Calculating the exact seat height for a bike is complicated, primarily since different models use different riding postures and frame sizes.
The height of your seat can impact whether your feet touch the ground except on a BMX, where the frame is proportionally smaller because you ride standing up. Should your feet touch the ground when on a bike?
When sitting on your bike, the balls of your feet should barely be touching the ground. If your seat is too high, stopping will be unsafe, and it can cause pain in your knees because you are in the wrong position when using the pedals. Adjust your saddle height to be able to put your toes on the ground.
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How Tall Should Your Bike Be
The height of your bike is never the most crucial issue. Frame sizes and tire sizes vary significantly, and there aren’t any particular wrong answers, only general categories.
In fact, people calculate the proper frame size in several different ways.
The style of bicycle influences the size in comparison to your body, and some are meant to be taller than others.
What matters is the saddle height and comfort riding. Proportion or length between where you sit on the seat and your foot on the pedal at full extension is the most common height that matters.
However, this doesn’t apply equally to all bikes. BMX’s and e-bikes that do not have a pedal-power option may require different sizing.
Most bicycles, cruisers, mountain bikes, city and gravel bikes, and even touring bikes need the correct seat to pedal ratio.
Since seats are adjustable, you need to be aware of the minimum height for the seat rather than its maximum.
Likewise, the frame style matters because a dropped frame will let you stand over it more easily when stopping, which means you can have a larger structure if that minimum seat height isn’t too tall.
How To Tell If A Bike Is Too Big
A bicycle is too big for you if you can’t stand over the toptube with your feet flat on the ground. It’s vital for safe stopping.
Moreover, there should be space between your body and the tube when you stand over the bike. You want two or more inches of leeway, so you are genuinely standing flat on the ground.
Another way to tell if a bike is too big is when you make turns. Some riders have difficulty making a turn on an oversized bicycle because of the proportions being off.
If you feel unsteady around a turn, you may need a smaller bike.
Your inseam is the distance from the ground to your groin. You can get this measurement by holding a stiff spined book up against your crotch tightly and marking in the wall where the spine sits when it’s horizontal, then checking that height in centimeters.
Once you know your bike inseam, an excellent way to tell if you have the right size is to use the calculations listed below.
- City Bike: Inseam (In centimeters) x 0.685
- Mountain Bike aka MTB: Inseam x 0.66
- Road Bike: Inseam x 0.7
Pro Tip: There’s a difference between this tight bike inseam and a looser inseam for pants. Your trousers should fit loosely, giving you room to move, but a bicycle compresses your body because of your weight pressing down on the area.
Should Your Feet Touch The Floor On A Bike
Your feet should always touch the floor on a bike. If you cannot reach down, it becomes more difficult and dangerous to stop.
After all, when you’re not moving forward, you are not sitting on the seat anymore, and your feet need to be on the ground.
When determining the proper bike height, the floor is the same as the ground.
However, it’s important to note that the way people’s feet touch the ground is influenced by more than the frame size.
Some people’s bodily proportions and some bikes allow for more of the foot to contact the ground.
How Much Of Your Feet Should Touch The Ground On A Bike
People of the same height can have vastly different foot sizes. If you tend toward a larger shoe, you may be able to reach the ground more efficiently, and you could be looking at the ball of your foot touching easily.
Plus, when you ride a more petite frame bicycle like a BMX, you will be able to flatfoot while seated because this style is intentionally smaller, so you can do stunts.
Should Your Leg Fully Extend On A Bike
Your leg should extend almost fully but never to the point where your knee overextends. There should be a very slight bend to your knee when your foot is at its furthest point from the bike seat.
The fully extended position on your pedal will typically be a little bit horizontal from your seat and just before the bottom of the crank’s rotation.
If you ride and the back of your knee hurts, then your seat is too high. Meanwhile, if the front side is achy, then you should raise the seat, so you’re getting proper leg extension.
When you put your heel on the pedal, it should barely touch at full extension.
Getting that complete, but not excessive, extension is part of what works the muscles properly.
You get to use your entire leg and put more power into the drive train while also keeping your body comfortable. Your knees should not feel worn out after a good ride.
Mantel explains, “The saddle height is always measured with the crank arm pointed down and in line with the seat tube. The distance from the center of the pedal axle to the top of your saddle is your seat height. Before changing the height of your saddle, you should measure your current saddle height.”
Should Your Feet Touch The Ground On A Hybrid Bike
Two larger-size bikes (aka not BMX) may allow you to put your feet flat on the ground while seated.
Both cruisers and hybrids have some models that keep your body closer to the ground than other bikes. While this isn’t universal, it is common.
Riders who prefer to touch the ground with their feet easily will appreciate these lower hybrids.
So long as you still get the necessary leg extension while pedaling, then there’s no reason to be concerned.
These more upright and relaxed riding cycles are made that way on purpose.
Helpful Tips To Know If Your Feet Should Touch The Ground When On A Bike
Some part of your feet should be able to touch the ground. From your tiptoes to the whole sole of your shoe, it mostly depends on what size and style of bicycle you prefer.
Here are more helpful tips to know if your feet should touch the ground when on a bike.
- In addition to adjusting up and down, bicycle seats tilt forward and back. A seat that’s set to the wrong height or angle can cause your feet to miss the ground, which makes it dangerous to stop.
- Some riders mistakenly believe their feet should only touch the ground if the bike is tipped to the side while they stop. This is incorrect.
- Suggested frame sizes on bikes are often based on a rider’s overall height. However, if you have a shorter or longer inseam than average for your height, you may need to go up or down accordingly.
Your feet should touch the ground on a bike if you’re stopped or standing over the toptube.
However, for many styles, like road bikes, only the tip of your toe is meant to reach so low. You can often adjust how your feet sit on the ground and pedals simply by raising or lowering your bike seat.