I've recently bought a frame that is about one size larger. It's a 22" frame and my height is about 5'9".

I had a choice between the 22" frame and an 18" frame so I chose the frame that was a bit larger because I had a bad experience on a frame that was too small.

What are the potential downsides to a larger frame and could it be fixed with adjustments such as a lower seat post.

  • Can you comfortably stand flat footed while straddling the top tube?
    – mikes
    Sep 9, 2019 at 0:14
  • I haven't fully assembled the bike yet although I should be able to. It's only a 5cm difference between that and my recommended size.
    – Derek
    Sep 9, 2019 at 0:21
  • 3
    Remember larger frames have greater stack and reach as well as taller stand-over height. Dropping the seat does not make a larger frame equivalent to a smaller one. You will probably need a shorter stem to compensate. Sep 9, 2019 at 0:58
  • 1
    The main criterion is standover height. After that comes "reach" and, associated with it, seat position. You can't really tell how these will work out until you have the bike configured. Sep 9, 2019 at 1:36
  • 1
    @Derek: What kind of bad experience with the small frame? At least on a road bike you can go pretty small and still compensate with a longer stem and seatpost. Going from a standard 90mm stem to a 140mm stem basically means you can compensate for a 5cm too short reach. Easier than the other way around.
    – Michael
    Sep 9, 2019 at 12:03

2 Answers 2


Think of bike fit as a triangle, looking at a rider on a bike from the side, with a point of the triangle at the hands, a point at the saddle sit position, and one at the bottom bracket. Now with the bottom bracket position being fixed, it isn't always possible to replicate the exact angles and lengths of the triangle from one bike to another, but between one size and the next, you usually can get close enough to be considered equivalent.

You will want to lower the saddle height, adjust the saddle forward/back slider more forward towards the hands, and you will want a shorter stem, perhaps with a modified angle to get your hands where you want them. You should also consider the length of the crank arms, as sometimes manufacturers will configure different crank arm lengths for different size bikes. Most bikes are sold with longer than ideal crank arms anyway, and should be one of the first components considered for replacement. The main concern with frame size (aside from stand-over height), is the angle of the line drawn between the bottom bracket and the saddle sit position, as that affects the angles and forward/back position of the knees throughout the pedal stroke, and also where the rider's center of gravity is centered between the front and rear wheels (which is a primary input to how the bike handles or feels). A secondary consideration is the stem length, as too short and it will negatively affect steering characteristics.

Most will prefer a smaller frame configured larger rather than the opposite, with the added weight due to more frame material of the larger bike often cited as a complaint. I'm riding an undersized frame presently, with a lay-back seat post, and I look forward to having a better fitting bike someday where I don't feel so much like I'm sitting right over the rear wheel. It feels a little too twitchy; having the center of mass more between the wheels makes it feel a little more like you are riding in the bike rather than on top of it.

  • 1
    I believe that you can't really slide the saddle forward that much because it puts the knees too far forward of the pedals. So you're stuck reducing the stem length, which impacts the stability of the steering. While it's certainly possible to make minor size adjustments this way, it's tough to make a change this large.
    – DavidW
    Sep 10, 2019 at 0:01

The previous issue I've had with a smaller frame was mostly the back pain that was a result of bending forward so much. The frame that I bought was a full suspension frame and from what I've seen a lot of people seem to extend their seat very far out so I thought maybe it was fine.

  • 1
    Hi Derek; if it's you who asked the question you should merge your accounts so you can edit this into your question.
    – DavidW
    Sep 10, 2019 at 18:58
  • If your handlebars are too far forward you should be able to compensate with a shorter stem. If they are too low you can put more spacers under the stem or if you already have all the spacers below the stem you can get a raised stem.
    – Michael
    Sep 10, 2019 at 19:03

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