One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a bike is if it offers the appropriate frame size and proportions for your body. If you're someone who uses a bike daily, you wouldn't want to settle with an ill-fitting one; not only will it be uncomfortable, but it can also be risky and dangerous to use, especially since it'll be harder to stand and stop your bike without flailing and falling to the side. Worse, it can even cause unfortunate accidents.
This is the exact reason why you shouldn't immediately buy the first bike you see, even if it suits your aesthetic preference. Whatever terrain it is, the size of your bicycle is usually a great indicator of the extent of comfort you'll get once you use it. Moreover, the way the components of your bike are adjusted to fit your body size will also contribute to your pedaling efficiency if you're out for a ride.
Your adjustments change as you grow up, so it's important that you get the right bike size. However, you won't be able to determine the perfect size for you until you have an idea of what your standover height is. Knowing your standover height is essential so that your bicycle can accurately meet your physical demands and thus provide you with a comfortable experience throughout. It's basically one of the most vital measurements you need to take into consideration when you're on the lookout for a bike.
What Is Bike Standover Height?
The bike standover height refers to the entire length spanning the frame's top tube down to the ground, measured just in front of the saddle where your crotch area would be located. It's simply the distance between the ground and the very height of the top tube. The standover height of the bicycle mostly varies depending on the type you're measuring. For instance, a road bike usually has a conventional straight top tube, meaning its standover height remains the same no matter the area you intend to measure on the bike itself.
However, this is a different case for mountain bikes. With mountain bikes, there's usually a slanted top-tube frame, so the standover height will depend on the area you're planning to measure. Most retailers and manufacturers tend to provide the bike's standover height measurement in their product specs already, which is convenient.
Nonetheless, you'd want to compare the bike's standover height to your inseam measurement to ensure that your feet remain firmly flat on the ground while standing over the tube. You'd want to go for at least a one-inch clearance above the frame's top tube for a general rule of thumb. The usual measurement for a road bike's standover height is around 27 inches or 69 cm at least.
Is the bike standover height important?
The bike standover height is vital if you want to ensure a comfortable ride without risking any chance of accidents. It's vital in such a way that if you can't stand properly over the top tube without making contact, you risk harming yourself whenever you stop abruptly.
If you find that the bike's top tube is significantly higher than you are, this means that you have a "negative" kind of clearance. In simple terms, buying this bike means an accident only waiting to take place. A bike with a negative clearance for standover heights will only bring unpleasant experiences if you ever land hard on a piece of carbon fiber tubing, steel, or even aluminum.
And even if you only graze a bit of the top tube, there's still a chance of encountering bike accidents. Keep in mind that the terrain and surface of the roads aren't always smooth - a small bump along the way is bound to cause you problems. You'll have lesser control when traversing rough roads.
Also, if in case you stop and place your foot into a pit in the road, there's a high chance that you'll flail lower and then inevitably ram into the top tube. While it's true that you can prevent this by leaning the bike, there's still the off chance of stopping abruptly and unexpectedly - and you might not always remember to do what's needed to be done at the moment.
Having a bike with the right standover height ensures not only comfort but also stability. Your bicycle is guaranteed to travel better in a straight line without wobbling or shaking about when you need to break. This is particularly because your entire weight will be much closer to the gravity's center, thus preventing the probability of accidents and injuries as well.
How to find your standover height?
In order to discover what your standover height is, the easiest step would be to use a tape measure and a large book. This method is only applicable if you don't have a bike with you yet. For this method, take the book and place it between your legs in such a way that its binding is just underneath your crotch area. Once done, make a measurement from the very top of the book down to the ground. Make sure that you're wearing some shoes so that you'll arrive at an accurate size.
However, if you already have a road bike, you can simply stand in front of the saddle with the bike between your legs and then measure the top tube frame down to the ground.
How can I increase my standover height?
As mentioned, you should always aim for at least one-inch clearance for your standover height. However, if the measurement proves to be a little too low for your proportions, you can always opt to increase the standover height for extra comfort and functionality. There are several ways you can do so.
You can try using a more shallow rail saddle. Some saddles have deep rails, while others have thick padding and base shells. Choosing sleeker saddles with more shallow rails helps increase your overall standover height. Otherwise, you might also use the cranks for your bike. Many riders nowadays are experimenting with using short cranks, especially the 165mm to 1755mm ones. These cranks help reduce your pedaling and seat tube height by at least 10mm while also providing the perk of improved pedal ground clearance and efficient pedaling action.
If you're out to buy a bike, finding your standover height should be the first priority. Getting a bike that accurately fits your body's physical demands and proportions helps ensure that you're comfortable throughout your ride, and it also minimizes the risk of any accidents along the way. To do so, you only have to measure the top tube frame of the bike down to the ground while standing in front of the saddle. Make sure to have enough clearance for pedaling and motion so that you'll have complete control over your bike.