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Since everything about fit...What is the ideal stem length?(11 posts)

Since everything about fit...What is the ideal stem length?Swat Dawg
Nov 22, 2002 11:11 AM
I did a search in the achvie but I didn't see anything about stem length and the pluses, minuses of going longer or shorter. I know a lot of it depend on top Tube length, but if you have the correct top tube length, how long should your stem then be. I am 5'9" and ride a 56 cm Trek 2300 with a short 90 cm stem. Is this compromising handling? When I look to get a knew bike (if it is a trek) should I look at getting a 54 cm instead and adding a longer stem? Thanks for the replies.
re: Since everything about fit...What is the ideal stem length?Spunout
Nov 22, 2002 11:17 AM
There is no ideal length. It is all about fit.

That said, the ideal length is 130mm.

Okay, okay. It should be long to allow for stable handling, a quirk of the machine. Look at Merckx's 'Century' geometry, Colnagos, etc. with their short top tubes asking for a long stem. Loon at Cipo's stem on the cover of the new Cycle Sport mag. Then again, he's tall and lanky and can use what looks like 150mm stems.

Current American framebuilder's fashion is to have long top tubes. Thus, shorter stems are in more demand, or fit better.
the one that fits youPaulCL
Nov 22, 2002 11:22 AM
At 6'1", I ride a 58cm colnago with a 140mm stem. Its fits me find, but my 'long' stem offends some of the stem police out there.

Seriously, buy the frame that fits, then fit the stem to your body. Another big plus for threaded over threadless stems....IMHO.....
..I like long stems. Had a Colnago with 130, now Lemond 110 nmSpunout
Nov 22, 2002 11:27 AM
re: Since everything about fit...What is the ideal stem length?Fredrico
Nov 22, 2002 1:08 PM
A long stem will provide a longer steering lever. The handlebars pivot furthur out in front, help keep the front wheel firmly on the ground, especially if you push down. Long stems also add a bit of shock absorbtion along their length.

The shorter the stem, the less you have to move the bars, the more sensitive the steering. Short stems also transmit shocks from the headset a bit more harshly to the hands.

Nonetheless, a bike with a long top tube will soak up road vibrations better than one with a short top tube, add greater stability by putting the steering axis out in front of the rider's fore-aft center of gravity. The rider can get used to the handlebars being slightly closer-in to the steering axis, because you really steer with body weight anyway.

The main thing is to be comfortable in the cockpit, with enough room to stretch, get down in the drops, and modulate upper body weight between the front and rear wheels. Bikes with short top tubes and long stems put too much weight over the front wheel, making handling squirrelly over bumps. Also you get "toe-clip overlap." Your toes hit the wheel in a track stand or panic maneuver.

Ciao,
Fredrico
There's a new issue of Cycle Sport out?!?!?!?JaeP
Nov 23, 2002 1:15 PM
Cipo's on the cover? I gotta go to the book store. Where's my car keys. :)
Not to complicate things more, but...Dave Hickey
Nov 22, 2002 11:21 AM
Just looking at stem length and top tube, your forgetting handlebar reach. Different bars have different reach. Reach can vary by 1-2cm on some bars. I just go with what's comfortable. If you're comfortable on a 90mm stem, than stay with it. A smaller frame usually means either more spacers or your handlebar drop is greater.

Ignore the experts and go with what's comfortable.
Eddy M saysMcAndrus
Nov 23, 2002 5:51 AM
I read once where Eddy Merckx said the best stem length was 110mm. If the rider needed a 110mm stem then the frame was correctly sized.

That said, I don't ride like Eddy and I doubt any of us do so I go with what's comfortable. I've used as short at 100mm and as long as 130mm. Both of my current rides have 110 stems so I guess Eddy would approve.
how is the lenght measured?NC_Jim
Nov 23, 2002 7:50 AM
I bought my bike off the floor with no parts being replaced. How can I determine the lenght of my quill stem?
C to CKerry
Nov 23, 2002 12:44 PM
From the center of the stem to the center of the handlebars.
Let comfort be your guiderdbkr
Nov 24, 2002 12:30 AM
That being said, I've read that, in general, longer stems are used on larger frames, and shorter stems for smaller frames. In other words, you shouldn't have to put a 14cm stem on a 48cm frame, or a 9cm stem on a 62cm frame.

One fitter says to drop a plumb line from the leading edge of the handlebar drops, and it should intersect the front hub axle.

The goal (besides comfort) is to have proper weight distribution and even handling. You may want to test ride the 54cm to see if those things improve without compromising your comfort.