1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Sore neck, upper shoulders and hands - Stem length/rise?

    I am not new to MTB'ing, but have picked up my intensity level over the past 2 years - including more races. I ride in the Southeast and while my local track doesn't have much elevation changes, I do travel a decent bit to other locations that have climbs/descents.

    To my problem - as I've upped the intensity and riding time, I've noticed that I have upper shoulder and neck pain and my hands hurt / go numb - on every ride. After a while it feels like I have to focus on lifting my head up. For stats: I'm a little over 6'2" with long legs/arms and short torso. I am riding a Trek HiFi Pro size XL. The stem is a 105mm 7 degree and the bars are Bontragers Big Sweep. I have purchased but not installed yet a low rise Easton XC70 carbon bar (less sweep and not as wide) and an Easton Haven 85mm 0 degree stem. I have a feeling that this stem may be a little low - I think I need a 10 degree rise, but not sure if I need a 80mm or 90mm length. Any suggestions on length to try or any other adjustment? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    I have been rding 22 years and my neck still gets sore, its just not a natural position to be in for hours. I do get more used to it as the summer progrsses but it still bothers me from time to time. I get back and neck massages all summer to help with it and it works.
    For the hands I use the ergo grips, no more sleepy hands, works like a charm. I use them on my road MTB for long road rides I do for charity and 3 hour rides on the road no sleepy hands. I am 6' with short legs and a long torso and I use a 10 degree rise and 90 mm stem with riser bars.What works for me might not work for you, its a tough call and very costly to try different setups as the parts are not cheap. Good luck, advil helps before a ride as well

  3. #3
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    It seems to me that stem selection is a black art. I am 5' 10" or 5' 11" and have a Trek 17.5" frame with the stock handlebars shortened 1" on each end, and stock 90mm 6-degree stem. I felt too stretched out. My hands were getting numb and I felt the need to push back and often rested my hands on the bars just below my fingers, not on the palms.

    They say just to experiment, so I lowered my handlebars. That made it worse. So the LBS lent me an 80mm 17-degree stem. It felt too high, so I moved it down 10 mm and voila! I can ride longer and am about .5 mph faster on average. I just feel more confident on the rough stuff and especially the corners.

    My son's bike has identical geometry and handlebar/stem. He is about 2" shorter, but felt he needed a longer stem. He tried lowering the handlebars, and it helped. The LBS lent him a 100 and 110mm stem, 6-degrees. He went with the 110. Don't figure.

    Anyway, play with the handlebar height. In our limited experience, if raising it helps, go with a shorter stem. If lowering helps, go with a longer stem. BUT, if you have a relationship with a LBS, just ask if you can borrow some stems. He probably has a box full of them. You might end up paying a little more for the stem than getting it off eBAY, but the service is worth a lot.

    Another option is to get a cheap adjustable stem purely as a testing tool. The angle is adjustable, but the length is not. However, you can simulate shorter stem by increasing the angle and lowering handlebars. So get a $5 set of carbon-fiber spacers off eBay that allow 5mm adjustment. When you find a setup that works, you can do some high-school trig to figure out a length and angle that will be equivalent for a standard stem. And keep the spacers, they are a little lighter than aluminum.

    And if money is no option!:
    Purely Custom Online Store - Bicycle Sizing Stem - Custom Bicycle Accessories and Fitting Tools

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