If you are a bike rider, then choosing the bike’s right size for yourself is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Knowing what size mountain bike should I ride will make the bike an absolute joy when you are on it.
The truth of the matter is that anything smaller or larger could cause a ton of handling problems or could just be uncomfortable in general. Riding a bike that is the right size for you will offer you the best comfort, handling, and safety.
After speaking to quite a few bike experts, we have found the right sizing of a bike for every person. If you are on the market for a new bike, make sure that you read our detailed article on the correct bike size for you.
The Anatomy of a Mountain Bike
Since all of us come in different sizes and shapes, it only makes sense that even mountain bikes are designed in various sizes and shapes. Hence, before we even get to the sizing of a mountain bike, it is imperative that you understand its anatomy.
- The Frame
Ask any experienced mountain bike rider, and they will tell you exactly about the fit of the bike and how every single bike rides and feels differently. This is true no matter if their number looks quite similar on paper.
The sizes of bikes listed by the manufacturers can often get confusing. One of the traditional methods is by listing the seat’s tube length. However, that too varies as certain bikes get measured right to the top of the bike’s seat tube whereas the other only get measured to the mid-point where the top tube and the seat tube joins.
Many manufacturers now have started to simply list the sizes of the mountain bikes as the simple S, M, and L. Certain brands may also have an XS or an XL at either end of the sizing. Two of the main measurements to consider when you look at the sizes of the frame are the top tube length and the seat tube length.
- Seat Tube Length and Standover
You should have an acceptable standover gap along with a usable standover clearance with the seat tube. In order to get this, you need to stand back as far as you possibly can while you are over the bike and then ensure that there is at least a minimum of about an inch or so of room to the crotch area from the top tube.
If you follow this advice closely, then the frame of the mountain bike will provide you with a substantially large adjustment range at the seat post. This is imperative when you are trying to find an optimum height of the saddle.
- Top Tube Length and Reach
The next important consideration is the length of the top tube. Together with the stem length, the seat position, and the handlebar position, the length of the top tube will dictate your level of efficiency and comfort on the bike.
To make matters more confusing, the length of the top tube we were just talking about isn’t actually the top tube itself, which most often slopes. Instead, we are referring to the horizontal line right from the mid-point of the top of the head tube to the center of the seat post.
What Size Mountain Bike Should I Ride?
Now, moving on to figuring the right size of mountain bike for yourself. It is important to note that like every other thing on a mountain bike, there isn’t just one single perfect solution. This is because, within sensible limits, your bike’s saddle, stem, and the handlebar can all be adjusted. This, in turn, helps in making something that is slightly imperfect feel a better fit.
Depending on the brand you choose, we recommend that you check out their size chart. This size chart will typically feature a height range for each of their bike’s frame size they manufacture. That being said, there are certain general guidelines, which are:
- Size XS: 13 to 14 inches bike size, which is generally meant for bike riders between five feet and 5 feet 4 inches
- Size S: 14 to 16 inches bike size, which is generally meant for bike riders between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 7 inches
- Size M: 16 to 18 inches bike size, which is generally meant for bike riders between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches
- Size L: 18 to 20 inches bike size, which is generally meant for bike riders between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 1 inch
- Size XL: 20 to 22 inches bike size, which is generally meant for bike riders above 6 feet 1 inch in height
Do remember that these sizes are meant particularly for mountain bikes. For road, cyclocross, and hybrid bikes, the sizes are about three to four inches larger for a rider of the same height.
Helpful Tips Before Buying
Sometimes just looking at the sizes off of the internet may not necessarily do you any good. If you find yourself feeling unsure about the size of the bike, then it is wise to try the bike out at your nearest local bike shop. This is the only way you can be a 100% certain about the right fit of the bike.
Furthermore, trying out a bike in person will also allow you to try out multiple sizes to see what feels best for you. The experts in the store will also be able to help you out with finding the right size of the bike.
Additionally, they will know exactly the other adjustments necessary that will make an overall improvement along with fine-tuning the fit of the bike further. These extra adjustments will include lowering or raising your seat or even moving it forward or backward and adjusting the handlebar’s height.
What size mountain bike should I ride? While every manufacturer will provide you with a basic size guide, we believe that there is nothing better than you physically trying out mountain bikes at your nearest bike store to know what fits and feels the best. As mentioned earlier, the experts at the store are also more than willing to make your buying experience go smoother.