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Road Cycling and Mountain Biking Blog

Bike Geometry: What is important to know

Bike geometry horizontal top tube lenght

When talking about bike geometry, there are several important aspects to consider.

Bike geometry what is import to know

Here are some key pieces of information about bike geometry:

Frame Size: The frame size is crucial to ensure a bike fits the rider properly. Frame sizes can vary based on the rider’s height, leg length, and other body measurements. The frame size can affect the rider’s position on the bike, stability, and maneuverability.

Steering Tube Angle: The steering tube angle, also known as the head tube angle, is the angle formed between the steering tube (the part of the frame that holds the front fork) and the ground. A steeper steering tube angle (narrower angle) makes the bike more agile and responsive, ideal for technical trails or road cycling. A more relaxed steering tube angle (wider angle) provides greater stability and control on rough or downhill terrain.

Seat Tube Angle: The seat tube angle is the angle formed between the seat tube and an imaginary horizontal line. This angle can affect the rider’s position on the bike. A steeper seat tube angle can promote a more forward and aerodynamic position, while a more relaxed angle can offer increased comfort.

Wheelbase: The wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the two wheel hubs. A shorter wheelbase makes the bike more agile and responsive, while a longer wheelbase provides stability at higher speeds and on rough terrain.

Chainstay Length: Chainstays are the frame parts where the wheels are inserted. The length of the chainstays can affect the bike’s maneuverability. Shorter chainstays make the bike more agile, while longer chainstays offer greater stability.

Bottom Bracket Height: The bottom bracket height refers to the distance between the ground and the center of the bottom bracket (the part of the frame where the gears and pedals are located). A higher bottom bracket provides more clearance over obstacles and may be suitable for rough terrain, while a lower bottom bracket lowers the bike’s center of gravity, offering greater stability.

Bike Geometry – Basic Concepts

Geometry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when selecting a bicycle, but it is certainly one of the fundamental aspects to consider due to its impact on maneuverability, comfort, and responsiveness to our actions. The head tube angle, top tube length, bottom bracket height, reach (the horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the head tube), and stack (the vertical distance between the same components mentioned earlier) – all these concepts influence the distribution of body weight, the bike’s response in corners, balance at high speeds, and, of course, comfort and riding pleasure. Let’s examine these aspects in detail.


Bike geometry steering tube angle

The steering tube angle, which connects the fork to the handlebar, is of significant importance in bike configuration. A wider angle will result in higher speed and a lighter feel in the front of the bike, but it also brings increased instability and discomfort during riding. A wider angle is ideal for tackling technical terrain or participating in competitions. On the other hand, a narrower angle offers greater comfort and stability to the bike but comes at the cost of reduced agility and responsiveness. A narrower angle is ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed style of cycling.

Typically, road bikes have a steering tube angle ranging from 70 to 73 degrees, allowing the rider to maintain a comfortable and efficient position on the handlebar, increasing speed and facilitating climbs without excessive effort. On the other hand, downhill bikes tend to have an angle close to 63 degrees to ensure stability during descents and on technical trails, avoiding the risk of going over the handlebars.


Bike geometry steering tube lenght

The length of this component will inevitably influence the “stack,” which we will discuss later. A longer steering tube will result in an increased handlebar height and, consequently, promote a more relaxed riding posture. This is a common feature in endurance road bikes. Conversely, time trial bikes have much shorter steering tubes to improve aerodynamics.

The length of the steering tube cannot be reduced, but it can be increased by adding spacers or shims on the fork tube. However, it is important to note that this practice is often not recommended unless the tube has been previously cut or shortened.


Bike geometry fork offset and front trail

These two different measurements show a reciprocal relationship:

“Trail” represents the distance between the steering axis and the contact point of the front wheel with the ground. This distance is determined by the steering tube angle and its length.

“Fork offset” (or “fork rake”) indicates the distance between the center of the front wheel (the hub) and the steering axis. It can be used to increase or decrease the trail without making changes to the steering tube angle. It can also be useful for adjusting the wheelbase, which is the distance between the axles of the two wheels. A higher fork offset reduces the trail, while a lower fork offset increases it.

These two measurements influence the bike’s response and maneuverability. A longer trail increases the bike’s stability at high speeds but reduces maneuverability at low speeds. Conversely, a shorter trail makes the front of the bike more agile and maneuverable but results in reduced stability at high speeds.


Bike geometry horizontal top tube lenght

This dimension is determined by the distance between the steering tube and the seat tube. There are two ways to represent this distance: one actually measures the length of the horizontal top tube, while the other refers to its horizontal projection, starting from the end of the steering tube to the top of the seat tube. The first measurement was mainly used before the introduction of sloping top tubes, while the second one is more common.

In general, a bike with a shorter horizontal top tube will be more agile and easier to maneuver, while a bike with the same tube length but longer horizontal projection will be more stable and comfortable during long rides.

Bike geometry reach

The “reach” represents the horizontal measurement of the distance between the center of the bottom bracket (projecting a vertical line) and the top of the steering tube. This measurement affects the distance between the saddle and the handlebar, and therefore, the rider’s position on the bike. In general, a longer reach promotes a more stretched and lowered position on the bike, while a shorter reach results in a more upright and compact position.


The “stack” refers to the frame height of the bike and is measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the highest point of the steering tube. This measurement represents the actual frame height: a higher stack indicates a more upright position on the bike, while a lower stack promotes a more aerodynamic position.

As mentioned earlier when discussing the steering tube length, the stack can also be increased by using spacers on the fork tube or reduced by lowering the stem of the handlebar.


This inclination indicates the angle between the seat tube and the ground. A steeper angle promotes a smoother and more efficient pedaling motion, also improving the rider’s position on the bike, especially during challenging climbs. Conversely, a shallower angle shifts the rider’s position backward, which is ideal for longer rides. It also provides greater stability and safety during descents.


This measurement refers to the distance between the front and rear wheel axles. The wheelbase primarily influences the stability and maneuverability of the bike. A shorter distance enhances maneuverability but increases the risk of losing balance at high speeds. Conversely, a wider wheelbase provides greater comfort and stability, leading to advantages in terms of speed and stability on uneven terrain, although it may involve some compromise in maneuverability.


This measurement refers to the distance between the rear wheel axle and the center of the bottom bracket. A shorter rear fork length ensures a more efficient pedaling motion by increasing energy transmission. Additionally, the traction of the rear wheel is enhanced as more weight is transferred to it. All these aspects contribute to increased responsiveness, acceleration, agility, and maneuverability during climbs and on flat terrain.

Conversely, a longer rear fork length provides greater stability and control during descents, as well as better vibration absorption, offering a more comfortable ride.


The bottom bracket height, which is the distance between the center of the bottom bracket axle and the ground, has a significant impact on the stability of the bicycle, its cornering ability, and its responsiveness in overcoming obstacles. Additionally, it plays a fundamental role in the positioning of the rider’s center of gravity and pedal efficiency.

A lower height contributes to increased stability, especially during corners. Conversely, a higher height makes the bicycle less stable.


We can conclude that the geometric configuration plays an essential role in the maneuverability and responsiveness of the bicycle. We have outlined some basic concepts that apply to all types of bicycles, but it’s important to remember that there are different geometries across various cycling disciplines. For example, in road cycling, there are bikes designed for racing and others for a more relaxed approach. In mountain biking, some bikes are specifically designed for downhill, while others are more versatile and suitable for trail riding.

Therefore, the first thing to consider is how you will use the bicycle, what type of terrain you will encounter, and what your personal preferences are. If you’re not yet 100% sure or unclear about your needs or desires, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional and try out different models to discover what suits you best. The other geometric measurements of the bicycle play a secondary role in choosing a bike that meets your needs and preferences.

Overall, the geometry of a bicycle should be balanced to ensure a good mix of stability, maneuverability, and comfort, while also considering that some disciplines require more specific geometry. It’s practically impossible to find a perfect bike for every terrain and condition, but by carefully evaluating your priorities and experimenting with different options, you will be able to find the one that suits you best.

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