How To Measure A Mountain Bike Frame – Important Tips

When buying a mountain bike, you need to look at many features, one of them being the size of the bike. As a rider, you need a mountain bike that is your size, not too small or too big in order to be comfortable and safe while cycling.

Comfort determines your speed and in essence how far you can cycle and what terrain you can handle.

An oversized mountain bike can pose a safety risk.To do this rightly, you need to know some of your body measurements namely, inseam, torso, arms and height lengths plus the measurements of the mountain bike frame.

You need the measurements whether you are buying a mountain bike from a local store or online.

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Why You Need to Measure Mountain Bike Sizes?

There is no standard classification of mountain bikes because different manufacturers have different sizes of mountain bikes categorized differently by either general sizes like medium or small or by the frame sizes usually measured in inches.

Please note that using seat tube length to know the size of a mountain bike can be misleading because some manufacturers use the middle of the seat tube while others use the top.

The two main measurements that provide a more accurate way of determining sizes is to use the top tube length and the seat tube length, which are the C-C and C-T measurements.

Measuring the Mountain Bike Frame in Inches

Now measure the frame of the mountain bike. Use inches to take the measurements.You need a tape measure to do this, if you don’t have one, you can purchase it in a bookstore or department store near you, they come at a lowprice point.

Measuring the C-C (Center to Center)

There are two types of frame measurements you will take namely C-C(center to center) measurements and C-T( center to top) measurements. Measuring the C-C involves getting the distance from the center of the bike’s bottom bracket to the top tube’s center.

To locate the bottom bracket, check where the crankset or chainset is. It is located where the pedals are. After locating the bottom bracket, identify its center, then extend the tape measure to reach the top tube ‘s center.

Measuring the C-T (Center to Top)

Sometimes the C-T is called the seat tube length, due to the tube being connected to the seat post. Measure from the top tube top and extend the tape measure to the crank hole.

Taking Your Body Measurements

You need the body measurements to know what size of mountain bike is suitable for you. You can ask someone to help you take the measurements, alternatively, you can use a wall to assist you to take the measurements.

After marking the points on the wall, use a tape measure to get the length.Then jot down the measurements on your phone or on a piece of paper, indicating what body part against the measurements. First, take off your shoes, then stand against a wall on a flat surface with your legs together and your shoulders on the wall.

Height and Arms Length

Use a pencil to mark your height on the wall, mark where your head reaches on the wall. Unlike men, it is important for female mountain bike riders to determine their arm length.

To measure the length of your arms, lean against a wall and let one of your arms form a right angle. Mark the points from your shoulders to the joints of your arm(those are two points), again measure from the joints to the palms of your hands(again two points), now use a tape measure to get the exact length.

Torso and Inseam Length

Mark the starting point of your inseam with a pencil. Your inseam length starting point on the wall (crotch for men and privates for ladies) and then use a tape measure to get the measurements.

A friend can help you get your torso length which is the difference from the inseam to the center of the collar bones. A torso length is essential for determining sizing of mountain bikes for female riders.

Mountain Bike Sizing Chart

Now you need to use a chart to determine what mountain bike fits your size. The charts are not standard but here is one for guiding you on what to expect when shopping. The sizes are extra small( 15 inches), small (16 inches)medium (17 inches).

Plus, medium size two, 18 inches(a size between medium and large), large, large size two, 19 inches ( a size between large and extra large), and finally extra large (20 inches).

You need to use the mountain bike sizing chart of the mountain brand bike of your choice to check the dimensions of the frame size against your body size, as discussed above namely height, inseam, torso and arm's lengths.

Sometimes the chart may indicate that your body size lies between two different bike sizes, in such a case, opt for the bigger mountain bike. You may opt to adjust the handlebar and saddle stem of the bike to fit you well.

How to Test the Sizing of the Mountain Bike

After identifying the mountain bike that you want to buy. Also after determining that the frame size is right for your size, here is how to test the fitting.

To test, you need to sit on the bike. Worth noting is that, mountain bike frames are designed smaller than road bike frames to make it easier to cycle on rough trails and you should never use a road bike sizing to buy a mountain bike.

To tell if a mountain bike fits you, you should be able to tip-toe while sitting on the mountain bike. However, being able to put both feet down is an indication that the bike is too small for you or the seat was designed low. In addition, your feet should also be able to rest on the pedals comfortably.

Again sit on the mountain bike and ensure that you can manage the handlebars comfortably without struggling to lean to reach them or feeling squeezed because they are too small and too close.  Also, your shoulders should be relaxed when you are sitting and your elbows should be slightly bent.

Final Remarks

Mountain biking presents quite a lot of adventures which can only be enjoyed if you have the right mountain bike size. Although this exercise might take a little bit of time, it is worth every bit of it.


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