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SHorter stem or bend more

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:54 am
by gururug
Hi all,

I think I need a shorter stem. Currently I have a stock 90mm but find that while riding I always have straight arms. Seems more comfortable when I put my palms on the back of the tops. Also, I find that I keep sliding forward on my seat about 2-3cm.

I am a fairly new rider and probably don't bend my back enough. Seat adjustment is about right.

Should I wait until I develop more technique (bend more) or just get the damn stem?

I think I need a 60mm but remember reading somewhere to go one cm longer than you think you need.

Also whats the deal with 5degree and 10degree stems, this one seems good; ... 198&page=1

I am guessing I will lose a bit of steering control and weight centering.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:11 am
by europa
Tell us more about your bike first - a photo'd be good, a photo with you on it even better.

Another thing to consider before buying new stems is the seat fore and aft position. The tradition is KOPS, Knee over Pedal Spindle, when the cranks are horizontal, though this has been challenged in recent year. You get your seat right first (height, then drop a plumb bob from the bone beneath the knee cap with the pedals horizontal), THEN fiddle with the reach, you don't use seat adjustment to adjust your reach, however, if the seat is too far back now, it might be exagerating the reach issue.

The 5 and 10 degree stems refers to the angle of the stem - the greater the number, the higher the bars will be.


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:08 am
by tuco
I had the same problem although I had already gone through the seat adjusting routine. I forked out the cash for 65mm stem and it made all the difference. I actually felt I had more steering control with the shorter stem as well.

After paying $1 per mm for the stem I found out the cycling club (of which I'm a member) had an array of spare stems. If I had of know I could have just done a swap. Do you have a club nearby? Our club is very good and will happily set up a bike correctly. One more option for you to look into.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:24 pm
by LuckyPierre
Another thing - because of its angle, a stem can be reversed to give an 'up' or 'down' position. Check which way your stem is. You might be able to bring the bars up (and sit a bit more upright) by reversing it. Remember, a shorter stem will have a much more direct effect.
A photo of you on your bike will help focus our comments - it might be that the best thing is stretching / exercise to give you some more flexibility!

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:34 pm
by gururug
In baulkham hills so I think the nearest club is penrith r parra. Any others? More of a solitary rider, bit hesitant to fork out $1xx to join a club now but considering it in the future.

I have done the plumb bob thingy and i'm pretty sure my seat fore/aft is about right.

Here's some pic's tell me what you think.




Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:42 pm
by tuco
Who was that masked rider?

I love the shadow effect.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:45 pm
by europa
Just looking at that, you can raise your handlebars on the steering tube - it looks like you've got an inch or so of tube sticking above the stem. Is that so? If so, try shifting the bars up (it's just a matter of unbolting it and swapping spacers around) then see how you feel.

I wouldn't have thought you were too stretched out, but ...


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:02 pm
by gururug
You are correct richard. THere were three spacers and i dropped it two when new. I will try putting it up two (back to normal) approx 1.6 cm an see. I also allready reversed the stem downward. so a can point it up again for more height.

So I guess when I develop flexibility these can be lowered slightly? Who would have thought, maybe we need a topic area "online bike sizing", many opinions are better than one right!


Heres a pic with the bars up two spacers, arms feel better but am somewhat upright. Maybe I need a shorter stem after all??? :?


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:52 pm
by tuco
Something I noticed on one of the early photos. The handle bars are sloping down. Mine were like that when new so I angled them up. It also helped because my hands were pushing down into the levers, causing pain, angling them slightly up stopped that problem plus I wasn't bending over as far.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:53 pm
by Bnej
You can put a bit of a bend in your arms and you'll get more aerodynamic.

Uprightness and slowness, versus bentness and uncomfortableness, is a compromise. If you're going a long way you probably don't want so much weight on your arms, and you'll want higher handles, so a more upright position is ok.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:11 pm
by LuckyPierre
tuco wrote:Something I noticed on one of the early photos. The handle bars are sloping down. Mine were like that when new so I angled them up. It also helped because my hands were pushing down into the levers, causing pain, angling them slightly up stopped that problem plus I wasn't bending over as far.

I was going to say this! :cry:
Just rotate the bars in the headstem a bit, it makes quite a bit of difference.
Sorry, but I think that your position looks pretty right.
Edited to add
You can also move the shifters on the handle bars - in your case back towards you. It means removing the bar tape, so you might be up for new tape.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:24 pm
by gururug
Thanks for all the help (saved me $80 and a few months of stuffing around). Rotated bars up and defiantly makes arm/shoulder area strain a little less.

Will go for a fang tonight with this new setup and see how it goes.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:45 pm
by europa
One thing you can guarantee is that it won't feel the same on the road as on the stand - one of the many set ups I tried on the Black Beast was great on the stand and torture on the road. It took me about 500km to get the Black Beast right ... and she was pretty much right to start with. But as you ride more, get stronger and more flexible, become more used to that bike, you may find you want to change things a little. The length of the ride matters too - I was chasing things that started to bother only after half an hour or more in the saddle when I'd properly warmed up.

You may even find that in a few hundred kms, you'll be able to lower the bars again too.


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:00 pm
by sogood
Looks pretty good to me. The fore-aft position of the saddle looked close wrt the knee/pedal. But it's hard to tell about the saddle height. I think you just need to get used to the stretch and get your body more flexible. As for sliding off the saddle, make sure it's horizontal at the top. Maybe there's some room to bring the saddle forward just by a tad.

One more thing, shortening the stem below 90mm can adversely affect the handling of the bike. i would be very reluctant to suggest further shortening if you are serious about your cycling.

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:12 am
by gururug
All right, arms are definaltely more comfy with the bar up.

Seat is as forward as I can get it but still end up 1-3 cm forward on it. Will wait to see if I get more flexibility.

Now I am thinking I need a shorter crank.

How can a small bike (46-48 cm's) use a stock (700?) crank. Surely someone short enough to need a bike this size would have shorter legs that require a shorter crank.

Can anyone tell me the sure signs that my crank length is too long?

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:27 am
by sogood
Sounds like you should pay someone to get yourself properly fitted. Before you do, check out this fit calculator and compare with your existing setup. ... ATOR_INTRO

As for crank length, there's no specific formula that's universally recognized. But yes, if you are short, 165 may work better for you.