What size bike should I buy? It’s a common question that many women have when considering a new bike. That’s why we’ve created a simple women’s frame sizing guide, which is divided into tables for road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes.
When bike shops and brands talk about bike size, what they’re specifically referring to is the size of the frame, so bike size and frame size are often used interchangeably.
Currently, there is no industry standard for sizing bikes. This means choosing the correct frame size for you can be confusing, especially since recommended frame sizes vary between manufacturers, models and disciplines.
Don’t worry though, you’ve come to the right place. By the end of this article you’ll hopefully have gained a general understanding of how women’s bike sizing works, and be able to use that knowledge in the search for your next bike.
Bike frame sizes are most commonly listed in centimetres (e.g. 48cm, 54cm), inches (e.g. 17in, 19in) and in sizes such as small, medium and large.
As a general starting point, bike sizes are determined by the height of the rider. Use this to decide what size to try using our charts below. If you sit between sizes, it’s worth trying both out and seeing which one you feel more comfortable on.
Most bike manufacturers will also have their own size guides for each of the bikes they stock, again using rider height to determine the right size.
Your local bike shop will be able to help guide you through what you need to look out for and to find what size bike fits you best.
Some will also offer a bike fitting service. This is particularly important for road bikes, and will help fine-tune the fit to ensure it’s personalised to you and is as comfortable and efficient as it can be. You’ll ideally be able to swap components such as the stem and handlebars to fine-tune the fit too.
Test riding a bike before you make a purchase is a quick and easy way to tell if you’re in the right ballpark for size.Phil Hall / Immediate Media
Online only sellers, such as Canyon, will guide you through a set of measurements you need to take of your body, for example arm length, which are designed to ensure you get the right size.
If buying online, check whether the retailer will allow you to swap components such as the stem and handlebars after purchasing, or whether you’ll have to purchase these separately if needed.
Finally, don’t forget that while you can make small adjustments to fit by changing components later, the frame size will be fixed. Take your time and don’t buy a frame that’s the wrong size just because it looks like a bargain.
Take it for a test ride
These bike size charts are designed as a general overview only, so make sure you test any bikes you are considering for comfort and safe handling.
If you are buying second-hand give our handy guide a quick read to make sure you bag a bargain not a dud.
Women’s bike size guide
We’ve put together some broad suggestions on bike sizing below, based on rider height. It’s important to remember that this is just a rough guide to help you narrow down your search for the right sized bike.
Every person’s anatomy is different, so everyone will have different fit requirements. For example, if you have short legs (in general or relative to your height), the standover height of a frame is likely to be of increased importance.
In this scenario, it may be preferable to ride a smaller frame, or a frame with a more compact geometry, and compensate with a longer stem, increased saddle setback or a combination of both.
The best advice we can give you is to consult a professional bike fitter before making an expensive purchase because they can take your individual requirements into account and make recommendations about sizing and fit accordingly.
Many women find that a women’s-specific bike suits them well, while others get on fine with unisex frames.
The most common benefits of opting for a women’s bike are that they include women’s-specific finishing kit, such as a women’s-specific saddle, and also that the ranges tend to run to smaller sizes to suit smaller riders.
Some women’s bikes are based around a unisex frame with women’s-specific finishing kit, while others, like those from Liv Cycling and Canyon, have a bespoke geometry designed around women-only body dimension data.