Road bikes are a not so tricky but still a tricky business. This is a confusing statement but, it has its deep meaning. The tricky part, to add to the fun, is restricted one step, which, if missed out, can lead to dissatisfied biking experience. Yes, you’ve guessed it right – it is the problem that lies only at the point of buying the bike. The main problem being talked about here is the size of the bike needed for individuals.
The question has its dimensions since all our bodies are different especially in terms of physical build-up. While some are tall, others are short with some being in the middle range. Bike size isn’t just a one size fits all business. Also, given the positions of biking, the wrong road bike can lead to an array of problems including physical ones like back pain, joint pain, sprain, etc. Let us find out how to get your right biking size along with a touch-up on the related points that need to be known as well.
What is Bike Fit & Why Size is Important?
As told earlier, everyone’s body is different. Many of us have long legs & short torsos. Women find it tough to reach out to their brake levers courtesy their small hands. Also, based on the injuries & the issues in the body, bike setup will vary considerably from person to person. This would lead to changes in the comfort, efficiency & power levels. Since, bicycles are extremely flexible in terms of re-configuration as well configuration based on our interests, every part of a bike can be adjusted based on our choices to make things better. This is what bike fit is – getting the bike into a configuration from the beginning to the end that fits a rider, i.e., suits his or needs & aspirations from it. Bike fit is necessary based on the following considerations components:
- Enhancing rider’s comfort
- Make it safe & injury free
- Setting a comfortable saddle
- Reducing pain
- Enhancing efficiency to reduce rider fatigue
- Performance improvement as a whole.
Coming to the problem first will make things more relatable & understandable. Wrong bike fit might seem to be something that you can adjust with but to be frank, it is adjustable only for a ride or two. In the long run, it is extremely harmful for the body. Borrowing bikes & running them over for a short duration from our friends & siblings can be adjusted with when it comes to wrong bike size.
The problems can be summed up as below:
- Back Pain
Posture is an important factor when it comes to biking. Riding a bike of wrong size will in the long run lead to pain in the lower back which is an increased probability case when it comes to road bike. Be it pedaling at high speeds or getting your adventure thirst quenched on a singletrack mountain bike trail, wrong bike fit will bring lower back pain inevitably.
- FatigueBicycles were made with a motive of allowing people to go longer distances with minimum efforts. Here is where pedal efficiency comes into question as it is a major reason for getting yourself a perfectly fitting bike. If the sizing goes wrong, the stance gets disturbed which ultimately changes the pedaling pressure & efforts. The legs don’t get the perfect position due to which, more force is needed to pedal. This ultimately results in increased energy & stamina usage that leads to fatigue.
- Wrist PainUncomfortable grip leads to stress on the wrists when biking for longer duration. Since the biking posture is wrong, there is going to be stress everywhere where you don’t need it. Too large frames will require you to extend out beyond your body’s permissibility & this will also drain more force during controlling the bike
- Higher Crash RisksIt is very clear that wrong bike fit is going to be harmful for you. It’ll direct you towards waste of efforts & lack of control due to which your chances of bonking will increase considerably. This can be understood easily due to the lack of comfort & properness.
Anatomy of A bicycle
Having known the risks, let us have a go-through at the anatomy of a bicycle so that you can keep these in mind when going to the store or making a purchase online. A basic road bike will have the following important parts:
Cassette or Rear gear
The collection of gears that is found at the rear wheel. The cassettes on road road bikes vary from 7 to 11 usually.
Chainrings or Front gear
These are the gears that are attached to the right-hand crank arm towards the front of the bike. A bike with two chainrings is called as “double crank” while “triple crank” signifies three chainrings.
A device bolted to the frame which moves the chain from one gear to another when gear shift happens. These are two in a bike where the front derailer handles the shifting on the chainrings while the rear derailer handles the shifting on the cassette or freewheel.
The part which holds the front wheel in place
It is the main structural part of the bicycle made of steel, aluminum, titanium, or carbon fiber & includes a top tube, head tube, down tube, bottom bracket shell, seat tube & chain stays.
The frame size here plays the biggest role & is hence needed to be understood in a more closer way. There are three different categorisations in frame size too, which, if understood well, can lead you to the best fit bike for you.
- Traditional Bicycle Frame-The top tube runs parallel to the ground. Due to this, standing is more difficult, but, in such cases, going with a cycle that has 2-3 inches gap between the crotch & the top tube is the best way out.
- Compact Bicycle FramesThese are meant to look better & appealing than the usual traditional frames, but, the top tube is slightly inclined towards the front gear thus giving two to three inches of seatpost gap from top tube when compared with horizontal-top tube bikes. A compact frames feels same as the traditional road bike with respect to riding position. They have shorter wheelbase & smaller rear triangle of the frame.
- Semi-Compact FramesThere structure looks similar to a compact frame but the only difference is the sloping angle of the top tube which is lesser than the latter. Thus, the standover clearance gets reduced & the effective top tube distance increases slightly longer. The ride becomes stiffer but it also becomes a more responsive one compared to a traditional geometry frame.
Getting Your Size Right
The size chart below is to give an idea of the sizes. Although brands may vary in terms of the height & there measurements in some cases, it is always better to check things for yourself based on the manufacturer’s own guidelines. The average size chart is as below:
|Rider height||Suggested frame size|
|4`10”-5`0”||148-152 cm||47-48 cm||XXS|
|5`0″-5`3″||152-160 cm||49-50 cm||XS|
|5`3″-5`6″||160-168 cm||51-52-53 cm||S|
|5`6″-5`9″||168-175 cm||54-55 cm||M|
|5`9″-6`0″||175-183 cm||56-57-58 cm||L|
|6`0″-6`3″||183-191 cm||58-59-60 cm||XL|
|6`3″-6`6″||191-198 cm||61-62-63 cm||XXL|
With all these covered, you are sure to have a good road bike picked which is going to be the best bike fit for you. It is however also necessary to know that some tweaks might still be needed despite getting the bike with the best ground clearance. These can be easily done by adjusting the seat post height. Also, the length of the top tube should never be messed up with since it will increase/decrease the distance between you & the handles. Thus, the perfection needs to be there so as to keep you away from lower back & wrist pain problems apart from allowing you a better control & grip to add to your biking experience. Also, the fitness & the adventure feel which you can’t get as you’re not the one for mountain biking will be better for you. Also,whether your feet touch the ground, whether the crank arms are allowing you to pedal or not decide the course of things too. We might have people with one leg smaller than the other. Under such cases, the salesperson can suggest you with the right bike fit based on his/her expertise.
So, if you’re intending to find the right bike size for you, we hope by now you have your answers & there aren’t much doubts remaining.