Now that you’ve decided that a hybrid bicycle is the right option you, it’s time to try one on for size. The key to getting the best performance and the most comfortable ride out of your hybrid bike is in choosing the perfect bike size.
Basics of Hybrid Bicycle Sizing
It all starts with the right hybrid bike frame.
If you’re already used to riding a road bike, be aware that hybrids are a few inches smaller. Hybrid bikes are more similar to mountain bikes in terms of size. To determine the frame size of a hybrid bike , start where the frame connects to the seat tubing and measure all the way to the center of the crank or bottom bracket.
Although hybrid bikes are marketed and sold according to frame size, wheel dimensions can make a big difference in how the bike actually fits and feels. Even though most hybrids use a standard 700c wheel type, sizes do vary and are constantly changing as the bicycle industry responds to the needs and demands of today’s cyclists. You’re probably already familiar with 26”, 29”, and 27.5” wheel options. Combined with the frame height, this adds another dimension to bike sizing. While many hybrid bikes use a standard rim-wheel size, you need to be aware of wheel sizes, especially if you’re switching from a different style of bike.
Seat Height and Position
Carefully consider the standard seat height of the bike you’re considering. Find out how much the seat height can be adjusted up or down. Check out the seat position. When you sit on it, how much does it tilt or lean? You’ll want to know if you most comfortable in a forward-leaning, straight-sitting, or slightly upward position.
Handle Bar Height and Position
On most hybrid bikes, the handlebars will sit about 1-2 inches above the standard seat position. You’ll also want to consider the width of the handlebars, the orientation, and location of the brakes.
Your Personal Measurements
Next, you’ll want to know your exact height. Here we’re using feet and inches. Finally, determine your inseam measurement. To find your inseam measurement, you’ll find the distance from the floor or ground to your seat. Be sure to measure from the bottom of your foot up to the point where your hip and thigh connect. Make sure you’re measuring the inner part of your legs.
Measuring a Hybrid Bike
Then, you’ll find your measurements on a bicycle sizing chart. Hybrids are generally sold in sizes from extra-small to extra-large. Hybrid bike manufacturers and retailers publish different size guides for men’s and women’s bikes, but here’s an easy chart that anyone can use.
For more in-depth analysis on how to measure each part of your bike correctly check out our How To Measure a Bike article.
Proper Fitting for Your Bike
Start with your stand-over height. When you stand over the frame with your feet flat on the ground, the top of your inseam should be about 1-2 inches above the top of the frame. Next, hop on the seat and let your feet touch the pedals. Many people believe that your feet should comfortably touch the ground while sitting on the bike. But, you’ll want to go for comfort while pedaling. So, you’ll want to find the best feel either sitting upright or leaning forward for speed and fitness pedaling. Think about how and where you ride the most. When you stop, do you prefer to sit on the seat with one or both feet on the ground, or do you come off the seat and stand over your frame?
Get Help from a Professional Bike Shop
If you’re a first-time hybrid bike buyer or you’ve had problems finding a comfortable bike size in the past, you’ll want to start at a local retailer. You can choose to visit a bike specialist or if you’re set on a specific brand and model, visit one of the big-box retailers in your area. Pick a shop that has plenty of bike on display and make sure that someone can pull a few off the racks and let you try them on for size.
Check out the video below to see a summary of the main points you need to consider when finding the correct bike size for you. You can also read our buyers guide for hybrid bikes to give you even more things to consider before going ahead with your purchase that you probably haven’t thought of yet.
Image credit: Flickr.com