How is a stem measured?

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9 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

I think I need a shorter stem because I feel my arms are extened a bit too much. It makes it difficult to stay in the drops for prolonged periods. How do I measure my current stem? Middle-to-middle or end-to-end? What is the shortest stem avaiable?

Anonymous's picture
Ltd (not verified)
have you tried moving the saddle a bit forward? (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Ted (not verified)
middle to middle

"stems are measured from the center to center. or middle to middle.

Stems get pretty short, but under 10cm or so can start to make the handling feel too quick.

You can move the seat if the bars are too far, but that will mess up your pedal stroke.
In some kind of fitting theory, you should set your seat so that you sit the correct distance behind the bottom bracket to get the proper angle to the pedals. Then the bars should be set after that. Not the other way around.

You can also make the drops easier to reach by getting a stem that angles up more. Or there are also ""shallow"" bars where the drops are not as deep, or even ergo bars where the drops are flatter, and a bit closer than regular bends. So, they are easier to reach.
These might be better options than moving the seat forward."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
C-C, yes; saddle moved forward, no.

"Center-to-center. Moving your saddle forward, as was suggested, is NOT the right way to ameliorate your problem, assuming your saddle setback is correct.

Most road stems start at 90mm. Truvative ""Team"" and Syntace ""F99"" start at 75mm, and Ritchey Pro Road and Adjustable Road at 80mm. Adjustable ones can be made practically shorter by elevating them more.

There are shorter MTB stems: Kalloy has a 75mm stem, Race Face two models at 70mm (and, in the name of near completeness, downhill ones at 70mm, 50mm, and 35mm).

But you are sure, aren't you, at a super-short length your weight won't be distributed disproportionally too far back? Maybe what you need is a shorter top tube."

Anonymous's picture
J (not verified)

Agreed. If one thing is wrong, but another is right, don't make two thing wrong. It may be the stem, the drop angle or drop amount, the saddle height, the width of the bars (I recently went from 44 to 42 bars ... nice).

Maybe get a pro fit and have the fitter ... fit you into a more comfortable cockpit on your bike!

Anonymous's picture
BiggMakk (not verified)

Hmm. Very good points raised here. I costed out fitting my bike but it was over $250 at Toga - and then I'd have to get the new stem, etc. Just too much for me.

As for my seat position, I feel I have longer than average femurs so sitting on the back part of the saddle gives me better leverage (it also saves my vital sensitive tissue). This leaves my arms very comfortable when I hold the bars near the stem. It gets uncomfortable as I reach for the hoods; worse when I use the drops.

As advised, I will move the seat forward and see how it feels.

Anonymous's picture
Sonny (not verified)

Moving the seat forward is not the advice being given. If you are comfortable on the seat and have the right leverage for your leg movement, get a shorter stem or a stem with more rise.

Moving your seat is not a good idea, particularly if your legs are comfortable turning over the pedals. Trust me, I know. My new saddle was installed improperly in the wrong position and I have spent 2 months recovering from a serious ITB inflammation, something I never had in 2 years and 12,000 miles.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
the definitive stem chart
Anonymous's picture
ack (not verified)
that is obscene!

"There's a joke in there somewhere about saddles and ""numbness""."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Pu (not verified)
KOPS: Knee over Pedal Spindle

The others are right. Don't try to fix a problem with reach by adjusting the saddle; adjust the stem length instead. The conventional wisdom is that the bony protrusion on your knee should be directly over the pedal spindle. Sheldon Brown has an article about this on the Harris Cyclery website.

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