How to Buy the Right Size
Full Suspension Mountain BikeWhether you plan to ride recreationally or competitively, getting the right mountain bike size is critical to having fun and being safe.
The hunt is well worth the effort. Comfort and safety are interrelated, and will help you decide for yourself which mountain bike is best for you.
Nonetheless, there are several points to consider when finding which one is right for you.
The first point to consider is distance between you and the parts of the mountain bike. Take for example the distance between your inseam and the pedals. If the distance between the two is too long or too short, handling the mountain bike becomes much more difficult, and even balancing on the bike becomes a tedious task.
The pedals on a mountain bike should be lower than they would on a regular bike. Another important distance is that between the seat and the handlebars. To avoid discomfort or injury due to lack of control, ensure that the distance does not leave you stretching. A rule of thumb of handlebars on mountain bikes is that they should never be higher than the seat. If you have to adjust the handlebars to the point where they fall out of line with this rule, it is time to test the next model.
Besides the pedals and the handlebars, the saddle is vital to the correct sizing of a mountain bike. The saddle should be level, yet many people tilt theirs slightly forward for comfort. If the saddle is not comfortable, replace it with a softer one that you can keep level. The height of the saddle should allow you to reach the pedal with a free hanging leg. A little natural bend in your knees is recommended to avoid discomfort from forcing your hips to rock back and forth.
Many of these situations can be corrected by simply making adjustments on your mountain bike. They may not even be noticed until you have taken a few practice runs. However, some bikes just do not accommodate certain people. Make sure to set visual appeal aside when sizing yourself for a mountain bike. Safety and comfort are of the utmost importance.
In spite of this, the problem cannot be resolved if you altogether have the wrong frame size for your mountain bike. A simple calculation can be used to determine what the right size is.
While standing barefoot, measure your inseam. Multiply the number by 0.65. For example, someone with an inseam of 86 cm will fit a 56 cm road bike (86 x 0.65 = 55.9). The result will provide a good estimate for what size for road bikes. To determine the right size for a mountain bike, subtract 10 cm and convert the product to inches. To expand on the previous example, the same person would fit an 18” mountain bike (56 – 10 = 46; 46 cm = 18”). To put it simply, the longer legs you have, the larger mountain bike you will need to fit you properly. To check the frame size in a much simpler format, simply stand next to the bike. Your inseam should be approximately 4 to 6 inches above the top tube.
Many consider the length of the tube to be the most important aspect when sizing a mountain bike. Two bikes may have the same frame size with different length top tubes while different frame size bike may have the same length tube top. In the second scenario, opt for the bigger bike because it may be more comfortable and allow you to raise the bars up higher.
Tube length is one area that takes gender into consideration. Women tend to have longer legs and shorter torsos than men. If possible, find a mountain bike that caters to the needs of women. Again, to find the right tube length, test ride some mountain bikes to determine which is most comfortable for your individual needs.
As specific and restricting as some of these guidelines may seem, they are in place to ensure the comfort and safety of the rider, but nothing can replace the test ride. Keep these guidelines in mind when sizing for a mountain bike. However, trust your instincts. If you are not comfortable even though the mathematical equation tells you that you should be, make some adjustments. Just make sure the adjustments do not conflict with your safety.