Here are some good tips to help you find the right kind of bike frame for you. You do not want to pick a frame so tall that you cannot comfortably straddle the top tube when standing flat-footed on the ground.

parts of a bike frame

Top Tube Length

There is really no length unsuitable for touring. You need to find the right one along with the length of the handlebar stem that will combine to fit comfortably with your torso and arm length. To give you an example, with a twenty-three inch frame, a short top tube could be slightly under twenty-two inches long, a medium top tube could be twenty-two and a quarter inches long, and a long top tube can be twenty-two and three-quarters inches long.

Chainstay Length

Longer chain stays allow your pannier weight to be located between the axles or your crankset and rear wheel. These long chain stays would help in weight distribution and also make your frame more shock-absorbing. For heavy duty touring, it would be best to look for a frame with chainstays between seventeen and eighteen inches.

Bottom Bracket Height

Bottom bracket height is not a terribly important dimension in touring bicycles. Touring bicycles generally have lower bottom brackets for lower centers of gravity. The lower your weight sits between the wheels the more stable the bicycle will be.

Head Tube Angle

Head tube angles on sport touring bikes usually range between seventy-two and seventy-four degrees. Bikes for heavily loaded tours might have head tube angles between seventy-two and a half degrees and seventy-four and a half degrees.

Fork Rake

The proper fork rake angle will give you the correct amount of steering stability. It is thought that the more rake the more the stability of the bike but this is not always the case. Less rake makes a bicycle more stable at high speeds (such as during downhill descents). But with the lower speeds characteristic of long-distance touring and with the added weight of loaded panniers, extra rake is needed for stability. The shallower head angle, the more rake is needed.

Seat Tube Angle

Seat tube angles usually vary from seventy-two and seventy-five degrees. Seat tube angle in combination with saddle adjustment to locate the cyclist in proper position over the pedals. Any problem that you have with the bike seat angle can be solved by adjusting your saddle backward or forward.


A good rule of thumb is that for a medium-sized (twenty-three inch) frame, a wheelbase of between forty and forty-one inches is suitable for a sport touring bike and between forty-one and forty-two inches long for a loaded tourer. A frame with front and rear end geometry designed for touring can have a short top tube and have a wheelbase of only forty inches.

Longer wheelbases will allow for more clearance at the tires and easier wheel removal. Also, the long wheelbase could allow fenders to be mounted.


Bicyclist in Sunset


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