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Spacers(23 posts)

Jan 10, 2003 3:03 PM
I was perusing the gallery of bikes here at, and I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Anytime a bike had more than 5mm of spacers, posters would freak out and start questioning frame size. At my LBS, the owner is a fit guru, and 20-30mm of spacers is common. Is the stem supposed to rest on the top of the head tube, or is there some bias against spacers that I'm not aware of?
spacers are ugly....C-40
Jan 10, 2003 3:20 PM
I guess you haven't heard of the Stem Police. We watch for every opportunity to criticize spacers.

Seriously, it's smarter to use stem rise rather than a bunch of spacers to raise the bars.

I question frame size by looking at the saddle height above the TT. If a guy has his saddle 19cm above the TT and 2cm of spacers under the stem, a 2cm larger frame would have been wise.
riser stems are uglier than spacers.....nmdesmo
Jan 10, 2003 8:31 PM
Mine's not.Spoke Wrench
Jan 11, 2003 6:12 AM
I have a friend who asked me to cut down his new 1 1/4" carbon fork (fits a Santana tandem). Turned out the carbon steer tube section had just the right diameters to make a spacer for my 1" fork. Presto, I have a single custom carbon spacer that's the perfect height to suit me. I still have a little chunk of it left somewhere.
A surprisingly common fetish. To each his or her own I guess.djg
Jan 11, 2003 10:19 AM
Most forks with carbon steer tubes have some sort of suggested upper bound for the number (that is, distance) of spacers that should be used. The number is likely conservative but it seems to me reasonable to observe it.

On the other hand, there seems to be a strange and passionate focus on the appearance of any spacers at all with some folks. Bike photos appear in the gallery on this board and people seem to fall to pieces if there are 2 cm worth of spacers under the stem. They think it's shockingly ugly--cannot see the bike itself once they see the spacers. Cannot eat, cannot sleep, cannot enjoy life. Presumably such folks avoid pictures of pro bike setups (e.g., of UCI Div. 1 pros) such as appear in Zinn's tour tech coverage for Velo News, and in mags such as Pro Cycling and Cycle Sport--spacers all over the place and on pro bikes to boot. Teribly upsetting.

C-40--I gather you can think of fit reasons why someone would want 2 cm of spacers but not want a 2 cm larger frame size, no?
fit reasons...C-40
Jan 11, 2003 3:13 PM
Selecting a 2cm larger frame would generally increase TT length by 1cm. If a rider needed a stem that was less than a 90mm, that might be decent reason to pick the smaller frame.
There you go, more or less.djg
Jan 12, 2003 7:14 AM
We could quibble over the details. For example, how much extra top tube you get for a given increase in seat tube length varies between manufacturers and, in some cases (as in Colnago) with the particular sized frame that you pick for a baseline. Personally, I ride a Colnago that's a "56" as Ernesto sizes 'em. Moving to a 58 gets me a bit more than an extra cm of top tube, it gets me an extra 1.3-1.5 cm (depends on which chart you consult, although I gather there's a fact of the matter). Changing to another line of bikes I might find that moving up 2 cm gives me an extra 2 cm of top tube--it's not universal, but it's hardly unusual.

What else? Well, if we are wondering about drop to the bars we might be concerned about whether adding 2 cm to the seat tube would actually raise my bars by 2 cm. Looking at the Colnago geometry chart, I notice that the head tube difference between a 56 and a 58 is only 1.6 cm. So to get at least 2 cm more height up front, I need to go to a 59, which starts to sound big. Of course, head tubes generally don't describe a vertical line or even, necessarily, a line parallel to that of the main axis of the seat tube, but they do desribe the axis along which spacers are placed, so there you go. Moving to a 59 I could give up 2 cm (even a little more) worth of spacers. But I'd need a shorter stem, and not just by 1 cm. And, even though I think standover is often over-sold, a 59 gets into the realm where me and my short legs would have to look for that old cup they made me buy for little league. Somewhere in the basement at mom's house, I reckon.
re: SpacersMR_GRUMPY
Jan 10, 2003 6:47 PM
Some people don't mind a pile of spacers, and some do. Back in the stone age, when everybody had quill stems, two inches of quill was normal. Now that threadless is in style, two inches (or three) of big fat spacers draws looks. Frame manufactures could solve the problem by making the head tubes taller, and make the top tube slope up towards the top of the head tube.
Ps. I bought the correct size frame and have a 3mm spacer under the -6 deg. stem.
re: SpacersRoger H
Jan 10, 2003 8:24 PM
Just curious. How much drop do you have from seat to bars? Thanks
I agree. that mimics my latest,...rwbadley
Jan 10, 2003 8:58 PM
I always thought a compact frame looked rather silly. Then I ran into one that has only a mild 6% slope. It also has a headtube extension of 1.75cm. This allows me to run a 5mm spacer and -10 stem and still be 'right there' for a race position.

This bike won't be for century's, but is just right for the fast 30 miler. So far I really like it. I'll keep a more upright position for longer comfy rides, but just getting on this bike makes me feel like going (balls out), and the position is really only about .75cm lower than the comfy bike. I'm keeping the same reach.

It Can Be A Safety Issue Too...Gregory Taylor
Jan 10, 2003 8:05 PM
All-carbon forks can have limitations on the amount of spacers that you can use safely. The carbon steering tube on the Ouzo-Pro, for example, is limited to 1.25 inches of spacers. (That is, if I remember correctly -- it has a limitation, I just can't find the installation instructions to give a reliable specification.)
It Can Be A Safety Issue Too...Fez
Jan 10, 2003 9:13 PM
That translates to about 3 cm of spacers, but I believe it was for the 1 inch steerer model.
Speaking of installations...sn69
Jan 11, 2003 7:00 AM
New Dean?....Ride reports/impressions?

Scott Taylor
Jan 11, 2003 10:59 AM
Hey, way ahead of ya!
Wow, misfire there. Sorry -- here's the messageGregory Taylor
Jan 11, 2003 11:02 AM
I plopped this on the board a while back. In short, I love it. Now that I have even MORE miles on it, I'm convinced that Ti is just a wonder material for a bike. Very comfortable. The Cannondale feels more "racey", but the Dean has the feel that I could ride it aggressively all day. Nicely made too. I'm shopping for a digital camera, so I'll post pics when I score one.

By the way, howya doin?


Gregory Taylor "New Bike - Dean El Diente CTI" 12/26/02 8:24pm
Misfire Part Deux. Here's the link to the discussionGregory Taylor
Jan 11, 2003 11:07 AM
Gregory Taylor "New Bike - Dean El Diente CTI" 12/26/02 8:24pm
Great review Gregsn69
Jan 11, 2003 12:16 PM
That was very well written, and I'm really excited for you. She sounds terrific. Was the Spectrum paint worth that wait? I ask because as I told you, after a similar delay last year with my Culebra, I still marvel at how nice the paint is. Spectrum might be slow, but they do good work.

I also like your choice of mixed Campy parts, "posuer" or not. How do you like them compared to Shimano, particularly the shape and ergonomics of the shifters?

I've been laid up with a sinus infection, but I managed a short ride on Frank (my frankenbike Stumperjumper with skinny tires) last weekend. I'm about to make the tri mod on my Culebra...still waiting for the bars to arrive, but I've got everything else ready to go.

That, in turn, has lead me to the none-too-disappointing realization that I need a new road rig. Dean ti still sounds appealing, but I've got a hankering for steel again. So far, my choices/preferences range from old-school like a DeBernardi Thron to newer, higher tech like a Jericho Blacktop or Serotta Colorado III. Whatever the final choice, I'll go Campy. Gosh, I wish Dean was still making steel (the Ionic "Culebra" is great, but I've got a hang-up with brand loyalty).

Anyhow, thanks for the review. Enjoy the new rig!
The Paint Is BeautifulGregory Taylor
Jan 12, 2003 5:45 AM
Thanks for the compliment!

Spectrum/Dean did a great job on the powdercoating. Yes, it was well worth the wait. The yellow is a nice shade -- bright, but maybe one notch below "canary" yellow. The finish appears to be very tough as well. After a couple of hundred miles on it (and a ride through a snowstorm), it looks as nice as the day that it arrived.

The Record shifters are very sweet, and I have made the transition from Shimano very easily. Ergo-wise, they fit my mitts nicely. The rubber on the hoods is comfortable, and levers feel skinnier width-wise and flatter along the top than the Shimano levers. I find that divvying up the shifting duties between a paddle behind the brake lever and a button on the side of the housing is easier to use than the Shimano two lever set-up. This is especially true when you are wearing full-finger gloves - I often wad up a shift with the Shimano set up when it's cold. With the Campy layout there is no chance that you will whack the wrong lever. The shifting controls are easily accessed from either the tops of the hoods or hammering along in the drops. In fact, I find it easier to shift the Campy stuff when I'm in the drops given the layout of the shifter. As I wrote earlier, the shifing action itself is very mechanical feeling, which I like. The carbon brake levers look feathery, but they have a surprisingly solid feel when you pull them. My only worry is that one day I will do something stupid and break them, but seeing as they have already survived getting hit by a car, my worries may be misplaced.
re: SpacersJosh-at-excelsports
Jan 11, 2003 12:46 AM
Spacers can reflect many aspects of a fit. A person can have a perfect fitting bike and not have the proper flexibility to be on a 12cm 73degree stem. Some people need to have a more upright position. I fit bikes and I generally leave the max steer tube on the bike with a variety of spacer sizes initially, this allows the person to find the perfect position for their bars and later cut the steer.
The Reynolds forks allow about an inch+ of spacers (30mm) for the one inch steer. They allow about an inch and a half to 2 inches for the 1 1/8 steer. There is no danger as long as you stay within the manufactures guidelines. Don't let someone talk you out of it purely based on looks. Ride the bike and make sure you are comfy.
re: Spacersgeeker
Jan 11, 2003 6:21 AM
Agreed. Also, people (like me) with short torsos may need a smaller frame to get the proper top tube length, requiring spacers and/or rise stem to get the bars high enough.
I'm like you...biknben
Jan 11, 2003 7:32 AM
I too am stuck with a short torso. It's not dramatic but I have to account for it when fitting a new bike. I fit a frame based on the top tube length. The saddle ends up a little high and I use a Zepp stem up-side-down. Maybe someday I'll get myself a custom frame. Till then, I'll do what I have to do to get them to fit right.
Riser stems must be acceptable if SEVENLazywriter
Jan 11, 2003 12:05 PM
who is touted as one of the best fit custom bike makrs seems to use them on all the bike they make. Go to their website and you will see that they use riser stems all the time to gt a "perfect fit".
Even a custom frame built to eliminate spacers looks silly in my opinion because of the need to make a disproprtionately taller headtube. Use the spacers and a riser stem as needed. IT DOESN'T MEAN YOUR BIKE IS NOT A PERFECT FIT IF YOU DO SO. If that is the case, why does Seven use them on their custom frames?
re: Spacers Add Versatility....jrm
Jan 11, 2003 3:57 PM
I'm using a 0 degree stem and drop the bars for the road and commuting and raise um for dirt. Works for me....