Standover Height

I’m posting this to try to understand why people are so obsessed with standover height when picking a bike.

We get customers stating an inseam measurement (which is almost always incorrect), and then they insist that the standover height absolutely must be less than the inseam.

Since when do riders straddle the bike with both feet (and heels) on the ground?

I generally take one foot off the pedal, put it on the grund and keep the other foot on the pedal. So, on a bike with a standover height that’s significantly taller than my precious bits, I’ll still be able to comfortably stand stationary on my bike with one foot on the ground.

I do remember that the advice back in the day when choosing a bike for your kid, it was important to make sure the kid could straddle the bike, both feet flat on the ground, with comfortable clearance.

Is it just this “old knowledge” from choosing a kids bike that’s kicking around, or is there someting that I’m completely missing about standover height?

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I think it’s two things:

  1. A hold-over from fast/easy “sizing.” It’s certainly something I was told early in my bike-shop-grom-days. Got the customer close enough, to the cash register, and out the door. Maybe it’s from the days when top tubes were level, ST and TT were about the same length, and bikes came in more sizes?

  2. I think there’s still a fear of hitting one’s genitals on the top tube.

FWIW, I try to build bikes with a bit of clearance for folks. But IDGAF what their pant inseam is. We measure floor-to-crotch in cycling shoes + shorts. Probably 95% of the time I don’t have to make any special adjustments.

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I used not to think it was a big deal, but I realized I have a biased view from being 6ft tall.

I do agree that the obsession over it is a bit out dated. However, If it can be mitigated without compromising the bike’s look, then why not?

If a hardtail MTB is designed around a dropper post, then standover is never an issue (the dropper insertion is the limiting factor).

I have only encountered standover design challenges on gravel bikes when people want high handlebars and the traditional look of a horizontal-ish toptube. But in those cases… the problem is not standover. the problem is that people lack the athleticism to properly ride a drop bar bike.

For gravel bikes, the top tubes are getting more slanted. For example the new Aspero:

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This has been my experience too. Never an issue for me (6’ tall, 35” inseam) but something that often comes up with shorter customers (factory built frames not custom).

I think for newer riders, who may not be that comfortable mounting/dismounting it can be very unsettled if they feel like they won’t be able to reach the ground, even if the reality is a bike with zero standover clearance is totally safe for them to ride.

I also know a lot of people don’t really understand bike sizing so I can see the standover thing being a simple way to gauge if they’re on the right size frame. And a rule of thumb like that can quickly get passed around even if it’s not entirely the best way to go. The fact that a lot of bike shops really don’t understand how to fit a customer to a bike probably doesn’t help :sweat_smile:

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Like a lot of people have said here I think it really depends on the rider. I think a sporty rider with good balance, it doesn’t really matter.
My favorite bike fits to do are the middle aged woman with some mild mobility issues who didn’t realize that she could actually be comfortable on a bike. They never think they need a bike fit but gosh it makes a big difference! For these riders having enough stand over to put both feet flat on the ground can make a big difference in confidence. Especially if they plan to do any gravel or other off-road riding.
I’ve mostly done bike fitting to fit an existing bike rather than to design a new bike. So sometimes finding the right balance between stack and reach and top tube can be a tradeoff. But for a custom bike it should be straightforward to design all of these things appropriately.
I’m 6’4" with legs for days, I’ve never once thought about stand over for myself. The first time I rode my custom touring bike (with a 64cm seat tube and almost level tt) I stepped off the bike into a pothole and boxed myself on the top tube. It was funny to experience what a properly high top tube is like. It helped me understand why people don’t like it!

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I’m 6’, but having a low stand over height is still a priority to me on a mountain bike. There have been more than one time that it has kept me from going down in rock gardens. Being able to just hop off the pedals and not worry about the down tube on uneven terrain is amazing.

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Good points everyone.
I could have worded my initial question a bit differently and clarified that I was not referring to riders with special needs due to injury or other physiological traits that would require ample standover clearance.

What triggered my post was that it sometimes seems as if people, sometimes even bike fitters, use it as a primary metric, so I guess that does have its roots in the fast/easy sizing referred to by @ElysianBikeCo.
I’ve even had tall riders with >200mm of seatpost exposed (measured to the rails) fuss a bit about standover height.

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1990s Serotta catalog. w/standover dims.

Compare that to the current Specialized standover dims.

Seems like standover was (more) correlated to TT length at one point.

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