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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066

    how short a stem is too short?

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    I need to bring my bars closer, and it feels like 4-5 cm would be perfect. But I only have an 80 mm stem right now. How short a stem can I get without handling going all wacky? I guess 60 mm would be fine, but any shorter?

    I have an itsy-bitsy tiny stem lying aroudn I should try, but I'm kind of scared of it... When I put it on my mtb last year I crashed spectacularly after clearing a small jump I've done hundreds of times, and I'm pretty sure it's because the ultra-short stem messed up my steering.

    OTOH road bike handlebars already have a built in "stem" compared to flat bars, unless you ride with your hands on the top of the bars which I rarely do, so it might be just fine.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    979
    which bike was this?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    I need to bring the handlebars closer on my road bike. My neck aches and I feel a bit too stretched out. I compensate by keeping my hands closer whenever I can, but then I can't keep my hands on the brakes.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Belle, Mo.
    Posts
    1,778
    I just tried a stem that was 2cm shorter last night. I thought I wanted the bars closer, but I knew within minutes that it was too short. I kept scooting back on my seat. Perhaps you could switch it out, and take a short ride? Kind of a pain if you have a threaded quill stem, but in the long run, at least you will know! I have an unthreaded one so it only took minutes.
    Claudia

    2009 Trek 7.6fx
    2013 Jamis Satellite
    2014 Terry Burlington

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    979
    lph, I'm thinking of doing the same thing. my stem is 90 mm right now and I was wondering if I should do 70 and a short reach handlebar or if that would be too much and 80 mm would be better...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Memphis, TN
    Posts
    996
    I used to ride with a 70mm on my first bike. I didn't have a problem with handling, although I did have to pay attention to what I was doing a little more because the steering was very "responsive" to twitches and whatnot
    Because not every fast cyclist is a toothpick...

    Brick House Blog

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    646

    Stems but no on flowers

    I had to have my stem shortened to make my fit better but my LBS said as a guideline, you should stay within 20mm of whatever your stock was... I switched from 85 to a 65 They also said that the handling might get a little more twitchy as the stem gets shorter, and cautioned me about the handling at higher speeds. I don't go that fast or far (no more than 18 mph or 30 miles) so I'm not too concerned. If I build up my strength, I might have to change my stem again or something but we'll see.

    I haven't taken my bike out since the change so I've only been on the trainer but I'm so happy about my fit that I haven't really given it any thought
    Ana
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    2009 Lynskey R230
    Trek Mountain Track 850

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,403
    My original bike came with a 9mm stem. Reach way too long. I changed it for a 5mm and rode that for months. That helped the reach, but my steering was noticably wobbly, especially when climbing hills. I was correcting my front wheel like all the time, which was extremely annoying and somewhat unsafe when climbing narrow hills in traffic.
    So I changed again for a 7mm, and that seemed to be a good compromise.
    Lots of people will say a 7 is too short. It 'is' too short, but it's a good place between too-long and too-short for me. The steering is no longer wobbly, and the reach is better than the old 9mm.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Olney, MD
    Posts
    3,063
    My race bike has a 60cm stem with a 30 degree rise that effectively makes it even shorter. I don't have any problem with the handling on this bike, but it's the only stem I've used on it.
    I'd rather be swimming...biking...running...and eating cheesecake...
    --===--

    2008 Cervelo P2C Tri bike
    2011 Trek Madone 5.5/Cobb V-Flow Max
    2007 Jamis Coda/Terry Liberator
    2011 Trek Mamba 29er

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    979
    we should set up recycling system for stems that don't seem to fit because everyone seems to switch them at least twice. it would be like the way Brook saddles seem to fly around the forum. imagine it, for the cost of shipping and some small price we could try out stems until we found one we liked instead of paying $40 each time. Even if it wasn't the prettiest stem we could replace it with one that was nicer and sent that one on its merry way.

    think I'll have a 90mm quill stem finding a new home in a few months, just got to find the right size...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Olney, MD
    Posts
    3,063
    I have a 100mm stem I can send out. Not sure of the angle off hand.
    I'd rather be swimming...biking...running...and eating cheesecake...
    --===--

    2008 Cervelo P2C Tri bike
    2011 Trek Madone 5.5/Cobb V-Flow Max
    2007 Jamis Coda/Terry Liberator
    2011 Trek Mamba 29er

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    a stem recycling program is a good idea

    To answer my own question: so far it seems I'm fine with a really short stem. I put on the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny one (it SAYS 60 mm on it but is also sharply angled so it looks and acts even shorter) and tried it out on a long (75 miles) ride yesterday. It didn't seem to make handling too wobbly, and did make it easier to reach stuff. My neck still started aching after a while, but since I started looking for a new saddle I've become acutely aware of what's wrong with the one I've got, and spent a large part of the ride obsessing about that instead...

    So I've got to get a new saddle before I start fussing around more with the bars, to make sure I know where I'm going to be sitting.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Olney, MD
    Posts
    3,063
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    a stem recycling program is a good idea

    To answer my own question: so far it seems I'm fine with a really short stem. I put on the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny one (it SAYS 60 mm on it but is also sharply angled so it looks and acts even shorter) and tried it out on a long (75 miles) ride yesterday. It didn't seem to make handling too wobbly, and did make it easier to reach stuff. My neck still started aching after a while, but since I started looking for a new saddle I've become acutely aware of what's wrong with the one I've got, and spent a large part of the ride obsessing about that instead...

    So I've got to get a new saddle before I start fussing around more with the bars, to make sure I know where I'm going to be sitting.
    Sounds like my stem, 60mm and 30 degrees. The angle makes it act like it's another 5mm shorter.

    Glad that you are making advances in your biking comfort. Try not to change too much at once.
    I'd rather be swimming...biking...running...and eating cheesecake...
    --===--

    2008 Cervelo P2C Tri bike
    2011 Trek Madone 5.5/Cobb V-Flow Max
    2007 Jamis Coda/Terry Liberator
    2011 Trek Mamba 29er

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    3,932
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    So I've got to get a new saddle before I start fussing around more with the bars, to make sure I know where I'm going to be sitting.
    If you were to decide to change the bars, check out the FSA Compact Wing Pro. They actually bring the reach back quite a bit without a shorter saddle, and I found that the real estate lost on the handlebars was not a problem... I think the Salsa Poco (or some other Salsa bar) is the same...

    This can be messy though - have you sought some help from a good bike shop? I find that having a person look at me from the side often helps...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    646

    Stems...

    I researched stems for a while too, since my reach was way to far. I found one site that said if you need too short of a stem, perhaps your bike is mis-sized and you should have a shorter top tube
    Ana
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    2009 Lynskey R230
    Trek Mountain Track 850

 

 

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