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new stems vs old stems(10 posts)

new stems vs old stemsandydave
Nov 6, 2002 7:33 PM
I need help answering a question. Thought this was the right place to get an answer. I'm from old school. I have an old Ciocc with a Cinelli quill stem. It has appox. 1.5-2" of rise before going out horizontally (the old backwards "7" look). Why are spacers with the new threadless stems generally considered a bad thing? All things equal, it seems that you would need spacers to get the same fit (especially if the clamp on stem has no rise in it). Have frame geometries changed over time? Are people riding more drop in their handlebars? Are people riding larger bikes? If someone can explain, it would really be appreciated.
re: new stems vs old stemsgtx
Nov 6, 2002 7:55 PM
Most frames these days have slightly taller headtubes as a result of the whole threadless thing. Also, most threadless stems aren't -17 degree rise (like a standard quil stem) but are -10 degree rise or 0 degree rise (also called 90 degree), etc. But there's nothing wrong with spacers.

BTW, I'm old school, too--have Cinelli quil stems on all my bikes (cept my mtb).
re: My Take onnew stems vs old stemscrosscut
Nov 6, 2002 10:15 PM
If you are Old School, like me, you'll be better off remaining so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spacers on a threadless set-up. Bikes aren't getting larger - in fact, the preferred sizing is for smaller bikes. Marketing folks (and some LBSs) are trying to sell the "racing" image to road bikers. This image translates to smaller bikes (stiffer and lighter), five or more inches of seatpost showing, very low handlebar position, etc. This works for young racers who are still flexible, but not for the general road recreational rider. I have two bikes. One has a conventional threaded set-up. The other has threadless and there is a pretty good stack of spacers to get the stem up to a comfortable position. The spacers in no way compromise the handling of the bike.
re: new stems vs old stemstarwheel
Nov 7, 2002 5:18 AM
The bicycle industry has really pushed the racing image -- smallish frames, high saddles w/ lots of seatpost, and low handlebars. As others mentioned, that's fine if you are young and flexible and racing. It's not a good thing for many riders, including myself. After trying low bars for about 6 months, I had terrible numbness in my hands and a sore neck. Problem solved when I raised my bars back up. I have no doubt that there are a lot of cyclists who are suffering from the effects of too-low handlebars -- numbness, back and neck pain -- and limit their riding because of it.

There is nothing wrong with spacers w/ threadless stems as long as the fork has a steel steerer tube -- other than the remarks you get from cyclists who don't know any better. Unfortunately, to get the full benefit of a carbon fork and threadless stem (that is, lightest weight and most vibration damping), you need a fork with a carbon steerer tube -- which can only handle 1-3 cm of spacers, depending on who you talk to. This, in turn, generally requires the use of a riser stem to get the handlebars up -- and even then you'll probably end up with a 2-3" drop from the saddle height. The way most new bikes are set up now, it is virtually impossible to raise the handlebars to a height even with the saddle to 1" below -- which used to be the recommended standard according to a number of cycling books.

Contrary to what someone mentioned, most bike manufacturers have NOT compensated for the extreme drop problem by using longer head tubes. If anything, it's gotten worse with the advent of internal headsets -- another dubious innovation -- which effectively lower the handlebars another cm or so. I think this is one of the reasons why custom frames are becoming more popular. Take a look at the photos of frames at web sites for Serotta, Steelman and other custom shops -- and many of their frames have extended head tubes to compensate for the drop necessitated by threadless forks/stems.

There are some advantages to threadless. It is much easier to swap out stems, and there is a much greater variety of styles, sizes, rises and reaches available. Most newer threadless stems have removable face caps, which makes changing stems a snap, but you also can get that feature now on many threaded/quill stems.

If I were ordering a custom frame, I would be torn between whether to go threaded or threadless. Although I prefer the look of a nice classic "7" stem, I've grudgingly begun to like the appearance of some riser stems -- particularly when coupled with an extended head tube (to limit the number of spacers) and a straight fork. Ultimately, however, I think I would order a custom with an old-style threaded fork and install one of the newer threaded stems with a removable facecap. The one thing you cannot do with a threaded system is make relatively minor adjustments in handlebar height (unless you want to buy an arsenal of stems, or run spacers above the stem). To me, the real beauty of a threaded stem is the ability to easily move the handlebar up and down, and I also prefer their appearance.
a naive q....mealex
Nov 7, 2002 9:36 AM
I have an '02 Litespeed Arenberg, with a Litespeed carbon fork...........can i use a quill stem on it, without replacing the fork?

(i told you it was a naive question)

p.s. does the arenberg represent a generation of bikes that were designed to be equipped with threaded stems?(i have no idea, but am just asking)

Nov 7, 2002 11:15 AM
You can change from a quill to threadless stem by changing out the fork and headset; I'm not sure if you can go the other way, but don't see why not on the surface of things.
RE: Retrofit?Andy M-S
Nov 7, 2002 12:14 PM
You can go from threadless to threaded IFF you have a 1" steerer on your fork. There are hardly any 1-1/8" threaded headsets and/or stems available.

Assuming you're good to go from the above, changing will require a new fork (if the steerer is cromoly, you might be able to have the original fork threaded, but it's a bad place to take risks), a new headset, and of course, a new stem.

Ah. And if you have an "integrated" headset, you can forget about changing things at all.
'Bout what I figured, thanks. (nm)TrekFurthur
Nov 8, 2002 5:48 AM
best of both worldslaffeaux
Nov 7, 2002 11:25 AM
The best part about threadless stems is the removable face plates that let you swap stems easily. I have the Salsa SUL quill stem, and it gives all of hte advantages of a quill stem, with the addition of a removeable faceplate. I wish more manufacturers made them that way.
thanks for input - final thoughtsandydave
Nov 7, 2002 8:05 PM
Thanks for the above input. Regarding this spacer business, personally, I don't see why 2-3 cm of spacers is a problem. It may not be as elegant as a one piece quill stem, but you would be crazy not to use them if they are needed. Also, I wonder if people (in an effort to eliminate the use of spacers)go with a larger frame that is too large. Can't a larger frame lead to trouble if the horizontal reach becomes too great (stems only come so short)? Which is worse, too much drop, or too much reach? Both cause us old folks (38)to bend over too much.