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I'm having a very hard time finding a bike that I _think_ will fit me. I just don't understand cross bike sizing. I ride a 54inch road bike, that is slightly too big for me, I'm just under 5'7.
It seems like there are two camps. 1 sized just like road bikes, and 2 sized completely different, where a 52 is the equiv of a 56 road bike.
Not to mention the general s/m/l sizing that a lot of the lower end bikes offer. Is there any way to know how a cross bike is sized / fits?

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Many bike shops offer bike fitting, that's your best bet. If you can't do that then take some for a test spin. My wife is 5' 7" and usually rides a 52 or small for most brands, start there.

I don't think you need extra clearance for 'cross so I ride the same size bike in 'cross and road. I just set up the stem/spacers for a little more upright position on my 'cross bike.
The real problem none of the local shops carry any cross bikes, so unfortunately I can't really test them out for size. Having to shop on the web is making this a bit harder. I've basically been having to ask people what they ride, and how tall they are.
I have read more often than not that your cx bike size doesn't have to be different than your road set-up and making sure you have about the same top tube length. I ride the same size frame for road and cx only my stem is 10mm shorter on my cx bike and my saddle is slightly more forward. Dont' trip on it too much, get somethnig in the ballpark and then make adjustments from there. My problem with a shop or bike fit is that going that route doesn't replicate the position/hammering/ or puke factor you will experience in a race. So riding the bike passively around a parking lot may not do you justice. I personally like to go through different stems, handlebars, saddles and adjustments and figure it out myself. Going by what people ride because of how tall they are may not be a good measure. For example I am 6"3" and I can ride a 58-59cm because my inseam is short, whereas I know guys that are just as tall that ride a 61cm.
Perhaps I'm not explaining this well enough. The one bike I was able to find to test out was a ridley, it was sized 52. Thinking I've got a 54 road bike and it is a tad big, this should be about the right size. WRONG! it's clearly way to big for me, I could barely ride it, let alone at any pace.
I was just wonder if there were any general sizing rules of thumb, IE Ridley is sized super big, -1 size, etc.
I guess I'll just need to play it by ear, and hope I can find something that'll fit.
Sizes as listed can vary quite a bit from one manufacturer to another. You can readily view the actual dimensions and geometry of specific bikes by going to the website of the manufacturer. Obviously there are more things to consider but mainly you want to look at the length of the top tube and stand over clearance.
i am also in the process of buying my first cross bike. i have several track bikes, and my sizing with those is very different from road bikes. this is due in part to the fact that the bottom bracket is higher for increased pedal clearance, resulting in a shorter seat tube. is this true for cross bikes as well?


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