i usually take a 21 inch size in mountain bike, but I want to buy a road bike. I'm 6'2'' and have a 34 inch inner leg. How do the sizes translate from mountain bike to road bike? Thanks

4 Answers 4


There does not seem to be a universal standard for bike sizing. Due to the variety of designs and geometry size will vary between manufacturers and intended use, touring, racing, commuting are all slightly different. You often hear about the importance of fit and it's relation to performance and comfort and this is where a good relationship with your LBS is key. Most brands will have a guideline to get you in a range. One brand may place you solidly on a 58cm frame a different brand might place you between a 58 and a 60. You really have to test ride several sizes and brands to see what fits. A proper fitting will take into account your geometry and the bike geometry and try to get a match. It may involve swapping stems, adding headset spacers adjusting saddle setback. These adjustments make the frame feel bigger or smaller to get you comfortable.

  • what is lbs? I don't know Apr 18, 2013 at 12:07
  • 1
    LBS is a common abbreviation for Local Bike Shop. Sorry for any confusion.
    – mikes
    Apr 18, 2013 at 20:46

The old traditional scheme for sizing a road frame was "standover height". You'd stand with your feet flat on the ground, straddling the bike. If you had "comfortable" (for a male) clearance of the (traditionally-positioned) top tube then the bike was the right size.

I've found in practice that this scheme maybe leads one to select a bike that is slightly too large, but it's a good first approximation.

Of course, these days many bikes are not traditional diamond frames, so you kind of have to extrapolate to apply the technique. And there are other aspects of fit, such as "reach", that usually follow overall fit, but not always.

  • I agree. When choosing a MTB I was consistently given one a size too big, based on 'male comfort' on the standover. The problem ended up being that I was actually reaching too far forward and getting lower back pain, not that I was 'injuring' myself at stoplights. Apr 6, 2013 at 22:35
  • This is probably based on the old frame design where the top tube was completely horizontal. Compare the placement of the old Eddy Merckx bike with the newer Trek Madone. Compare the difference in the top tube height by looking at the height of the top tube above the rear wheel.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 8, 2013 at 1:10
  • @Kibbee - Like I said, it's the "traditional" scheme for "traditional" frames. Apr 8, 2013 at 3:50

When I got my bike the shop did a really good fit, and when I went back complaining of pain here and there, they changed things around to make sure I was ok.

My brother didn't have such good service as he bought his bike from a bigger and busier bike store in London. He rode it for more than six months before getting a professional bikefit for 120 pounds. Not cheap but he said the improvement was immediately obvious almost like he was a different (and better) bike.

This is especially useful if you have non standard body geometry. You can also adjust the fit to your specifications, racing, endurance, comfort etc.

I cannot specifically recommend one, but a Google search revealed a number of options:




Sorry this is impossible to directly compare. Because of subtle different purposes.

On a MTB you use the ground, for dabbing, for traction in turns, and as an obstacle to jump or reflect off..

On a road bike the ground exists only as something for the tyres to roll on.

So fit on a road bike is all related to how your contact points map to the feet/hands/backside, and how your various angles sit for comfort.

Conversely, on a MTB you want to be able to move the bike and body so they're in the right places relative to the ground, for balance and applying force to the bike, through the bike to the ground.

Answer A road bike needs to be comfortable sized for the rider when mounted, a MTB needs to be slightly physically smaller to be moved around by the rider.

  • Corollory - a primarily on-road MTB can be bigger than an MTB used off-road.
    – Criggie
    Nov 23, 2017 at 19:35
  • you obviously never saw that video with Martyn Ashton. youtube.com/watch?v=7ZmJtYaUTa0 and I don't agree about the general rule for mountain bikes that the frame should be smaller - look at mondraker frames that are deliberately longer in length. Nov 25, 2017 at 8:28
  • @AndrewWelch That should be a separate answer on its own. Comments are for clarifications, not for discussion.
    – Criggie
    Nov 25, 2017 at 19:52

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