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What is the right size of bike for me?

What is the right size of bike for me?

This question may not have come up yet, but it is an important question and must be answered before you purchase your bike, or else you will most likely end up with a bike that you do not like, not because the bike is bad, but because it is not perfectly matched to you. It is similar to deciding on a good pair of jeans but buying the wrong size. In covering some terminologies below, we hope to either leave you confident in your search for a bicycle or totally confused that you need to visit a professional bike store so that you are well informed and you make a decision that you will be happy with for a long time. Gone are the days when bikes easy and cheap to buy. Today there are way too many choices and even a cheap bike ends up being an expensive bike if you find one you are not happy with and you have to buy another one. It is better to make the right choice first if possible. We hope this write up will help.

Take time to do some research on “bike fitting” and “bike sizing”. Most places do bike sizing, but most professionals require bike fitting!

Common terminologies;

Here are some common terminologies you will hear around town when you hop from one bicycle shop to another, or if you talk to a friend who has done so in Muscat or any other part of  Oman (I would imagine most parts of the world too).

  1. 26, 27.5, 29
    Most customers walk into our showroom and say I want a 29 bike. or I want a 26 bike. This is because they may have heard a bicycle salesman or their friends say this is size 26, or this is 29, etc. But what does that really mean?
    In 99% of cases, that is the size of the wheel… typically measured straight across from one point of the inner side of the rim right across to the other.
    Question then is, “why should the size matter?” or “does the size matter?”
    The answer is, it should, and it shouldn’t. Most people attribute the size of wheel to mean higher speed. That is in most cases true. However, if the crank on bike frame that holds 29″ wheel is half the size of the one on 27.5″, then 27.5″ wheel bike will be as fast or faster than the 29″ wheel bike. The bigger the crank, the harder the pedalling, the faster the bike! Rather than focusing on wheel size, one should first focus on bike size that fits them… this means that we need to look at the frame of the bicycle first, then the wheel size. If 29″ wheels are that important, you may have to take a smaller frame to fit your body size and maybe a size 2″ to 4″ smaller to accommodate the 29″ wheels.
    mountain-bike-frame-fittingLook at how this mountain bike fitting is done. Lifting the bike like this (photo above text), and allowing it to clear 2″ or so from the ground means that in case of abrupt stop, when the rider has to get off the seat and have their feet on the ground, he/she will not be hit in their vital parts by the frame. In this case, you can see clearly that even though the wheels are big, the frame is small, and sized for this rider. If the rider is 6.4 feet, then maybe they will require a bigger frame AND larger wheels.
  2. Frame Size;
    Most mountain bikes come in 2 to 3 frame sizes, while road bikes come in any number of sizes from 3 to 9 or more.
    Why the difference?
    In mountain biking, one is expected to spend more time on their feet and off and on, on the seat. While on road biking, one is expected to spend over 95% of the time on the seat. Seating position in road bikes and bike fitting is more important than what “brand” of bicycle one buys. IF the bike is not matching your body geometry, then you can kiss the race winning goodbye, in most cases, you will need to start looking for a doctor because injuries will be very common and in most cases, bad ones! It is THAT important. Of course not even including future physical problems. So it is very important that if you are buying a bike, the frame and intended wheels have to be of the size that will be right for you. In the case of road bikes, you may have to spend extra money on professional bike fitting.
    Adult bike frame sizing chartDo a google search on mountain bike frame size or road bike frame size and look at images to get an idea.
    In general, mountain bikes are measured in inches (“), while road bikes are measured in centimetres or millimetres. So instead of just Small, Medium, Large, XL, you may want to know the measurements!
    Most reading is from seat post to middle of the crank (inseam measurement of pants/legs)
  3. Crank, Derailleurs, Headset, Shifters etc.,!
    bike - bicycle parts
    This is a beautiful image (credit left intact… whycycle). It pretty much tells of all the bicycle part names that any bike user needs to know.  No need for any extra write-up. However, there are more bits and pieces that mechanics and a seasoned DIY biker know.

There is much more to be explored, discovered and explained, this write-up is simply to introduce the new biker, or wannabe biker to bicycle terminologies in hopes of helping them do better research and get a bike that they will be happy with in the long run.

Sam Al-Busaidy
Cycle Omania
February 3rd, 2018