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8 Obvious Signs Your Road Bike Is Too Big Or Small

You may think that any small road bike is ideal for you after seeing professional cyclists riding bikes with smaller frames than theirs. But a road bike with a frame too small compared to your height and size can also be quite disadvantageous. The same goes for bikes that have a frame too big compared to your size. So how do you find out if your road bike is too small or too big for you?

Your height and your inside leg length are the common measurements to know if a bike is a right size for you or if it is too small or too big. You may feel discomfort while riding if it is not the right size. Specifically, if your road bike is too small, you may find it unstable while riding at high speed. If it is too big, you will find steering, turning, and generally handling the bike challenge, and you may also experience a decrease in speed. 

You may have ordered either too small of a bike in the hopes that you would grow into it, or you may have bought a road bike a bit too big because you simply did not get the right measurements. This article will show you how bikes are sized and what makes them the wrong and the right size for you. We will talk about eight obvious signs that your bike is too big or too small and the dangers if you keep riding a wrong-sized bike.

road bikes sizes

How Are Bikes Sized?

Mountain bikes, road bikes, and hybrid bikes all are sized differently. While adult bikes are measured by their frame size, kids’ bikes are measured by wheel size. Nowadays, the frame is measured from the center of the crank axle to the top of the seat tube. 

Among all of these bikes, bike size is the most significant in road bikes. Regarding units, road bikes are sized in either centimeters or S/M/L systems.

Signs Your Road Bike Is Too Big

If your road bike is too big, you will struggle to control the bike while riding, including stuff like doing bike tricks in the air and steering and turning your bike quickly, as it may be heavy and also not the right fit for you. If you are facing these issues but are still unsure whether it is too big for you or not, see if any of the following signs apply to you:

1. Difficulty In Handling And Steering Your Bike

If handling your road bike feels challenging, it may be a sign that it is too big for you. You can find it hard to steer and make turns as you feel less control over your bike and more of its control over you. 

This means that a bike that is too big affects your ability to have a better grip on the drop bars and on the overall weight of the bike. This is because it will be harder for you to reach the drop bars properly, hence shifting your weight towards the direction you want to turn to may not have precise turns. 

A road bike is known for the speed it provides the rider, but if the rider has difficulty in steering, it may become a hindrance.

2. Uncomfortable While Riding

If a bike is too big for you, it will negatively influence your posture because you are riding with your arms and legs all stretched out. It will cause you to have a sore back and shoulders, leading to back and spine problems and chronic pain. 

Not only will it cause pain, but it can also be uncomfortable while riding, and you won’t be able to enjoy your cycling journey.

3. Struggling To Lift The Front Wheel

If you counter any obstacles in your path, it may be difficult to lift your front wheel. Although we don’t really need to lift our wheels with road bikes, it can still cause difficulty to hop over any obstacles if you encounter them in your path.

riders on different sized road bikes

4. Standover Height Is Too Much

Standover height is measured from your feet flat on the floor to where you straddle your bike. This is the easiest way to determine whether your bike is too big for you or not. 

When you elevate the bike while straddling it, you should have about 1″ of clearance between the ground and the tires. If it is less than that, your bike may be too big. 

5. Problem With Speed

Road bikes are designed to generate optimal speed from the power applied by the rider. If you think your bike is not as fast as it should be, it may be a problem with its size and weight being a bit too heavy. 

Signs Your Road Bike Is Too Small

A road bike that is too small may feel uncomfortable and unstable to ride, especially with fast speed. Although road bikes do make you form a leaned-down position, a road bike that is too small will feel more hunched over than usual. 

If you feel like this is an issue that you face, check the following signs and consider buying a bike of the right size if your situation ticks these problems:

6. Painful And Uncomfortable

Biking can be painful, you may fall, or your foot may get hurt from a pedal strike. But this only happens sometimes, so if your body is sore or in pain from biking, you may be riding a bike size that is too small for you. A necessarily small road bike will put you in a more hunched-down version than you should be in, and it may cause back problems. 

It can also cause your arms to be sore because you are letting all of your body weight be supported by them. Your legs can also get sore, as they will have to fold more than usual which can be uncomfortable while riding.

small and large road bike

7. Struggling To Fit In The Cockpit

The cockpit in a bicycle is the area where you operate your bike, it includes the saddles, the drop bars, and your seat. If you struggle to fit in the cockpit, it is a major sign that your road bike is too small. Struggling to fit in the cockpit means you will experience the following issues:

  • Your knees can hit the drop bars/handlebars of your road bike. If your knees are not in a comfortable position and you fear they can hit your handlebars, it may be time to buy a new road bike. 
  • Your feet may have the risk of getting injured while making turns. This means that if you rotate your bike to make any turns, your toes may get hit by the front wheel. 
  • If you need to set your seat high enough that it is suitable for you, it is because the seat tube needs to be longer. This indicates that your road bike is too small and has shorter parts.
  • Struggling to lift your front wheel if your road bike is too big can also cause severe accidents, as you may be unable to avoid any road hazards. It can make you topple over and fall.

8. Standing Over The Bike

If your crotch does not touch the bike frame while straddling over it with your feet flat on the ground, it means that your bike is too small compared to your size. 

This is a very easy and straightforward method to determine the size, whether it is too small, too big, or the right size.

How To Find The Right Bike Size For You

You can measure your height and your inner leg length to determine which bike is the best size for you. Measuring your height is as simple as it always has been; just grab a pencil and stand against a wall straight with an upright position. Use the pencil to mark right above your head. Then, you can measure the wall to that mark with a measuring tape.

To measure your inner leg length, which is also called your “inseam,” stand with your back against the wall without your shoes. Ask for help from someone to help measure this, as it may be a bit complicated. Place a ruler between your legs and then measure from the top of the ruler. 

The following video will guide you in choosing the right bike size for you:

Get A Bike Fit

A bike fit helps the rider buy a bike of the best measurements for their body and comfort. It determines the perfect bike fit for you as a professional on the basis of four main measurements. 

These include the size of the bike, seat height, and your reach to the handlebars and cleats. If you can’t get a professional to do it, try doing these measurements at home and test them out by going on short test bike rides. You can use road bike size charts to determine whether the bike you pick is compatible with your height.

Try A Demo Bike Riding Experience Before Buying

While buying a bike in the comfort of your home may seem easy, it can prove to be a gamble. This is because unless you have tried it out by riding the bike, you won’t know if it is the right fit for you or not. 

You can try out bike demos in demo events, or you can rent one for a temporary time period. Checking out the settings and features along with size in person can find you the best bike size for yourself. 

Comfortable And Suits Your Body

Even if the bike ticks all other categories as proving to be the best size for you, you should judge whether you should buy it or not based on comfort while riding.

Maybe you are getting a sore back, or your arms are uncomfortable on the drop bars. You must listen to your body and choose the one your body adjusts to better.

Dangers Of Riding A Bike Of A Wrong Size

Riding a bike of the wrong size can make the rider face some dangerous situations, but what kind of dangerous situations? 

  • It can actually lead to an increased risk of accidents. As we discussed before, having lesser control over your bike due to it being too small or too big can cause you to struggle with steering and turning the bike. This increases the chances of road accidents. 
  • You can experience serious wrist pain. Your hands are the ones controlling the weight and steers of your bike, so if it is of the wrong size and too big it can create chronic pain in your wrists, especially if you are riding longer distances on this bike.
  • A person who rides the wrong size of bike can experience a lot of health problems, and backache is one of the most prevalent among them. Riding a wrong-size bike causes you to maintain an awkward and unhealthy posture throughout your ride, which can damage your spine.

Final Words

Many signs indicate that your road bike is not the right size; it is either too small or too big. These may include discomfort, pain, speed, measurements, or difficulty in maneuvering the bike. 

We discussed all of these obvious signs that your bike is not the right size and gave you details on how you can find the right size. Riding a bike that is too small or too big compared to your size can prove to be dangerous, so it is important that you buy a new bike that suits you and your body.