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The right frame height for a road bike

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Guide: Your ideal frame height for a road bike

If you ride a bike that is not the right size, you will not only complain of physical discomfort after a short time. Performance and endurance also suffer a rapid decline. Neck and back ache, the legs do not produce the usual power. Especially when riding a road bike, the fun comes from speed, which in turn comes from your power. Finding the right frame height is considered a real challenge in the bike community. After all, frame sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, sometimes smaller and sometimes larger. In addition, the supposedly right size can fail due to your own anatomy, for example particularly long arms or legs. It is often said that you have to test ride many models. By measuring your stride length precisely, in conjunction with reports on your experiences, it is easier than you think to find the right model. Here you will find additional tips on the ideal frame height that will make your search for the bike of your dreams easier.

1. What is meant by frame height?
2. Which frame height for which body size?
3. How do you measure the inseam?
4. What frame height do I need for a road bike?
5. How do I know that my bike ordered online will fit?

 

What is meant by frame height?

First of all, no one should be misled by the terms frame height and frame size. Both terms refer to the same value. Superficially speaking, it is the distance between the bottom bracket and the seat tube. By specifying the frame height, manufacturers try to ensure an uncomplicated classification of the frame geometry for the end user. As a customer, you should be able to see which model potentially fits your body size best. Frame geometry includes dimensions of tubes, angles and distances. It is not necessary to deal with this in detail to be considered a passionate road cyclist. There are a few terms that are nevertheless nice to know. There is the so-called stack-to-reach ratio. Stack as the height of the front of the frame, and Reach as the length of the front half of the frame, determine the rider's posture. The riding dynamics are significantly influenced by the wheelbase, i.e. the distance between the axle centres of both wheels, or the steering angle. The steering angle describes the inclination of the fork. It plays a particularly important role in mountain biking. A bicycle frame offers numerous other special features to explore. You quickly realise that this topic is very complex and does not need to be penetrated in full depth. Since the frame geometry largely determines rider posture and riding dynamics, it is also decisive for the type of road bike. While the gravel bike still emphasises comfort, aero road bikes are completely designed for competition and favour a very sporty posture. The final seating position and whether you have found the right size for you also depend on the other components. Handlebars and stems or the height of the saddle, controlled by the seatpost, are also relevant. By specifying a frame height, manufacturers provide a great deal of help in finding a suitable bike. If you like to sit a little more sportily, you should tend towards a slightly smaller frame size. This is the recommendation for road bikes in particular: it is better to be a little too small than too big. A longer stem can be added so that the bike is not too short. However, a model with a frame height that is a little too high will provide more comfort and smoothness.

Which frame height for which body size?

Manufacturers often specify the frame height of their bike models in terms of body size and inner leg length. The length of the seat tube is also often given in centimetres. A certain amount of experience in which riding position you prefer to pedal can be helpful. Leaning forward in a sporty manner can mean reaching for a slightly smaller model. Those who tend to cover long distances may prefer a comfortable upright posture of the larger frame. The all-rounder, of course, remains just the right frame size. After this consideration, it is important to determine your inseam length and body size. A guide to measuring stride length follows in the next section. You can calculate the ideal frame height yourself by multiplying your own stride length by a factor of 0.665. The stride length is therefore the more relevant factor. Your own height serves more as a comparison with the manufacturer's specifications. Your own anatomy also plays a role in determining the correct road bike frame height. People have particularly long or short legs, torsos or arms. With adjustments to the handlebars, stem or saddle position, the bike can be fine-tuned to suit the individual. Manufacturers' specifications of their frame sizes should not be compared with each other. If you have had good experience with the frame size of one brand, you should not transfer this to other manufacturers. Similar to clothing, a size M, for example, does not turn out the same everywhere. Experience reports are helpful here. An exchange with friends and family, a look on the internet or a visit to a showroom of the respective manufacturer or any bicycle shop will provide information.

How do you measure stride length?

It is easy to measure the stride length yourself. You need a tape measure and a loose saddle or a book. Stand in front of a straight wall. Your legs should be a small distance apart. Now clamp the book or the saddle in your crotch. Measure from the tip of the saddle to the ground. In the case of the book, measure from the top of the book to the floor. The step length in centimetres determined in this way is now calculated to arrive at the appropriate frame height. To do this, multiply the stride length by a factor of 0.665. The result should be between approx. 48 cm and 64 cm. Alternatively, you can of course go to a specialist bicycle shop and get professional help with measuring.

What frame height do you need for a road bike?

As already mentioned, the calculated frame height, which is based on your own stride length, is an all-rounder. Both fast sprints and long distances are feasible on a road bike of this size. Competitions require greater aerodynamics and a more tilted pelvis. Due to smaller, shorter frames, this posture is preferred. To avoid joint pain, it is advisable to fit a longer stem. A large road bike frame promotes an upright posture, which is considered more comfortable and can support performance during long tours. For other types of bicycles, it is also a matter of stride length when determining the frame height. If you look specifically for a triathlon bike, you will find an adapted geometry for competition. An additional search for a smaller frame is not necessary. Everything said about road bikes and gravel bikes is applicable to the frame size of cyclocross bikes and fixies. A trekking bike by nature offers an upright seat and more comfort for long distances potentially covered. A frame that is too small is more of a nuisance here. City bikes or Dutch bikes are known for their low entry and particularly straight, comfortable seat. However, for both Mtb Fully and Mtb Hardtail, other things become relevant when it comes to frame size. For example, there should be enough space between the top tube of the bike frame and your own crotch to allow for faster dismounting off-road. The top tube length, on the other hand, is not decisive. After all, a lot can be compensated for with a shortened or long stem as well as the seat post. The length of the head tube is decisive for the height of the front. The longer the head tube, the more difficult it is to ride uphill. A small frame provides manoeuvrability and agility. This can be an advantage on technical trails. Larger frames are more sure-footed. The size of children's bicycles is not indicated by the frame height. Here, the wheel size provides information about the suitable model. Depending on the age, the manufacturer recommends the size in inches. Body size and frame height are often given as additional guide values. The BMX bike is also often advertised with the wheel size. Here it is not about a comfortable seat. Rather, the focus is on acrobatic jumps and tricks, mainly standing on the pedals.

How do I know that my bike ordered online will fit?

If you buy a used bike online directly from the manufacturer, via bicycle wholesalers or other platforms, you cannot test ride it. Before buying a bike online, you have the option of going to a bike shop or showroom. There you can test comparable models. Sometimes even that is not feasible. On the basis of the manufacturer's specifications and possibly obtaining further empirical values on how the models turn out, you are often already on the safe side. If the dream bike you ordered still doesn't convince you in the practical test, you can help by changing the handlebars, stem and saddle. Buycycle offers a variety of top brands with years of expertise on their bike sizes. The sizes given are reliable. We are happy to help you choose the right bike for you. If you have any specific questions about frame height, the buycycle team will be happy to help.

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