What You Need to Know About Road Bike Sizing and Fit

Road bike
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When you're buying a road bike, sizing is crucial. Choose a bike frame that's too small, and you'll be uncomfortable when you ride. Get a size too large, and the bike could become hard to maneuver safely. It's easy to find out what size road bike fits you best. All you need to know is the length of your inseam and how tall you are. 

Road Bike Sizing Guide

Look for your height and inseam length to find the proper bicycle frame size.

You may find that your height and inseam don't align with a single road bike size. If that's the case, go with your inseam measurement. It's the more reliable of the two factors. 

Determining Your Road Bike Frame Size
HeightInseam LengthBike Frame Size
4'10" - 5'1"25.5” - 27”46 - 48 cm
5'0" - 5'3"26.5" - 28"48 - 50 cm
5'2" - 5'5"27.5" - 29"50 - 52 cm
5'4" - 5'7"28.5" - 30"52 - 54 cm
5'6" - 5'9"29.5" - 31"54 - 56 cm
5'8" - 5'11"30.5" - 32"56 - 58 cm
5'10" - 6'1"31.5" - 33"58 - 60 cm
6'0" - 6'3"32.5" - 34"60 - 62 cm
6'2" - 6'5"34.5" - 36"62 - 64 cm

Remember: Even though height and inseam are measured in inches in the U.S., road bike sizes are always given in centimeters.

Choosing the Right Road Bike

Once you know your correct bike frame size, it's time to find the model that feels most comfortable to ride. The only way to do that is to visit a few bike shops and take some bikes for a test ride.

Be sure to talk to the staff, as they'll be able to help you find the best bike for your needs and budget.

If you're a casual recreational cyclist, you're going to need a different bike than someone who races competitively on weekends.

Begin by sitting on the seat. It should feel comfortable as you sit, and you shouldn't feel like you have to stretch your legs too far to reach the pedals.

Grasp the handlebars. You should be able to reach them comfortably without hunching over them or stretching your arms way out.

Notice the pads on the handlebars and how they feel. Are they spongy or hard? Hard surfaces can fatigue your hands over long rides.

Look at the pedals. Metal ones are more durable than plastic ones. Some higher-end road bike pedals have toe cages or toe clips.

Key Parts of a Bike

Unless you're building a bike from the ground up or buying a high-end model, you're stuck with the tires, brakes, gears, and other components that come with the bike. That's OK, especially if you're a beginner or a casual rider. Your choices will be largely dictated by cost, but it's worth considering the components.

Frames are made of aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Most bike frames are made of aluminum, which is lightweight and durable. You'll find steel frames on older bikes or custom builds; steel is heavier and tougher than aluminum. Titanium and carbon fiber frames offer the best features of aluminum and steel, but they're also more expensive.

Brakes do the same job they do on a car: stop you from moving. Cheaper bikes have rim brakes, while better models have disc brakes. Disc brakes are the better choice because they're easier to control and more powerful.

Gears help you adjust your speed to the road.

Most road bikes have 27 gears (or speeds), though you may find some with 20 gears. You shift gears with your hands. Depending on the manufacturer, the shifter may be a lever you adjust with your thumb and forefinger or a knob on the handle that you turn, though these are less common.

Don't get discouraged if you don't find what you're looking for at the first bike shop you visit. Most dealers only carry a couple of the dozen or so major brands sold in the U.S., and some are exclusive to one manufacturer.