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How does your riding style affect your road bike sizing?

29 February 2016

Now you've discovered how much you love road cycling, you may well want to treat yourself to a new road bike. Let’s be honest though, bikes aren’t cheap, and with the ever-increasing range available, searching for and choosing the right one can be a little daunting. Our top tip to help you make this a fun adventure, rather than a stressful shopping experience is to get out and try them out!

The first question you need to ask yourself is, what do you want a road bike for? While in your dreams it might be for winning Olympic gold, you need a bike for the real world, too. That’s not to say you can’t have ambition and aspiration, but the best bike for you will help you with that.

The first thing to consider is how much you will use it and how you're going to ride it. Be honest!

Obviously there are the top end beautiful race machines, designed to propel you over the winning line as fast as possible, but these have little consideration for the rider’s long term comfort in preference of speed. For longer distances there are plenty of endurance bikes to choose from with a much more relaxed geometry. These make for a higher level of road bike comfort. Then there are the specialist options, including gravel bikes, touring and cyclo-cross.

Each make and model of road bike will have its own little quirks, so it is imperative that you actually try each one – sizing a road bike online is notoriously tricky and needing a size from one manufacturer doesn’t necessarily mean you will match the same size from another. Aggressive racing bikes will have a lower, more streamlined riding position while the geometry will be more relaxed if you are selecting an endurance bike. In shorter and high intensity events you can get away with having a less comfortable riding style, but for longer distances then your comfort is much more of a consideration – 150 miles with cramp, stiffness and sores is nobody’s idea of fun!

Bike geometry is in effect how each component of the bike creates the whole - angles, rider posture, the positioning and grip position of the handlebars. The bike geometry for each model will also be subtly different, even within the same category, and while overall height is a good indicator of the size(s) you are likely to need, the three key measurements are inside leg, reach and standover height. Bike manufacturers also use subtly different bike sizing conventions, so do your research online, drool over your dream bike and then, when you have a shortlist, go and enjoy trying them out.

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