Cycling (Biking or Bicycling)

  • Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What size bike should I choose?

The standard wheel size is 26 inches (diameter), and so there's not much decision there. The most important issue is frame size (which is measured in inches in the United States). Here are some guidelines for frame sizing when straddling the bike with both feet flat on the ground.

Racing, hybrid and touring bikes: a minimum of 1-inch clearance between the bottom of your crotch and the top tube of the frame.

Mountain bikes: a minimum of 3 inches of clearance between the bottom of your crotch and the top tube of the frame.

The distance from the saddle to the handlebars should also be considered, since the longer the bike frame the more you will lean forward when riding, which may or may not be desirable. Leaning forward is faster, but it may not be the posture you want. If you're looking for speed, then leaning forward is more aerodynamic and that's what you want; but if you suffer from an easily aggravated back or you're looking for a bike to just cruise around in, commute to work, or do errands, then a more upright posture is all you need.

How do I choose what bike to buy?

As you can see, there are many choices. Think about what your goals and needs are. For instance, if you're a beginner, then a hybrid or a traditional cruiser will be your best bet. Whether you've decided or not, the best thing to do is head down to your local bike shop, discuss your options with the salesperson, let the salesperson fit you properly, and then try some of the bikes out on the road. Your bike should feel stable, comfortable, and simple to use (gears and brakes should work without a hitch). I don't recommend buying a bike online because your bike will need adjustments, and it's going to be difficult to know for sure if it will feel right if you don't try it first.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

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