Ever try riding a bike that's too tall for your body? Your feet slip off the pedals with each stroke, your torso jerks forward to reach the handlebars and every bump in the road feels agonizing.
Considering most bikes are quite the investment, you certainly don't want to feel uncomfortable during a leisurely (or worse, intense) ride.
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Luckily, most manufacturers are already working to remedy this problem with specially designed bikes for short riders.
Here, a cycling coach shares five of the best bicycles for short women (and all short riders, really) — and how to find your most comfortable fit.
How We Chose
To help us narrow down our list of the best bikes for shorter women, we chatted with Garret Seacat, CSCS, a cycling coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist. We found options that met his top criteria in the following areas:
- Bike type
- Special features
1. Best Mountain Bike: Trek Roscoe 8
- Type: Mountain bike
- Best for Heights: 4'5" to 6'5"
- Feature: On-the-go adjustable seat
Unlike other brands, Trek's Roscoe bike offers an especially wide range of sizes from XS (4'5") to XL (6'5"). This bicycle is ideal for trails, thanks to its extra-wide, high-traction tires. But you can totally take it on the road, too. (We won't tell.)
Another bonus? You can adjust the seat while riding. So, when you're riding down a hill, you can sink the seat low and stand tall on the bike.
"Mountain bikes also offer the most versatility and best chance to fit even the shortest of riders," says Seacat.
Buy it: TrekBikes.com; Price: $2,329
2. Best Hybrid Bike: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Roebling
- Type: Hybrid
- Best for Heights: 5' to 6'5"
- Feature: Lightweight
As a hybrid road and mountain bike, the Roebling is perfect for daily rides on all surfaces (more on that below). It's made of ultra-lightweight materials, so you can easily take it into the office if you cycle to work or need to pick it up to maneuver around bumps in the road.
Most companies don't make women-specific bikes, according to Seacat. But the Roebling comes in a wide range of sizes from XS to XL, which are suitable for riders that are 5' to 6'5" tall.
Buy it: BrooklynBicycleCo.com; Price: $679.99
3. Best Road Bike: Liv Avail Advanced 2
- Type: Road bike
- Best for Heights: 4'9" to 6'
- Feature: Female-focused brand
Liv's products are made specifically for female riders. So, it's no surprise the Avail Advanced is one of the best bikes for short women, too.
This bike has a compact frame with handlebars that vary in width according to bike size. That's a big plus for shorter women because they tend to have short wingspans, according to Seacat. (Yours is roughly the same length as your height.)
Buy it: Liv-Cycling.com; Price: $2,800
4. Best on a Budget: Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Step-Through Bike
- Type: Hybrid bike
- Best for Heights: 5' to 5'9"
- Feature: Budget-friendly
This Co-op Cycles step-through bike is ideal for a casual cruise or a long-distance ride on the road. Unlike most road bikes, this one offers an upright riding position. That makes it especially comfortable for anyone with back pain.
A lower mid-frame bike, like this one, makes mounting and dismounting the way easier for shorter or older adults, according to Seacat.
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $551.59
5. Best for Beginners: Schwinn Vantage F3 Sport Hybrid Bike
- Type: Hybrid bike
- Best for Heights: 5'1" to 6'6"
- Feature: Ideal beginner bike
Best for an urban environment, Schwinn's hybrid bike has wide, high-cushion tires that can withstand just about any pothole in its way. But don't let the bulk fool you — this speedy bike helps you keep up with traffic on the busiest streets.
Beginner bikers should definitely consider this option. Schwinn's model is price-friendly and also allows you to shift between 21 different speeds as you grow more advanced.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $769.99
Short Riders, Follow These 4 Tips to Find Your Best Bike
1. Find the Right Frame Size
Nearly all bike companies make bikes in a large range of sizes, measuring 47 centimeters (18.5 inches) to 62 centimeters (24.5 inches) from the ground to the top of the seat, according to Seacat.
Each frame size coincides with a specific specific height. So, before you buy, it's important to study each bicycle company's size chart (they're all a little different) to get a bike that's designed for your height and let's you maintain correct cycling posture.
You should be able to stand over the center part of your bike with both feet flat on the ground on either side of the bicycle. When seated, your hands should rest on the handlebars with a slight bend in your elbows and you shouldn't have to reach far to grab the break.
As far as the seat goes, you never want your knee to fully lock out as you push the pedal down. Instead, you want to keep a small bend in the knee with every pedal stroke.
2. Look at the Crank Size, Too
The bike crank is the big circular gear that your pedals attach to and keep them turning in a circle. Different frames have different crank sizes ranging from 165 millimeters (65 inches) to 180 millimeters (71 inches) from the bottom hole of the pedal lever to the top of the pedal.
Although this may seem like a small detail, the crank size affects how your legs move, Seacat says. If your bike has a crank that's the wrong size, your pedal strokes may be too short or too long for your legs, upping your risk of knee pain or injury.
Luckily, bikes should always come fitted with a crank that's appropriate for its frame size (and your height). So, if you're buying a size small frame, it's probably has a small crank. But Seacat always recommends double checking the product details to make sure the numbers line up.
Smaller bikes should have cranks between 165 and 170 millimeters (65 and 67 inches). Medium and large bikes should sit somewhere between 175 millimeters and 180 millimeters (69 and 71 inches).
3. Think About Where You Bike
Bikes are built for pavement (road bikes), trails (mountain bikes) or a little bit of both (hybrid bikes). Even though you may be Googling different bicycles for short women, knowing where you plan to bike is a crucial step in your search, according to Seacat.
Cyclists that plan to only ride on pavement or trails should buy either a road or mountain bike. These are designed specifically for those terrains and give you the most speed and agility for each type of surface.
But considering most people aren't competitive cyclists, hybrid bikes are an excellent choice. You can ride a hybrid bike on pavement, dirt or gravel, giving you a little more versatility. Plus, they're generally lightweight and speedy.
4. Ask a Pro
Bikes are no small investment. That's why Seacat recommends asking an employee at a specialized bike shop for help. Although there are smaller bikes for shorter adults, the standardized sizing doesn't necessarily take proportions into account, Seacat says. Some people may have shorter legs and longer torsos and vice versa.
Unless you speak with a professional and test a bike out, there's no surefire way of knowing a certain product works for your body. So, while there are so many more options online, it never hurts to visit a shop to ask a few questions.