Size up or size down when in between sizes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Size up or size down when in between sizes?

    I'm in between 5'1" and 5'2" in height and light weight. Looking to buy a new/used hardtail for non-technical trail riding. From a few different bike specs I looked at, I'm at the tall end of frame size XS and the short end of frame size S. For those of you who are smaller riders, do you size up or size down when you are in between sizes? And why? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Sadly, I can't help you. But I can tell you that this decision is extremely personal. If you could possibly sit on them, or some thing similar, that would really help.

  3. #3
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    I'm often in between a M and L on a lot of frames. I always size up. There is typically only 20mm difference in ETT between sizes. For those in between, a 10mm stem change is usually all you need to adjust to the size. Sizing up allows more room for dynamic body movements within the frame. Sizing down, I end up feeling more confined and cramped, even after adjusting the stem length, but maybe it's different for smaller folks.

  4. #4
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    The stores don't have XS and S sizes around for me to try and I don't know anyone with those sizes I can borrow from. I'm hoping to hear someone who has gone through this to see what his/her experience was so that I would not miss things I should consider.

  5. #5
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    Hi mooki, I am in the same boat deciding between a M and L and unfortunately with low inventory and stores half-open it's alot harder to test them out. It was easier with the older geometry because a large was always too big. From everything I've read it looks like most people are sizing up. I have mostly read people being unhappy when they choose a smaller size and not the other way around.

    BUT it really depends on the specific bike you are looking at. Is it newer geometry? (slack, low, more centered saddle). I would do some searching for the bike you are looking at and see what people say.

    Generally a smaller bike is easier to toss around and larger more stable. You could end up with a cramped cockpit on a smaller bike. This would lead you to move the seat back and get a longer stem which isn't ideal.

    All that said it's still a bit of gamble if you can't actually test or at least sit on the bike. You can always make some adjustments to seat, stem and bars but obviously can't change the frame.

  6. #6
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    It's hard to say for certainty without trying it out in person. Every bike company sizes their sizes slightly different. I'm also 5'2" and in the same dilema. My current bike a 2015 Intense Tracer T275 is a small but alot of the XS in the newer geometry bikes are larger in many of the measurements and the current smalls are quite bit larger. I feel your pain as it's hard enough to find demos in small let alone xs and that is made even harder with covid.

    Now that said if your not doing technical riding, which I read as smooth chill trails then going with a small wouldn't be a huge risk IMO.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by d365 View Post
    I'm often in between a M and L on a lot of frames. I always size up. There is typically only 20mm difference in ETT between sizes. For those in between, a 10mm stem change is usually all you need to adjust to the size. Sizing up allows more room for dynamic body movements within the frame. Sizing down, I end up feeling more confined and cramped, even after adjusting the stem length, but maybe it's different for smaller folks.
    What he said.

    Zero setback seatposts, short stems and different bars make it easy to shorten reach.
    Less isn't MOAR

  8. #8
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    if you're built like a chimpanzee (like me) 5'6" tall with a 5'9" wingspan go with the bigger size. its a lot more common than you think. ideally, your wingspan should equal your height. most people are out of proportion one way or the other

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the input! Many details I have not thought of.

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