Finding a bike that is right for your size is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a new bike. The size of the bike in relation to your body will affect your entire experience while riding. It will even determine how easily you can get on and off your bike.
Therefore, it’s worth it to spend some extra time learning how to size a bike to fit your body. While many adjustments can be made to most bikes, buying one that fits you most closely right away is key. You can also swap out parts once you own the bike to further customize the size and shape to your liking. Whether you are looking for a new e-bike or just a traditional bicycle, these tips should serve you well.
E-bike size will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model. A good bike size guide will give general advice but should not be overly prescriptive. By matching yourself to a potential bike’s measurements, you can be sure you are getting something within the appropriate range for your body type. As with all things in life, your personal preferences may further influence your ideal e-bike size, so keep that in mind as you review guides online for bike size, including this one.
How Manufacturers Size Bikes
Many bike brands may use language such as “adult” or “child” when describing their bike sizes. They may also refer to “small”, “medium”, and “large” bikes in their lineup. Finally, some manufacturers will assign different size bikes different numbers from 48 to 62, which typically corresponds with a centimeter measurement from the bottom bracket of the bike to the top tube. Do not rely on different measurements matching across brands. A “small” bike from one bike brand may be classified as a “medium” bike from another brand.
In addition to the seat tube length, there are two other internationally accepted measurement terms: “reach” and “stack”. Reach refers to different types of horizontal distances on the bike, while “stack” refers to different vertical height measurements of the bike. Stack and reach are good for getting a rough estimate of two different bikes, but they can be affected by many different and minor variables.
One piece of information you won’t find in this guide is the exact size or category of bike you should get. This is because there are too many intimate variables about you as a rider and your body, strength, flexibility, and preferences in relation to the myriad bike brands available on the market today. It would be disingenuous to label a rider’s best bike size without knowing all these facts first. But we can definitely discuss best practices when it comes to choosing the right e-bike size no matter the manufacturer.
Don’t forget to check out our Top Tips for Researching a New E-bike for a more general guide!
An important e-bike size consideration upfront is your ideal “saddle height” also known as seat height. To find the correct saddle height, have a friend hold your bike, or lean it straight up against a wall if no one is around to assist you. Mount your bike with both hands on the handlebar. Rotate the pedals so that one pedal is as close to the ground as possible (it does not matter which pedal). Then place your heel on the pedal that you rotated closest to the ground.
If you have the appropriate saddle height, your one leg resting with the heel on the pedal should be straight. Raise or lower your seat height until you find the appropriate height using these instructions. Then when you are riding in a normal position, your legs will naturally bend a bit.
The proper standover height would ensure that you can straddle a bike with your feet both placed firmly on the floor. You will be standing over the top tube of the bicycle. From this position, you want between 1-2 inches of clearance depending on the type of bike. Road bikes will need less, while mountain bikes can have a bit more.
Measure your inseam and check out the standover height of a bike you are looking at, even if it is online. The standover height should generally be 1-2 inches less than your inseam. For example, the Himiway Cobra has a standover height of 32 inches.
Reach and Stack
There are fewer adjustments you can make to change the reach of your bike. Adding to this limitation is the issue that reach can be more important to your comfort than other factors. That’s why it’s important to get this one right when purchasing your bike.
The reach will change based on the brand as well as the type of bike. For example, a road bike may require a longer reach than a mountain bike even for the same rider. Newer bikers, or those with limited flexibility or range of motion, will likely favor a short reach. Experienced bikers, or those looking to race, will usually favor a longer reach.
You also need to consider your body type and overall height. Those with long arms and high flexibility will naturally be able to accommodate a longer reach. If you are of a more compact or stockier build, you will likely find that shorter reaches are more comfortable and stable.
To increase or decrease the reach of a bike you’ve already purchased, you may need to purchase and swap out the stem or the entire handlebar configuration altogether. Avoid this by buying a bike with the correct reach, to begin with.
Again, stack refers to the vertical distance of different points of your bike, as measured from the bottom bracket. Someone with longer legs will need a longer stack. Stack can also be adjusted, but not by much.
Bike Component Size
In addition to the size of the frame and range of the seat and handlebars, there are also other size considerations to keep in mind such as the size of specific bike components. For example, Himiway e-bikes come equipped with wide “fat tires” to ensure the most comfortable ride with the most traction. In addition, Himiway also offers step-thru frames for the Zebra Step-thru, Big Dog, Cruiser Step-thru, and Escape.
Some headlights will be larger than others providing more light. Batteries may contribute to frame size and weight. And don’t forget about carrying capacity. To avoid getting a bike that is too small to carry you and your supplies, you may want to consider the various racks and payload capacities of your bike.
To summarize, consider your body type, preferences, and bike type when comparing sizes. Get the correct bike upfront by understanding the stack and reach of each bike and yourself, the proper standover height, the ideal saddle height, and the size of additional parts on the bike. With these e-bike sizing guidelines, you will be more likely to get a comfortable bike that fits your body, rather than fitting your body to any old bike. Happy riding!