never taught how to buy a bike that is the correct size.
In this helpful guide, we look at how you can figure out what size of bike you need as well as how to adjust bikes that are the wrong size if you are unable to exchange or return your purchase.
Types of Bikes
As bikes continue to become more high-tech and continue to evolve many more types of bikes are created. In general, there are three main categories that different types of bikes would fall into, these are city bikes, road bikes, and mountain bikes.
Whatever you hope to use your bike for will dictate the type of bike you get.
City bikes are the most common type of bike as they are readily available, light-weight, and often the cheaper of the three categories. They are used for leisurely riding as well as commuting around a small city or town.
In some states in America, there are limitations on who can own and where you can cycle road bikes and mountain bikes, as well as electric bikes. It is important to check your state laws to ensure that the bike you purchase can be used at your leisure and in a variety of places.
Although each category differs there are general size guides that can be applied to bikes to help you to understand the size you may need.
While sizes may differ between manufacturers, the below guide should help you to get a better understanding of bike sizes and also how to calculate what size of bike you may need.
Guide To Bike Sizes
Most sports equipment is chosen depending on size and bikes are no different. When choosing your bike you need to consider whether you can get on and off the bike with ease, whether you can bring the bike to a stop, and also how heavy the bike is.
If you are planning to carry the bike up and down flights of stairs then you would need a lighter weight bike that you could easily carry. Here we list the most common adult bike sizes and what height they are best suited for.
- 13 - 15 inch bikes are best suited to adults that are between 4’11” to 5’3” tall
- 15 - 16 inch bikes are best suited to adults that are between 5’3” to 5’7” tall
- 16 - 17 inch bikes are best suited to adults that are between 5’7” to 5’11” tall
- 17 - 19 inch bikes are best suited to adults that are between 6’0” to 6’2” tall
- 19 - 21 inch bikes are best suited to adults that are between 6’2” to 6’4” tall
- 21-inch bikes, and larger, are best suited to adults that are taller than 6’4”
If you don’t have time to go into a physical shop to try a bike there is a way of calculating what size bike would be best for you. You will need a measuring tool before following the steps for this method outlined below.
- Remove your shoes
- Stand with your legs spread out, approximately 6-inches to 8-inches apart
- Measure the inside of your leg from the ground up to your crotch and note the measurement. This is referred to as an inner leg measurement.
Depending on the type of bike you want to purchase you will multiply your inner leg measurement by a certain number to calculate what size frame you will need. The equation will look like this:
Inner leg measurement (cm) x (number specific to the type of bike) = your frame size
Each equation is written below, simply choose what type of bike you want to buy and complete the relevant equation to find your frame size.
- City Bike: Inner leg measurement (cm) x 0.685 = your frame size
- Road Bike: Inner leg measurement (cm) x 0.66 = your frame size
- Mountain Bike: Inner leg measurement (cm) x 0.70 = your frame size
An example of this equation:
City Bike: 76cm x 0.685 = 52cm
Road Bike: 76cm x 0.66 = your 53cm
Mountain Bike: 76cm x 0.70 = 50cm
This method looks a lot more intimidating than it actually is. Ask a friend to help with taking the measurements to ensure that they are accurate.
Sizes will fluctuate between bike manufacturers so do check the brand's website for any useful information specific to bike frame sizings for the brand.
This can save you stress down the line and is a convenient way of ensuring that you are purchasing the correctly sized bike for your height.
What Size Person is A 26-inch Bike For?
By checking the guide to bike sizes above we would expect that a person over 6 feet tall would require a bike of this size. Regardless of what type of bike is being purchased or considered a 26-inch city, road or mountain bike will always be suited to taller people over 6 feet tall.
What To Do If You Bought The Wrong Sized Bike?
If you have bought a bike that is the wrong size there are a number of things that you can do to solve this problem. See our useful tips below:
- Go back to the store you bought your bike from and ask about an exchange. Depending on when you bought the bike and if it is still in good condition this should not be an issue.
- You can buy a new stem for your bike which would help adjust your body position when sitting on the bike. Buy a longer or shorter stem depending on what your needs are.
- Conveniently you can also buy a longer seat post which would rectify the problem if your bike was too short for your legs.
- Moving your saddle to the front or rear of the bike is another great way to adjust the bike in a way that fits better.
These simple tips won’t break the bank but will save you from having to splurge on a new bike entirely.