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How to Choose the Right Fixed Gear Frame Size (Guide)

Choosing the right frame sizes has never been easier.

Gray fixed gear bike with thick-slick tires against brick background. Source: Zifeng Zhang, Unsplash
Gray fixed gear bike with thick-slick tires against brick background. Source: Zifeng Zhang, Unsplash

If you’re considering building out a fixed gear bike, you might be wondering how to determine what frame size you should get. Fortunately, choosing the right frame is not as difficult as you might think. So, let’s discuss how to choose the right size frame for your fixed gear build

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, take a look at our sizing chart on this page. 

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn how to choose a bike frame that’s right for you.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on October 31, 2021, to include additional information regarding fixed gear frame sizes.

Why is frame size important?

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

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If you ride a bike that is too large for you, you will quickly feel overstretched.

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

How is frame size determined?

A bike frame is measured by the length of the top tube (L). This measurement is typically denoted in centimeters. You will often hear bike size and frame size used interchangeably. Check out our guide on how to determine your ideal bike size for more information.

Mountain bikes are measured in either 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. 

A common bicycle frame geometry schema.
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A common bicycle frame geometry schema.

What are the common fixed gear frame sizes?

The most common frame sizes are 49 cm, 53 cm, and 57cm. A 49 cm frame is considered small, a 53 cm frame is considered medium, and a 57 cm frame is considered large, there is more to consider when picking your fixie than simply the frame size.

Smaller frames promote performance characteristics like maneuverability and acceleration rates, whilst bigger frames provide stability and comfort.

49 Centimeter (49cm)

A frame of 49 cm is considered small. Obviously, shorter riders favor smaller fixie frames, but there are other qualities of a tiny frame to consider. Many riders who value performance choose smaller frames because they allow for lower handlebar positions, which results in more power and acceleration. 

Lower handlebar positions are less comfortable but provide a boost in performance. Taller riders who find tiny bikes unwieldy should go for a bigger frame.

53 Centimeter (53cm)

53 cm frames are considered medium-sized. This is an outstanding all-around fixie frame size that provides a comfortable ride for riders of average proportions while also offering a good balance of performance and stability. Other components of the bike, including the handlebars and saddle, may be modified to suit riders with varying riding styles.

57 Centimeter (57cm)

A frame of 57 cm in length is considered large. Larger frames provide a more stable ride, which is ideal for tall riders. 

Handlebar settings may be placed high on the 57 cm frame, providing for a more comfortable seating posture for riders looking to cruise. However, performance is lost. 

Shorter cyclists should bear in mind that they may struggle with the pedals on a bigger bike, making contacting the ground or resting difficult or even impossible.

How to choose the right size frame

If you’re purchasing a frame online, here are some pointers to help you choose the right one.

1. Determine Your Height

Knowing your height will allow you to make a more accurate bike size selection. This is because most bike manufacturers use height as a key metric when considering riding comfort.

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

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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.

If you can not 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 for most people, they are sufficient.

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 can tell you that the size chart is accurate. 

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).

Can I use standover height to determine frame size?

While researching the proper frame size, you might have run into a bicycle gemoetry term called standover height.

The standover height is the distance between the ground and the top tube of the bike.

However, standover height only applies to fully assembled bikes, not individual frames.

This requires the bike frame to have wheels attached. Therefore, You can’t figure out the standover height on a frame alone. That is why standover height is not applicable when determining frame size.

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

Fixed gear bikes are unisex, meaning there are no women’s and woman’s fixed gear bikes. However, it should be noted that there are distinctions between men and women that should be noted.

Women’s torsos are often shorter, necessitating a shorter top tube. This is when “woman-specific” designs enter the picture. These bicycles may be suitable for guys with shorter upper bodies or riders who want a more upright riding stance. Top tube length may be modified to an effective length by employing varied stem sizes, although this might have a size on handling.

Woman casually riding a fixie on the boardwalk.
Woman casually riding a fixie on the boardwalk.

Conclusion

It might be difficult to find the correct frame size. 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
  • Frame size is measured by the length of the top tube
  • You measure your height and use the bike manufacturer sizing chart
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I ride a 52cm. How about you? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Written by Bradly 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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