Choosing the right road bike size is essential for optimal performance and comfort and it can be a tricky road with lots of turns, in this complete road bike size guide you’ll find all the tips you need to pick the right road bike size for you.
The other day on a ride with a group of friends there was a guy all happy about his new bike and oh boy he had it all wrong! Frame type and size, reach, seat height, etc.
Don’t worry as the great family and friends we are in the riding world, we gave him advice and in no time he changed his bike and he nailed it!
In this guide, you’ll find the summarized knowledge of all of my 27 years of riding, and you’ll ride out knowing what’s the best size for you, what type of frame to choose, and tips that will help you get a good bike fit.
Table of Contents
- Road bike size guide first steps: Sizes and Measurements
- Choosing the right road bike size: The easiest and best way to do it!
- Differences between men and women road bike sizes?
- Which type of road bike frame is the best for you?
- Quick tips on how to know if your road bike is the right fit?
- The finish line
Road bike size guide first steps: Sizes and Measurements
The way road bikes are sized is determined by each manufacturer and can be confusing, the most standard measure is seat tube length but also by height categorized in sizes S/M/L like other bike types.
With that in mind, you need your measurements of:
- Inseam length
I don’t think I need to explain how to measure your height but if you do go to the reference before.
A brief explanation on how to measure your inseam length, shoes off, simply place a book between your legs and make sure that it is aligned with your crotch. After that, you simply measure from the floor to the top of the book.
Choosing the right road bike size: The easiest and best way to do it!
The easiest way of choosing the size of your bike is using your height, it will land you very close to your optimal size but it will not be perfect as it does not consider differences in your body type.
The best way is to use your inseam measure as this is a key measurement in bike fit, if you want the best experience and optimal performance you cannot and should not skip it.
The better way is to use both inseam and height combined with a road bike size calculator.
If your measurement lands you between two sizes, it is best to take the smaller size. You face a greater chance of discomfort and injury risk with a bigger size road bike. It’s always possible to tweak a smaller frame size changing the configuration of the bike like: seat height, stem length, crank arms, etc.
Road bike size chart
|4’10” – 5’0″
147cm – 152cm
|47cm – 48cm
|5’0″ – 5’3″
152cm – 160cm
|49cm – 50cm
|5’3″ – 5’7″
160cm – 170cm
|51cm – 53cm
|5’7″ – 5’9″
170cm – 175cm
|54cm – 55cm
|5’9″ – 5’11”
175cm – 180cm
|56cm – 58cm
|5’11” – 6’2″
180cm – 188cm
|59cm – 60cm
|6’2″ – 6’5″
188cm – 196cm
|60cm – 62cm
Differences between men and women road bike sizes?
Yes, manufacturers have improved a lot in ergonomics, especially for women, now it’s easier than ever to find a women’s bike that fits their body perfectly and the main differences are in:
- Reach: Top tubes in women’s bikes tend to be shorter and sometimes sloped.
- Saddle: More breathable, shorter, and wider.
- Crank Arms: Usually shorter.
If for some reason the brand you like doesn’t have specially built women models, you can always change the components mentioned before to improve your comfort and get the best fit.
You can use your inseam measure to choose the model you like as men and women bikes are measured the same, just watch out for reach cause if you are over-extending it will inevitably cause you pain.
Road bike size chart for women
|4’10” – 5’1″
147cm – 155cm
|44cm – 46cm
|5’1″ – 5’3″
155cm – 160cm
|47cm – 49cm
|5’3″ – 5’5″
160cm – 165cm
|50cm – 52cm
|5’5″ – 5’8″
165cm – 172cm
|53cm – 55cm
|5’8″ and up
172cm and up
|56cm – 57cm
Which type of road bike frame is the best for you?
If you are new to the cycling world not only choosing the right frame type is crucial but also the bike type, hybrid bikes can be a good alternative if you are looking for a more versatile bike that can go on and off-road, carry some luggage, and a more upright position you may consider checking a hybrid bike size chart.
Road bikes are specially designed for paved roads, long distances, and speed, depending on the frame you choose, comfort will be sacrificed for performance sake. They are great bikes for commuting, competing, and long rides with friends. Let’s check them out!
Road race bike
These types of bikes are fun as hell and they are great for occasional rides or competitions. They are surprisingly light with steep angles in the fork and seat tube to make a racing position possible and more comfortable.
Usually, wheelbase length is not longer than one meter and have drop handlebars, they have longer top tubes than endurance bikes improving the aerodynamics in your final position.
So, if you are looking for a bike for short rides with your friends or to compete this is the way to go.
Road endurance bike
In contrast to the race bike, endurance road bikes are great for long rides, and when I say long rides I’m talking of six to seven hours rides. That is their main purpose and they are greatly designed for that.
Shorter top and taller head tubes make your position more relaxed taking away a lot of weight off your back and pressure in your body.
Time trial road bike
A time trial or TT road bikes are like road race bikes but in steroids, they are designed for max speed so the position is over-extended like in race bikes, but with differences though, weight is not a problem cause TT races are run in flat terrain so they are heavier, don’t have drop handlebars, instead the bars are flattened with two pairs of forward-facing extensions.
Like everything in this type of bike, the extensions are designed to help the rider get the lowest possible position and reduce wind resistance. In most cases, brake cables are hidden.
So if you want to go from point A to point B the fastest possible for short periods, like time trial races or triathlons these are your way to go.
Quick tips on how to know if your road bike is the right fit?
Choosing your bike size is the obvious first step to having a bike that fits you perfectly and we have prepared a complete guide into the subject. But not so fast!
While you are at choosing your bike size there are things that you can look for and will make your fit process easier. Let’s look at them:
Standover height is the distance from the top tube to the ground, to know that your bike has the right stand-over height there should be a few inches between your crotch and the top tube while standing, barefooted and feet apart over your bike.
If you are unable to have the proper seat height, this is a major indication that the size you have is completely wrong.
You can also quickly know if the reach of your bike is bad if your arms are completely straight and your shoulders hunched forward you can figure out your reach using the apex index.
The finish line
As you saw, choosing the right road bike size takes more than just looking at a chart, but now you should feel well equipped to make the final decision.
The next step in your ride is to fit your brand new road bike perfectly, so go ahead and check out our bike fit guide where we talk about everything there is to know like cleat position, best riding postures, fore/aft position, and more