How to Calculate Stack Height

Written by ryan hotchkiss
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How to Calculate Stack Height
Stack height is important to know when purchasing a mountain bike. (mountain biker image by Maxim Petrichuk from Fotolia.com)

Stack and reach are required to determine the size of a bicycle frame appropriate for a rider's body when taking into account the length of one's arms, torso and legs. Together, stack and reach equal frame size for bicycle models such as road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX, townies and cruisers. The frame's stack height must be calculated to determine the frame's dimensions. Stack height is the measured vertical distance from the centre of the radius of the bottom bracket to the centre of the radius of the head tube.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Millimetre tape measure
  • Bike stand
  • 4-inch bubble level
  • Masking tape
  • Paper
  • Pencil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Secure the bicycle in the bike stand. Measure the distance in millimetres of the centre of the radius of each wheel from the floor. Adjust the bicycle stand until the centre of both wheels are an equal distance from the floor.

    How to Calculate Stack Height
    The centre of a wheel nut constitutes the centre of the wheel's radius. (Wheel and Cog image by pg003 from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Place the bubble level vertically on the right or left side of the seat tube. Adjust the bike stand until the bubble level indicates the bicycle is resting precisely vertical in the bike stand.

    How to Calculate Stack Height
    The seat tube is shown behind the rider's leg running vertically up to the seat stem and seat. (riding bicycle image by apeschi from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Measure and record the distance from the centre of the radius of the bottom bracket to the floor. Place the bubble level on the side of the tape and ensure the tape is running precisely vertical from the centre of the radius of the bottom bracket to the floor.

    How to Calculate Stack Height
    A pedal crank rotates around the centre of the radius of the bottom bracket. (retro bike image by Charles Taylor from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Measure and record the distance from the centre of the radius of the head tube to the floor. Place the bubble level on the side of the tape and be certain the tape is vertical from the centre of the radius of the head tube to the floor.

  5. 5

    Subtract the distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the floor from the distance of the centre of the radius of the head tube to the floor to determine the stack height.

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