Is It Better to Get a Smaller Bike Frame?

You may consider getting a smaller bike frame for your road bike, mountain bike, or whatever bike you have. Small bike frames are becoming increasingly popular and not many people seem to know what all the hype is about.

Well, you will certainly learn what it’s about if you try out a smaller bike frame. Smaller bike frames have a lot to offer you, but most of all they offer a more upright riding position. 

Conversely, smaller-sized bikes have a shorter reach and a slightly shorter wheelbase.

The standing-over height is a tad lower, and you may have to extend your bike seat post in order to get the optimum position, however that is a fairly minor problem when it comes to going between sizes. 

If you do have slightly longer legs than average, lack flexibility, or simply like being more upright when you ride, smaller frames are best for you. Furthermore, the short wheelbase actually rides more nimbly, and while the longer cockpit gives a more aggressive riding position, these positions can be tiring to be in. So you should consider your fitness, endurance and ride length.

However, if you are the type of person who is looking for a more intense work out when you ride, and if you want a more whippy ride, or if you are not as flexible or have a shorter torso then a small bike frame may be your saving grace.

Do pros use smaller bike frames?

Professional cyclists choose smaller frames in order to acquire a more aerodynamic position, this is thanks to the lower head tube.

Furthermore, compact frames are generally more agile, as well as being easier to manipulate, and also have a shorter wheelbase which makes cornering more stable for the rider. There are plenty of benefits that are gotten by using a smaller frame. While at a first glance, a smaller frame may seem like a bad choice and a weird way to put your body into disadvantages in position.

However, there are plenty of advantages, ones that the pros are aware of. Smaller bike frames come with lower head tubes, this results in a shorter stack height. Stack height is the vertical distance between the bottom bracket of the bicycle and the top head tube. 

Having a lower stack height results in greater drop from saddle to bars, this makes the bike and rider more aerodynamic. There are plenty of other reasons that pro cyclists use smaller bike frames too, such as a shorter top tube which creates a larger turning radius and minimally slows down the steering, they are also more lightweight and have extra stiffness.

They will also have longer seat posts which offer flex and cushioning with limited vibration transfer, they also provide more room to make flexible adjustments.

And, thanks to the lower top tube, you have less contact with the frame as well, which results in a lower risk of frame contact injuries.

What happens if a bike frame is too small?

If your bike frame is too small you may find riding uncomfortable, your knees may hit the bars, your standing position may be uncomfortable, and you may feel a bit compressed.

However, this is an extreme case. Your bike has to be way too small for it to be totally unfixable for your size. People come in a whole manner of many different shapes and sizes, but bikes only have a few different frame sizes per model, so you will always be forced into making a choice.

The good news for riders is that bikes are very adjustable, and some parts are replaceable too, so if you find that your bike is too small for you, it is very possible that you may be able to make it work with a few adjustments and replaced parts. For example, the seat position can slide up and down, so if you have really long legs, this can help you with that problem, the saddle can also move backwards or forwards, a lifesaver for those with very short, or very long legs, the handlebars and the stem can also be moved around too. You can make all the adjustments needed at home with a few standard household tools, and in some cases you can even do them while out on a ride.

But, if these minor adjustments are not cutting it, then you can also swap parts out such as the stem, in order to increase, or decrease the reach.

There are many different options, and it is better for your bike to be too small rather than too big, you can better adjust it to be bigger, whereas it’s harder to make it smaller.

Why do pros use smaller bike frames?

The logic that pro cyclists use behind their decision to use smaller bike frames is all in the science of it all.

You see, these smaller bike frames are made in a way that provides the rider with a position that enhances the aerodynamics of the bike and rider in order to be able to ride faster.

As anyone who passed their science exams in schools will know, the slimmer the approaching object the less wind resistance they have.

This is exactly the reasoning behind the set-up of a smaller bike frame used by professional cyclists. Not only that but the compact frame also makes the bike more agile.

It will also make the bike easier to manipulate for the rider as well, and the shorter wheelbase offered by these bikes also results in more stability when cornering.

Overall the entire makeup of the bike offers things that professional cyclists need in order to be faster, gain agility and be safer with enhanced stability. Professional cyclists need speed and agility in order to win races, whereas the average cyclist does not necessarily require these same features.

For professionals, it’s about winning that competition, so these factors are necessary in order to best reach that gold medal. 

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