I am a very short adult (61 inches; 155cm), who has not been able to get the hang of sliding off the seat and back on at stops (especially on hills). I really just want to be able to stop and touch the ground with the balls of both feet, but I do understand that on a regular bike, you can't do this and have the seat at the right height for pedaling.

Could I solve this situation by buying a children's bike, and then adjusting the seat up really high? It seems like with smaller wheels (maybe 24"), the part the pedals mount to at the center should be closer to the ground, so there will be less of a difference between "leg distance touching ground" and "leg distance at bottom of pedaling". Could this solution work?

Also, are there other solutions in the a-broke-student-could-buy-this-on-Craigslist price range that I should consider? (Something with gear shifting, my commute involves a big hill.)

  • You might want to look at a cruiser type bicycle (like what Electra sells)
    – Batman
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 4:25
  • 1
    Added metric height conversion.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 5:35
  • I assume you're old enough to have stopped growing? Actual age is unimportant,
    – Criggie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 6:49
  • @Batman do cruiser bikes have gears sufficient for a big hill ? Even a 3 speed might not be enough low end range for more than a moderate grade.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 7:09
  • 1
    Train stopping and starting in a secure place out of traffic until you're confident with a bike that's properly set for your height. Setting the saddle too low in the way you suggest will impede your pedalling and put unwanted stress on your knees while the muscles in the legs will not be put to proper work.
    – Carel
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 9:43

3 Answers 3


The seat-to-bottom bracket height is important for comfortable riding and efficient power transfer.

The seat-above-road height is what you're trying to minimise in your question. This means a lower bottom bracket, which means an increased risk of pedals hitting the ground.

The size of the wheels is utterly irrelevant to the bb-road distance.

Instead of sliding forward and standing over the bike's top tube, consider attempting to lean the bike and put a foot to the road and the other ready to take-off.

enter image description here

Leftmost police cyclist here is leaning to her right, the other is leaning left. Both are seated on their saddles with one leg ready for the first power stroke. I'd suspect female police rider is left-handed.


From left to right: Purple bag is leaning left, but has a foot on the curb/kerb. Jeans Man is leaning left. Can't see Red Jacket too well. Red Bag Folder is track-standing (staying on bike without rolling) NoHelmet appears to be drifting slowly forward while being off the saddle (prepared for a big power push when the light changes. Other Folder seems to be right foot down.

My point is, none of these riders are standing over their top tubes with both feet on the ground. Its really hard to find a picture of anyone even doing it that way.

Generally speaking that is only done when fully relaxed with no need to get up and ride again immediately so you'd rarely see it in traffic.


Another option if something is available.

Amusing video about how to stand with your bike:

  • In hindsight this is a bad answer - its focussed far too much on the underlying problem and only spends three lines answering the question-as-asked.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 8:55
  • 1
    To back up the main point in this answer: standing over the top tube is great for when you know you've got a long wait (e.g. just missed the lights), especially if you're prone to cramp in your calves. It's not so good for being ready to get going.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 11:50
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    Actually, this was a great answer! Spent some time practicing starting and stopping with the one-footed lean today on a borrowed bike, and it is much easier than the sliding-on-and-off I thought I was supposed to be doing. Now there's no reason for me to even think about buying a kid's bike - so you gave the right solution, I just didn't ask the right question!
    – Tapeworm
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 6:29
  • @Tapeworm Thank you. I think the sliding thing comes from the days of ladies wearing skirts on bikes, where the stance might be seen as ranging from "unladylike" through to "wanton".
    – Criggie
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 8:01

Bikes come in different frame sizes. Getting a biked the right for someone your size (5'1") should not be too hard. You probably need to go to a bike shop (not a department store) to get help selecting the correct sized bike, but if you insist of buying one off Craigs list, look for an extra small or small frame. (MTB 14" or 15", road bike 47-49 cm).

The XS frame is probably a little small for you (My 13yo boy rides an XS MTB, is a couple if inches shorter than you and could go up to the next size anytime now), but you will easily be able to touch the ground.

Look for a "compact" frame - the top tube is usually a bit lower giving better stand over height. Do keep in mind in a few months of riding you skills and confidence will increase.

If you focus on a bike that you are happy with now, you may find it too small when your skills get better, but if you get a bike you feel unsafe on, you may not ride it enough to get the better skills and give up. Consider this when buying, but make certain you get a bike you will use. If you buy a used bike, you should be able to sell and upgrade later at minimal cost if it turns out you want to.


Juliane Neuss in northern Germany (D-38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld), works also in English, is a bicylce engineer and kinesiogist who creates bikes for special needs purposes including open frames and setting feet down. See junik-hpv.de/html/spezialfahrraeder.htm . The Kontact page gives email, phone and postal mail addresses.

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