I’m a quarter of an inch under 6’, never quite made it to that magic mark. In-seam of 32”. Sort of lanky you might say.
I ride a 54cm road bike. Fits me perfectly, comfortable – weight centred in just the right place, feels great whether going up or down, no back or shoulder pain etc...
The first bike I bought was 58cm. A big steel cyclo-cross bike. And when I mean big, I mean big. Miles too big for me in fact. Why did I buy a 58cm bike? Well that’s what I was told I needed for my height, corroborated by some ’online’ sizing guide.
I subsequently realised that even though I’m quite tall, a smaller frame size – albeit correctly proportioned is best for me. Most online guides – and bike shops for that matter would automatically put me on a 56cm or 58cm bike.
So let me try to explain how frame sizing works. Hang on, it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.
So – a 54cm frame. This refers usually to the distance from the centre of the bottom bracket (thats where the cranks go through the frame) to the top of the seat post tube (the part of the frame that the seat post fits into) – that’s “A” in the chart below. Except Trek of course – when they say 54cm they mean the distance horizontally from the seattube to the headtube (that’s the part of the frame directly above the forks) – that’s “B” in the chart. And Specialized. Confused? Of course you are.
It gets worse. Take a few 54cm frames from different manufacturers - they will be proportioned differently. All may have 54cm measurement "A", but could be anywhere from 52cm to 56cm on measurement "B"....
And then of course, by the grace of the good Lord, we are all made differently. Take two six-foot men – they may be the same height, but could have vastly different leg lengths, arm lengths, torso lengths etc.. And then of course there is the fairer sex...Different proposition again..!
So what’s the point of my rambling I hear you say? Well, you can buy the fanciest bike in the world, but if the fit isn’t right then you won’t get much enjoyment from riding it, which sort of defeats the purpose. The point is that if you want to find the bike that’s the perfect fit, then you need to sit on a variety of sized bikes. I have had lots of people come to me with a pre-conceived idea of what size bike they want, only to leave with something different. Why? Because they tried different sizes, we made some small tweaks, and at the end of it all I asked them – what do you think? Which one feels right? At the end of the day this is what matters – am I comfortable enough on this bike to put in long hours in the saddle.
So yes folks, size is everything ;)