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Mountain Bike Size Chart

Jeff Balton

Mountain Bike Size ChartWhat Size Mountain Bike Frame Do I Need?

Ordering bikes online is becoming more and more popular due to there not being any shop keeping or warehouse costs, making the prices better.

And don’t worry about the old wisdom of trying a bike before getting it, that is quite definitely overrated. And very highly. Salesmen say this just as a means to get you to invest in a bike. It really doesn’t have to do that much with finding the right size for yourself.

You should try your bike first! FALSE

Another reason is that salesmen know that there are decent bikes on the online market and the option of getting to sit on one gives them an apparent edge over that market, but in actuality, it isn’t by any means necessary to choose a bike with the right size.

There are many good methods to choose a good bike. I’m gonna highlight THREE SEVEN METHODS if you don´t know how to measure a bike.

Related: Best Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

Feeling more confident? Good. There are actually three different ways to pick a size: you can calculate it or use the bike size charts below. Let´s start with the easiest. The bike size is measured from where the seat post starts down to the crank. You can also use the bike height chart.

 


#1 – Mountain Bike Size Chart

What mountain bike frame size do I need?

It’s easy!

Your height / Bike SizeMountain Bike Sizing

  • 4’11” – 5’3″ = 13 – 15 inches
  • 5’3″ – 5’7″  = 15 – 17 inches
  • 5’7″ – 5’11” = 17 – 19 inches
  • 6’0″ – 6’2″ = 19 – 21 inches
  • 6’2″ – 6’4″  = 21 – 23 inches
  • 6’4″ and taller  = 23+ inches

Or you can use the mountain bike frame size chart below…

mountain and road bike size graph

Need Professional Fitting Service? Order From Amazon!

Or you can use the…

#2 – Bike Size CalculatorLeg Inseam method

  1. Take off your shoes and stand with your legs 15-20 cm (6” – 8”) apart. Measure the height from the ground up to where your legs come together.
  2. Be sure about the bicycle type you want to choose: Mountain bike, city bike or road bike. You can read about the different bike types here.
  3. Now you can take your calculator and quickly find the right size:

Review: Best Gravel Bikes To Buy

Right mountain bike sizing–  Leg inseam (cm) x 0,66 = Your frame size

For example: If your leg inseam is 76cm, then your right mountain bike size is 50 cm (20”)

#3 – Chart

Rider HeightSuggested Mountain Frame Size
Feet & InchesCentimetresFrame Size (inches)Frame Size (cm)Frame Size
4’10” – 5’2″148cm – 158cm13″ – 14″33 – 37X-Small
5’2″ – 5’6″158cm – 168cm15″ – 16″38 – 42Small
5’6″ – 5′ 10″168cm – 178cm17″ – 18″43 – 47Medium
5’10” – 6’1″178cm – 185cm19″ – 20″48 – 52Large
6’1″ – 6’4″185cm – 193cm21″ – 22″53 – 57X-Large
6’4″ – 6’6″193cm – 198cm23″ – 24″58 – 61XX-Large

Source: Evanscycles.com

Voilà!

Extra: Right Saddle Height

Right Saddle Height

Right saddle height has a very important role. If it´s too low, you won’t have enough power in your feet. In mountain bike racing, I have experienced that when the saddle falls one inch down from its normal position, I lose about 25-50% of my force.

Stopping to fix it can cost me my position and about 15 seconds too, but then with the correct saddle height it’s not that hard to catch up with the group and even can get all the way to the next group ahead. So the right saddle height plays huge role!

 

The easiest way to find that height for you is to

  1. Lean against the wall with your elbow sitting on the bike (or let someone help you as shown in the picture)
  2. Push your leg down to the lowest point keeping it parallel to the ground.
  3. Move your saddle up or down until you have small bend behind your knee. It should be something around 30° but don’t worry too much about finding that exact angle.

Go out and ride. Does it feel good? If not, then adjust. Also, you can adjust the seat forward and backward. TIP: When you have found the right position for yourself

Related: Check Out The Best Fat Tire Bikes

Suggested bike by Bicycle GuiderBicycle Guiders’ TIP:

When you have found the right height for yourself, you can use a marker or a sharp object to mark the right position for your saddle as some of them can sink down a bit with time. Some bikes also come with height lines written on the post, that you can check and remember once you’ve found the right one for yourself.

 

EXTRA

 

If I Got My Bike Size Wrong?

Then tell the merchant, who can easily exchange your bike for the right one. If you don’t want to do that, then you can do the following things:

  • move your saddle forward or backward
  • buy a longer or a shorter stem. It will change your body position
  • buy a longer seat post

Give it time to get the feeling right. I remember when I got my first 29er mountain bike. It felt like a ship and seemed difficult to ride it in narrow trails or the forest. But I’ve become so familiar with it and can ride with full ease and skill, that when I sit on a 26″ mountain bike it seems so completely ridiculous how tiny it is.

 


If you don’t know, what to buy, then read those reviews below

Mountain Bike Reviews

Hybrid Bike Reviews

Best Road Bikes

Found my work helpful?

P.S. If you find my guides useful, please share my page below. This keeps me motivated to keep the information on this site up to date and accurate.

Cheers,
Jeff

This Article Has 103 Comments

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  • Ved Kulkarni says:

    Hey Jeff, I’m quite torn between 15″ and 17″ frames since I feel that both fit me. My height is 5’6″-5’7″ and my inseam is 30″. What do you think I should go for? Thank you!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Ved,
      I suggest you get 16” / 17″. You are under the Medium category. I’d say get the 17″ since it is available.

  • Eric Poupart says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Just discovered your Website. Very Nice!!

    I am 189cm and have an inseam of 92cm. I am always wondering if I should go for the Large or the Extra large Bike since I fall at the end of one at the start of the other… Some Shops tell me XL is better other say Large is best.

    Do you have pro’s and con’s for each? What are your toughts?

    Thanks,Eric

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Eric,
      Glad to know! Thank you. You need a frame size between 53 – 57 cm. Large is going to be uncomfortable for you. Go with XL. There is no pros with Large, just cons 😉

  • Nathan says:

    I just got a really good deal on a used 19 trek roscoe 7. I am 5’9.5 and the roscoe frame is a medium. The dropper isnt locking so i have to figure that one out. But do you think i should try to sell the bike and move up to a M/L? I have not tried a any other size. This is my first mountain bike.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Nathan,

      Just go with medium. We are talking about frames ranging from 43 – 47 cm which are ok for your size. Large will create discomfort for you.

  • Varun Sharma says:

    hi jeff
    recently bought trek marlin 6….i am 169cm…and the frame size i bought is 15.5 my inseam is around 28…but when i rode my friends marlin 7 which is 17.5 it felt better than 15.5….what should i do to make my 15.5 bike frame size a bit more comfortable.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Varun,
      That’s because the 15.5 is too small for you. The 17.5 is the right size for you. You can try getting a longer stem and also adjust the fore & aft of your saddle. But other than these, there is nothing that you can do. The frame is way too small for you.

  • Steven Thibodeau says:

    Truly appreciated your fast answer! A medium even if on Giant website they said small?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Steven,
      5’5 can be a tricky height on any bike because it is between Small and Medium. You can still make adjustments that will make your riding comfortable. For example in our chart the range for you is between 5`3″-5`6″. I’d go with small if it says that way on their website. And you better get a bike fit because no two bodies are the same.

  • Steven Thibodeau says:

    Hi Jeff, I’m 5’5 and 28″1/2 inseam. I hesitate between a small or medium mountain bike, probably a Giant! Thank you!

  • Steven says:

    Hi Jeff! Thank you for all your answer! I’m a male,5’5 and 29″ inseam. Looking for a Trance advanced 2020 and i’m not sure between a small or medium size! Thank you!!

  • Nikki says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for a great article that I managed to stumble upon. I used to MTB quite a bit before suffering a nasty head-on collision on a blind corner. Took a break for many years but slowly starting to ride more with my husband again. He rides a 29er, I’m still on my old 26”. The funny thing is that I’m fitter than him and do leg strengthening but for the life of me cannot keep up. Could it be the wheel size difference? I’ve read that Incorrect frame size can also make an impact. My other question: is my frame the correct size? – 26” small frame Orbea Lanza (possibly 2007/8). I am 5.6ft, inseam +-80-81cm. I had to put spacers under the handlebars as it always felt too low.
    Thanks so much.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Nikki,

      So glad to know you are back on riding again. Your frame size should be ok for your height(medium). I suggest you do a little adjustment on your saddle angle, height and also fore & aft. Yes it can also be about the wheel size. Your stem length can also add an impact to your riding experience. A bike fit is the answer.

  • Josh O says:

    Hi Jeff –

    Your articles and advice has been really helpful in bike shopping (especially when I can’t get to the store to actually try one out). Wondering if you could weigh in on a bike I’m considering. Found a lightly used Trek mountain bike, 17.5” frame. I’m 5’-8” tall with a 29.5” inseam. Getting various frame suggestions depending on which chart/calculator I use. I have an old heavy steel framed bike that I’ve never loved (admittedly, I never got fitted properly on it) That I bought for cheap in college. It was an 18.5” frame. From all I’m reading, the Trek should fit and likely be an improvement over my previous bike. Your thoughts?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Josh,
      Yes the Trek frame is closer to your size. The 18.5 is too big and will cause discomfort in the long run. Above all, Trek is trendy these days.

    • josh o says:

      Thanks Jeff – I committed to the 17.5 and will pick it up later this week. the shop has a reputation for being reasonable and willing to work with customers on trades/returns if the fit is wrong, so if all else fails i can swap it for something different if it doesnt work. I took my old 18.5 for a spin this morning and have to say, i’m looking forward to not being on that bike anymore!

      Next up, reading up on new helmets. thanks again for all the info and helpful guides!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Josh,

      It’s always a pleasure to help out. Just remember that it is not just the frame size that can add comfort to your rides. You need to check your saddle fore & aft, saddle height, and also stem length. Cheers!

  • Bruce says:

    Hello Jeff wonderful article with helpful info. I am currently looking to upgrade to a Trek Slash 8 and I have been looking at every website possible to find the right size. My dilemma is that I am 5’10.5″ and I am right at the awkward height where I am in-between sizes. I believe the medium frame would be to small, but I have a feeling the large would be to tall as my inseam is around 31″. Trek on the website offers a M/L frame size but I currently have steal on PinkBike for just the large frame. Just would like an experts opinion for some reassurance. Thank you

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Bruce,

      Recommended sizes for you is between 16″ – 18″ inches. That medium to large so that is ok. Other factors like saddle height and stem length can be adjusted to add comfort. Get that bike!
      .

  • Mark says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your article. I am thinking of purchasing online a Rocky Mountain Vertex Carbon 70 2018 17″/medium.

    I am 5’11 and 32″ inseam. I have a road bike that is 56cm but I have to have a really short stem. I have a cyclo that is 54, and feel better at downsizing. I am 50 and so don’t want a bike with a super-aggressive reach.

    So you think the m will fit me? Maybe with a longer stem? Thanks, Mark

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Mark,

      56 is too big for you. The range of sizes for you are 48 – 52 cm frame. These fall under the “large” category. Medium will cause discomfort. Remember that other factors like seat fore & aft, height, stem length etc can influence your riding comfort.

  • Michelle Kelly says:

    I Jeff, I’m having trouble finding a good fit mountain bike. I am a Mom 5’2”. I was told 24” tire would be good for me – but confused which frame size and some of the 24s I see come up as youth. Does the youth vs adult matter when looking? Also I just tried 2 yesterday, but my knees felt too close to front for clearance … appreciate any recommendations !!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Michelle,

      As year go by, mountain bike trend also evolves. Now, people go with 27′ as THE standard as opposed to the 26.’ Your height falls under the 38 – 42 Small category. Please read my post regarding Mountain Bike Sizing chart here: Mountain Bike Size Chart

  • Brice says:

    Hi Jeff,

    My 9 yr old has really gotten in to trail riding. I have been riding a 24″ hybrid and it is killing me! I ordered a Mongoose Impasse, 29″ wheels/18″ frame. I’m 6’3″, 228 lbs, 35″ (crotch to floor, bare feet). Please tell me this bike will fit me!!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      It should fit you decently well for some shorter rides, but if you decide to ride it for longer, you might have to tweak the position a bit to get more comfortable. 🙂

  • Joseph Brown says:

    Hi Jeff. Please help me with the following situation. I have two young daughters that I want to purchase mountain bikes for. They have been out on light trails and are really interested in pursuing this further so I want to purchase them either a Specialized Pitch 27.5 (what my wife rides) or a Specialized Rockhopper 27.5 (what I ride in the 29er version).

    They are still young but they are tall. I am 6’4″ and my wife is 5’8″. My daughters are currently 11 years old and 12 and a half years old so they will grow more in the next few years but I am hoping to not have to buy new bikes again if I don’t have to.

    What size bikes do you recommend? Also do you have any advice as to which may be better for them the Pitch or the Rockhopper? And finally would it really make a difference for them if they get a men’s bike versus a women’s bike if the stand over height is good for them?

    They have long legs like me. I have a 34″ inseam The 11 y.o. is 5’1″ with a 29″ inseam. Based on method #1 height she requires a 13″-16″. Based on method #2 she needs a 19″ and based on method #3 it would be an x-small, or 13″-15″. From what I gather she may be at a Specialized small, but is close to a medium.

    The 12 y.o. is five 5’5″ with a 31″ inseam. Based on method #1 height she requires a 15″-17″ or 16″-17″ based on inseam. Based on method #2 she needs a 20″ and based on method #3 it would be a small, or 15″-16″, but is an inch in height away from a medium or 16″-17″.

    When they get on my wife’s medium men’s pitch 27.5 with the saddle adjusted as shown on your site, they can both stand over it and my 11 y.o. feels good except she thinks the handle bars are a bit to far forward for her. My 12 y.o. says she feels good on it but feels it’s a bit too small for her legs.

    I was originally thinking of purchasing a medium and a large. Hope you can help sort all this out. Thank you in advance for your time!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Joseph, it’s very difficult to choose the right size for kids at that age, because as you mentioned, they will grow more in the future and you wouldn’t like to have to buy new bikes again soon. Still, you can’t buy a bike that’s too big because they wouldn’t be able to enjoy them right now.

      The difference between the Rockhopper and the Pitch is minimal, so either one would be a good choice — whichever they like better, basically. 🙂

      As for the size, they’re lucky they can try your bikes, so you can choose the size based on that. I think you’ve already answered your questions, actually.

      You can tweak the Pitch by installing a shorter handlebar, which would technically shorten the reach a bit for your daughter. As for the Large frame, it seems a bit too big for a 5’5″ rider, but if you can tweak it a bit and you expect your daughter to grow a few inches soon, you can go for it. 🙂

  • Miguel Vargas says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I want to buy the remedy 9.7 from trek. I am a roadie and I ride a 52cm. I am 5’7 but with short legs, 28.4 inseam. I did a lot of research and thinking and I think if the bike existed I am a 16-inch frame. The issue I have is that, the remedy only comes in 15.5 or 17.5. So basically in road terms I am between a 50cm and a 54cm, and I know one is too small and the other is too big. I have been saving for that bike for a while and I now have to pick from the 15.5 or the 17.5. What would you do? Other info, I am a climber (5’7, 150 pounds) on the road. I am cat 3. I am getting the remedy to basically do XC events and I picked the remedy because I hope the geometry helps build confidence descending, I also want to try some mini jumps. I am in my 30’s and never did anything crazy so I mostly would ride the bike as an XC bike.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Miguel, I’d go for a 17.5″ size frame, I think a 15.5″ frame would be too small for you. With shoes on, the standover clearance will be just right as well. You can also try to compare the stack and reach measurements on your road bike with Trek Remedy and see whether the 15.5″ or 17.5″ frame is more similar to it in this regard. Good luck!

  • Pj pellegrino says:

    I found this helpful! But still could use a bit of help if you’re up to it! I’m 5’10” and mostly limbs (34″ inseam) I got a cruiser off Craigslist and changed out the seat and handlebars and while it’s more comfortable it’s not fantastic. My roommate also got a cruiser and his is fantastic.. the reach is 4″ longer than mine and it’s what I need. But I’m not totally sure how to go about finding a bike with that- I know most/all your info is for road and mountain bike so forgive me if cruisers are totally different and out of your wheelhouse. I’ve been up and down the internet and feel a bit defeated 🙁

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Pj, all you need to do is measure your roommate’s bike’s reach and find a bike with the same reach. 🙂 You have some excellent tutorials on YouTube on how to do that, so check them out. You can usually find the reach of the bike in the geometry charts.

  • Christina Zonia says:

    What would I do in my case I am 4’9″ I just miss the XSmall frame size? Is there such a thing as an Xtra Xtra Small? Or would I have to go to the Boys or Girls Bikes?

  • AT-ATL says:

    Good day. I am planning to buy a trail bike (haven’t ridden since my teens). If I measured correctly using the inseam method you suggest, my ground up to crotch is 30″ (no shoes) and 31″ (with shoes). I’m a male, 5 ft. 5.5 inches +/-. If I did the math correctly in your article, it seems I would need a Large frame based on my inseam measurements? My neighbor, who is a hard core cyclist, suggested that I need a small frame. I am considering the REI Co-Op Cycle DRT 1.1 or 1.2 in a small frame (https://www.rei.com/CompareProduct/User). Any guidance? Thank you so much, and sorry for my lack of knowledge in this area.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Yes, a small frame would be a good choice for you, you should use several methods and consider several factors when deciding on the size of the frame. 🙂

  • Jana P. says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I am 5’9″tall woman, inseam 33″. Just purchased 18″ mountain bike with 29″ wheels. Still questioning myself if I didn’t buy a small bike. I took it for a ride and my wrists and low back were uncomfortable/hurting.
    Lastly, the handlebars are 32″ wide. Is there a recommendation for a handlebar width?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Jana, that bike should not be too small for you according to most charts and projections. Those handlebars could very well be the culprit, they might be stretching you out too much. I’d try with a narrower one.

  • Tamia Parker says:

    Hello, I’m 5’9 and about 3/4 my inseam is measuring between 88cm and 89cm. I found a 26in’ women’s MGX mountain bike online.
    I really need a bike for the trails and riding around with my daughter I’m so confused. Is that bike an ideal size for me?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Tamia. 26″ refers to the size of the wheels. You need a bike with an 18″ size frame. The wheels can be 26″, 27.5″, or 29″. But I recommend 27.5″ wheels.

  • Mare says:

    Hi.
    I’m 182 cm tall and I have 78 cm high between my lags.
    I’m looking this bike in the link and they have size frame 48 or 53 cm. Which size do you suggest. Thank you for your answer.
    https://www.intersport.si/genesis-impact-4-0-mosko-gorsko-kolo-506015

  • Gary Baath says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I wanna buy a mountain bike. I’m 5’9” and 31.5” inseam. Do you think i should get a 17” or 19”. I’m posting the link to both the bikes i was considering. Thank you in advance.

    https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/ccm-sl-2-0-dual-suspension-mountain-bike-26-in-0711156p.html#srp

    https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/ccm-sl-2-0-dual-suspension-mountain-bike-19-in-frame-26-in-0711157p.html#srp

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Gary, considering this bike has 26″ wheels, I recommend choosing the 19″ frame.

  • Michel Garcia says:

    Great article with the quarantine going on not being able to go into a store I turned to the internet. I figured I would ask a professional I found a used Jamis Highpoint A2 19” Frame with 29” wheels Online I am 5’8” with a 32/33” inseam. I am not really sure if this bike would be too big or if I should give it a try what would your recommendation be?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Michel, thanks! I would say it isn’t ideal, especially because the standover height is 32.90″ on the 19″ size frame. However, you could give it a try if you really like it. It might work.

  • kim bisognin says:

    Hi. I am 5ft. Girl. I just want to ask if I can put a 26inch tire on a 13″ frame?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Kim, it depends on the amount of clearance the frame and the fork have. You need to measure things out and figure it out. But I suppose it should not be a problem. 🙂

  • Allen says:

    I am looking at getting a new full suspension mountain bike with 29″ wheels. I current ride a hardtail 16″ frame with 26″ wheels. I am 5’6″ with a 28″ inseam. My hardtail seems a bit small, but give me a comfortable amount of standover. The bike I am looking at has a fit chart and like most charts puts me on a small at the high end of the range and a medium at the low end of the range. My main concern is stand over. This is a mail order bike so I can’t go sit on one. The mail order dealer said either would be fine with my past riding experience. What do you recommend? Remember, I am looking at getting a 29″ wheeled bike. Thanks in advance

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Allen, you should look at the geometry charts and make sure that the standover height is lower than your inseam length. From my experience, Medium is usually a better choice for a 5’6″ man, but I can’t say with certainty without knowing more.

  • Carl Anderson says:

    Hi Jeff

    I am looking for a good mountain bike really prefer huffy/schwinn. I stand at 6’3″ & weigh about 280lbs. What would be a good fit for my size?

    I used to bike around 60 miles a week would like to get back into biking like that. Just have always rode mountain bikes on the highest gear for more strength for my legs.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Carl, a 21″ or a 22″ would be a good fit for you. 🙂 By the way, you might want to reconsider pedaling only in the highest gear as it can be harmful to your knees. Try to find an optimal pedaling cadence, somewhere between 80-90 rpm.

  • Erik says:

    The article states:
    You should try your bike first! FALSE

    It does imply that you should not try a bike before buying it. I would always try one first.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Erik, when possible and you have a chance to do so, you should definitely try the bike. However, many people purchase bikes online, so they can’t do that. What I wanted to state is that it is not absolutely necessary to try a bike in order to get the right size, if you know your measurements and the bike’s geometry.

      So if you can try the bike — try it. If you can’t, there are other ways to get the right fit.

  • Aaron says:

    Great info here. I might have one to stump you. I’m looking into buying a large (19.5) All-City Electric Queen. I’m going to build it with 650b wheels instead of the 29” wheels so am I right to think that will lower the stand over height?
    I’m 5’8” with a 31 inseam and usually ride a 54cm road bike and a 17” mt bike. Will this All-City be too large for me?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Interesting question. 650b wheels will lower standover height, but you’re still left with an oversized frame where the reach stays the same. You might feel too stretched out regardless of smaller diameter wheels. 🙂

  • Veronica says:

    Hi! My name is Veronica I am 5,5 30in inseam. I am looking to buy the 26 in hyper e ride mountain electric bike. It says on their website the bike is 26in aluminum frame but I don’t see how that’s possible if most frames don’t go over 24”. Would this bike be the right fit for my size? Thanks so much for the help

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Veronica, 26″ in this case refers to the size of the wheels. I can’t find a size chart for this bike, so I can’t give you any additional information. Perhaps it’s a one-size-fits-all model.

  • G & W says:

    Hi , me and my husband are looking to buy mountain bikes for us. I’m 5ft 5″/165 cm tall, with an inside leg of 30″/76cm. My husband is around 5ft 11″/181cm tall, with an inside leg of 28″/71cm. However i’m not sure of what frame size to get for both of us, so any suggestions would be welcome please and thankyou.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hello! I recommend a 16″ frame for you and a 17″ frame for your husband. Have fun! 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I’m looking to buy a new mountain bike. I am a woman, 5’7″ tall, but with a 33″ inside leg, which means I don’t fit with the charts as I’m supposed to have shorter legs for my height according to them! I currently have a 19.5″ men’s Mongoose Sycamore mountain bike, with 26″ wheels, much loved, which I’ve owned for 25 years, which is a bit knackered and I’m looking to replace it. I have the saddle height very close to the lowest setting, though. I’d be looking for a men’s bike again as I can’t stand the somewhat sexist girly colours and styling of the women’s bikes and most only seem to go up to 18″. Trouble is, most bikes nowadays seem to come in either 18″ or 20″, and 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. Due to the current situation, I need to buy online as I can’t try bikes out. What size do I go for, and what size wheels?! I’d be riding on a combination of roads and off-road tracks and grassland, but not doing any serious mountainy stuff!

    Also, what brands are good, looking to spend about £500?

    Thanks!

    Jen

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Jen! Considering you have a much longer inseam length than average for your height, I’d recommend going for a slightly smaller frame size that would accommodate your upper body. I believe an 18″ MTB with 27.5 wheels would be a good choice.

      As for the brands and specific bike recommendations, we wrote about cheap mountain bikes here and here.

      Check it out and you might find something you like. 🙂

  • Miguel says:

    Hi Jeff, I found out the inseam measurement can be prone to introduce errors depending on how is made…I guess the right way should mimic us sitting in the bike?, some suggest using a book and push it up in between the legs….I initially just loosely measured myself which gave me a strange inseam way off my “proportionate” height ….perhaps adding some guidelines for this may help for consistency. Thanks for the article!.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Miguel, thanks for the recommendation. Yes, the book measurement technique is quite popular, we’ll consider updating this information and explaining it further. 🙂

  • KC Shankar says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for the prompt response.

    I was also leaning towards the BTwin.

    Could you please clarify the pros of the 26 over a 29; besides the easy availability of spares.

    I have ridden similar terrains on both a 700c Hybrid & 29er (in fact it was a Trek X Cal | XL). But that was first time on a MTB, so don’t have a proper perspective.

    Thanks again.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      One of the benefits is that 26″ wheels are usually stronger because of significantly shorter spokes. There’s much less torsion in them. If you plan to pack heavily, that’s a good reason to go with 26″.

      You can also fit wider tires because of more tire clearance, which can come in handy when riding in the Himalayan Mountains. They’re a bit slower than 29ers, but you’ll be more stable thanks to a lower balance point.

      Feel free to send us a few photos when you’re back and share some impressions. 🙂

  • KC Shankar says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Extremely helpful post. I needed some advise regarding frame & tire sizing.

    I’m 5ft 11.5 inches | 182 cm with an inseam of 33.5 inches. I currently ride a Road bike | 56 inch frame with a 40mm stem & it still feels slightly stretched.

    Looking to buy a used MTB for multi-day touring in the Himalayan Mountains.

    Found two options:

    1. Trek X Caliber 8 | XL | 21.5 inches | 29″ wheels | Shimano Deore
    brakeset | Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes | chainset Shimano M522, 42/32/24 | rear derailleur Shimano SLX | SR Suntour XCR-RL 100mm

    2. BTWIN RAFAL 740 | M | 18 inches | 26″ wheels | SRAM X9 (rear) and SRAM X7 (front) | 160 mm AVID DB3 brakes | SRAM X7 PUSH PULL type shifters | 100 mm Marvel Manitou PRO

    Please Advise! Thanks in advance!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Well, size-wise, neither of the two is perfect. Trek (XL) is one size too big, whereas BTWIN (M) is one size too small. It’s a decision you’ll have to make. Considering you’ll be traveling in the Himalayan Mountains, I’d go with BTWIN. 26″ wheels and tires are much easier to find and service there, which is a big consideration when you’re out and exposed. Also, a one-size smaller frame is a better choice in this case since you say you feel stretched out even on a 56 cm road bike frame. Have fun on your trip! 🙂

  • Atara says:

    Hello your article is very helpful but I am confused. I’m 5’4 and my inseam is 30″ should I go with 26 or 27.5. I’m really confused.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      You can ride either of the two, depending on the specific bike you’re considering. If the standover clearance on the 27.5″ model is suitable for your inseam length, you’ll have no other problems. Just make sure you get the right frame size.

  • Eric King says:

    Hey Jeff, 5’7 height, inseam is 28”, is 17-19 inches ok for me? What do you recommend in terms of a bike with disc brakes, hard tail or full suspension? Plan to use the bike for casual riding as well as some trail riding. Looking to get back into the biking world. Thanks!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Eric, a 17″ frame would be a good fit for you. I recommend getting a hardtail as it’s more versatile and it’s more affordable as well, considering you’re only just getting back into the cycling world. Have fun! 🙂

  • Sonia says:

    Hi, we are looking for a bike for my son.he is 6.6 but has a 34-36in inseam. He has tried a friends large and xl. Both fit. We’ve had a couple folks say xxl. Now my real question is where do we measure the bike to get that 21cm or more frame size cause some folks tell us numbers and some general size (like trying on clothing…aaagh). Most folks in the used in just put 26 but I know that tire and that doesn’t help.
    Muchas gracias

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Sonia, mountain bikes are measured in inches. So, ideally, your son would need a 21″-23″ bike to fit him well. You need to measure the seat tube from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. A 29er would be a good choice for him as well. 🙂

  • Adel says:

    Hi Jeff. Thanks for the article.
    I am 5’11 and I was looking at the first chart and gives me 18”-19” but when I saw the second chart I found my self at large frame.
    Right now I found an used bike frame 18.5” and the owner size is 5.9” and I don’t know what to follow here. You help us very appreciate.
    Thank you.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Adel, you are just in-between sizes there. An 18.5″ frame could be just right for you, but it could also be slightly too small. Check the manufacturer’s size charts to make sure it fits you.

  • Abraham Kimani says:

    I am 6ft and weigh 90kgs candi ride a 27.5er?

  • What do you recommend for a bosh system Mt ebike full suspension under $4K?

  • alfredo says:

    I bought a road bike size 50 and im 5’6. Does this size fit me?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Alfredo,

      50cm might be too small for you. 52cm would have been a better choice. However, you can maybe make it work with a longer stem and a proper bike fit. Happy riding 🙂

  • Arief says:

    My inseam is 76 cm. If I follow the first chart from Bicycle Guider, I’ll need 15″-16″ frame. But if I follow the second one (with calculator), I’ll need 50 cm/19″ frame. so which is true?

    I’m 5’7″ btw.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Arief, there’s a disparity in sizes relative to rider’s body proportions. In my opinion, the best size for you would be 17″. Happy riding 🙂

  • Gary says:

    Got a Specialized Evo. Measured end of seat tube to center of crank axel
    16 inches, I’m 5’8″ with inseam of 29 according to most all charts that’s a proper frame size. I HAVE NO STANDOVWR ROOM . I have 29″ wheels. Is that making the bile too tall. Should I drop down to 27 or 26???

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Gary, yes, 29″ wheels definitely make the bike taller, try the bike with a pair of 27.5″ wheels (borrow them from someone if you can) and see how it fits then.

  • Bob Wise says:

    Bought a ProFlex used mountain bike. Sticker on the bike says it is an 18″ frame. I’m 5′ 10″. The chart says i should have an 18 inch mountain bike. Bike feels small for me. Seat post is short (about 4 inches). The stem also seems pretty short. My inseam measurement is 33.5 inches. Couple of Q’s.
    1. How is the 18 measurement made? From the center of the crank axle to the top of the seat tube?
    2. Do you think I can get a satisfactory fit with a longer seat post and possibly a longer stem? Or, should i be looking at getting a bike with a larger frame?

    Thanks,
    Bob

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Bob,

      18″ should feel good for you in theory. You can try changing the stem and the seat post and see how it works since those are not expensive parts to change. If you still feel cramped, I’d advise getting a bigger bike instead.

  • Rayne Vandergriff says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Thanks for the helpful charts on how to choose the right size bike. I’m 46 years young now and just getting into mountain biking. I’ve been running on the trails this past year and met many people biking and they said they LOVE it! So I’m going to buy a bike and start riding. Do you think it matters if I buy a cheap used 200$ bike or a new 1200$ bike? I will be mainly riding mainly on trails around the lake that are not very technical. Thanks!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Rayne,

      You’re welcome. I’m glad that you’re taking up mountain biking! 🙂 It all depends on how often you plan to ride. If you intend to do a couple of easy-going rides per month, a $200 bike will suffice. But what if you like it and decide to do more? A new $1,200 bike might be overkill, but a mid-priced model with disc brakes, a decent fork, and mid-range Shimano or SRAM components would be a safer choice. A better bike means more comfort and less maintenance, so you should think about that as well.

  • I want to get back into riding again. Im 50 now and my back is a possible issue with a road bike. I use to ride long distance and I know it will take some time to relax back into it. Any suggestions on bike types? Don’t really want an old man beach cruiser. Thanks

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Robert, you have several choices, depending on how much trouble your back is giving you. You can start with a hybrid bike or a road bike with a more relaxed geometry, avoid racing road bikes because they will put a lot of strain on your back. If you have more serious back issues, you could also consider recumbents. They look good, in my opinion, and will save you from a lot of pain. 🙂

  • Jeff thanks for this information it’s going to help me with my purchase of a new bike. Simple cut& dry. Glad to come across this guide.

  • Joe Bike Tech says:

    Don’t try out your bike before buying it? What??? I couldn’t read past that, cause that’s clearly BS, from someone in the pocket of online retailers.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Joe, there’s no such sentence in the text. When buying a bike, it’s not always NECESSARY to try it out first. You can get the right size by using size charts even if you do not give it a spin around the block first. But, of course, if possible, you should always try the bike out and see how it fits, I’ve mentioned this a lot of times before. 🙂

  • EP says:

    your inseam chart is’nt much good either …

    my inside leg is 30 inches (76.2 cm) according to your chart I need to be on a 15 – 16″ bike – total nonsense

    I ride a 19″ I used to be 5’8″ but think I ve shrunk to 5′ 7″ stand over height is (midway) 30 inches

    • Jeff Balton says:

      According to the charts on the page, the correct size for your height is 19″, just as you say. However, everyone differs when it comes to body proportions. Some people have short legs and long torsos, others have long legs and short torsos. That’s why you should always use different charts and sources to find the right size. Happy riding. 🙂

    • This is where I’m at. 5’9 and 30″ inseam. Height points to 18.5 mountain bike but went to test one today and really couldn’t get the seat quite low enough. This is a seat with a built in dropper. We pretty much shoved it down as low as it could go and with the dropper extended fully I wasn’t reaching the pedals quite enough. :-/ . Going to try a 17.5 tomorrow. This is a 2020 bike so all they had was the 18.5 today. Depressing. I didn’t think I had short legs but if you go by all these charts? I don’t see too many 5’5 people with 32″ inseams but all these charts suggest they exist. Not just this site. Heck, I’m trying to buy a Trek Fuel EX 8 and height wise I should be on an 18.5. Inseam 17.5. I just worry a tad as I don’t want the reach and everything else to be undersized for me. :-/ . Why can’t I be normal.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Unfortunately, the cycling industry cannot make bikes that fit everyone perfectly. They make bikes that fit the average person well. So, if you have “uncommon” body proportions, you will have problems finding the right size. It’s just how it is sadly. These charts are made to reflect the industry standards.

  • Clinton Cridick says:

    Very inciteful…tremendous guide for me as a novice,looking to buy my 1st Mtn bike.A lot of teaching,helpful information.Glad I found this site and it helped me become very knowledgeable in deciding what suits my needs.