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determining proper stem length and height?(7 posts)

determining proper stem length and height?Skyeward
Dec 15, 2002 11:15 AM
I'm getting a new stem becuase my current one is deffinitely too long: it's about 130mm. When I ride on the hoods I feel too stretched out, but if I put my hands on the bars right behind the brake hoods, this position feels about right for my arms and back. The difference in position is about 50mm. So I was thinking of getting a 90mm stem, as this seems like the closest I would come to making up the difference. Does this sound right?

I'm also wondering what degree of rise on my new stem I should get to achieve the same height I have now. Right now I have a quill stem: it is extended up 25mm, and is just about level with the ground and top tube. I have a quill adaptor, and want to put a threadless stem on it that will have the same height. The stems I've seen with "80*" or "-17*" rise seem like they would be about right, am I correct?

One more thing. I saw the the Titec Miller road stem on sale for $20, is this stem any good? or should I just go ahead and shell out the cash for a Thomson (found one for $60)? I'm on a tight budget, so any stem that's strong and stiff, regardless of style, is what I'm looking for.

Thanks a bunch,

re: determining proper stem length and height?jtolleson
Dec 15, 2002 11:23 AM
Bike fit is really complicated so none of us can tell what size stem you need. The feeling of reach can also be influenced by flexibility and back strength. Also, if you really need to jump immediately to a 90 stem... does your bike really fit?

That being said, you should consider getting a stem with a little rise (get a 90 or even 100 degree instead of an 83). That will help shorten your reach. You may be able to start with a 10 stem with a little rise and see how it feels. What kind of saddle-to-bar drop do you have?

For a rider on a budget, a stem is no place to drop extra coin (IMO). Some folks talk about big powerful riders feeling "flex" in stems but I've never had that, even with a chromoly Salsa quill stem on one of my old bikes. Since you'll be experimenting, I'd look for a nice sale price and NOT buy via the 'net, in case you need to do a lot of swapping.
re: determining proper stem length and height?SteveS
Dec 15, 2002 12:46 PM
Go to Habanero's website, they have a diagram of stem rise and reach. The more rise a stem has vs. a traditional quill of 73 degrees, the more horizontal extension you lose. The picture is worth a thousand words.
re: determining proper stem length and height?mja
Dec 15, 2002 2:19 PM
How long riding with current setup?

In the first 1200 miles on my current bike, I went from using 110, to 100, back to 110, to 120 (briefly), and finally to 130.

Initially I felt stretched out on the 110. But look where I ended up. (I do ride with a flat back however.)

Don't change by 5 cm. It's too much at once to adapt to.

And have you examined your saddle fore/aft adjustment? Also a factor, but don't adjust saddle to accomodate an improperly sized stem.

Adjustments to bar drop also affect stem length required.

Good luck!
I agree, also steering might feel writchy wt such short stem [nmbent_spoke
Dec 15, 2002 7:42 PM
What should I do then?Skyeward
Dec 16, 2002 12:48 PM
Thanks for all the comments.

I've been riding this bike for about 300 miles. I guess I could stick with it and see if I get used to my current position, but I'm just sort of going on my own intuition: it feels like I need a change. I know 5cm is a big jump, but I can't afford to buy stem after stem trying to find just the right fit. Will most bike shops let you return a stem after you've given it a few miles?

Thanks again,

Professional fittingjtolleson
Dec 16, 2002 1:24 PM
May be worth spending the $50 or so to get a professional fitting. Once you've done that, many good LBSs will "guarantee" their fit by letting you do stem swaps. So, if they put you on 90 degree 11 cm (for example) as proper "fit" but you continue to be uncomfortable, they'll work with you in trying to change.

I know that bike shops here will do that. Good luck.