Why can't finding the right-sized e-bike be as easy as shopping for socks? You find a pair that matches your shoe size — and bam! — you're done. Choosing the right e-bike size, on the other hand, is decidedly more difficult. There are so many measurements to consider, from seat height to standover height, and each electric bike manufacturer seems to have their own sizing charts and guidelines to follow.
Determining which e-bike fits your body type can be challenging, but by the end of this blog, you’ll feel confident choosing a correctly-sized electric bike — whether you’re shopping in-store or online!
The Three Most Important Measurements for E-Bike Sizing
There are three measurements that you should know to help you size your electric bike:
- Standover height
- Seat height
If you overlook any of these critical measurements, you could end up with an e-bike that doesn’t fit you properly. So let’s take a close look at these measurements and how they factor into your electric bike fitting.
It turns out that knowing your inseam doesn’t just help you find that perfect pair of pants — it’s also arguably the most crucial measurement for sizing your e-bike. Your inseam length is the distance from the uppermost part of your thigh to the bottom of your leg. To find your inseam, make sure your shoes are off, use a tape measure, and measure from the crotch to the floor. Though not as important as inseam, you should also know your height to help you find an e-bike frame that fits your unique physique.
Another key measurement you should know is the electric bicycle’s standover height, which is the distance between the ground and the top of the bike’s top tube. Don’t worry if you don’t have the e-bike right in front of you — most electric bike companies list the standover height measurement in their online product specs. Compare the standover height to your inseam to ensure your feet are stably planted on the ground when standing over the bike. Generally, you should shoot for roughly an inch of clearance above the top part of the bike called the top tube. If you can’t stand securely on the ground, it probably means that the bike’s standover height is too big for you, and an e-bike with a shorter standover height would work better. Some new riders believe that both their feet should be firmly placed on the ground when seated on their electric bike, but this isn’t true. Read on to learn how to find the best seating position for you!
Once you’ve verified that you can safely stand over the e-bike, you’ll want to ensure that the bike’s seat height, or saddle height, works for you. There are a few easy ways to determine which seat height is right for you. If you’re checking out an e-bike in-person, you can find your ideal seat height by using the heel-toe method:
- Rotate the crank so the pedal with your heel on it is in the down position and the crank arm, the part connected to the pedal, is parallel to the seat tube.
- When seated on the saddle, check if your leg is locked straight at the knee with your foot on the pedal in the down position; if this is the case, your seat is too high.
- If your hips must rock for your heel to reach the pedal, your bike seat is also too high.
- If your leg is bent drastically at the knee with your heel on the pedal, the seat is too low.
- If you plan on pedaling your e-bike more than using the throttle, verify that the saddle is in the correct position by placing your foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke — you should see a slight bend in the leg, reaching about 80 – 90% of full leg extension.
While checking out the e-bike, you'll want to ensure you can comfortably swing your leg over the top tube and seat. If you feel any discomfort or resistance, an electric bike with a step-through frame may work better for you. The RipCurrent S and CrossCurrent X offer step-through models to make mounting and dismounting easier for riders who may not have a complete range of motion necessary for bikes with traditional frames.
If you’re shopping online and cannot check out an e-bike in-person, there are a few ways to find your perfect saddle height. These methods involve a little arithmetic but nothing that requires a Physics degree to understand:
Don’t want to bother doing the math yourself? You’ll find many nifty bike seat height calculators online that do the heavy lifting for you! Once you have the bike’s seat height sorted, you’ll want to make sure that the reach, which translates to how comfortably your hands can reach the handlebars, is spot-on.
How to Find the Perfect Reach
You’ll want to aim for a riding position with a slight bend in your arms without forcing you to reach too far to brake. An easy way to verify proper reach is to play piano keys on your handlebar — if you can comfortably play your imaginary piano, then you’re in a good riding position!
If you’re shopping for an electric bike online, check out the bike’s top tube length to help you determine an ideal reach. E-bikes with a larger frame size have a longer top tube, while e-bikes with smaller frames have a shorter top tube. A shorter top tube allows for a more comfortable reach for electric bikes with a more upright seating position because the seat and handlebars are closer.
Other E-Bike Sizing Considerations
You may have already found an e-bike that aligns with all the key sizing measurements, but before pulling the trigger, consider how much it weighs. Electric bikes weigh at least 40 lbs, which is roughly twice as much as traditional bicycles. Most riders have no problem with this added heft, and many find that it lends their e-bike a stable, confidence-inspiring “planted” feeling while riding. Still, some riders may want a lighter e-bike to carry it upstairs or load it into their car more easily. If you’re leaning towards a leaner e-bike, the RipRacer and CrossCurrent are excellent options. As an added bonus, the adjustable seat on the RipRacer even has a handle to help make carrying it around easier.
One last important consideration to keep in mind is that there is no universal e-bike sizing standard. You may have noticed that some e-bike companies size their models like t-shirts, offering small, medium, and large bikes, but these sizes vastly differ depending on the manufacturer. When sizing your e-bike, always review the exact measurements listed on the bike’s website and consider your inseam and height. Some e-bike companies, like Juiced Bikes, even have helpful height compatibility charts on their website to help you figure out if a bike is a good fit.