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How to Choose the Right Bike Size (2 Methods)

In this article, you will learn why choosing the right size bike is important, and how you can choose the bike size that’s right for you.

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If you’re considering buying a fixed-gear or single-speed bike online, you might be wondering how to determine your bike size. Fortunately, choosing the proper fixed-gear or single-speed bike is not as difficult as you might think. So let’s discuss how to choose the right size for your fixed gear bike

To determine the ideal size of your bike, identify your height in inches or centimeters and reference the manufacturer’s sizing chart, typically found on their website. If they don’t have a size chart, look at our sizing chart on this page.

Blue tsunami snm100 single speed bike with drop bars and pedal straps on city streets. Source: arif maulana, unsplash
Blue Tsunami Snm100 Single Speed Bike With Drop Bars And Pedal Straps On City Streets. Source: Arif Maulana, Unsplash

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn why choosing the right size bike is so important, how a bike’s size is determined, and how you can choose the bike size that’s right for you.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 26, 2022, to include additional information about the sizes of fixed-gear bikes.

Before learning how to choose a bike, let’s first understand why choosing the right size is important.

Why it’s important to choose the right size bike

Choosing the right size bike is essential for your safety and comfort. The wrong size can increase your risk of injury and make riding difficult and frustrating. 

You will feel stretched out if you ride a bike that is too large for you. In the worst-case scenario, you may not even be able to touch the pedals when they are in their lowest position. 

If you ride a bike that is too small for you, you will likely feel cramped and may be unable to raise the saddle high enough to pedal effectively.

You get locked into position if you start riding with pedal straps, clips, or clip-in pedals. Therefore, sizing becomes critical. When riding clipless, having the wrong bike size may cause discomfort or even long-term damage to your body.

Black look fixed gear bike. Source: unsplash
Black look fixed gear bike. Source: unsplash

How is a bike’s size determined?

Typically, when talking about bike sizes, we refer to the bike’s frame’s dimensions (either the bike’s seat tube length or the top tube length). This is why you often hear bike size and frame size used interchangeably.

The seat tube length is commonly used to determine its size. The seat tube length measurement is taken from the center of the bottom bracket (BB) or the center of the bolt that connects the crank arms. However, this varies by brand; some measure to the top of the top tube where it joins the seat tube, while others measure to the center of the top tube. 

Mountain bikes are measured in inches or descriptive sizes (small, medium, etc.). Fixed gear, single-speed, and road bikes are measured in centimeters or descriptive measurements, although hybrid bikes may be any of the three. 

How to determine the right-sized bike for yourself

If you’re purchasing a bike online and won’t be able to test ride it to get the ideal size, here are some pointers to help you find the right size bike for you.

  1. Determine your height

    It’s astonishing how many people are unaware of their height. Yet, knowing your actual height will allow you to make a more accurate bike size selection. Also, the rider’s height is a key factor for most bike makers when they think about how comfortable the bike is to ride.

    Don’t have a way to measure? Here are a few measuring tapes you can use to help you determine your eight.

  2. Check the manufacturers’ sizing chart

    Once you’ve determined your height, find the manufacturer’s sizing chart. Their website should contain this information. That will give you a good indication of what size you need.

  3. Ascertain your inseam

    If you have access to the bike’s specs, you might be able to determine the ideal height using your inseam measurements and the standover height measurements. This should be used with your height when determining your bike size.

    The standover height is the distance between the ground and the top tube of the bike. Compare your in-seam (pant leg length) to this measurement. 

    The inner seam is measured from the crotch region where the saddle would be to the floor. 
    Multiply this measurement in centimeters by 0.67. For example, suppose your inner seam was 85cm long (85 x 0.67 = 56.95). Your optimal top tube length is 56.95cm. Therefore, you should seek a 57cm bike or a size close to that.

    The standover height rule is a good way to figure out what size fixie bike you need without trying out your new one.

How to use a bike sizing chart

Once you’ve determined your height, find the manufacturer’s sizing chart. Their website should contain this information. That will give you a good indication of what size you need.

If you cannot find a proper fixed gear bike sizing chart on the manufacturer’s website, check out our chart below. 

HeightInside LegFrame Size
5’1″ – 5’3″27″ – 29″48cm
5’3″ – 5’5″28″ – 30″50cm
5’5″ – 5’7″29″ – 31″52cm
5’7″ – 5’9″30″ – 32″54cm
5’9″ – 5’11”31″ – 33″56cm
5’11 – 6’2″32″ – 34″58cm
6’1″ – 6’5″33″ – 35″60cm
Fixed gear and single speed bike size guide.

These are estimates, but it works for most people. Keep in mind that not everyone’s size is the same. If you know you want your bike to be a little bigger, choose one size larger than the recommended size (the same goes if you know you want a smaller bike). 

I’m 5’7, and my 52-inch frame size is perfect for me. So I know the size chart is accurate. 

How to have a professional determine the right bike size for you

It’s also helpful to go to a bike shop where they can measure each part of the bike with accurate tools. This will help you find the right frame and ensure that all parts of the bike are made with your riding needs in mind.

There are also Web, iOS, and Android apps that make selecting the correct bike size much easier. These apps allow users to input their height and weight and other physical characteristics like arm length and leg width to find an appropriate bicycle fitment. Additionally, these apps have information about popular brands of bikes so that you can compare specifications side by side before making a purchase decision.

How do you know when you have purchased the wrong sized bike?

Most of the time, people simply buy the bikes recommended by bike shop owners or experts. However, shop owners are sometimes only interested in selling the bikes they have in stock, regardless of whether they are the best ones for the buyers. 

If you are constantly bothered by back pain, your new bike may not be the best choice. Something may be wrong with its frame size, saddle, or other components that do not correspond to your preferred bike. Additionally, if the saddle on your new bike is too high for riding (even in the lowest setting) or vice versa, you’ve probably purchased the wrong bike size.

What if I got my bike size wrong?

If you go the wrong size bike, ask your merchant if you can return your bike to get the correct one. If you do not wish to do so, you may do the following:

  1. Move your saddle to the front or rear.
  2. Choose a longer or shorter stem.
  3. Buy a longer seat post.
  4. Give it time to get the feeling right.

If you want even more tips, watch this video called Bike Sizing: Laying Down the Law on How to Properly Size Yourself up On a Fixed Gear Bike from the Pure Cycles YouTube Channel.

A video called Bike Sizing: Laying Down the Law on How to Properly Size Yourself up On a Fixed Gear Bike from the Pure Cycles YouTube Channel.

A video called “Bike Sizing” from Pure Cycles’ YouTube Channel

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about how to choose the right bike size.

What size bicycle is right for my height?

When choosing the right size bicycle for your height, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. That being said, here are some general guidelines that may help you:

For individuals between 5’4″ and 6’2″, a standard bike or city bike fit should be sufficient. However, if you’re taller than 6′, an oversized bike might be better suited.

For those between 5’3″ and 5’9″, a small frame (under 54 inches) is usually ideal. However, those over 5’9″ can often benefit from a medium or large frame size, depending on their leg length and body type.

Is there a difference between men’s and women’s fixed gear bikes?

No. Fixed gear bikes are unisex, meaning there are women’s and men’s fixed gear bikes. They’re the same. However, it should be noted that there are distinctions between men and women that should be noted when considering a bike or bike parts.

Women’s torsos are often shorter, necessitating a shorter top tube. This is when “woman-specific” designs enter the picture. These bicycles may suit guys with shorter upper bodies or riders who want a more upright stance. Using different-sized stems can change the top tube length to a useful length, but this might change how the bike handles.

How do I know what size bike to buy?

The best and most accurate way to ensure a perfect bike fit is to use your inseam in relation to the bike’s seat height. The seat height of a bike is determined by the frame and wheel size.

Conclusion

It might seem difficult to find the correct bike size. This is especially true if you are accustomed to riding road bike frames and are transitioning to fixed gears. But hopefully, these tips will help you select the size that’s right for you.

In this article, we covered how to determine what size bike you should get when shopping around for a new fixie. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Choosing the right bike size is important for comfort and safety.
  • You measure your height and use the bike manufacturer’s sizing chart.
  • Try measuring your inseam and comparing that to the standover height of the bike. This should be located somewhere in the specs of the bike.

I’m riding a 52cm. How about you? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed bikes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Blue tsunami snm100 single speed bike with drop bars and pedal straps on city streets. Pinterest
Blue tsunami snm100 single speed bike with drop bars and pedal straps on city streets. Pinterest
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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