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Bike Sizing Guide


How are road bikes measured?

The measurement shown is the distance (in cm) from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube (centre of the top of seat tube). However, some manufacturers measure their bikes slightly differently. Some will measure centre of the BB to the top of the top tube (centre to top) or centre of the BB to the centre of the top tube (centre to centre). And bear in mind that a lot of road bikes have sloping top tubes so the measurements can alter – these are often sized S, M, L and XL.

 

road bike sizing

 

Most road bikes come in two styles – racing road bikes (long in the top tube and low at the front for faster riding) and sportive road bikes (which tend to have shorter top tubes and higher front ends for extra comfort). In recent years there's also been a rise in cyclocross bikes, which are for more casual off road rides, and that’s led to the creation of adventure road bikes – a lightweight, drop-bar bike for a mix of terrains, roads and trails. For more information on road bikes and adventure road bikes, please check this below information.


What is a Road Bike?

In a nutshell

A road bike is any bike designed to be ridden exclusively on Tarmac roads. With subtle changes in material and geometry some road bikes are more suitable for racing, others for long distance or cycle touring. Road bikes are also often used by commuters who frequently cycle to work. In choosing a good road bike, it is important that you get it right, as you'll be cycling a lot. Our Road Bike Buying Guide will go through each type of road bike, helping you to choose the best bike for you.

 

Road Race Bikes

Road racing bikes will offer you an exciting, fast and fun experience. Race bikes are designed and built to be as light as possible, so expect light frames and overall bike weight to be impressively low. The best road racing bikes are reactive and fast handling – they should be nimble and agile. This is ideal for racing purposes: cutting through a crowded pack of riders, but also for fun, fast rides in the country with your cycling buddies.



Geometry

Frame design plays an important part in how race bikes handle, which is why racing frames use steeper angles for the fork and seat tube, along with short seatstays and chainstays, when compared to sportive orientated bikes. A short head tube keeps the bars low. Road race bikes also use longer top tubes to help create a flat-backed, stretched-out riding position. It means you'll have a much smaller head-on shape, making you more aerodynamic – all to help you ride as fast as you can. Short seatstays keep the wheelbase length under a metre and road racing bikes will have drop handlebars.



Frame material

Historically, race bike designers didn’t put comfort into consideration. Clever frame design, and use of materials like carbon fibre means that modern road racing bikes have benefited from vast improvements in comfort. This has meant that race bikes like Cannondale's SuperSix Evo and BMC’s Teammachine SLR01 offer excellent comfort levels, even though they’re built for racing.



What is the gearing on a racing bike?

At the front, the gears on a racing bike are usually a large 53-tooth front chainring, with a smaller 39-tooth inner ring. The gears at the rear (the cassette) will have very small differences (the number of teeth) between gears. A racing cassette usually has an 11-tooth bottom gear (the hardest to turn), with gears stepping up in small increments to a 25-tooth, which is what you'll need on the hills.

Brakes

Disc brakes are increasingly offered on high-end race bikes. Whilst the UCI ban on disc brakes in the pro-peloton initially slowed their introduction manufacturers are fully supporting this technological development and the UCI have relented on their ruling.

As with all new developments there has been hesitation over the universal adoption of this technology but ultimately disc brakes on road bikes are here to stay.

What are the benefits of disc brakes on a racing bike?

There are numerous benefits to disc brakes, not least that they are very powerful but offer great modulation and brake feel. Disc brake wheels can be designed to be very aerodynamic as they don’t require a braking surface and the rotating mass of the brake disc is nearer the centre of the wheel.

What's the right road bike size for me?

This handy chart should show you the right size of road bike you need based on your height. Measure your height accurately and always check the manufacturer’s measurements too. You can also visit us in store to speak to an experienced member of staff.

Rider Height Suggested Road Bike Size
Feet & Inches Centimetres Frame Size (cm) Frame Size
4'10" - 5'0" 148cm - 152cm 47cm - 48cm XX-Small
5'0" - 5'3" 152cm - 160cm 49cm - 50cm X-Small
5'3" - 5'6" 160cm - 168cm 51cm - 53cm Small
5'6" - 5'9" 168cm - 175cm 54cm - 55cm Medium
5'9" - 6'0" 175cm - 183cm 56cm - 58cm Large
6'0" - 6'3" 183cm - 191cm 58cm - 60cm X-Large
6'3" - 6'6" 191cm - 198cm 61cm - 63cm XX-Large

 

Women's road bike sizes

Many bikes are designed with the female form in mind. So they accommodate a shorter reach, narrower shoulders and smaller hands. But there’s absolutely no reason why a woman can’t ride a unisex or male bike, so don’t restrict yourself – just make sure you test ride it first.

Rider Height Suggested Women's Road Frame Size
Feet & Inches Centimetres Frame Size (cm) Frame Size
4'10" - 5'1" 147cm - 155cm 44cm - 46cm XX-Small
5'1" - 5'3" 155cm - 160cm 47cm - 49cm X-Small
5'3" - 5'5" 160cm - 165cm 50cm - 52cm Small
5'5" - 5'8" 165cm - 172cm 53cm - 55cm Medium
5'8" - 5'10" 172cm - 180cm 56cm - 57cm Large

 

Still confused? Please ask us.