Are you buying your bike for the first time or are you looking to go back into cycling? Maybe you’re buying a kid’s bike for your little one? While you may be tempted to just grab a good-looking bike based on its design, there are several things you have to consider when shopping for the correct bike size.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s our easy but comprehensive bike size guide for adults, as well as a kid’s bike guide.
Bike size guide: Parts of the bike
For the beginner riders out there, there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you don’t know the first thing about bikes. And getting to know the parts of the bike is the first step!
By learning the different parts of the bike, you will later find it easier to calculate how big or small you need based on your body dimensions.
Here are the most basic parts of the bike that you need to know:
- Seat – Also known as a saddle, this is where the rider sits
- Seat post – This part mounts the saddle and connects it to the frame.
- Frame – This part is the skeleton of the bike that determines its size. It’s the main structure made from steel, aluminum, titanium, or fibre.
- Wheels – This goes without any explanation. Tires are composed of the tire, the rim, and spokes, which connect the tire to the fork.
- Components – These are the moving mechanical parts of the bike which includes the brake, front and back derailers, chain, crank.
- Stem – As the name suggests, the stem is the short tube that connects the frame to the handlebars.
- Handlebar and grips – Where you place your hands and where the brake is also located.
It’s important to know that when buying a bike for your height or size, the bike frame is the most important component. Take note that bike frames also differ depending on the type of bike you’re getting…
What are the different types of bikes?
Before you can determine the size you need for a bike, you have to understand that bikes are built differently. They are often tailored to withstand the conditions of the road they’re supposed to traverse, as well as their intended rider.
The most common bike types are as follows:
City or utility bikes
Designed for leisure biking, commuting, or doing errands. Bikes built this way cannot stand dirt roads or tricky trails.
They are made to endure narrow dirt roads. They have wide and flat handlebars which give riders more control and their breaks are made for handling steep climbs.
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Road or racing bikes
Also known as a 10-speed (or 18-speed) these bikes have slim tires so they can roll fast on paved areas. These can also be used in the city or while doing chores.
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They may look like your typical road bike but they have larger, more knobby tires for off the road use. They also have extra mounts for accessories where bags and bottles can go.
The frame is also designed to give comfort for the rider, which can be handy given that adventure or gravel bikes are used on unpaved surfaces.
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A hybrid is part road bike and part mountain bike. It has the good bits of both so it’s suitable for both purposes and it’s usually considered the “general purpose” type of bike.
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Children’s bikes are built differently to accommodate their needs. Often, they come with training wheels and they’re more lightweight too. Some kids’ bikes are modified as pedal-less “balance bikes” designed to train toddlers. Then there are also tricycles or bikes with three wheels.
Browse kids bikes >
What bicycle size is right for my height?
Now, it’s time for the actual measuring to find out the correct bike size for you. What are the measurements you’re supposed to take?
How do I measure myself for a bike?
To know the correct bike size for you, you need to measure these things:
- Height – Measure in inches or centimeters
- Inseam – Length of your leg when sitting on a bike
These measurements are necessary to figure out the correct bike frame for you.
Measuring your height should not be a problem but getting the inseam measurement can be a little tricky. Here’s how to get it:
How do I measure my inseam for a bike?
- Stand with your back against a wall. Make sure to spread your leg by six to eight inches.
- Place a book between your legs and pretend that the spine of the book is a bike seat.
- With the help of a friend, measure from the top of the book (spine) down to the floor.
What bike frame should I get for my height?
Once you have your height and inseam measurements, you can calculate the size of your bike frame. Some websites have a bike frame size calculator, but it may be easier if you take a look at these charts.
Take note that the boxes in yellow are the most fitting bike frames for your height.
Bike frame charts for road bikes:
|Height||Inseam||Bike frame size||Bike size|
|5’ to 5’4”||Below 27″||49 cm||Extra small|
|5’4” to 5’8”||27″ to 29″||49 cm to 54 cm||Small|
|5’8” to 5’10”||29″ to 31″||52 cm to 56 cm||Medium|
|5″10″ to 6′||31″ to 33″||54 cm to 58 cm||Large|
|6′ to 6’3″||33″ to 35″||56 cm to 61 cm||Extra large|
|6’3″ to 6’6″||35” and up||61 cm||XXL|
Bike frame charts for mountain bikes:
|Inseam||Bike frame size||Bike size|
|5’ to 5’3”||Below 27″||33 cm||Extra small|
|5’3” to 5’7”||27″ to 29″||38 cm||Small|
|5’7” to 5’11”||29″ to 31″||43 cm||Medium|
|5″11″ to 6′2”||31″ to 33″||48 cm||Large|
|6′2” to 6’4″||33″ to 35″||
|6’4″ to 6’6″||35” and up||58 cm||XXL|
Kids bike size guide
You may think that buying bikes for kids is easier. Wrong. It can be equally difficult since kids have growth spurts and it’s not like you can buy according to age. We have to bear in mind that children are built differently too and they grow at different rates!
The best thing to do is base the bike frame and wheel size on your children’s height, though some retailers can also recommend wheel sizes based on age and gender.
[Header image here of Kids bike size guide.jpg; Alt text = Kids bike size guide]
Bike frame chart for kids bikes
|Inside Leg Range||Frame Size||Wheel Size||Age Guide|
|13” to 16”||8” to 9”||12”||3+|
|16” to 20”||9” to 10”||14”||4+|
|17” to 20”||10” to 11”||16”||5+|
|19” to 22”||10” to 11”||18” to 20”||6+|
|20” to 23”||12”||20”||7+|
|21” to 24”||13”||20”||7+|
|22” to 26”||12”||24”||8+|
|23” to 26”||13”||24”||8+|
|24” to 27”||14”||24”||8+|
|24” to 28”||14”||26”||9+|
|27” to 32”||17”||26”||Young teens|
How do you know if kids are using the correct bike size?
Here is a simple checklist to know if your kid has found the correct bike size:
- They can put the balls of their feet on the floor while sitting on the saddle.
- There’s enough room for them to stand over the top tube.
- When they stand, there’s around 25 to 55 mm space between their bums and the saddle.
- They can reach the handlebars fine without slouching or leaning forward too much.
- For toddlers, it is recommended that they practice without pedals first and they can do that with balance bikes.
Check out balance bikes for kids >
How do I choose a bike for my child?
If you are shopping for your kid’s first bike, it may also be important to get their opinion on the bike before you make your purchase. Maybe they want a bike with the design of their favorite character or maybe they want to pick the colour of the bike.
By making them part of the decision, they would be more excited to learn (and maybe less afraid to ride, for the more anxious tots!)
And while you’re at it, you can also throw in some bike gears or cycling outfit into your shopping cart!
Shop for cycling accessories >