What Size Mountain Bike Should You Ride?

What Size Mountain Bike Should You Ride?

When it comes to selecting the size bike you should ride, the ideal fit depends on your body type. Fortunately, there are a few simple adjustments you can make to your frame (including seat height and stem height) that will allow for an ideal fit every time.

If you’re unsure where to begin, visit your local bike shop and test-ride bikes of various sizes until finding one that best fits your body type and size.

Frame Size

Finding the correct frame size is critical for finding a bike that fits you perfectly and maximizes your enjoyment of riding. A frame that’s too big may feel heavy, twitchy, and uncomfortable on long rides, technical descents or when just taking leisurely laps along trails.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to identify the ideal bike frame. You can use measurements such as seat tube length and standover height to help narrow down your choices.

Schwinn Bonafide Men and Women Mountain Bike, Front Suspension, 24-Speed, 29-Inch Wheels, 17-Inch Aluminum Frame, Matte Black/Red
  • 17-inch aluminum mountain frame with high-performance suspension fork effectively absorb bumps and thumps, while the 29-inch wheels fit to riders 5’4 to 6’2 inches tall
  • Effortless gear change with 24-speed trigger shifters and front and rear derailleurs
  • Front and rear mechanical disc brakes deliver precise stopping power in any condition, while the durable alloy cranks ensure reliable gearing and reduced maintenance hassle
  • For enhanced durability, the high-profile double-wall alloy rims offer a combination of lightness and strength, while the 2.25-inch wide knobby mountain tires are prepared to tackle rough and uneven
  • Arrives partially assembled, will require tools, Philips head screwdriver, Allen wrench 2.5mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, & 8mm, an adjustable wrench, and pair of pliers with cable cutting ability

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When measuring mountain bike riding position and handlebar height, the first measurement to consider is the frame’s stack. This distance measures vertically from the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube and can be adjusted with headset spacers or a handlebar riser for a comfortable pedaling position and comfortable handlebar height.

Another essential measurement is reached, which measures the horizontal distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the head tube. On a mountain bike, having longer reach means the handlebars are further away from the seat and puts riders in an upright position – ideal for those with longer torsos or who can comfortably handle an extended setup.

Frame size measurements like stack and reach are the only surefire methods of finding what size will work for you. But it can be challenging to figure out which size best suits you without professional help – if you’re unsure, a trustworthy local bike shop should be able to give you an honest evaluation with their qualified fitters.


Reach is the horizontal distance between a bike’s center bottom bracket and head tube, one of the most critical measurements when selecting your ideal fit.

Longer-reach bikes are ideal for riders who desire a stable riding position and an immersive experience. Shorter-reach bikes tend to be more agile, making them suitable for riders with shorter torsos or arms.

Reach is an important factor when selecting your mountain bike frame size, as it determines its wheelbase. A bike with a long reach will have a longer wheelbase which helps it remain steady when traversing trails or climbing steep inclines.

However, a longer wheelbase can make steering the bike more challenging and may cause back arching during pedaling strokes. This could reduce the effectiveness of suspension components as well, so opt for a bike with an established wheelbase.

Another way to reduce bike reach is by altering the handlebar position. There are several ways to do this, such as switching out flat bars for drop bars that sweep back towards the rider.

Some brands use a measurement called the Stack to Reach Ratio (SSR) to take into account differences in handlebar and saddle positions on their bikes. Although this metric isn’t widely used, it can help you find a bike that’s likely suitable for you.

Stack and reach are two metrics that have been around in the bike world for some time, and they’re useful to know. They allow you to quickly compare handlebar positions across various frames, enabling you to find a bike that best suits your riding style.


The wheelbase of a mountain bike can make all the difference in how responsive and stable your ride will be, as well as how comfortable you’ll feel while riding it.

A longer wheelbase helps your bike resist pitching over during hard braking or changing gradients on rough terrain. Additionally, it creates a larger area where you can sit comfortably without being too far forward or back.

Additionally, it reduces the effort needed to manually steer your bike through corners, so you can turn the handlebars more easily. While this may be advantageous in certain circumstances, it could prove challenging when trying to maneuver your bicycle around tight turns.

Another factor affecting your wheelbase is chainstay length. A shorter chainstay length makes it simpler for you to manually steer your bike and also allows for weight juggling more efficiently, creating greater agility with pedals and the front wheel.

Finally, your head tube angle has a significant effect on how your bike responds to the bars. A slacker angle gives more and thus more stability at speed but may cause your bike to ‘flop’ when turning slowly.

All these factors play a role in how well your bike handles, so they should be taken into account along with the wheelbase. While having a longer wheelbase may offer greater stability, it also makes pedaling more challenging, especially when ascending steep hills on technical trails.

Benelli Bike, 29” Carbon Mountain Bike, 18 Speed, Brake Disc, Light-Weight Hardtail Frame (Medium, Yellow Black) (M22 4.0 ADV 29 CARB)
  • Frame: Carbon Press Fit BB T800 + Built-in Cables
  • Brakes: Shimano Altus BL-MT200 Hydraulic Disc Brake
  • Tires: CST 29*2.1
  • Net Weight: 28.6 Lbs
  • Front Fork: SYH 29″ 100mm Travel suspension with Hydraulic lockout.

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Seat Height

Seat height is an integral component of bike fit, impacting riding comfort, pedaling efficiency, and the way your knees bend during a ride. A high seat can cause discomfort and make it hard to pedal effectively; on the other hand, a low seat reduces stability and balance.

Finding the correct seat height for your bike is possible through several methods. One of the most reliable is measuring your inseam length and multiplying it by 1.09. Alternatively, use a tape measure to take into account variations in height.

Once you have your measurement, you can experiment with adjusting the seat on your bike until it is at an ideal height for you. The ideal height should be around 2.54 inches below the bottom of your pedal stroke when your heel is in its lowest position.

Some mountain bikes feature a seat post that allows you to adjust the seat height, helping you get in the correct riding position and maximize comfort. This will boost confidence on steep descents, making climbing much simpler.

When selecting the seat height of a mountain bike, reach and stack are important factors to consider. Stack refers to the horizontal distance from the top of the seat tube to the center of the frame; it’s ideal for riders who prioritize pedaling power.

Cross-country and endurance mountain biking typically use the same saddle height as road cycling. However, certain subcategories such as freeride, XC, and all-mountain biking require different positions for the saddle. These differences can affect how your leg bends and activates muscles during a pedal cycle – potentially leading to injury or discomfort.

Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket is an essential element of your mountain bike that holds everything together. That’s why it’s essential to know how to replace or upgrade a bottom bracket if it starts to wiggle free on the chain or shows signs of wear and tear.

When selecting a bottom bracket, it is important to take into account its type, compatibility with your crankset and frame, as well as brand reputation. You can find this information in the manufacturer’s specifications or by consulting a bike mechanic for advice.

Different bottom bracket designs exist, such as threaded and press-fit versions. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, so you should select one that best meets your requirements.

For instance, a BB30 bottom bracket utilizes a large-diameter spindle and shell to increase stiffness. While these are usually heavier than their threaded counterparts, they can help extend the life of your bike’s frame and crankset.

Another design feature involves external bearings. These are typically employed with a 68mm English (BSA) shell, providing the advantage that these bearings can be replaced easily if your bike requires maintenance or repair.

These bottom brackets can reduce energy loss and make the bike ride smoother. Unfortunately, they stick out more than threaded versions, creating drag that may result in a wider stance.

Additionally, an external bottom bracket can significantly extend the durability of your crankset, especially when dealing with challenging climbs and rough terrain.

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