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What is the most common or average length stem?(27 posts)

What is the most common or average length stem?jtferraro
Oct 18, 2002 2:15 PM
I know we are all different and all bikes have different geometries, but what stem length is most common or the average of all lengths? How about the long end and the short end of the scale? Is there a lenght too short or too long where one says "obviously, the frame is the wrong size!"?

Just curious,

Oct 18, 2002 2:57 PM
re: most men will say 9 inches...Akirasho
Oct 18, 2002 3:00 PM
Personally, I've always been well endowed... I run between 130 and 140 on road bikes (58 to 61cm frames) and a max of 177.7 on a Cannondale MTB. Along with the assoiciated frame geometries, this works well for me (the 'Dale is used mainly on pavement.

We abide.

Remain In Light.

Be the bike.
Do you know why women are poor judges of distance?Humma Hah
Oct 18, 2002 3:11 PM
Men keep telling them that this


is nine inches!
OK, OK...enough w/the jokes! I *REALLY* need some answers!jtferraro
Oct 18, 2002 5:44 PM
The reason being is b/c the stem I was just recommended for my new bike is only 80mm in length. The bike is a 58cm Trek(56cm c-top of top tube).


80mm would be too shortweiwentg
Oct 18, 2002 6:32 PM
no joke here. 80mm would produce rather twitchy handling. 'normally', on a 56 c-t, you'd see 120mm (I think???) stems, but it really depends on your torso length.
have you test rode the new bike with said stem? can you test ride a 56cm (54 c-t) Trek? if you have a short torso you might wish to consider an European frame. or you could have the LBS recommend another frame. OR, you could get short-reach bars. see Salsa's website - iirc the Poco has a 70mm reach. I have been known to recall wrongly but it's somewhere around that figure.
Uh oh...jtferraro
Oct 18, 2002 6:45 PM
I understand what you mean by the "twitchy" handling comment. Hmm...maybe Treks(w/their longer top tubes) arne't for me?! No, I haven't test ridden the bike yet b/c it is being built now. Maybe I can test ride a 56cm Trek - I'll try to do that. Now you really have me thinking! Well, I've only put down $100 so far on this bike. I'm hoping that they sized me conservatively and that a 90mm would be more ideal. We'll see. Do you think a 90mm would also be too short?

I would personally go for 100mm, minweiwentg
Oct 19, 2002 6:25 AM
the guy who said that Eddy Merckx always used 110mm stems had a point - in a stage race, you want predictable handling. what are you going to do with the Trek? if a good deal of crit racing is in your future, then 90mm should be manageable. remember, whatever length stem you use, you will get used to it, within reason. if you're going to be doing a lot more road racing, or not racing at all, you would do well to check if the next size down fits you, or (sorry about this) consider another bike.
part of the problem can, I think, be solved with short reach bars. another part of the equation is whether or not you will race. what did you tell the bike shop? is this your first bike? you are right in that they could have been conservative in their sizing - a proper racing position is long and low (and, initially, conducive to backaches for some). most people buying their first bike will probably end up somewhat more upright. if you want to race, you can certainly go for the racers' position. if not, then I would say to heck with it.
it would do no harm to ask the bike store what alternatives are available. the Salsa bars aren't superlight, but they are not expensive. and with an OCLV frame, a bit of extra weight on the bars won't exactly slow you down a lot.
I'm understanding this all a bit better now. I plan on doing a lot of group rides w/the bike next season and I would also like to try a CAT5 race. I actually think I'd like to get into racing but we'll see. Once I get used to riding on group rides, drafting, pace-line, etc., then I might try a crit. Again...we'll see. I hear ya' about the crit stem length vs. the regular race stem length. I don't think the 56cm Trek would fit me. I'd have too much standover, as I least...a 84cm inseam(bike shop measured 85cm). I'd like them to build it up w/the 90mm stem and get on the bike in the store, on a trainer, to see how it feels. I'm presently used to stretching out(long and low) as my C'dale mtb has quite a negative stem set-up: <a href="/crforum?50@@.efb9496/4">Look381i "My one and only ride..." 10/16/02 2:02pm</a> I really don't think I want short reach bars. This is really weird...I realy don't think I have THAT short of a torso or arms, nor has anybody ever told me I did. Yes, this is my first real road bike and I did tell the shop that I'd like to get involved w/group rides and racing next year. I've since visited Colorado Cyclist's bikefit web pages and I'm looking forward to getting on the bike, looking down, and seeing if the front hub is blocked out of view by the hbar. Again...thanks for all your help. I've been rereading all these informative posts. You guys are great! =) -Jeffjtferraro
Oct 19, 2002 7:37 AM
I don't know WTF happened here - SORRY RBR'ers! :( (nm)jtferraro
Oct 19, 2002 9:36 AM
How the hell did you do that?!?!?!??!?!!??!tronracer
Oct 19, 2002 10:57 PM
I have absolutely no idea?!? Again...sorry! (nm)jtferraro
Oct 20, 2002 7:57 AM
OK, OK...enough w/the jokes! I *REALLY* need some answers!Rusty Coggs
Oct 18, 2002 7:42 PM
I have a 130 on my 58cm(57cm TT) Trek 5200.
Oct 18, 2002 7:55 PM
You sound like the opposite of me. Anyway, I thought a 58cm Trek was 56cm(c-top-of-top tube), no?

Wow...Rusty Coggs
Oct 19, 2002 4:17 AM
I said TT length was 57(actually 57.1cm acording to Trek).
re: What is the most common or average length stem?McAndrus
Oct 18, 2002 5:52 PM
I've read that Eddy Merckx insisted that all his bikes have a 110mm stem. If the bike didn't fit him with a 110 stem then the frame itself was incorrectly sized.

It's only an anecdote with no empirical data to back it up but there it is. I have one bike with a 110mm stem and another with 120 stem. I've personally seen people with stems as long as 140 and as short as 90.
Sheeet! Doesn't sound good...especially the "as short as 90"!nmjtferraro
Oct 18, 2002 6:47 PM
80mm is too shortopencl
Oct 18, 2002 7:18 PM
My local shop fit cyclists with 100mm or greater stems.
Thanks...I'm going to stop back in the shop tomorrow.jtferraro
Oct 18, 2002 7:30 PM
Hmmm...I guess here are my options:
1.) get sized again...or at least resize the parts of my body(i.e. torso length, etc.) that are attributable to coming up w/the stem length.
2.) try the 90mm anyway just to see how it feels(although you're suggesting that even 90mm is too short, right?)

Question the software this shop is is from 1987 and they said they make small changes in what it recommends. For example...the software recommended a 172.5mm crank but the shop said they'd put me on 175mm cranks.

3.) Test out a 56cm Trek to see what size stem I'd be on w/that smaller frame. Problem is...I might have too much standover clearance.
4.) Last resort...decide Trek isn't the bike for me b/c they don't fit me well.

ARRGGGHHHHH!! Well, I guess I'm glad I'm figuring this out now! =)

Not only is that true,TJeanloz
Oct 19, 2002 6:25 AM
Eddy Merckx insisted on an 110mm stem, always, for not only his own bikes, but it is a tenet of any Eddy Merckx custom bike. All of his production bikes are designed around an 11cm ideal stem, and whenever he builds a custom, he insists that 110mm be the stem length and the top tube be adjusted to fit.

In the real world of production bikes, however, the 'normal' range of stems is 90mm to 130mm; outside of that range, handling often is adversely effected. That being said, sometimes people (especially women) need stems as short as 65mm (Salsa makes one), to fit properly on a bike. When it comes down to it, the best scenario is a perfect fit with perfect handling, but if you have to get one at the expense of the other (because of different-than-average body type), you always should choose to have a perfect fit at the expense of handling.
Thank you...jtferraro
Oct 19, 2002 7:21 AM
I really appreciate your advice! The Merckx stuff is great and very interesting. How many mm is 11cm's, 110mm? I'm curious to know what size stem(in mm) his production bikes are built with.

Again...thanks for your time and advice. That was a "complete" post, covering Merckx' ideas on stem length, real world production bikes ranges, and the importance...when it comes down to fit over handling!

re: What is the most common or average length stem?bianchi boy
Oct 19, 2002 4:44 PM
Jeff -- I have trouble fitting most US bikes because they almost all have relatively long top tubes (in relation to seat tube length), particularly Treks and Lemonds. I have used an 8 cm stem before and it does lead to "twitchy" handling -- not unmanageable, but it will steer a lot quicker than a longer stem. You get used to it after a while, but ideally I think you should look for a bike with a short enough top tube that you can use a longer stem. Among American bikes, unfortunately, the only brands I have found with relatively short top tubes are Serotta and Litespeed -- two of the most expensive brands. However, there are lots of European bikes with shorter top tubes -- including Merckx, Gios, Colnago, Viner, Basso to name a few.
Thanks for the advice. (nm)jtferraro
Oct 19, 2002 9:37 PM
10-13 (even 10-12) are buy far the most common.jtolleson
Oct 20, 2002 12:23 PM
A 9 or shorter (hard to even find something shorter than a 8 although Salsa offers a 7 in steel), and a 13 or longer are definitely unusual, and to me even bespeak a possible poor frame fit. (That's a bit of a generalization, but we're talking generalizations here).
I used a 70mm for a while...aeon
Oct 20, 2002 1:39 AM
...and I didn't really notice adverse handling, other than the fact that that stem WAS too short. I'm on a 90 now.

However, I've only been on the road for around a year and a half, and mostly hills at that.
12 cm is average, butMariowannabe
Oct 21, 2002 7:05 AM
Of course it depends on you're toptube length and your seat post angle, vs. your torso length, arm length, and flexibility. If you're an "average" build, and don't know where to start, start with a 12cm. If you have long legs and short torso/arms, start with a 10, etc. etc. Remember the basic: "With your arms on the drops, the handle bar should obstruct the view of the front axle." Don't be afraid to stretch out. You'll breath better and your back won't be as sore after a long ride. IMO.
Thanks. (nm)jtferraro
Oct 21, 2002 11:12 AM