A general misconception, is that wheel size is in any way related to how tall you should be to ride a bike. However frame size is actually the true determining factor to if a bicycle will fit you. That said, more and more in the industry people look to the wheel size, so that should most definitely be address, as big box retailers look to wheel size to match to new riders.

So as for big box retailers, how tall should you be to ride a 29″ wheel bicycle? Generally speaking, at a big box retailer, they have it set up that anyone over 5′ 10″ should be more than comfortable on that bike. However this is achieved by them matching that wheel size to a specific frame size (generally a 19″ frame).

Let’s dig a little bit more into this!

How to know if you fit a 29″ bicycle?

Since a 29″ wheel bike is not tied to any real specific sized bike or person, it is most definitely best for you to either look at the frame size of the bicycle you are looking at, or to personally text the bike to see if it fits you correctly.

How to test if it fits it in person?

The first way is going to be standover height. All you do, is stand over the frame of the bike in front of the seat, and make sure that you aren’t hitting anything while doing so.

Secondly, when you sit in a comfortable position, you want to make sure that at the farthest out, your knees only reach to about 90% of their full capacity, and you are unable to be flat on the ground. If you are fully extended, the frame might be too large for you.

Finally, another great way to decide if this bike is right for you, you should ride it, and see if you can get it into a comfortable position. If you find yourself not feeling comfortable, then it likely is not right for you.

How to know if the frame size is right for you?

If you are say, shopping for a bicycle online, you don’t have the luxury of getting to test the bike out for yourself, and instead you are going to need to dig into the information about the bike!

The first, and easiest way to tell if a bicycle fits you, is to just check if they already are advertising a specific height recommended for that bike! They will generally state something like 5′ 10″ or above, or some other height.

If they don’t advertise this, you will want to check the frame size! The frame size is the length from the top of the seat tube to the bottom of it.

Every type of bicycle, actually has different seat tube lengths as well! For example, if you are 5′ 11″ you will want an 18″ seat tube, if you want a hybrid you will want a 17″ seat tube, and if you are looking at a road bike you will be looking at a 23″ seat tube.

You can see, based on how confusing this is, why big box retailers resort to having shorter people ride 26″ wheel bikes, medium height people riding 27.5″ and taller people riding 29″ bikes.

So why can big box retailers say a specific sized person needs a certain wheel size?

To avoid mass amounts of confusion, and the need for education, these big box retailers have to set a standard! Because of this, they match certain frame sizes to certain wheel sizes.

You will generally see a 29″ mountain bike with a 18″ – 19″ frame, and a 27.5″ wheel bike with a smaller and so forth.

This way, while they are technically selling the right sized bike to the right sized person without the confusion of having to explain frame sizes.

The downside to this though, is that a taller rider is not able to experience the nimbleness that a 26″ bike has, and a shorter person is not able to experience the speed and burliness of a 29″ bike.

What else are 29″ wheel bikes called?

If you have spent any time digging into the 29″ bikes, you likely have run into quite a few different ways that people refer to them!

You will hear them referred to as 29ers, two-niners and even 700c(even though this is technically wrong).

29″ wheel bikes are gaining in popularity for a couple great reasons! The main reason, because that they have less rolling resistance when going over bumps, making these larger wheels more comfortable to ride and easier for newer riders.

These larger wheels also allow for riders to have more speed per pedal, meaning they can keep up with other riders that are using hybrids, or even road bikes (of course not completely keep up, but more-so).

On the other hand though, 29er mountain bikes do offer less capability in the department of accuracy. While 27.5″ and 26″ wheels offer quite a bit of maneuverability, this is where a 29″ wheels fall short.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a short person ride a 29er?

If you are shopping at a big box retailer, you likely will not want to ride a 29″ wheel bike, as the frame size follows the wheel size. However if you are shopping at a specialty shop, you are more likely to be able to ride a bicycle with a 29″ wheel. You will mainly want to pay attention to frame size in this case!

Is it harder to pedal a 29er?

29er bikes tend to be a bit harder to get up to speed initially as they are larger wheels with more weight. However due to their larger diameter they have less rolling resistance when up to speed, and are actually easier to pedal at that point.


There are many people out there that much prefer a 26″ bike or a 27.5″ bike, however I personally enjoy my 29″ wheel mountain bike. That said, if you are someone that shops at a big box retailer, you will want to be someone a bit taller to be able to ride it!

However if you are shopping specialty, and are shorter, talk with your local retailer and see how they might be able to set you up on a smaller frame, yet still accommodate the larger wheel size.