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Frame sizes: The ultimate guide

What size of bike is right for me?

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to answer this question correctly. We did all the work for you though, and behold, you are about to read the ULTIMATE BIKE SIZING GUIDE.

“How many inches are the wheels?”

– the most common MISTAKE people make when asking about bike sizes

You may notice that in our filters, we have this sizing for choosing the right bike:

Ssssh! Let us tell you a secret though: this is not 100% universally optimal. Why?

Because:

1) People are different.

2) Bikes are different.

3) Relationships between people and bikes are different.

 

Wut?

1) Overall body height is one thing. But even if you are say 175 cm tall, your legs can be anywhere between 0 cm and 150 cm. (Ok, 150 cm legs and then head would be pretty weird…)

Anyway, leg (and even arm) length makes a big difference for cycling.

2) Mountain bikes, tricycles or regular comfortable city bikes all have different purpose, and hence need to be built differently. That of course brings variety in sizing.

3) It also makes a difference if you use a road bike for long distance workouts or you turn it into a fixie and use it to stroll the city streets. In other words, it depends HOW you use your bike (and how you want to feel when doing that), too.


Let’s stay smart though.

Unless you’re:

- picking a top-class performance road or mountain bike, or

- you REALLY care about your own comfort (e.g. for medical reasons – having trouble with your back or legs),

bike sizing is actually quite simple and you probably don’t need to spend hours with measuring calculations.

On the other hand, if you’re a performance biker or have severe medical issues, it might just make sense to invest extra time and effort in getting a perfectly fitting bike. Even if that’s the case for you, picking the right size is not the hardest thing. You’ll mainly need to do a proper “bike fitting” (adjust the bike to your needs) afterwards – that is what makes a lot of difference. We’d recommend a performance bike shop for that (that is, a bike shop offering a lot of futuristic-looking race or mountain bikes), those tend to have the equipment and staff well educated on this topic. Feel free to reach out to us and we’ll help you find one.

Speaking of the regular bike SIZING though – what should you look for?


What should you measure?

Need one thing to remember? Unless you are buying a kid’s bicycle, DO NOT THE PICK BIKE SIZE BASED ON WHEEL SIZES – it is similar to picking a bus based on it’s colour. There’s no real logic in that.

This is a seat tube length or a “frame size”:

Frame size (seat tube length) is a decent size indication of a bike fit for person.

This is wheel (or tire) size:

Only very rarely the appropriate size of bikes is given by wheel size. (Namely, kids bikes are classified like that.)

For most cases, you should compare your LEG INSEAM (or TOTAL BODY HEIGHT if you really don’t care that much) to the seat tube length (“FRAME SIZE”).

WHY? Because then you are comparing comparable lengths. When sitting on a bike, your leg inseam (“leg length”) will in reality be stretched between the seat and the pedal. And because leg inseam (A) and body height (B) are typically similar for many people, you can extrapolate the B/A and assign “correct frame sizes” to certain body heights.

The rest of the bike is measured and built in a similar way depending on the bike’s purpose. So on city bikes, the top frame tube length will be in certain ratio to the seat tube length so that you don’t need to stretch too much. Whereas on road bikes the ratio (and frame shape) will be different to ensure you are in aerodynamic position when riding the bike. This is how it works:

So:

1) First thing is choosing the right bike type. (Not sure how to do that? Check our guideline!)

2) Second step is choosing the right bike size.

3) The last thing then is adjusting ("fitting") the bike to your specific needs.

Choosing the right size is important, but it's not THAT much of a big deal because you can do a huge difference with the final "bike fitting" adjustments. Want more detailed information? See the box at the bottom of this articled for advanced info.


What’s the magic formula then?

Well, we need to distinguish between three main types of bikes: city bikes (also valid for classic Dutch type – “omafietsen”, and other with straight posture when cycling), road bikes and mountain bikes.

City bikes - CM

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this frame size of a city bike
Inseam Height Frame - cm Frame - standard
65 - 69 cm 152 - 164 cm 45 - 46 cm XXS
69 - 73 cm 157 - 168 cm 47 - 49 cm XS
73 - 76 cm 162 - 176 cm 50 - 52 cm S
77 - 80 cm 166 - 182 cm 53 - 54 cm M
80 - 84 cm 174 - 186 cm 55 - 57 cm L
84 - 88 cm 178 - 194 cm 58 - 59 cm XL
88 - 91 cm 185 - 198 cm 60 - 62 cm XL
92 - 95 cm 188 - 206 cm 63 - 64 cm XXL
95+ cm 194+ cm 65 - 67 cm XXL

*Less than ~155 cm tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


City bikes - INCHES

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this frame size of a city bike
Inseam Height Frame - inches Frame - standard
25,7” - 27,2” 4' 11" - 5' 4" 18” XXS
27,2” - 28,7” 5' 1" - 5' 6" 19” XS
28,7” - 30,1” 5' 3" - 5' 9" 20” S
30,1” - 31,6” 5' 5" - 5' 11" 21” M
31,6” - 33,1” 5' 8" - 6' 1" 22” L
33,1” - 34,5” 5' 10" - 6' 4" 23” XL
34,5” – 36,0” 6' 0" - 6' 5" 24” XL
36,0” - 37,5” 6' 2" - 6' 9" 25” XXL
37,5”+ 6' 4"+ 26” XXL

*Less than ~4’12” tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


Falling in between sizes? Then remember the smaller the frame, the more dynamic/faster riding style it supports, while larger frame size provides you with more comfort while riding.

Aside from the table, you can also use the commonly know formula:

Leg inseam (A) * 0,68 = your frame size

...but why bother, you got the table above 😉

Search City Bikes >

Road bikes - CM

(1) What is your leg inseam?…or (1) How tall are you?(2) Then look for this frame size of a road bike
InseamHeightFrame - cmFrame - standard
64 - 67 cm140 - 150 cm45 - 46 cmXXS
67 - 71 cm144 - 157 cm47 - 49 cmXS
71 - 74 cm153 - 166 cm50 - 52 cmS
74 - 78 cm162 - 174 cm53 - 54 cmM
78 - 82 cm170 - 183 cm55 - 57 cmL
82 - 85 cm178 - 188 cm58 - 59 cmXL
85 - 89 cm184 - 198 cm60 - 62 cmXL
89 - 93 cm193 - 205 cm63 - 64 cmXXL
93+ cm199+ cm65 - 67 cmXXL

*Less than ~155 cm tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


Road bikes - INCHES

(1) What is your leg inseam?…or (1) How tall are you?(2) Then look for this frame size of a road bike
InseamHeightFrame - inchesFrame - standard
25,0” - 26,4”4' 7" - 4' 11"18”XXS
26,4” - 27,9”4' 8" - 5' 1"19”XS
27,9” - 29,3”5' 0" - 5' 5"20”S
29,3” - 30,7”5' 3" - 5' 8"21”M
30,7” - 32,2”5' 6" - 6' 0"22”L
32,2” - 33,6”5' 10" - 6' 2"23”XL
33,6” - 35,0”6' 0" - 6' 5"24”XL
35,0” - 36,4”6' 3" - 6' 8"25”XXL
37,2”+6' 6"+26”XXL

*Less than ~4’12” tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


Falling in between sizes? Then remember the smaller the frame, the more dynamic/faster riding style it supports, while larger frame size provides you with more comfort while riding.

Aside from the table, you can also use the commonly known formula:

Leg inseam (A) * 0,7 = your frame size

...but why bother, you got the table above 😉

Search Road Bikes >

Mountain bikes - CM

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this FRAME size of a mountain bike
Inseam HeightFrame - cm Frame - standard
55 - 59 cm 150 - 160 cm 32 - 34 cm XXS
59 - 64 cm 150 - 165 cm 35 - 36 cm XS
64 - 68 cm 155 - 170 cm 37 - 39 cm S
68 - 72 cm 165 - 175 cm 40 - 41 cm S
72 - 77 cm 170 - 180 cm 42 - 44 cm M
77 - 81 cm 175 - 185 cm 45 - 46 cm M
81 - 85 cm 180 - 190 cm 47 - 49 cm L
85 - 90 cm 184 - 193 cm 50 - 52 cm L
90 - 94 cm 187 - 196 cm 53 - 54 cm XL
94 - 97 cm 190 - 200 cm 55 - 57 cm XL
97+ cm 195+ cm 58 - 59 cm XXL

*Less than ~155 cm tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


Mountain bikes - INCHES

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this FRAME size of a mountain bike
Inseam Height Frame - inches Frame - standard
21,6” - 23,3” 4' 11" - 5' 2" 13” XXS
23,3” – 25,0” 4' 11" - 5' 4" 14” XS
25,0” - 26,7” 5' 1" - 5' 6" 15” S
26,7” - 28,4” 5' 4" - 5' 8" 16” S
28,4” - 30,2” 5' 6" - 5' 10" 17” M
30,2” - 31,9” 5' 8" - 6' 0" 18” M
31,9” - 33,6” 5' 10" - 6' 2" 19” L
33,6” - 35,3” 6' 0" - 6' 3" 20” L
35,3” - 37,1” 6' 1" - 6' 5" 21” XL
37,1” - 38,8” 6' 2" - 6' 6" 22” XL
38,8”+ 6' 4"+ 23” XXL

*Less than ~4’12” tall? Check out the kids sizes. Same bikes, but cheaper!


Falling in between sizes? Then remember the smaller the frame, the more dynamic/faster riding style it supports, while larger frame size provides you with more comfort while riding.

Aside from the table, you can also use the commonly know formula:

Leg inseam (A) * 0,58 = your frame size

...but why bother, you got the table above 😉

Search Mountain Bikes >

Special cases

There's a couple of special bike types which have their sizes set in a different way: most notably kids bikes, folding bikes and BMX. Aside from those, there's a plenty of other bike types with a similar issue, but we'll devote a separate article to those peculiar (read: really REALLY interesting) bikes.


Kids bikes

Kids bikes are as the only bike type classified by wheel size. It is because the frames are so small that different wheel sizes simply make bigger size steps than the frames.

(1) Body height …or (1) approx. age (2) Then look for this WHEEL size of a kids bike
Height - cm Height - inches Age Wheel size - inches
80 – 100 cm 2' 7" - 3' 3" 1 - 4 10”
85 – 105 cm 2' 9" - 3' 5" 2 - 5 12”
95 – 110 cm 3' 1" - 3' 7" 3 - 5 14”
105 – 115 cm 3' 5" - 3' 9" 4 - 6 16”
110 – 125 cm 3' 7" - 4' 1" 5 - 8 18”
120 – 135 cm 3' 11" - 4' 5" 7 - 9 20”
125 – 140 cm 4' 1" - 4' 7" 8 - 10 22”
135 – 145 cm 4' 5" - 4' 9" 9 - 12 24”
140+ cm 4' 7"+ 1 1+ 26”
Search Kids Bikes >

Folding bikes

Folding bikes are the easiest to size – manufacturers typically stick to the “one size fits all” approach. And while folding bikes DO come in different wheel sizes (16, 20, 24, 26 and 27.5″ with 20” being the most popular), this doesn’t reflect in variability for user height. In other words:

There is NO SIZING for folding bikes.

We even put it in a table for those who skip the text:

Folding bikes - CM

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this FRAME size of a folding bike
55 - 95+ cm 150 – 210+ cm Folding bike frame sizes are universal. And while wheel sizes differ, they do not set ideal user height

Folding bikes – INCHES

(1) What is your leg inseam? …or (1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this FRAME size of a folding bike
21" - 37"+ 4' 11" - 6' 10"+ Folding bike frame sizes are universal. And while wheel sizes differ, they do not set ideal user height


Search Folding Bikes >

BMX

BMXs size is measured differently – it is the top tube size. Top tube is the top part of the frame that connects the head tube (front of the bike) with the seat tube.

Wheel sizes also play a role, BMX bikes come in 12-24” wheel sizes (20” being the standard). Typically, 16 inch wheels go for kids BMXs, 18 inch wheels are for small freestyle bikes, 20 is the standard for most BMX bikes and 24 is usually only for cruiser bikes. But just like with “ordinary” bikes, you shouldn’t pick BMX based (only) on a wheel size.

(1) How tall are you? (2) Then look for this frame (TOP TUBE) size of a BMX
Height - cm Height - inches Inches cm Standard
120 – 130 cm 3' 11'' - 4' 3'' 15” - 16,5” 38 – 42 cm Micro Mini
130 – 140 cm 4' 3'' - 4' 7'' 16” - 17,5” 41 - 44 cm Mini
140 – 150 cm 4' 7'' - 4' 11'' 17” - 19” 43 - 48 cm Mini/Junior
150 – 160 cm 4' 11'' - 5' 2'' 18,5” - 20” 47 - 51 cm Junior
160 – 170 cm 5' 2'' - 5' 6'' 19,5” - 21” 50 - 53 cm Expert/Pro
170 – 180 cm 5' 6'' - 5' 10'' 20,5” - 21,5” 52 - 55 cm Pro XL
180+ cm 5' 10''+ 21” - 22” 53 – 56 cm Pro XXL

Aside from a general fit, you should also consider what you want to use the bike for. Just like with other bikes, the smaller the size, the more agile you will be, but the less stability will the bike provide. This is how it translates to a specific use of your BMX:

  Park

Park riders typically prefer more responsive bikes. So shorter top tube, chain stay and a steeper head tube angle. Pick slightly smaller size from our table above.

  Trails

Trail/dirt riders usually like bigger and more stable bikes. So, a longer top tube, chain stay and a slacker head tube angle.  This should give your ride more stability and comfort even on large jumps.

  Street

Street riders typically pick something in between, depending on their personal preference. Street BMXs are typically a bit sturdier to endure grinding and flat landings.

Search BMX

Fitting the bike

Frankly, choosing your size is the easy part. Once you’re through with that, you need to actually FIND IT (which is sometimes the hardest thing on the whole process – you can start with our marketplace 😉) and TEST IT properly. This article will tell you more about how to do that.

Once you actually got the bike, the real “alchemy” starts – FITTING YOUR NEW BIKE specifically to your needs. That means adjusting all its movable parts and eventually replacing those that are easily replaced so that the bike fits you like a glove. We’re preparing an article on this topic, but let us say one thing here: as long as you are in the right ballpark with the size,

you can do more “magic” with proper fitting than with spending eternity with picking/searching for the super-optimal size.


ADVANCED BIKE FITTING BOX

If you spend a lot of time on your bike – think ca 2+ hours per average ride/workout, or 12+ hours per week – or for any reason you REALLY care about having your bike perfectly fit you, these are the basics.

Key things to consider when fitting your bike are CONTACT POINTS. Contact points are places where you (rider) come in contact with the bike.



Depending on a bike type, your preferred riding style (position) and your body constitution, you need a bike with different distances and angles between the contact points. This is a good illustration of how the principle works:



There are many things you should consider (and eventually set up) on a bike to achieve the optimal fit: saddle height, horizontal position in the seat post (“fore/aft position”) and angle, headset height, angle, stem length etc.


This is a cool video showing a bike set up by a professional (with some cool tips on the side):

Then you can use different equipment based on your setup – for instance, different seat types (shape, hardness) or handlebar types fit different riding styles. As mentioned above though – those things are mainly important for advanced bikers and/or cyclists with specific needs.

There’s a whole “science” around bike fitting though, so we’ll get in more detail in a different article.



Good luck and have fun! 😊



FIND OUT MORE:

How to choose (and check) a second-hand bike

Bike locks: How do I choose the right one?! The ultimate guide.

Frame number: The real hero of the bike theft battle & how it can save your bike

Anti-theft 1.0: The basics of bike locking

The Science of Bike Locking: Outsmart the Thieves!


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