Buying the right bike is tricky, it is important you get a size that is right for you. Every person has different needs when it comes to the size of a bike, this is usually based on the person’s height and weight.
The 26-inch in the name 26-inch bike is related to the size of the wheel, the bike has wheels that have an internal diameter of 26 inches.
Bikes with 26-inch wheels are designed for people who are around 5’0 to 5’5, although some people have found that you can ride a 26-inch bike comfortably with a height up to 5’7.
If you are taller than that then a 26-inch bike may not be for you and you should maybe look for a bike with 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels.
What Is The Right Bike Size For Me?
Bike sizes normally correlate to the bike frame, as the wheel size can change with the same frame. A 26-inch wheel bike normally will have a frame of around 13” – 16”, this size would be recommended for people around the height of 4’11” – 5’7”.
That is a large margin, so it is best to look at your bike from the bike frame size in relation to height. If you are 4’11” to 5’3” and you have a bike with 26-inch wheels then the frame should be around 13 – 15 inches. If you are over 5’3” and have a bike with 26-inch wheels then you’re looking at a bike frame of 15 – 16 inches.
Here’s a handy table that can help you when determining what size bike frame would be right for you.
|Height||Bike Frame Size|
|4’11” – 5’3”||13 – 15 inches|
|5’3” – 5’7”||15 – 16 inches|
|5’7” – 5’11”||16 – 17 inches|
|5’11” – 6’2”||17 – 19 inches|
|6’2” – 6’4”||19 – 21 inches|
|6’4” and taller||21+ inches|
There are many factors that make a bike size right for you, frame height and wheel size are only a couple. Another important factor in choosing the right ride for you is the positioning of the seat.
Different seat configurations come with different bikes, for instance, some seats are tilted forward, some reclined backwards and some are in balance. It is crucial to test which seat configuration is most comfortable for you.
As well as the configuration, the seat height is also important. At full knee extension, when sitting on the seat and feet on the pedals, you should be getting around 30 – 40 degrees of knee bend.
If you are feeling a large amount of work on your quadriceps (upper leg) and tension at the front of the knee then the seat height is a bit too low. If the seat won’t go any higher and you are experiencing this, then it may be best to look at a higher bike frame.
On the other hand, if you can extend your leg fully, then you aren’t getting enough push on the pedals, which will make it harder to ride.
If this is the case then your seat is too high and you will want to lower it.
For a comfortable ride, the handlebars have to be the right width, if they are too wide you could strain your arms and shoulders, if they are too short you could have little control over the bike. Both of these options would be quite uncomfortable and could result in an injury.
Assessing the right width of the handlebar is a little different from assessing other bike sizes as it is different for everyone, some people actually prefer slightly wider handlebars, you just need to make sure that they aren’t causing you pain or being too uncomfortable.
A method you can use to assess the right width of handlebars is the ‘push up method’, go to the ground like you are about to do a pushup and spread your arms to the width you would do a push up with.
If you can comfortably do a pushup with your arms at this width then around that width will probably be fine for handlebars.
Even if you have used the pushup method to find the right bar width, we recommend that you try out several bar widths to find the right one for you. If you start getting shoulder pains or chest pains then try a different handlebar.
Weight is another big factor when determining the right bike size for you. The size of the wheel is the main way to tell the weight limit for a certain bike but it doesn’t tell the entire story, the 26-inch bike is a prime example of why that is.
The 26-inch wheel can either be used for a child’s bike or an adult’s bike. An adult’s bike can be used by both adults and children if they are the right height and feel comfortable riding that bike.
However, if a bike is marketed toward children then it usually means that the frame is made out of a cheaper material as a child normally grows out of a bike and an adult does not. A child’s bike will then have a lower weight capacity of around 85lbs – 125lbs.
If you are an adult looking for a 26-inch bike then you want to take a look at the quality of the framing and the tires. If the frame is made from an alloy, either steel or aluminum, with a tall seat tube and front fork suspension, and it has wide tires, chances are it is a sturdy mountain bike that can hold way more weight.
If your 26-inch bike has these qualities then it will be able to hold around 225lbs – 300lbs. If you are going for a road bike, then the frame will be thinner and sleeker for speed, and the wheels will be larger with thinner tires.
In this case, they will be able to hold less weight, and the average road bike will not hold more than 220lbs.
When buying a 26-inch bike the size of the bike may vary, you need to look at what the right frame size for your height will be, if the seat fits comfortably, if the handlebars are the right width and if the bike can hold your weight.
It is important to try all of these factors to find the right, comfortable ride for you.