How to Find a Bike for Short People

Finding a bike is difficult if you are below the average height range for adult bicycles. Here are some tips on finding a bike for short people!

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Sometimes we all wish that we could just “fit in,” be like everyone else. But the truth is – we’re all different. You are unique. Would you really want it any other way? However, when it comes to buying a bike, it can be a little difficult if you don’t fit the mould. Finding a well-fitting bike when you’re tall can be difficult, and similarly when you’re, shall we say, vertically challenged. You’re short, and finding a bike that fits properly is hard if you don’t feel like buying a children’s bike. Given that short people are not the majority, manufacturers generally don’t cater to a smaller market (so to speak). Therefore, some adjustments are going to have to be made.

Everyone is Different in Sizing and Proportion: Try as Many Bikes as Possible! 

First off, everyone’s proportions are a little different. The average body proportions for short people are most often longer legs and a short torso, so when manufacturers make their Small size bikes they tend to offer in the 5”3-5”6 range, assuming you, who are under 5”3, have longer legs. Some manufacturers list seat tube length in cm, some in inches, and sometimes the sizes are listed as S/M/L. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: try lots of bicycles; you may find you have longer arms, longer legs, a longer torso. Don’t rule out anything before trying, but don’t get discouraged if it’s tough going. We have more advice!

Don’t Pay Attention to the Aimed Gender of a Bike

A short female falling 5”2 or lower may have some more difficulty finding a bike simply because most brands don’t carry bikes that small; however, not all people who are short are women. There are a lot of brands that carry 5”3-5”6 range bicycles nominally aimed at the opposite sex. Some men may find that a Women’s bike might fit them better, or a woman may find that a Men’s bike fits them better, so keep an open mind – lots of bikes geared at a particular sex don’t look feminine or masculine, they’re just bikes. Some brands, such as Scott and Bike Friday, make bicycles geared towards short men as well as short women. Bike Friday is particularly notable in that they make a cargo bike which can be adjusted to fit riders from 4 feet to 6’7″, and they also make the Bantam, a bicycle designed specifically for Little People, which can fit riders with inseams of less than 23 inches.

Upright Bikes - Sit Up and Enjoy the Ride

Fine Tune Your Bike to Fit You

If you find that you can manage comfortably with a bike that is slightly too big for you, there are some ways to fine tune your ride so that the bike works for you and not the other way around. Seat height is often the start. From there, try moving the saddle forward on the seat post, which can allow for about 50mm in the distance to the bars.

There is also the option of swapping the stem for a different length or rise. Stems go up with size of bicycle, but most bikes can be fitted with a shorter stem than a standard bike without altering the geometry too much. If the cockpit of the bike is still too long and has you leaning forward much more than you’d like to, swap out the handlebars for the most swept-back set of cruiser bars you can find to get into a more upright riding position. Soma Fabrications is a great place to look for mustache bars.

Keep an Open Mind to Frame and Model

Depending on your riding style and needs of a bike, your choice of frame and model can make a big difference. For instance, choosing a step through will allow you easier access to the ground if you find yourself frequently on your tippy-toes over a diamond frame. Likewise, a mixte frame gives you a little more room between your seat and the top tube. If you’re particularly short and really can’t find a bike that works for you, a folding bike such as a Brompton or a Dahon is definitely going to work.


Hopefully, the information above helps a little, but just in case, here is a list of brands that offer smaller options:

    • Scott – The Metrix 20 goes down to XS
    • Islabikes
    • Cleary Bikes
    • Trek – Makes smaller bikes as well as Women specific bicycles.
    • Giant – The Avail is aimed at women but not super feminine looking.
    • Brompton
    • Dahon
    • Genesis – The Cul de Glandon uses smaller wheels which means making fewer geometry compromises.
    • Kona Coco – Smallest size is 42 cm.
    • Brooklyn Bicycle Co. – Custom bikes and lots of options for heights of 4″11 and up.
    • Civia – Step through and mixte options.
    • Bike Friday– Specific designs for short people, cargo options
    • Biria – Lots of options for step through, and easy boarding.

Custom: A Bike Just for You

If you are looking for something very specific and don’t mind spending a little more money, definitely consider a custom made bike:


  • David

    Don I’m 56 and because of leg problems I was having trouble getting on my bike so found the perfect bike . its a Specialized (brand) they call them Low entry bikes anyway its the Specialized Roll Low entry works great for me very easy to get on I love it.

  • I am a 67 year old man with a 26 inch inseam and am 5′ 10″ and I am having a hard time finding bike with a 26 stand over frame. Any suggestions? also I weigh around 260.

  • Alexe

    I have not ridden a bike for 20 years and am a 74 year old woman 5 feet 1 inch tall. Is it likely I can resume riding. I used to ride a lot before breaking my wrist in an accident (not cycling) I feel I have lost confidence now when trying to ride my old bike again.

    • Samuel Cawkell

      Hi Alexe, That’s great to hear you want to begin to ride again! Take your time and build that confidence up. It will come! Maybe you’ll find some inspiration here:

    • Angela

      That’s great news, Alexe! I haven’t ridden in over 20 years either. I’ve also lost confidence as a result. I purchased knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmet to help reclaim my confidence. I will not allow the fear of more sprains and broken bones hold me back. Now my only real issue is finding a bicycle that fits me that isn’t a child’s bike. My dream bicycle is old style with a large lovely basket on the front and a comfortable seat. Good luck to you, Alexe!

    • Lintvedt Marque

      Hi Alexe, My Mom is 72 and LOVES the 15 1/2” Specialized Hellas FatBike that I bought for her. She rides a road bike, but for just having fun and feeling stable and secure around roads or even trails and climbs, nothing beats the fun, comfortable ride of a bicycle with 4 or 5 inch wide tires. My 4” wife tires roll me FASTER than my old 2” tires. Check them out sometime! 😉

  • I’m 30 yo, 5’1″ and have been mountain riding for about 6 years. First bike was a used V2 Haro (Kids large bike), then upgraded to a size small Giant Trance (my back/neck/whle body was always sore after big rides) then demoed an XS frame Liv Embolden and it changed the game. I climb faster and am not sore or over reaching and its fantastic! I agree with “the LAW” about not trusting shop clerks. Just sit and try out a bunch of different bikes – take them around the block and just see which feels the best.

  • Francis Chapman

    Yes, finding a bike for a short person can be very challenging. However, with so many bike manufacturers nowadays, and of course, with the help of the Internet, we can find one as easy as pie. I got my son this bike: and I think it isn’t just for kids. Anyone can use it. Just give it a try!

  • jon deaux

    One of my neighbors recently bought a 20″ folder that fits riders from 4’8″ and 6’2″ for his grade school daughter and converted it to 1×11 using a Sunrace 9-36 cassette and freehub. When I asked my neighbor why he chose this bike, he said that it was so that the daughter can keep the bike until she is an adult and take it to college with her.

  • the LAW

    I am a ‘petite’ female and herein offer my one best piece of advice for purchasing a bicycle. Ignore any bike shop clerk’s advice on size….no, I mean really. I used a fit guide spreadsheet from an american custom cycling manufacturer and got a metric number only to have no less than 3 different bicycle shops try to talk me into a larger frame. When I refused, all 3 declined to order a bike on my behalf (I could, of course, purchase sight unseen) because they didn’t want to get stuck with it if it didn’t fit me. I do not begrudge them their common business sense. I do, however, take exception to the blatant attempt to persuade me to buy a bicycle that was clearly too large. Therefore, I buy by the measurements and politely ignore ‘expert advice’.

  • Biking Midwife

    It really ticks me off to read articles referring to people who are 5’3 as short. I’m 4’9 and not only a serious commuter but also do endurance rides and bike touring. I finally bought a serious road bike with drop bars last summer. Liv nailed it with the Avail. Unlike the so called prototype of long legs, short torso, I have short legs, long torso and short arms. We had to cut the carbon seat post in order to be able to lower it about 1/4 of an inch. But that tiny drop made a big difference. My only issue continues to be very small hands. Even with adjusting the shifters to the max, I don’t feel like I have the most secure grip on the brake levers when I’m in the drops. Two of my other bikes have flat bars. One is an extra small frame with 26 inch wheels. Cannondale no longer make the Quick in that size. I also have a custom made Bike Friday. All in all it’s complicated when you are under 5 feet tall. Above that there is a far greater selection.

    • Judy Lindstrom

      How do you like your Bike Friday bike? I’m shy of 4’10” with short legs and possibly looking for a lightweight folding bike that’s easy to transport.

  • If you are buying a new mountain bike, go to a decent bike shop! A good shop will cut down stems, handlebars and seat posts to fit you perfectly.

  • Steve

    My 2 cents. I found it also important to look at crank length. Having shorter crank arms can make your pedal stroke more comfortable. Peter White gives his thoughts here – . Even more important are getting brake levers that fit your hand size. Safety, safety, safety. Step through frames are legit, and real men ride whatever they damn well please. +1 on the 650B and 26″ comments. Cheers

  • Daniel

    Don’t forget that Wabi Cycles, out of Tulsa, makes a gorgeous Reynolds 725 steel fixed/single speed in a 42cm size with a 650 wheelset!

  • It’s really great helpful article. This article is really awesome who want to be a raider but height is short. Your content was perfect and wrote main things.

  • I highly recommend the Electra Townie bikes. They have a 24″ version of the 7D that works really well for people with shorter legs.

  • The best custom bicycles for small women are designed by Georgena Terry!

  • Sue Myall

    I’m 5’1″ and have a standover height of 75cms, I have a XS Surly Troll, with extra height on the steer tube so I can sit more upright…it is the best bike I’ve ever had. Surly also make a Cross check that has a very low stand over/top tube, if a more road syited bike is preferred…so check the Surly offerings

  • jonathon

    im 5,3 and have a 24inch bike but having seroinus problems with the nut that holds the back rim on to the frame. i had two rims bearings go bad 1 right after the outher so i gave up trying to fix it and ride it cause i have no clue wats wrong im not putting aton of pressure on it so wat else is wrong ive be4en told their both bad rims. I needed to know if its me or if its just the people i get my parts from

  • HPedrini

    I am 5′ tall and was lucky to find a small frame Specialized Cirrus ten years ago when I needed a new bike. I don’t know if this company still makes a small frame but I would seek them out and see – it’s a trusty steed indeed.

  • Scotty

    When I went shopping a couple of years ago for a new road bike I was extremely frustrated. Rarely did a store carry a bike in a small size. I’m only 5’8, but I have a long torso and shorter legs. I was thankful to walk into one bike shop that offered to measure me right off the bat. He told me flat out that they don’t normally stock bikes in my size but would be happy to try to order one. I did that and was so much happier. He still had to make some adjustments including swapping out the stem to a longer one, but it was really worth it. The downside was this was a really frustrating process. And even ordering the bike wasn’t that easy as there were only a few made in that size. But, I now know what to expect.

  • Short biker

    I highly recommend the Electra Townie bikes. They have a 24″ version of the 7D that works really well for people with shorter legs.

  • I’d also recommend paying attention to wheel size. Many adult bikes (especially) road bikes use 700cc wheels, which can cause severe toe overlap and funky geometry. For shorter folks, 650b and 26″ wheels are a great option. Surly and Soma both make great touring bikes with the 650b wheelset.

    • Andy

      Great advice, but it’s also important to remember that a 650b with most tires available will have an effective wheel diameter very similar to a 700c with a regular road tire. 26″ is a far batter option if you can find one. Surly’s 26″ trucker in 42cm has a lower standover than Surly’s 38cm (650b) straggler.

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