Gravel and Touring Bikes for Smaller Cyclists: XXS, XS, 38cm, 42cm, 44cm

Finding XS touring bikes can be hard work. I know because I fall on the other end of the spectrum; I’m two metres tall and am always looking for bikes big enough.

With more than 30 extra-small touring and gravel bikes listed below, there may well be an off-the-shelf bike option for you, without resorting to a custom-made frame – provided you’re not smaller than 147cm or 4ft10. But as you’ll soon find out, this will largely depend on your inseam length.

Note: This article was originally published in Jan 2015, but has been updated in May 2020. 

Bikes For Smaller Cyclists: Standover Height

Standover height
A diagram showing the typical location of a standover height measurement.

The standover height is one of the most important measurements for smaller riders. It is the measurement that tells us whether we can easily stand over the top tube with our feet flat on the ground, but it also gives us a good indication for how easy it will be to get on and off a bike.

Some standover measurements are made at the mid-point of the top tube, but the majority are calculated 50mm in front of the bottom bracket shell (see diagram above).

This list will have touring bikes with a ‘comfortable’ standover height for riders down to a 69cm/27″ inseam. But with the absolute minimum clearance, you could have an inseam of 66cm/26″ on the smallest models and still be fine (just).

Ideally, you’ll want an inseam 2cm/1″ longer than the measured standover height. If you require lower standover heights than those listed in this resource, please make sure to check out my list of every step-through touring bikes.

Bikes For Smaller Cyclists: The Bike Fit

xs touring bikes
Holly and her custom-built XXS Enigma touring bike. Image: Nowhere2far

Unless you’re really comfortable on your current bike, I’d recommend getting a bike fit at a shop before buying your next one. Not by the work experience kid, but by somebody who has a long history of making people comfortable on their bikes.

At a cost of roughly US $100, a bike fit consultation will have you set up on a stationary bike. The bike fitter will ask you how often you ride, about the type of riding you do, and about any riding goals that you may have. They’ll also incorporate some flexibility and strength tests in there too.

The measurements that come out of your bike fit session will allow you to be extra comfortable on your new bike. Provided you collect the ‘stack’ and ‘reach’ data from your bike fitter, you’ll even be able to use this resource to find your next bike!

Stack and Reach


The universal sizing metric that I’m using to compare small bikes is called ‘stack’ and ‘reach’. The reason it’s the best sizing metric is that it can inform us about how long and tall a bike frame is. Simply measuring the seat tube or top tube doesn’t take into account the bike’s angles, head tube length or fork length.

Most bike sizing is based on the seat tube length. Some manufacturers will tout their bikes as 42cm or XXS, but when we calculate the ‘stack’ and ‘reach’ numbers, you’ll see that some bikes are actually much taller and longer than others in the same size. Just take a look below – some “50cm” bikes are actually smaller than other “44cm” bikes! Don’t get caught out…

You won’t need to focus too much on the ‘reach’ numbers. The difference between bikes is usually no more than 20mm and we can easily accommodate this length discrepancy by swapping the handlebar stem. It’s not a huge deal at all.

But the ‘stack’ will give you a good idea for how high your handlebars will sit, so if you’re after an upright ride, look for the high stack figures.

If you’re interested in learning all about the frame geometry of a bicycle, click HERE.

26″ and 650B Wheels On Small Bikes

xs touring bikes
A custom Surly Straggler 38cm built up using 650B wheels. Image: Keep Pedalling

The smallest touring and gravel bikes in this list employ smaller diameter 26″ or 650B wheels. These wheels are more proportionate to smaller bike frames (when compared to 700C) and offer the advantages of less toe-overlap and a lower standover height, in particular.

To put it simply, extra-small bikes are ideally designed around smaller wheels to minimise frame geometry compromises elsewhere on the bike.

XS Gravel Bikes (Light Touring) By Standover Height

xs touring bikes
Salsa makes two of the smallest gravel bikes available – this is the 49.5cm Salsa Vaya.

Knolly Cache 49.5cm: Reach 385mm / Stack 559mm – Standover 646mm
Salsa Journeyman XS (650B):
Reach 364mm / Stack 528mm – Standover 658mm
Salsa Vaya 49.5cm: Reach 355mm / Stack 543mm – Standover 660mm
Evil Chamois Hagar S:
 Reach 400mm / Stack 575mm – Standover 662mm
Co-Motion Ochoco 42cm:
Reach 374mm / Stack 506mm – Standover 665mm
Devinci Hatchet XS: Reach 376mm / Stack 528mm – Standover 676mm
Specialized Diverge 44cm: Reach 357mm / Stack 568mm – Standover 683mm
Felt Breed 47cm (650B): Reach 374mm / Stack 544mm – Standover 687mm
Marin Nicasio (650B): Reach 350mm / Stack 535mm – Standover 697mm
Norco Search XR 45.5cm (650B): Reach 355mm / Stack 504mm – Standover 701mm
Merida Silex XS: Reach 379mm / Stack 588mm – Standover 701mm
Cannondale Topstone XS: Reach 368mm / Stack 518mm – Standover 703mm
Surly Straggler 38cm
Reach 368mm / Stack 518mm – Standover 704mm
Niner RLT9 47cm: 
Reach 362mm / Stack 535mm – Standover 705mm
Kona Rove 46cm: Reach 370mm / Stack 510mm – Standover 707mm
All City Space Horse 46cm: Reach 359mm / Stack 493mm – Standover 709mm
Marin Headlands 49cm: Reach 370mm / Stack 550mm – Standover 711mm
Giant Revolt XS: Reach 373mm / Stack 548mm – Standover 714mm
Jamis Renegade Expat 44cm: Reach 351mm / Stack 495mm – Standover 715mm

XS Touring Bikes By Standover Height

xs touring bike
One of the smallest touring bikes by standover height is the Marin Four Corners.

Louis Garneau Beacon 9.0 37cm (26″): Reach 386mm / Stack 537mm – Standover 648mm
Marin Four Corners XS (650B):
Reach 377mm / Stack 560mm – Standover 667mm
Co-Motion Pangea 44cm (26″): Reach 356mm / Stack 514mm – Standover 686mm
Salsa Marrakesh 50cm: Reach 361mm / Stack 540mm – Standover 704mm
Co-Op Cycles ADV 3.1 (650B): Reach 368mm / Stack 532mm – Standover 709mm
Surly Disc Trucker 42cm (26″): 
Reach 362mm / Stack 515mm – Standover 710mm (mid top tube)
Trek 520 48cm: Reach 368mm / Stack 540mm – Standover 713mm
Gunnar Grand Disc 48cm (26″): Reach 363mm / Stack 513mm – Standover 716mm
Soma Saga 44cm (26″): Reach 359mm / Stack 527mm – Standover 719mm
Thorn Nomad MK3 (26″): 379mm / Stack 529mm – Standover 725mm (mid top tube)
Jamis Aurora 47cm: Reach 371mm / Stack 518mm – Standover 726mm
Kona Sutra 47cm: Reach 374mm / Stack 549mm – Standover 745mm

XS Off-Road Touring Bikes By Standover Height

One small and one extra-small Salsa Fargo all loaded up.

Salsa Fargo XS: Reach 350mm / Stack 594mm – Standover 692mm (disputed figure, will try to update on this soon)
Salsa Cutthroat 52cm:
 Reach 358mm / Stack 585mm – Standover 697mm
Surly Bridge Club XS (27.5″): Reach 376mm / Stack 553mm – Standover 709mm
Breezer Radar Expert XS: Reach 393mm / Stack 576mm – Standover 711mm
Surly Troll XS (26″): Reach 371mm / Stack 551mm – Standover 720mm

Check Out The Step-Through Touring Bike List HERE

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Talk about synchronicity. I went online a couple of days ago to research just this question, discovered your site which I think is the most informative, written in a manner that is comprehensive to someone who is “less-then techie”, and now you have written the post I’ve been searching endlessly for!
    I’ve had decades of being “fit” into poorly sized bikes, including “women specific” designs. I really appreciate your explanation on what constitute a fit, and also for listing potential frames and their measurements.
    You rock!

  2. Thanks madcrumpet, appreciate your words. I’m glad we’re channelling the same energy! All the best on finding your new bike that fits well. Alee

  3. Ive researched intensively for my first touring bike purchase and now have a massive folder of bookmarked webpages – tips, suggestions, etc. This was the best and ultimately the only article I needed! Thank you times a million from every sub 5’5” woman!!!! Do you have a blog? Im starting my solo world tour this May in the US & would love to connect

  4. I would think that when you’re very small the standover heigh is important if you don’t want to hurt yourself. Am I wrong?

    I’m 4’11½”
    671mm standover with my shoes on.
    “They” recommend 1″ clearence.
    There is nothing in this list that fits me.

    I think i’m going to have to wear high heels for touring! Or maybe buy a junior size bike! Do you have an article about junior touring bikes? Thanks!

  5. Hi Emilie

    I’ve looked at the frame geometry of the Soma and it will be quite fine for touring. The bike is a little steeper in the head angle than is ideal, making the bike feel a bit more nimble than most, but if you were to put weight on the front that will slow everything down. The only thing is that the frame tubing is probably not optimised for heavy pannier loads on the front and rear.

    An even better bike (which I forgot about!) is the Koga Randonneur or Traveller – Womens version. http://www.koga.com/en/bikes/trekking/collection

    It comes with a proper touring geometry, plus heavyweight frame tubing so that if you’re running front and back panniers the bike will stay nice and stiff.

    The Stevens Trekking Tour is another good find!

    Let me know what you decide to go with.

  6. Check out Islabikes in the UK. They do properly scaled down bikes for smaller people. They even use smaller brake levers and cranks sized to go with the bikes.

  7. Great list and very helpful for the many short cyclists out there! I would add one more to your list: the Surly Straggler 650B — a highly versatile bike that is excellent for both light touring and randonneuring — and it’s made in sizes as small as 38 and 42cm with 650B wheels. The 38 cm was the ultimate solution to all my tiny lady’s fit issues. Riding a properly sized, well-fitted bike truly makes all the difference in the world!

  8. Hi Alee – thanks for pulling together the list above, much appreciated as a short person! Just wondering if you knew where the Dawes Galaxy Cromo Ladies 43cm version would sit in the above list?

  9. Alee, what a comprehensive list, thanks! Just wondered if you knew offhand if any or many of them are disc brake-compatible?

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