Though we may not think about it, finding the right bike size is one of the most essential parts of the bike-buying process. If the frame size is wrong then you will not be able to comfortably ride the bike, and this will impact your cycling abilities and your confidence on the road.
So, though we may tend to pay more attention to the size of the wheels, being absolutely sure of the frame that will fit you best is key information.
Luckily, any place that sells bikes will list the frame size for each bike so that you can weigh up your options.
Bikes for both men and women come in different sizes to account for differences in height and weight, which means that it is your responsibility to know which model will serve you best.
Whether it be a road bike, a mountain bike, or a hybrid bike, you want the right size for you to have the most rewarding ride.
Women’s Bike Size Guide
One thing that does make sizing bikes, for women or men, trickier is that there is not one single standard for sizing bikes, so it can vary depending on the make and model.
It is best to check out as many potential bikes and retailers as possible so that you have plenty of options to choose from and can also compare sizes.
The most obvious sizing chart for bikes is to categorize them as small, medium and large.
For women’s bikes, the minimum height for a small frame and the maximum height for a large frame will usually both be shorter than the height ranges for men’s bikes.
If you are very short or very tall or the perfect average height for your sex then you can easily fit yourself into those three categories, though there may be some discrepancies.
That’s why it is best to know the size of the bike frame in centimeters or inches as well because you can be precise than simply trying to fit yourself into the limits of three vague-sounding categories.
Trying out the bike to see if it is a comfortable and feasible size for you is the best way to properly size a frame.
Some retailers will even offer a bike fit service to better tailor the bike to your size, and it is always worth checking out their size charts too. But the best way to be as precise as possible is to consider body measurements and other factors beyond height.
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What Size Bike Do I Need For My Height And Weight?
Usually, bikes all follow a similar size guide, so use your height and weight to guide you to the best size bike for you.
There are not too many discrepancies between how tall you should be or how much you should weigh when considering different bike types, such as mountain and road bikes, but it is always best to try them out to check.
The easiest way to see if a bike is the right size for you is to go by your height:
- 4’11”-5’3” suits a 13-15-inch frame
- 5’3”-5’7” suits a 15-16-inch frame
- 5’7”-5’10” suits a 16-17-inch frame
- 5’11”-6’2” suits a 17-19-inch frame
- 6’2”-6’4” suits a 19-21-inch frame
- 6’4” and taller suits a 21+ inch frame
You can also go by your weight. There is not an exact chart for how much you should weigh for each type of bike like there is for height. Most bikes typically have a maximum weight limit of 275-300 lbs, but weight tends to be relative to height, so if you are both short and light you would most likely suit a 13-15-inch frame.
Height is the most important factor because you will only require a 21+ inch frame if you are tall enough to comfortably reach the pedals on it.
No matter your weight, go by height first and then see if the size you are trying out is a good fit for your weight as well because sizing mostly depends on the length of your back and legs to help you ride.
Women’s Bike Size Chart
Frame Size ( in )
Frame Sizes (S,M,L)
XXS / XS
24 inch Wheel
24+ inch wheel
26 inch wheel
26 inch wheel
26+ inch wheel
6’4” & taller
XXL / XL
29 inch wheel
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Women’s Bike
There are so many things to consider when you decide to purchase a bike because you want to ensure the smoothest, most comfortable ride possible.
Below are the five top things beyond rider height that you should look out for.
As your arms will be doing a lot of the work while you ride, you’ll want to measure your shoulder width so that you can be sure the handlebars are a comfortable length for you.
If they are too close together then your body will be constricted and your shoulders uncomfortably folded in while you ride. If the handlebars are too far apart then you will be straining to hold onto them and this will also cause discomfort to your back.
Typically, the shoulder width of a woman will be narrower than that of a man.
To work out the handlebar length that you want, measure your shoulder width and then add 2cms if the handlebar you want is measured from the inside edge to the other inside edge.
If the handlebar is measured from the outside edge to the other outside edge, add 4cms to your shoulder width.
The saddle is also a source of great support for your back when you cycle because it helps you keep good posture. So, there are several things to pay attention to when looking at potential saddles.
The first is the shape because this is a very individual preference. For women’s bikes, the saddles tend to be wider for greater comfort, but you should always try out the saddle to make sure you are happy with the shape.
Lighter saddles are better for extreme exercisers or racers, but if you are commuting or doing easier routes on your bike then you’ll want a thicker saddle for greater comfort.
To avoid unnecessary pain, measure the distance between your sit bones and make sure it lines up with the saddle width so you are not aggravating them.
Having the saddle at the right height will also help with your posture and pedalling, so refer back to your overall height to determine this.
To make gripping the handlebars easier and more comfortable, you’ll want to make sure your hand size matches up with them.
Women’s bikes tend to have narrower handlebars than men’s because women typically have smaller hands.
Narrower handlebars are also better for those with narrower shoulders because you can hold onto them naturally, so again refer back to your shoulder width for reference.
For smaller hands, consider getting a bike with a short-reach bar so that you can easily operate the shifters.
Some bike brands have models with the shift and brake levers very close to the handlebar, which means that you can use them without needing to move your hand position at all.
How you sit on a bike is ultimately determined by your back length because, like your overall height, it will force you to sit a certain way.
If you have a long back then you do not want your seat too high or a model of bike that is too small because you will end up folding in on yourself to hold the handlebars.
A bigger bike would give you more space to lean on the handlebars comfortably.
For a shorter back length, you’ll want the handlebars and seat closer together, so go for a smaller model and put the seat as high as feels comfortable.
The best way to test this out, of course, is to sit on the bikes before you buy them and try out different sizes and saddle heights; not to mention you can always ask to adjust your saddle height.
Reach ( Bike Size )
The reach of a bike is the horizontal distance between the center of bottom bracket and middle of the head tube.
When you are sat on the bike, the reach of the frame will affect the shape of your body when your hands are on the handlebars, specifically how stretched your body is.
The stack of a bike is the vertical distance between the bottom bracket center and the top of the head tube. You can use stack and reach together to size a bike frame.
A longer reach and lower stack mean that the body will be more stretched out on the frame, whereas a shorter reach and higher stack will have the rider more hunched over.
A competitive cyclist would choose the latter position, but if you are a more casual cyclist then you might prefer a longer reach to ease out your back and put less pressure on your arms.
Women’s bikes tend to have more compact frames then men’s, but the stack and reach can be altered according to the rider’s preferences.
It’s important not to forget the bottom half of the bike because, though most of the comfort relies on proper positioning of the upper body, it is the legs and feet that do most of the strenuous work.
As a result, you want to ensure your saddle is set at the right height for easy leg extensions while you cycle.
A higher saddle position will have you more hunched over low handlebars, so leg extensions rely on both of these things lining up. The best way to test is to try out the bike yourself, even if you are just pedaling on the spot.
You don’t want your feet to feel too far away from the pedals, but you also don’t want to be pushing so hard that just a bit of pedaling hurts your knees. If your saddle and handlebar positions are just right for your height, then you should test leg extensions by using the pedals and seeing if they feel comfortable.
Do I Need A Women’s Bike?
Though most bikes tend to be separated into women’s models and men’s models, unisex bikes do exist. Bikes marketed towards women are naturally smaller because women tend to be shorter than men.
However, if you are very tall then you may not be comfortable on a women’s bike and should have a look at some of the frames marketed towards men.
As for unisex bikes, it has been argued that all bikes are actually unisex because the only main differences between men’s and women’s bikes are sizes and styles to account for different heights and body shapes.
However, women’s bikes are a not a one-size-fits-all product, so you must take into account things like hand size, shoulder width and back length to properly see if a bike is right for you.
For example, the shifters are usually closer to the handlebars on women’s bikes to account for smaller hands, but a woman with larger hands may find a men’s bike more comfortable to use.
The main thing to remember when buying a bike is that you want maximum comfort while riding.
So do not feel like you have to buy a women’s bike if the measurements of a men’s bike would suit you better and allow you to be more comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How Tall Should You Be For A 26-Inch Bike?
As 26-inch bike frames do not exist, this question pertains how tall you should be to ride a bike with 26-inch wheels. That tends to be the usual size of wheels on an adult bike.
These are a good choice for a woman of average to slightly above average height, more specifically, 5’4” to 5’7”.
Women in that height range would be able to ride a mountain bike with 27-29-inch wheels because 26-inch wheels on a mountain bike are better suited to a very petite woman.
For road bikes, 26-inch wheels are a solid choice for any height because they support most adult weights, but a woman between 5’4” and 5’7” would be the ideal height.
Q. What Age Fits A 24-Inch Bike?
A bike with 24-inch wheels would typically suit a child from the age of 8 to the age of 11, so long as they are between 4’2” and 4’9”.
A woman who fit into that height range may also be able to ride a bike with 24-inch wheels, but the reason that adult bikes typically have 26-inch wheels is because they offer better support for an adult’s weight.
Therefore, a bike with 24-inch wheels is better suited to a child or an incredibly petite woman.
Slightly younger or older children may also be able to ride a bike with 24-inch wheels if they are in that height range too, but again it depends on how much weight the wheels can hold.
Q. Are 24-Inch Wheels Too Small For Women?
This greatly depends on individual factors like your height and how comfortable you are on the bike.
As discussed above, 24-inch wheels are recommended to be used on a bike for a child between 4’2” and 4’9”, so unless the woman is very petite in both height and weight, 24-inch wheels would be too small.
An adult woman would have more peace of mind riding a bike with 26-inch wheels because they can confidently support the weight of an adult.
If the woman is average height or taller then 24-inch wheels would be a disaster because they would not fit properly with the frame size needed to match the height.
So, only consider 24-inch wheels if you are very short and think you could comfortably ride a child-sized bike.
Q. What Size Bike Should A 5’2” Woman Get?
According to the size guide for heights discussed earlier, a 5’2” woman would suit a bike frame between 13 and 15 inches, though frame sizes can vary depending on where you are buying the bike from.
All manufacturers will have their own size chart, so always check it before choosing a model because though a 15-inch bike frame may usually be made to fit a 5’2” woman.
Some manufacturers may recommend that you go for the next size up.
Other factors like back length and leg length will impact exactly what size bike you should get, so don’t force yourself into a corner looking at small, medium and large when you can use more precise measurements to find exactly the right size bike from any retailer.
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