First Hybrid Bike Purchase In A Long Time - Question On Proper Fit Concerns


New Member
Jun 24, 2015
Hello All,

Sorry for the long winded post but wanted to give as much info as possible:

backstory is that when I was a kid I really wanted and got a mountain bike that I was pretty happy with, it was a Schwinn Cimarron, however my parents were both close to or north of 6ft and since they were buying the bike they went with the old he will grow into it logic, that never happened and I ended up with a massive bike that didn't ever seem right for my 5' 8" height with 26" inseam...sold that on craigs list after having not used it for a few decades and now am looking for something new.

I was primarily looking at either a Giant or a Specialized hybrid and I visited four local shops, really I only count it as three as I didn't get help in the fourth.

The first was the Giant reseller where they had me try an Escape, Cannondale Quick, and then a Smaller Womans variant of the Roam (as I was most interested in that bike and they didn't have one in stock), the sales person was pretty instant that not only did I not need a bike like the Roam and the Escape was actually what I needed, but also that I am a size "medium", he didn't do much to determine that other than have me stand over the bike and look for like a second, and I was quite literally hitting the top tube with my crotch.

I then went to a second dealer who sold Trek and Specialized, I really liked the Crosstrail Disc, its about what I wanted to spend, looked nice, and felt light enough for what I was looking for and seemed like my old Cimarron in style. They had two medium models out on the floor.

The sales person had me stand over the bike, sit on the bike, looked at my shoulders, my leg travel, and a few other things, and according to him I was more than likely a small, the medium he said was a concern as while it fit when I was sitting on it, the top tube was like right up in my crotch and he would rather compromise with a smaller frame than risk it being too large.

I didn't bother test riding it and they didn't have a small in stock, they had me stand over another small and try that but it was a mountain bike with what seemed like a totally different frame.

I finally went to a third dealer that was recommended by a co worker who had the small in stock however when I went there and asked to ride it the salesperson was pretty insistent that I was definitely a medium, he went to their stock area to get one so I could ride it and while he was away I tried the small as I found it on their showroom floor and it felt a bit better when standing over it, though I never got to ride it.

He brought the medium Crosstrail standard out, not the disc (don't think that matters as brakes are only difference), and had me stand over it at which point he was like "wow so you're right on top of that bar huh?" and then he said ok well get on the pedals and then had me do the whole back peddle routine etc, and then asked if I wanted to take it out for a test (which I did) however I noticed that the tires were low on air (he said he would fill them but never did)

I took the bike out with low tires and when riding it things were ok, however when I had to stop and dismount I had memories of the old bike that was way too large as I felt like I had little control and would fall over.

Finally I went back to the second dealer, found a different sales person cause the first was busy and I wanted to just test ride the medium crosstrail disc and then just going to buy it as I liked the bike and so far two people have told me I am definitely a medium, I asked to test ride the medium and he looked at me and said that he wasn't sure it would be right for me, he had me take the bike down to a level part of the store floor and repeat the same drill that the first guy did but added having me stand over the bike and try to pick it up off the floor which I could not as the top tube was pressed into my crotch, he then told me that while the bike seemed ok while I was on it, if I had to dismount in a hurry or if something happened then I would not be happy as it would equal pain in the groin, he said that I should have some clearance between me and the top tube and he was pretty insistent that he wouldn't sell me the medium but wanted to special order the small.

Ultimately I ordered it, they said that it could take two weeks to ship from California, if it doesn't fit right they said I can get a full refund....but I am still wondering what is the "right" size and am I better off paying one of the shops for a proper sizing by appointment?

I plan on riding mostly for exercise and on weekends if time permits but still want something that feels right so I actually use it.

As I mentioned above I was also interested in the Giant Roam but got kind of turned off of it given how the sales person was pretty sure I didn't need that bike and instead needed an escape which also felt like it didn't fit right/was too big.

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated
Well, getting fitted is your best option. FWIW, I have the 2013 Crosstrail ProDisc and I have loved everything about it from day 1.
Height wise, you are a medium - inseam wise, you are a small.

There is a compromise to be made, and if ANY of the shops had help that were worth a damn, then they would have explained this. On the one hand, in the event of a quick dismount, the bar may be an issue. However when riding, the length of the frame may be too compact for comfort. You will be too upright in your posture and your body will be cramped.

I don't do anything with bikes in the shop when selling. I always go outside for a test ride. I can check the stand over height when they get on the bike, and I can check the overall fit when riding and I explain what I see to those that fall in between.

If you were a super comfortable rider that had been riding for years and years and rode often, I probably would have recommended the medium. Listening to you (keep in mind) I feel that the small is probably the better choice. If worst comes to worst then you can throw a longer stem on the bike to open up the cockpit a bit.

FWIW, I have the same issue. I am the same height, have a short inseam for my height and a long torso. If I jump on a 54 road bike, I have no standover clearance. I am on the top tube. However the reach of the bike is spot on. If I go with a 52 then I get some clearance on the leg, but I don't have the reach unless I throw a 120 to 130mm stem on the bike and then I don't like the handling. Ultimately, I go with the 54 as I am standing over the bike .05% of the time while riding the bike 99.95% of the time.
Not all brands are standardized when it comes to sizing. A large in one brand may be the equivalent of a medium in another brand. I am 5' 9" with a long torso and short legs and the cannondale q5 medium was a good fit and I believe that was 18.5 inches,however I also shopped a Bianchi camaleonte and its frame size was 17.5 with the next up being a 19. The 17.5 was ok but I noticed I was too close to the handlebars and may require a stem extension or adjustable handlebars. The cannondale was a good fit due in part to the angle of the top tube and the angle of the stem and handlebars but I favor the bianchi for now. To answer your question, the fit is most important and if it is good you will want to ride more. Make sure you have at least an inch clearance and proper distance from the seat to the handlebars and this is something only you can determine by test riding each bike. Some bike stores have equipment to determine the proper fit and can charge for this but if you buy the bike they will deduct that from the price other stores may not. It may be worth it for you to consider getting professionally fitted. Good luck and stay safe on the road
At 5'8", it is hard to fathom how you can fit a small size frame. I am just over 5'8" and frankly, my medium sized frame seems a little cramped, though it feels great while straddling the top tube. For people with short legs and relatively long torsos, standover height is a poor measure of fit.
Don't buy something that does not fit. You will probably want short cranks fitted to the bike.

I used to ride a bike that everyone said was too small. I have a new bike now that everyone says is too big. They both work for me
tarverten said:
At 5'8", it is hard to fathom how you can fit a small size frame. I am just over 5'8" and frankly, my medium sized frame seems a little cramped, though it feels great while straddling the top tube. For people with short legs and relatively long torsos, standover height is a poor measure of fit.
I agree. With sloping top tubes, standover should not be an issue unless the legs are really extraordinarily short. Size for overall height, which is medium.
The Bike Shop should work with you to change the stem length+ rise angle , you can pick a different handle bar and different grips and all that.
and have them changed at point of purchase..

Note: not every option will be in every shop all the time ..
The problem is that you are 5'8" and have an inseam of 26". I am 5'9" and have an inseam of 29". Standing over bike isn't the only criteria. That said if you are in between a small and medium it is probably easier to fit the small to you, longer stem/more seat setback. Also, as Tusky mentioned, the small will have shorter crank arms that may help the fit with shorter legs.

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