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What Size Bike Should I Buy For My Height: Bike Sizing Guide


Let’s face it; getting the right size of bike is no trial and error game. You need to do some basic or advanced measurements for accuracy to avoid sacrificing your comfort and injuries from riding the wrong bike.what size bike should i buy for my height

So, what size bike should I buy for my height? The bike size that fits just right depends on multiple factors starting with your height, your riding style, and type of bike. For a start, you need to measure your height. Next, consider your riding style, and finally, the type of the bike.

A bike size chart can be of tremendous help in determining your optimal bike frame size. A road bike size calculator can help too.

In this article, I will show you how to finally answer that all important question “what size bike should i get for my height?”

I know you might find the numbers and the charts boring (who doesn’t?) but take it from me: it’s well worth it!

How To Find the Right Size Bike

There are several options: you can either calculate, refer to bike-size charts, trial and error method and even talking to sellers.

Method 1: Use A Bike Size Calculator To Calculate The Bike Size

We are still on the burning question: “what size bike do i need for my height?” To begin with, you can summon your calculator and get to play with the numbers.

But first, capture your leg inseam.

Here is how:

  • Remove your shoes.
  • Stand, your feet spread 6 – 8 inches (15-20 cm) apart against a wall.
  • Place a book in-between your legs (still up against the said wall, spine up), raising it until snug against your crotch.
  • Ask a friend to measure from the book top (spine) down to the ground.  That’s your leg inseam.
  • Now grab your calculator and insert the inseam.

Here are my simplified formulas:

Now you can pick the appropriate formula based on your favorite type of bike.

Type of bike Best frame size
Mountain bike  =Leg inseam (in cm) x 0.66
City bike  =Leg inseam (in cm) x 0.685
Road bike  =Leg inseam (in cm) x 0.70

Got that? If not, you can use the charts.

Method 2: Bike Sizing Charts

First and foremost, measure your height (if you have a friend, ask him/her to help):

Step 1: Take off the socks and shoes.

Step 2: Remove everything from the head (Don’t wear a headband or a hat)

Step 3: Stand, your back against a wall plus your feet together.

Step 4: Mark on the wall (with a pencil) the highest point of your head.

Step 5: Take a measuring tape and measure from the floor/ground to the marked point.

That’s your height!

Now, to get your correct bike size for height, compare your findings with the bike size chart inches I have added below.

And remember the bike type is very important when consulting the charts. For instance, if you are a mountain bike guy, you will get your optimal bike size by looking at the mountain bike frame size chart.

Likewise, if you are buying a bike as a birthday gift for your young one, your best bet is the kids’ bikes size chart.

I hope you get the drift. Can I now take you through the typical charts? Here now:

A: Road Bike Frame Size Chart

And before I forget, even women and men are different- at least as far as the charts are concerned in some cases.

For example, women and children have shorter arms so the charts reflect this.

What if you your height/inseam falls somewhere in-between two sizes?

This is the widely accepted rule of thumb for this: Select the smaller size as it’s much easier to control.

Road Bikes Frame Chart For Men

Your Height Recommended Men Road Bike Size
Feet and Inches/ In Centimeters Centimeters
4’10” – 5’0″ inches (or 148 – 152cm)  47 – 48cm /XX-Small
5’0″ – 5’3″ inches (or 152 – 160cm)  49 – 50cm  /X-Small
5’3″ – 5’6″ inches (or 160 – 168cm) 51 – 53cm  /Small
5’6″ – 5’9″ inches (or 168 – 175cm) 54 – 55cm  /Medium
5’9″ – 6’0″ inches (or 175 – 183cm) 56 – 58cm/  Large
6’0″ – 6’3″ inches (or 183 – 191cm)  58 – 60cm / X-Large
6’3″ – 6’6″ inches (or 191 – 198cm)  61 – 63cm / XX-Large

Road Bikes Frame Chart For Women

Your Height Recommended Women’s Frame Size
Feet and Inches/ In Centimeters Centimeters
4’10” – 5’1″ inches (or 147cm – 155cm) 44 – 46cm /XX-Small
5’1″ – 5’3″ inches (or 155cm – 160cm) 47 – 49cm/ X-Small
5’3″ – 5’5″ inches (or 160cm – 165cm) 50 – 52cm/ Small
5’5″ – 5’8″ inches (or 165cm – 172cm) 53 – 55cm /Medium
5’8″ – 5’10” inches (or 172cm – 180cm) 56 – 57cm /Large

B: Mountain Bike Frame Size Chart

If you are a mountain bike fan, you are likely to ask “what size frame do I need for a mountain bike??”

Well, for mountain bikes, the best size will also depend on the type of use you intend to put the bike to.

Smaller bikes are likely to be more maneuverable and magnificent for a rider who like testing the more adventurous routes. On the other hand, cross country riders are better off with larger bikes as you will find them faster.

Here are the answers to the question what size bike should I ride to the woods?

Mountain Bikes Size Chart For Men

Your Height Recommended  Mountain Bike’s Frame Size (men)
Feet and Inches/ In Centimeters  (inches/cm)
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148cm – 158cm) 13″ – 14″ (33 – 37 cm) / XS
5’2″ – 5’6″ inches (or 158cm – 168cm) 15″ – 16″ (38 – 42 cm) /S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ inches (or 168cm – 178cm) 17″ – 18″ (43 – 47 cm) /M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178cm – 185cm) 19″ – 20″ (48 – 52 cm) /L
6’1″ – 6’4″ inches (or 185cm – 193cm) 21″ – 22″ (53 – 57 cm) /XL
6’4″ – 6’6″ inches (or 193cm – 198cm) 23″ – 24″ (58 – 61 cm) /XXL

Mountain Bikes Size Chart For Women

Women’s MTBs are known to be slightly shorter in length. I have also noticed that my partner’s MTB has narrower handlebars and a smaller frame.

One thing I like about women mountain bikes is the sleek color schemes!

Here is the women’s mountain bike chart.

Your Height Recommended  Mountain bike’s Frame Size (women)
Feet and Inches/ In Centimeters  (inches/cm)
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148cm – 158cm) 13″ – 14″ /(33 – 37 cm)/ XS
5″2” – 5″6″inches (or 158cm to 168cm) 15″ – 16″/(38 – 42 cm) /S
5’7″ – 5’9″ inches (or 168cm – 178cm) 17″ – 18″/(43 – 47 cm) /M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178cm – 185cm) 19″+/(48 + cm) /L

Having said that, these designs’ measurements are pretty much taken the same way so it’s not uncommon to find a unisex MTB super fitting.

C: Hybrid Bike Size Chart

If you are torn between mountain and road bikes, you can ‘sit on the fence’ by going for a hybrid bike as it gives the best of both worlds!

This decision would bring the question what size bike frame should I get for hybrid bikes?

Or to put it more clearly, how big of a bike do I need as a hybrid bike enthusiast?

Hybrid bikes are sized in inches/centimeters as per the length of their seat tube. Occasionally, different manufacturers use a general sizing such as medium or large.

Hybrid Bikes Size Chart For Men

Your Height Recommended  Hybrid bike’s Frame Size (men)
Feet and Inches /centimeters  (inches/cm)
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148 – 158cm) 13″ – 14″ /(33 – 37cm)/XS
5″2″ – 5″6″ inches (or 158 to 168cm) 15″ – 16″ /( 38 – 42cm)/S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ inches (or 168 – 178cm) 17″ – 18″ /( 43 – 47cm)/M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178 – 185cm) 19″ – 20″ ( 48 – 52cm)/L
6’1″ – 6’4″ inches (or 185-193cm) 21″ – 22″ ( 53 – 57cm)/XL
6’4″ – 6’6″ inches (or 193-198cm) 23″ – 24″ ( 58 – 61cm)/XXL

Hybrid Bikes Size Chart For Women

As with the other types of bikes, Most of the hybrid bikes targeted at women have very specific frame geometry and will fit women comfortably. Here is a good guide.

Your Height Recommended  Hybrid bike’s Frame Size (women)
Feet and Inches Feet and Inches /centimeters  (inches/cm)
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148-158cm) 13″ – 14″/(33 – 37cm)/XS
5″2″ -5″6″ inches (or 158 to 168cm) 15″ – 16″/( 38 – 42cm)/S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ inches (or 168-178cm) 17″ – 18″/( 43 – 47cm)/M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178-185cm) 19″+ /(48cm +)

D: Bike Size Chart For Kids

Getting the right bike size for your kid can even more daunting. First, children grow so fast so you’re never sure whether he will still be comfortable with it by the next birthday.

Then, kids have their own tastes and he/she may not necessarily like your selection. I don’t even want to remind you that youngsters may be the same age but have different height meaning you can’t assume he will be fine with his/her cousin’s bike size!

Did I mention that for kids we focus on the diameter of the bike’s wheel?

Yes, that’s correct! It’s the wheels’ diameter that determines the rest of the measurements. Not the frame like in adult bikes.

It’s confusing, right? I know. You see, I have been there and really spent time thinking “what size bike should I buy for my child?” he was 8 years then and it was nightmarish.

Either way, measure your kids’ height before even thinking about questions like what size bike do I need for my child?

And because our children can be so different, you are better off using any of the following kids’ bike size:

Kid’s height

Feet and Inches /Centimeters

Age Range

(years)

Recommended Wheel
3″”- 3″5″ inches (or 90 – 105cms) 2 – 4 12″
3’5″ – 3’9″ inches (or 105 – 118cms) 4 – 7 14-16″
3’9″ – 4’5″ inches (or 118 – 135cms) 7 – 10 18-20″
4″5″ – 5″” inches (or 135 – 150cms) 10 – 13 24″
5’+ inches (or 150cm+) 13 +years 26-27.5″

Do you remember our rule of thumb? Always go for the lower size if the measurements are in between.

So, What Size Bike For A 4 Year Old?

The best bike wheel size for a 4 year old is 12-inches. He/she is still learning the ropes of biking and needs a bike that’s super comfy to motivate him to ride and explore.

 Then, What Size Bike For 5 Year Old?

The optimum wheel size for a 5 year old is 14 inches as per the recommendations of different manufacturers.

Whenever unsure on what size bike does a 5 year old need, let the height guide you and pick the lower unit in all cases where the height lies in-between.

What Size Bike For A 7 Year Old

If you are wondering what size bike for a 7 year old is the best, then it should be 18 inches.

“What Size Bike For A 6 Year Old?”

While for the question “what size bike for a 6 year old?” the coziest wheel size would be 14 inches according to the current Kids Bike Size Chart.

20 Inch Bike Age Range

The 20 inch bike age range is between 7-10 years. By now, he is beyond the entry-level biking (2-7 years) and is fairly experienced. Plus, he is growing pretty fast. A 20 inches bike is moderate and transitory as he/she closes in on the early adolescence.

Safety is critical for children bikes because of the playful (and sometimes dangerous) nature of minors.  This explains why bikes in this age range tend to come with enhanced brakes.

Several manufacturers recommend Coaster brakes as they are easier for your young one to use.

Is The 20 Inch Bike Too Big For My Boy?

In the course of my research, I have met parents- not one or two- who seem surprised that a 20-inch bicycle is for children.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

A 20 inch bike is constructed   with a lightweight frame and sophisticated brakes to let children have fun while remaining safe from accidents. In fact, everything in this bike points to it being an amazing bike for young teens.

The discs brakes, flexible gears, and simple but functional design are perfect examples. So, if that’s what the biking size chart recommends, I would recommend that you go ahead and pick this bike.

Then wait for a big thank you hug from your elated youngster!

26 Inch Bike For What Size Person?

Now to another bothersome question: “What age is a 26 inch bike for?”

26 inch bike is a standard-sized adult bike wheel size and most suits riders who are between 5’0″ to 5’3″ tall. For the best fit, the bike should have a 46 – 48 cm frame.

The rim size and tires will depend on other factors such as if the person is overweight, preferences such as the need for speed, and biking style.

And if we are to go back to the kids, a 26 inch bike is one of the first options for kids as soon as they outgrow kids’ bicycles.

D: What Size Electric Bike Do I Need? – Electric Bike Sizing Guide.

E-bikes are available as either a hybrid or a mountain bike. To know the size that you will need for an electric bike, measure your height then check to the bike size chart for electric bikes.

You can also inquire about the manufacturer’s measurements online or a knowledgeable bike repair dealer staff. I found the following general charts helpful.

Electric Bike Sizing Chart- Men

Your Height Recommended Frame Size
Feet and Inches/ Centimeters Frame Size inches & Centimeters
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148 – 158cm) 13″ – 14″ /(33 – 37cm) /XS
5″2″ – 5″6″ inches (or 158 – 168cm) 15″ – 16″/(38 – 42cm) /S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ inches (or 168 – 178cm) 17″ – 18″/(43 – 47cm) /M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178 – 185cm) 19″ – 20″/(48 – 52cm) /L
6’1″ – 6’4″ inches (or 185 – 193cm) 21″ – 22″/(53 – 57cm) /XL
6’4″ – 6’6″ inches (or 193 – 198cm) 23″ – 24″/(58 – 61cm) /XXL

 Electric Bike Sizing Chart- Women

Your Height Recommended Frame Size & Centimeters
Feet and Inches/ Centimeters Frame Size (inches)
4’10” – 5’2″ inches (or 148 – 158cm) 13″ – 14″/ (33 – 37cm) /XS
5″2″ – 5″6″ inches (or 158 – 168cm) 15″ – 16″ /(38 – 42cm) /S
5’6″ – 5′ 10″ inches (or 168 – 178cm) 17″ – 18″ /(43 – 47cm) /M
5’10” – 6’1″ inches (or 178 – 185cm) 19″+ /(48cm+ )/L+

E: What’s The Right BMX Bike Size for Me?

The right BMX Bike size is the result of your measured height and as influenced by your age. Check the chart to see your best wheel size:

BMX Bike Sizing Chart

Rider Height Recommended BMX Size

Wheel Size

Feet & Inches/ Centimeters Typical Age(years)
3’7″ – 4’0″ inches (or 110 – 122cm) 5 – 7 16″
4’0″ – 4’10” inches (or 122 – 147cm) 7 – 11 18″
4’10” – 6’4″ inches (or 147 – 193cm) 11+ years 20″

A Note on BMX Bikes

BMX bikes come in a one frame size (though the length may vary) so the frame is out of the question when measuring.

Instead, you are required to use the wheel size which, as you have seen, varies with your height and age.

Method 3: Trial And Error

You and I know that the best way of getting this right is to keep experimenting so ask the dealer for a test ride when buying.

And if your first choice doesn’t fit, test-ride another bike until you nails it.

If you are buying online, watching bike sizing tutorials, and researching the reviews left by other buyers, especially on size may help.

But it may boil down to your being able to use the charts accurately.

Tips

If you erred in size, contact your vendor immediately you realize this and request to send back your bike for a replacement. Almost all online vendors accept returns.

However, sometimes you may feel that the delivered bike is awesome and that it would be fine with minor adjustments. Here are some tips to help adjust the fitting:

  • Try moving the saddle to the rear or front until you feel relaxed.
  • You can also order for a longer (or shorter) stem depending on how it feels. An appropriate stem enhances your body position and comfort.
  • Adjust the handlebars appropriately.
  • Lastly, look for a seat post longer than what you have.

Some models take a bit of time to start feeling right so be patient.

Bottom-line:

So “what size bike should I buy for my height?”

In summary, getting it the size right depends on factors such as your height, inseam, your riding style, and type of bike.

You then consult a bike size chart or use a road bike size calculator to get the answer.


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