The correct sized bike will improve performance, comfort and reduce the risk of damaging your posture and back muscles. A bike shop should advise you on the right sized bike for your height, but you should also try out various bicycle styles to see which feels best, as design features differ from bike to bike.
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Most manufacturers determine the size of a bike by the frame size, which is the length of the seat tube measured from the centre of the lower bracket (crank axle) to the top of the seat tube. Occasionally, manufacturers measure from the intersection of the seat and top tube, which can skew sizing charts. This is one of the reasons why you should always test the bike first.
Measure your height by standing flat against a wall in bare feet. Get someone to mark a line with a pencil on the wall from the top of your head. Use a tape measure to measure from the mark to the floor.
Standing height refers to the distance between the cross bar of a bike and your groin area when you are standing. There should be 4 inches of space for a mountain bike and 2 inches for a road bike.
Frame Size Guide
As a guide, if you are between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 2 inches, you will need a frame size of 13 to 14 inches; up to 5 feet 6 inches tall, you will require a frame size of 15 to 16 inches; up to 5 feet 10 inches, you will need a frame size of 17 to 18 inches; up to 6 feet 1 inch, you will need a frame size of 19 to 20 inches; and up to 6 feet 4 inches, a frame size of 21 to 22 inches. This guide is for mountain bikes; for a road bike add an inch to the frame size.
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