While trying to sell my Giant Suede bike on the web, I have run across numerous questions that, to me, were answered in the ad. This has led me to believe that some people are not aware of the different components of a bicycle or what they actually need to be aware of before they buy a bicycle.
I listed my bike as having a 16 inch bike frame and 26 inch tires, yet I had people asking me how big the bike was. The frame is generally measured from the middle of the crank shaft to the top of the vertical seat bar (before the seat is extended). According to NYCEWheels.com, a 16 inch frame is suitable for someone 5 feet tall to 5 feet 8 inches. An 18 inch frame is suited for 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 1 inch. And a 20 or 21 inch frame would be good for anyone over 6 feet.
Now everyone would probably agree that the best thing you can do is try the bike out for yourself before you buy. Not only does this give you a good fit, it also allows you to see how the bicycle handles and whether you like how it moves. When you straddle a bicycle, you should easily clear the top horizontal bar if you have a guy’s bike. If there is no top bar, you should be able to touch the ground with the tips of your toes when sitting on the seat. If you can’t touch the ground, the bike is too tall for you and you risk falling off when you try to stop. Also, your leg should be fully extended when the pedal is at its lowest point. You will have full power of the bike and your effort if your leg is straight on the downward pedal.
Wheel size has nothing to do with the frame size of a bike. Wheels are measured in diameter and are generally 26 inches, the standard wheel size in America, but can be 16 inches, 18 inches and 20 inches for BMX bikes, 24 inches, and 700C/27 inches for racing bikes and European bikes.
When in doubt about bike sizing and fit, go to your local bike shop and ask questions, ride a few different size bike frames and find out which size fits you the best. Remember the seat can always be adjusted up or down to give you a little leeway if you have found a great bike for a reasonable price online or through the paper and it isn’t exactly the size frame you wanted. But again, try the bike out yourself.
Don’t want to mess with figuring out bike frame sizes? Folding and electric bikes are generally a one-size-fits-all, although electric bikes adjust only by the seat bar. Check them out if you like no-hassle purchasing.