Smaller frame and higher seat position or vice versa? What is better?


New Member
Hello all,

I am looking at buying my first serious road bike to join my friends in some long distance cycling and I am confused about what bike size to get as i keep getting conflicting info.

I am a shorty at 5ft 7 and inside leg 29" All the internet calculators say i should be aiming at 50-51 inch frame a couple of shops have recommended me 52 and the last one i went to said 54 would be fine??

I would like to know what would give me a better posture, a smaller bike with a high seat position or a a larger bike with a lower one, or would both these options be ok?

And advice appreciated.

A 51inch frame would be mahoozive, I think you mean 51cm ;)
A smaller frame is usually the safer bet as it can generally be adjusted to suit the height/ reach of the rider, a large frame might not but you are better to actually test ride than trust internet calculators alone.
As HLaB says! I'm not that different from you (5ft 6 not 7 - same inside leg). I really love my Boardman CX in Medium (I just feel completely comfortable when riding it).

Like you I went on the various measurement sites and they all said 50-51 which is either a small or x-small. Took the measurements from my boardman and compared the geometries of other makers and, like has been recommended to you, some came out at 54cms!

I've tried "a few on for size" since then and on some 51-52's I just feel "compressed". Have tried the 54's. They feel great. This isn't always the case though. Personally I prefer to feel slightly "stretched" when I ride so I go for the bigger size. The motto: like clothes bikes vary from designer to designer. The only way to be sure is to try!


Small is normally recomended because of stiffness and weight (racing mentality taking over most of road biking again). I think that a slightly larger frame is better, you get better toe clearance for mudguards and less chance of pannier bags catching on your heel!


Well-Known Member
I feel better on a bigger bike I have back problems so I don't like high saddle low bars. im 5'8" 32" leg and I have just bought a 55cm boardman race ok I tend to have the saddle all the way forward but I really like to be stretched out and I love the feel of the bike.


You can always adjust the reach of the stem by swapping it out for another one. Most seat posts have enough adjustment to get the seat height right - bum on saddle, and heel on one pedal at its lowest point.


I always go for the biggest frame if im between 2 sizes , I would say to you if you want a more relaxed ride it will be the size of the head tube that matters , larger head tube will mean higher bars , the seat height never changes it will always be same distance from the pedals regardless of frame size so you could have in theory a 51cm bike with more relaxed geometry than a 54cm bike depending on the size of the head tube.


Legendary Member
Riding a flat bar bike (but fast style) game me chronic tennis elbow that has required two operations. I'd always go a little smaller and add a longer stem, wider bars, longer crank etc

But that's my expereince, Better just to get the bike that fits in the first place :smile:


Disc brakes - Stopping things since 1902
Northern Ireland
If I based bike size on inside leg, I'd be riding a 62cm frame - on which there is zero chance of ever getting the fit correct.

Reach is more important, seat height can go up, but you can't shorten a top-tube


New Member
Wow what a response! Thanks for your advice everyone it's great to hear all your opinions.

Yea i meant cm :rolleyes:

So a 54cm would give me a longer top tube and longer head/stem tube? and this would give me longer stretch and more of an upright position?

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