Van Bikeradar: Women’s bike size guide | What size bike should I buy?

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, with advice 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.

For more advice, we’ve got guides to road bike geometry and mountain bike geometry, as well as advice on how to measure a bike frame.

You can also read our guide to the best women’s bikes, to help you find the right ride for you, while we’ve also got buying advice for the best women’s road bikes and best women’s mountain bikes.

What size bike do I need?

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 guide you through what to look out for and help you find what size bike fits you best.

Some will also offer a bike fit 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. A good bike shop can also offer plenty of advice to help you find the correct size.
Phil Hall / Immediate Media

Online-only sellers, such as Canyon, will often ask you for a set of body measurements, for example, arm length, to help you find 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.

We’ve got a separate guide on where to buy a bike, outlining the pros and cons of buying online vs buying in a bike shop.

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 to buying a second-hand bike a quick read to make sure you bag a bargain not a dud.

Women’s bike size guide

Riding the correct-sized frame will improve your confidence on the bike.
Steve Behr

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 correct-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.

Women’s road bike size chart

Women’s mountain bike size chart

Women’s hybrid bike chart

Do I need a women’s bike?

Many women find that a women’s-specific bike suits them well, while others get on fine with unisex frames.

Women’s bikes typically include women’s-specific finishing kit, such as a women’s bike saddle. The ranges also 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, as we’ve outlined above, while others, like those from Liv Cycling, have a bespoke geometry designed around women-only body dimension data.

If you’re not sure, have a look at our article on the five different approaches to women’s bike design. And if you’re going to choose a unisex bike, there are some simple and common tweaks that can make your bike more comfortable.

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