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The Final Cut(11 posts)

The Final Cutdaniell
Aug 22, 2003 4:20 AM
I am ready to make the final cut on my steerer tube. I have about 1 inch of spacers above the stem. I know that after drawing the line, I must cut 3mm below that point. This is my question. Should I scribe the line with tension on the stem?

The whole idea behind stacking everything up and then cuttingbill
Aug 22, 2003 7:45 AM
2-3 mm below that point is so that, when you do tighten down the stem and, therefore, the headset bearings, there is some room for the top cap to come down and do just that. So, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by putting tension on the stem, particularly since I don't understand how you could tighten the top cap and scribe a line at the same time, but the answer probably is no. Stack it up, draw a line, subtract 2-3 mm (which is about the width of the cut, anyway, so that you aren't really subtracting anything), and cut.
did this for the first time last weekend...JS Haiku Shop
Aug 22, 2003 7:49 AM
remember, if you cut off too little, you can still take off more later. if you cut off too much, you're f@#$ed.
Aug 22, 2003 12:29 PM
If you've got some spacers on top the stem, tighten the top cap like normal, tighten the stem clamp bolts, then remove the top cap and top spacers, then scribe the line. Then you can remove the stem and cut the steering tube.
why would you do that? If you start out with an uncut steerer,bill
Aug 22, 2003 12:37 PM
you need to pile inches of spacers on top, which you may or may not have lying around, just to squeeze the thing down like, like, how much? -- like, not much. I'll bet the difference between a loose headset and a tight headset is less than a mm. Your margin for error in cutting the damn thing is way more than that.
Aug 23, 2003 4:38 AM
Usually the "final cut" is made after the "first cut", where the steerer was cut long, allowing room for adjustment during the first few weeks of riding. It's a very common thing for beginners to do.

Experienced guys like me know the bar height that we want and cut to final length the first time.
yeah, but, why would you do that? why do the bearings needbill
Aug 23, 2003 8:53 AM
the load? I don't see any reason for it. It will work, but it's an extra step whose purpose escapes me.
I've cut three steerers, which maybe doesn't qualify me as "experienced," but I haven't yet looked back and said, gosh, why didn't I do it that other way.
Aug 22, 2003 12:38 PM
Just a clarification. If I already have the tension on the stem, there will be no reason to subtract 3mm. Another thing. Will I be able to reuse the star fangled nut?

Aug 23, 2003 4:44 AM
You better go to and read up on basic mechanics.

There must be some significant clearance between the top of the steering tube and the top cap to insure that the top cap presses on the top of the stem, not the steering tube, otherwise, there will be to way to eliminate the lay in the bearings.

The other method to accomplish this is to leave the steering tube 2-3mm taller than the stem and place a 5mm spacer under the top cap to provide the gap.

If you have a "star fangled nut" you must have a steel or aluminum steerer. It can be driven deeper into the steering tube. Once again, go to and read before you ruin something expensive.
I still don't understand. . .MisJG
Aug 23, 2003 8:25 AM
how this set up is better than the old quill stems. Once a steerer tube is cut, that's it. If you need to raise the bars for any reason (say, as you get older. something we're all doing), what do you do? Buy a different stem at best or buy a whole new fork at worst! And what if you do cut it just a little too short? More money or discomfort, whichever you choose. This is all a way for manufacturers to get even MORE money out of us in an already expensive sport/hobby/passtime/whatever. I have never had a problem with the quill stem design and dread the day I need/want to buy a new bike 'cause all I see anymore is the "ahead set" style fork-stem set-up. If something works, why fix it (with a more expensive solution)?! Can someone please educate me?
I still don't understand. . .Welshboy
Aug 24, 2003 12:12 PM
I fully understand what you're saying about adjusting your quill stem up and down but when an Ahead set-up is at the correct height it really is hard to beat. I'm sure you'll agree that it's much easier to carry a 5mm allen key than two headset spanners.