I must admit that choosing the right size of an electric bike is not immediately obvious when making your first purchase. I had a similar experience a few years ago when I bought my first electric bike. I was uncertain about which size would suit me best.
So, I sat down at my computer and did some research. I realized there are many factors to consider when selecting the size of an electric bike. Here are the results of my research.
What's important when choosing the size of an electric bike? When selecting the ideal size for an electric bike, it's necessary to consider the height of the seat, the size of the frame, the height of the handlebars, as well as the position of the pedals. Experience in riding and comfort are also key factors.
It's important to have an accurate understanding and knowledge about the correct electric bike size for you. The wrong size can cause discomfort, and you'll find it difficult to adjust. Not to mention, there's a risk of falling due to poor balance. In extreme cases, it could cause neck and back pain during and after riding.
I don’t know about you, but from what I’ve seen, most people choose the size of the electric bike based on their own riding experience and comfort. This is certainly one of the key factors, but there are more substantial factors than just choosing based on comfort. If you're interested, read on, and let’s find out!
Why does the right size ebike matter?
Electric bikes come with a motor that allows you to pedal over longer periods without losing speed and without significant fatigue. This makes your ride much more enjoyable, but the experience won’t always be as fun as expected if you choose the wrong size electric bike.
I know the type of bike you choose matters a lot, but regardless of your taste, just make sure you consider the size of the bike when choosing. Riding the correctly sized bike is more comfortable and more enjoyable. In this case, you'll be able to ride for hours and longer distances with much greater ease.
If you think the bike model you've chosen fits you perfectly, I would also advise paying attention to your riding style, your inseam size, and your height. Along with all other factors, the type of bike determines the frame size and saddle height you'll get by purchasing the chosen bike.
You should also make sure that you know exactly what type of trips you will be using your electric bike for before moving on to the size.
Do you plan to use the electric bike primarily for urban trips through busy streets? Or for daily commutes to work? Or for longer trips in the countryside?
Overall, this should be a relatively easy part of the whole process because you have likely already thought about it more than once.
In addition, you can always make some finer adjustments once you've ridden your new bike to adapt it to your riding style. There are several options that you can always consider for your electric bike based on your best riding experience.
This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to picking the right size electric bike for you. This is because the frame size once chosen cannot be altered.
There are several convenient ways you can use to measure the correct frame size. We'll talk more about this in the next sub-topic "how to measure your body for choosing the right bike size."
This is also another very important aspect to consider to choose the right size electric bike. A saddle that's too high or too low affects the comfort of your ride.
To correctly adjust the saddle size, simply sit on the saddle and place your foot on the pedal at its lowest point of rotation. In this seated position with the pedal, you should have a slight bend in your knee. With the ideal saddle height, you will be able to pedal with more powerful effort while exerting less strain on your knees during rotation.
Handlebar Height and Size
The handlebar of an electric bike often comes in different configurations and widths. Therefore, to get the right size, make sure that you choose one that matches the width of your shoulders.
If you need to hold your arms wider on the handlebar to breathe easier, the handlebar should be wider, and for more aerodynamic riding, it should be narrower. Furthermore, if you have cramps or pains after riding, you might slightly raise the handlebar, and you will feel better during your next ride.
How to Measure Your Body?
In practice, most people buy electric bikes that are either too tall or too short. When looking for the perfect size of an electric bike, make sure that your first step is to take measurements of your body.
Bike sizes are determined by a person's measurements and height, not weight, as most people think.
If you're not sure you remember your exact height, stand with your back to the wall without shoes. Legs should be shoulder-width apart. Have someone help you make the measurements.
The inseam is the length of the inner part of your leg. Most people try to get this size from the length of their jeans, which can be misleading. Therefore, to get the correct inseam measurement, do as follows:
- Stand with your back to the wall and place your feet 6 inches (15 cm) apart.
- Use a hardcover book and place it between your legs. Also, rest the book against the wall.
- Align your spine along the wall and then lift the book until it presses against your crotch. The book should mimic a bicycle seat.
- Have a friend or bike expert measure from the top of the book to the floor.
This measurement should be taken from the sole of your foot to the place where the bicycle seat is most likely to be.
If you take these measurements correctly, it will mean that you will get maximum comfort during riding. While riding, your legs will be fully extended with a slight bend in the knee, thus giving you the ideal riding position. It will also save you from hip pain and spasms.
Here's how you can calculate the frame size using your inseam measurement for different types of electric bikes:
|Inseam (cm)||Multiplier||Frame Size|
|Mountain E-Bike||Inseam||x 0.685||= Frame Size|
|Urban E-Bike||Inseam||x 0.66||= Frame Size|
|Off-Road E-Bike||Inseam||x 0.7||= Frame Size|
For example, if your inseam is 80 cm, you would calculate the frame size for an urban e-bike by multiplying 80 by 0.685, which equals 54.8 cm. For a mountain e-bike, it would be 80 x 0.66 = 52.8 cm, and for an off-road e-bike, it would be 80 x 0.7 = 56 cm. These calculations give you a starting point to determine the appropriate frame size for your electric bike. Keep in mind that different manufacturers may have slight variations, so it's always a good idea to check their specific size charts or, if possible, test ride the bike before purchasing.
How to determine if an e bike size is not for you
There are several signs to look for that indicate the bike is not a proper fit. While bike experts and shop owners can provide valuable advice, their recommendations might not always result in the perfect fit. Here are four ways to identify if the bike you intend to buy is the right size for you:
Too High Saddle: If you feel that the saddle is too high and you're struggling to comfortably reach the pedals or maintain control, this is a sign that the bike frame could be too large. The ideal saddle height allows you to extend your leg almost fully on the down pedal stroke, with just a slight bend in the knee.
Regular Back Pain: Cycling should be enjoyable and not cause discomfort. If you consistently experience back pain after riding, it could indicate that the frame size is wrong, the handlebar position is not correct, or the saddle height and position may need adjustment. A frame that is too large or too small can cause you to overreach or cramp up, leading to back strain.
Difficulty Handling: If you feel that the bike is hard to control, especially while turning or maneuvering, it might be due to a frame that is too large or too small. The bike should feel responsive and comfortable.
Excessive Reach to Handlebars: If you have to stretch too far to reach the handlebars, or if you feel cramped, it's likely that the bike's top tube is not the right length for you. This can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Too Low Saddle: If the bicycle saddle is too low, every ride will feel like a struggle, no matter how hard you try. This can lead to muscle stress, which may cause muscle pain. The correct saddle height allows for efficient pedaling and avoids unnecessary strain on the knees and thigh muscles.
Stem of the Bicycle's Steering Column: The stem (the part that connects the handlebar to the steering column) is one of the most important parts of a bicycle. For this reason, it deserves close attention from time to time. If you notice small changes in the position of the stem regularly, it may indicate that the part is not reliable and is likely not an original component from the manufacturer. This could mean that you'll have to constantly adjust the position of this part, leading to frequent mechanical interventions, and eventually to the bicycle breaking down intermittently.
Difficulty in Achieving Proper Pedal Stroke: If you can't maintain a proper pedal stroke without stretching or contracting too much, the bike size or saddle position may be off.
Besides these signs, it's also worth considering a professional bike fitting where possible, as this can identify the right bike size and adjustments needed to match your body's proportions and cycling style.
Other Concerns You Might Have:
Are electric bicycles heavy?
Yes, electric bicycles are generally heavier than regular bicycles. While a regular bike might weigh around 25 pounds (about 12 kg), an e-bike can weigh up to 50 pounds (about 22 kg) or more. You'll mostly feel the weight of your e-bike when climbing steep slopes, but fortunately, the electric assist effectively compensates for this extra weight.
Should I do a "test ride" before buying an electric bike?
When buying a new electric bike, the last thing you want to do is rush the purchasing process. Take a short (or long) ride with the bike to feel its comfort, maneuverability, braking system, durability, and more. Yes, a test ride will always add value to the entire decision-making process of whether or not the bike is suitable for you.
It's always recommended to perform a test ride to ensure that the bike's weight, handling, and the position of components like the saddle and stem are comfortable for you and meet your riding preferences. Adjustments can be made to better suit your needs, but the fundamental fit of the bike frame cannot be altered, so it's crucial to choose the right size from the start.
If you'd like to take advantage of a free test ride, we invite you to visit us at 654 College Street, Toronto (Movin' Mobility). We'll be happy to assist you in finding the optimal bike size and will also offer additional tips on how to use your bike like a professional.