How To Match Your Bike to Your Body Type

From big and tall electric bikes to pint-sized road models, today’s bikes come in more shapes and sizes than ever before. Given the diversity of riders, this is great news, but the sheer number of choices can make matching your bike to your body type a bit more complicated. Fortunately, when it comes to finding the right bike, you have options.

Visit Your Local Bike Shop

The next time you hit your local bike shop to look at the men’s and women’s bikes available, take a moment to speak to a sales associate about a bike fitting. If that salesperson isn’t qualified to help you, someone else on staff almost certainly is.

An in-person consultation is the ideal way to find your perfect fit, and he or she will take several things into consideration, including the type of bike you want (road, mountain, etc.), where you plan to ride and your measurements. Those measurements will likely include:

  • Height
  • Inseam
  • Lower arms
  • Upper arms
  • Upper legs
  • Lower legs
  • Torso

These various lengths are then applied to parts of your bike. For example, your inseam is used to determine your “standover” height range. Most bikes for men, as well as many for women, have a crossbar that your body needs to clear. Hitting this target ensures that you’ll be able to straddle your bike’s frame with both feet flat on the ground.

After selecting a frame that fits your measurements, the sales associate can then make further adjustments to tailor its fit, giving this type of fitting the edge over other options.

Consult an Online Bike Chart

If an in-person fitting and frame adjustment aren’t feasible, you can also use a bike size chart to point you in the right direction. Many bike shops include such charts on their websites. Just as you would in-store, you’ll need to take a few measurements. You should also be aware that different types of bike use different sizing charts.

While working with an experienced bike salesperson typically provides more accurate results, a size chart can prove quite helpful. At a minimum, it’s a better approach than riding blind into your next bike purchase.

Use a Bike-Fit Calculator

An online bike-fit calculator is a relatively new way to secure the right ride for your body type. Once again, you’ll need to break out the measuring tape to assess everything from your torso length to your sternal notch. Instead of consulting the appropriate bike chart, however, you’ll input the measurements requested by the calculator, and then it will spit out your results.

While an online assessment can’t take the place of a live, face-to-face consult with an experienced bike salesperson or technician, it can provide useful advice.

Matching your bike to your body type is crucial for a successful purchase, and it only takes a handful of measurements to get the job done — and to get it done right. Before you buy your next bike, take a few moments to perform a proper bike fitting, and make sure your next ride is your safest, most comfortable one yet.