I recently bought a bike online for use in college and after trying to get on the bike, and I think it's too big. The problem is that I'm pretty small. Like 4'11", 27" inseam small. Little legs, yes. I tried to find a bike with a smaller frame (that wasn't a kid's bike), so I went with a 43 cm single speed/fixie from Critical Cycles.

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The recommended height range was 4'9-5'2, and I figured that everything seems to be fine when I ride it, with the handlebars and seat on the lowest setting, but I can't stand over my bike. There's no clearance between my crotch and the top tube and judging from how I feel about it and what a lot of people on the internet say, this isn't good. Recommended clearance is at least an inch right?

It's a little bit of a hassle to get on and off the bike, but like I said, it's OK once I'm actually on. My biggest concern is the potentially frequent stops that I might have to make along the bike paths at my college, in the event that I might not be able to properly stop and get off the bike, which is dangerous since there's a lot of bike traffic at my school.

I'm pretty new to biking, and realize that I might've bought the wrong kind of bike or size, but it's a little hard for someone of my size to find a bike for someone so short like me, but I also don't have that big of a budget (typical broke college student).

Is there anything I can do to make this bike work? If there isn't, I suppose I might be able to buy another bike more suited to fit me, although I'm a bit stubborn and don't really want to. However, I really need some suggestions (preferably on the more affordable side), so...please help?

  • 4
    If you're able to return it, I would return it. At 4'11" you don't want 700c wheels (IMO, 700c shouldn't be spec'd on bikes for people under say 5'4", but they sell); 650b or 26" and a frame designed for smaller people.If you're at college, theres probably a decent used bike market which is what I'd go for.
    – Batman
    Sep 16, 2016 at 21:13
  • 3
    4'11" is on the shorter end of adult women (I'm going to go out on a limb and say that OP is a woman), but its not that uncommon especially among Asians. That being said, at that size, a better kids frame isn't exactly a bad idea.
    – Batman
    Sep 16, 2016 at 23:25
  • 3
    4'11 + adult-ish bike + horizontal top tube = bad idea
    – Kaz
    Sep 18, 2016 at 4:07
  • 1
    I can't believe that a store would let a customer walk out with a new bike, who did not pass the simple stand-over-tube test. (Never mind a proper fitting).
    – Kaz
    Sep 18, 2016 at 4:08
  • 1
    @Kaz - Note that this is a mail-order bike. Not a good thing for a cycling novice. Oct 8, 2016 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


If you cannot comfortably straddle the bike with your feet on the ground it is too big. The bike you have appears to have a nearly horizontal toptube. As others have said try to return it or at least exchange it for a model that feels comfortable. A model with a slightly sloped top tube may give you a better fit. Don't make your decision based on the stated frame size. Test ride the bike (or several) before making your final choice.

  • 1
    Merely getting a slant top tube is not enough, if the other dimensions of the bike don't change. Equally as important as "stand-over height" is what I call "reach" -- how far forward you must reach to hold onto the handlebars. If you have a normally-proportioned body a bike that is too tall likely also has too much "reach", making it very uncomfortable to ride (and a bit unstable as well). At 4'11" you should almost certainly be riding a 26" or maybe even 24" bike. Oct 8, 2016 at 0:27

A bicycle frame is too large when any of these conditions hold:

  1. You cannot stand over the frame, one leg on the pedal and another leg on the ground. Note some large frames may make standing a bit uncomfortable both legs on the ground. That isn't how you typically stand over the frame: usually you disconnect only one foot from the pedal.
  2. You cannot find a stem that would make the horizontal distance from saddle to handlebars short enough to be comfortable for riding.
  3. You cannot find a stem that would allow to move the handlebars low enough for your riding position. (This is very rare on its own, as a bike that is too large this way almost always causes serious issues with point (1) -- and also, it's very typical nowadays to have handlebars very low in new bicycles)

It sounds based on your description that (1) is not a genuine problem. Whether (2) is a problem, you have to decide.

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