Purely coincidentally, but dovetailing nicely with our recent conversation regarding rider position, Chris over at Velo Orange posted an article today outlining his simple method of sizing* a bike based upon pubic bone height. His recommendations are not unlike Grant Petersen’s recommendations outlined on the Rivendell site. Their sizing guidelines are both what I’d characterize as “traditional”; using either of their methods will put you on a frame slightly to dramatically larger than if you were sized at a racing-oriented shop.
Here’s an excerpt:
I generally recommend getting a traditionally-sized frame, one that’s larger than many race bike oriented shops would recommend. The traditionally sized frame will allow you to get the handlebars to proper height without a super-tall stem. And it will allow a reasonable stem extension that does not put too much of your weight over the front wheel. The frame will handle better, be more comfortable, and you’ll look better riding it.
And here’s Grant Petersen on the same subject:
Most riders are most comfortable when the handlebar is a few centimeters higher than the saddle. Some like it four or five inches higher. Some like the look of the bar lower than the saddle, but few riders over 35 like a low bar once they’ve ridden a higher one.
To achieve that bar height, it helps to start with a bike that’s the largest practical size you can ride. We suggest you get the size that allows you to put the handlebar at least 2cm higher than the saddle. That works great for most people. You can always lower the bar if you find it’s too high, but it’s rare when that happens.
Our recent poll showed that a whopping 72% of our respondents prefer their handlebars either at or slightly above the height of the saddle. One way of making sure this is possible is by riding a sufficiently large frame as recommended above. Shops using “modern” sizing methods will disagree with these traditional methods and the resulting size recommendations, but some variation of this approach has worked well for me since around 1980.
*For our discussion, “sizing” should not be confused with “fitting”. Sizing methods are used to determine the frame size that will work best for an individual. This is only a starting point after which the more precise process of fitting takes place. Fitting is the process of adjusting the rider’s position through component selection and adjustment.