road stems

5 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Any advice out there for road bike stems? I am looking for a new one because I'm getting a little bit uncomfortable reaching for my hoods, and it is causing a little neck strain, so I'd like a stem that isn;t too long and can be adjusted to elevate my handlebars slightly.

One suggestion I got last Sat. was a weyless-brand stem, and I've found those online, but I can;t tell which ones are more or less adjustable.


Anonymous's picture
John Miller (not verified)

Hopefully others will reply with more knowledge than I, but I'll offer two general principles:

1) Many bikes are spec'ed with, and many riders will attempt to imitate, an aggressive racing position; i.e. a large difference in height between saddle and cockpit, or handlebar drops positioned way below the top tube. If you're not a professional, you may not have the flexibility to pull it off.

2) Stem length may be only a symptom, not the problem --you may be riding a frame that's too large or long. Getting too short a stem will negatively affect handling. A professional, measured cycle fitting -- at a cost of less than many parts you'll swap out in frustration -- will tell you exactly what the issue is and how to solve it.

Quality stems are forged, that is, made in one piece. This is true whether it's for newer threadless forks or older, threaded/quill stems. Avoid stems that look like they have a weld anywhere on it -- they will be relatively flexible and you will have to watch for cracks.

Anonymous's picture
john grand (not verified)
stem length

don't worry that much about getting a shorter stem. the fact it affects handling is overdone. i've ridden with stems from 8-12 cm long on the same length top tube, it did not affect handling much. distance from saddles to bars is more important, will dictate comfort, and have a greater effect on handling. i have a bike that is 2 cm too big, reduced the stem 2cm, and it fits much better. handling is not an issue.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
what kind of stem?

Old style quill or new style for use with threadless headset/fork?

Most stems are not adjustable, though LOOK makes an adjustable stem, and some old track stems are adjustable.

Old style quill stems can be raised and lowered to some degree, and some have very long quills, raising the bars quite a bit.

Most modern welded stems are high quality and should not flex or break.

If it's a threadless setup, you don't have as much play. When buying a new bike, order the fork with the steerer tube uncut. Set the bike up with enough spacers to put the bars at a comfortable hight. Then have the tube cut.

If ordering a custom frame, consider getting a headtube extension to make the bars higher.

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)

"""When buying a new bike, order the fork with the steerer tube uncut. Set the bike up with enough spacers to put the bars at a comfortable hight. Then have the tube cut.""

This is good advice in general. But beware: if the steer tube is carbon, it is recommended that you use only 1.0 to 1.5 cm of spacers.


Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

"The rule I've heard for carbon steerers is that the amount of spacers should not exceed the diameter of the steerer, so for 1"" steerers, you should use not more than 2.5cm of spacers and for 1 1/8"" steerers, you should use not more than 2.86cm of spacers.

More bikes should have HT extensions...

- Christian"

cycling trips