Your Bike: Find the Right Size

Fit is crucial for comfort, control, and proper power and endurance on a bike. Here are some basic bike fit tips:

* Stand-over Height
To find out if a bike’s overall height fits your body, measure your inseam. Next, determine how much clearance you’ll need between your crotch and the top tube of the bike. For a mountain bike, you’ll want three to five inches of clearance. A road bike should offer between one and two inches of clearance, while a commuter bike should have two to four inches. Compare the stand-over height for a given bike to your measurements (inseam + clearance) to determine the right bike height.

* Top Tube Length
You can measure your torso to get a good estimate of proper top tube length. First, make a fist and extend your arm. Measure from the center of your fist to the end of your collarbone (the part that intersects your shoulder). Next, measure your torso by placing a book against your crotch with the spine facing up. Measure from the spine to the bottom of your throat (the spot between your collarbones). Finally, add the two measurements (arm length + torso length), divide the number in half, and subtract six inches. This is your approximate top tube length. Compare this number to a bike’s posted top tube length. You can allow for about two inches longer or shorter, as most bikes can be adjusted via stem length/height and saddle fore/aft position to make fine adjustments to the fit.

* Bikes for Women
Proportionally, women tend to have a shorter torso and longer legs than men. Bike makers design women’s bikes that offer a shorter top tube and many comfort/cruiser bikes built for women may also provide more stand-over clearance.