How to measure a mountain bike frame? Detailed Guide

You may be a first-time biker or a trained professional, but when it comes to choosing the ideal mountain bike, you will always choose the right size. The reason for that is simple; you are aware that measuring your mountain bike frame is an essential ritual. You are going to buy your dream bike once, and it makes sense to have it measured before you seal the deal.

Moreover, your machine needs to be complementary to your body. Your mountain bike is required to be the perfect fit for you and in tandem with your bike riding skills and discipline. A major concern for all of us in this arena is to be able to standardize measurements across all brands.

There is, however, a major concern with your query, “How to measure a mountain bike frame.” We all know that different bike brands have different measuring techniques. That is why we need to make sure we are not comparing apples with oranges here.

What are the varieties of mountain bikes?

Now, when it comes to measuring mountain bikes are concerned, we need to know that primarily there are three different styles of them. The first one is the traditional one. The traditional mountain bike is also known as the no-suspension mountain bike.

Then the other two varieties are, – Hardtail Mountain bikes and Full-suspension mountain bikes. We need to understand that manufacturers around the world have come to a universal standpoint on the overall build quality.

When it comes to mountain bikes, manufacturers across the globe use either carbon fiber or full-aluminum or steel as their basic frame quality. Some brands are manufacturing certain off-root mountain bikes that use slight variations of these materials to make their bike frames.

Ordinarily, mountain bikes are given a 26″ tires for proper gripping. This circumference has been attained after years of scientific research and development conducted by the R&D departments of various biking companies.

However, there are mountain bikes available which come with tires with a circumference of about 29″ as well. This is a relatively new trend in bikes to have larger cycle tires than before. Now, we need to understand that all mountain bikes are measured similarly.

How to measure a mountain bike frame?

The length of its seat tube measures every mountain bike. However, there may be mountain bike variations like the full suspension one, which does not come with a continuous tube. Even then, the measurement will have to be carried on the tube length alone.

Let us now see the three mountain bike types and how to measure each of them –

Traditional Mountain Bikes

traditional mountain bikes

The most crucial part of measuring mountain bikes is we will have to calculate the C to T length of the seat tube. The C to T part of the tube can be better understood if we say center to the top. Now, we need to measure this distance between the center of the round bracket, which holds the chainring to the top of your seating pad. Moreover, we always measure mountain bikes in terms of inches.

Here is a set of instructions that you must follow to measure your mountain bike frame.

  • The first step would be to find out the point which separates the seat tube with the seating pad. We are having to identify this spot because we are going to measure from this point. We will either end or begin our tape measurements from this point.
  • Similarly, we need to identify the absolute middle of the round bracket where the chain is coiled.
  • Now that we are ready on both ends, we can measure from point C to point T.
  • Even though it is advisable to measure mountain bikes in inches, you can as an abundant caution, save and record the size in centimeters as well.
  • Always calculate to the nearest half-inch concerned or the closest centimeter.

Hardtail Mountain Bikes

These mountain bikes are hardtail because they have the suspension fork in the front and no suspension at the back. The inclusion of suspension fork and absence of rear suspension has nothing to do with levels of riders. It is all about suitability, comfort, and performance.

The Instructions to measure a hardtail mountain bike would be precisely similar to that of measuring a traditional mountain bike. The reason is that both in the case of a hardtail and a traditional, there is one continuous tube length measurement.

Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

When it comes to full suspension mountain bikes, the measurement criteria are similar to the traditional and hardtail mountain bikes. The discontinuity of the seat tube or that the seat tube is not straight has no bearing on the measurements. You are required to measure from the seat post to the axile, which hold the cranks.

Want to see the top best full suspension mountain bikes? Read here in detail.

How will I decide the ideal size of a mountain bike for me?

size of a mountain bike

There are two factors at play here. One is by comparing your height with the measurement you took of the C-T range. The other one is by measuring the in-seam or the distance from your crotch to the floor. You may choose your mountain bike by considering your height or by the length of your legs.

Height – Let’s say the measurement you got of the C-T is 16.5″ or 42 cms. The ideal height of a man to ride this range of a mountain bike should be somewhere between 5 feet 1 inch to 5 feet 5 inches.

Length of your legs – You should probably choose the perfectly fitting mountain bike through this method only. But for that, you need to measure your legs in a certain way.

Let us find out how –

  1. At first, lean and rest your body on a wall;
  2. Now, put a standard size book firmly against your crotch;
  3. The spine of the book must face the crotch;
  4.  Now have someone measure the distance between the floor to the spine of that book.
  5. Use that length and determine which mountain bike size would fit you better by using bike size calculators online.

However, it is always advisable that you check the fit of the bike by keeping these two factors in mind, i.e., the height and the leg size. So from now on, whenever your friends have queries as to, “How to measure a mountain bike frame?”, refer them to this article for exact analogy on the subject.

What are the other areas you should measure, and why?

Top Tube Length

You can measure the horizontal top tube length, which is also called the effective top tube length. This technique of measuring a bike frame is mainly applicable to road bikes. Most mountain bikes do not adhere to the standards of measuring top tube lengths in their geo charts.

Reach and Stack Length

Manufacturers have figured out a way to showcase size comparisons more understandably. In this way, you can measure the perpendicular distances between the lower bracket and the top part of the head tube.

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