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Thread: Stem Rise

  1. #1
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    New question here. Stem Rise

    I road today on some twisty singletrack and I intend to do that more to work on bike handling skills. I find that Im pretty proficient at climbing through the corners, but not so much descending. It feels like I have too much weight forward, even if I am behind the saddle.

    The stock stem on my bike is 90mm, but I cant find the rise stamped on it. It puts me in a comfortable, aggressive position for riding, but it can be unstable at times.

    I was wondering if slightly more rise would give me more of a "slacker" position on my bike, which would improve handling.

  2. #2
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    do you have any spacers over your stem?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

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    Nope, but I did find where it is 10 degrees rise..

  4. #4
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    You can get steeper rise stems if you look around, but you might also want to consider increasing the rise of your handlebar. If you're riding a flat bar, look at a low-rise, and if you already have a low-rise, consider a high-rise.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air
    You can get steeper rise stems if you look around, but you might also want to consider increasing the rise of your handlebar. If you're riding a flat bar, look at a low-rise, and if you already have a low-rise, consider a high-rise.
    So, in your opinion, which would be more beneficial? More rise in my bars ( I think theyre 6* bend) or more rise in my stem?

    And, I know this is more abstract, how much is too much? I ride XC trail..

  6. #6
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    Hardtail or full-suspension? Can you post a picture?

    For people with long legs and a short torso, a high saddle and a lot of rise in the handlebar are necessary to make the bike fit. For other people, a lot of rise might put them in a BMX/downhill kind of a position.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Its a hardtail. I forgot to mention, too, on this trail, I dropped my set ~1 inch from the typical XC height to lower my center of gravity.

    I have a longer torso and short legs. The reach is great. The position is good. Im just seeking more stability. Im not aiming for DH positioning..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnthomps08
    So, in your opinion, which would be more beneficial? More rise in my bars ( I think theyre 6* bend) or more rise in my stem?

    And, I know this is more abstract, how much is too much? I ride XC trail..
    Well, I couldn't really say. I've read people who said there's a difference, but I don't remember what it was or if it even matters. I suggest you try a few things until you like the way it rides and feels. And that's also the answer for your second question.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

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    Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air
    Well, I couldn't really say. I've read people who said there's a difference, but I don't remember what it was or if it even matters. I suggest you try a few things until you like the way it rides and feels. And that's also the answer for your second question.
    I am looking at Easton bars.. the EA50 riser and the EA70 riser to be exact. My Fisher came with Bontrager bars with 25mm rise. Easton mid-rise is 30mm and high-rise is 40mm.

    To me, it seems like 5mm wont make much of a difference and 15mm would be a bit much. I can get either of these bars for about the same price as a stem ($30 and $40, respectively).

    If I was to hazard a guess, I would say the high-rise would be the way to go. Right?

  10. #10
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    go to your LBS and use one of their adjustable stems to get the right fit/feel and go from there.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    go to your LBS and use one of their adjustable stems to get the right fit/feel and go from there.
    Well, h3ll. That makes things a lot easier..

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    So, I talked to my lbs and they suggested just moving the whole cockpit back. I slid my seat back on the rails and they said to try a 60mm stem in place of the 90mm that I have now.

    I havent tried it out yet, but will this accomplish the same thing? Not that I dont trust them, I just dont want to pay $80 for a stem..

  13. #13
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    Don't pay $80 for a stem. Even the expensive shop near me had one for $35, and they're all over the 'net for less than $20. Shops also shuffle stems around routinely to get bikes to fit their customers, so they often have a few that came off new bikes and that they're selling cheap.

    A shorter stem can potentially mean you bang your knees into your handlebar on a climb. But you'd have to have a pretty short cockpit already to run into that problem. It's a much easier swap than handlebars, because you don't have to strip anything to do it. I'd generally start by trying a few stems before I went out and bought different handlebars (and had to start shuffling stems all over again anyway.)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I'm resurrecting this thread in hopes for similar help. I have long legs and a shorter torso. When driving, I usually move the seat all the way back and the steering wheel usually feels far away, so I buy cars with telescoping steering wheels.

    I know the frame size is correct for my height. But even with a riser bar, I feel excessive "weight" on my arms and hands and lower back strain. I would rather avoid LBS for now for convenience purposes.

    My saddle is set high to allow leg extension. I want to try a shorter/higher rise stem, presuming that is what might help address the issue (knowing the side-effects of steeting feel, etc). I have already shifted my saddle forward. I mostly ride trails and XC stuff, nothing major up/down.

    I came across this useful tool:
    http://alex.phred.org/stemchart/Default.aspx

    Questions:

    1) Knowing that both matter, does the rise or length play a greater factor to my problem? In other words, if I must prioritize between rise or length, which should I pick?

    1a) In terms of reach (not steering feel) and feel, what does a elevated stem feel like? What does a shorter stem feel like?

    2) What typically causes that heaviness feel on the hands/handlebar? I also have that "over reach" feeling.

    3) Are there general guidelines for distances between saddle and handle bar and other dimensions based on a person's measurement?

    Many thanks!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by snovvman
    I know the frame size is correct for my height. But even with a riser bar, I feel excessive "weight" on my arms and hands and lower back strain. I would rather avoid LBS for now for convenience purposes.

    My saddle is set high to allow leg extension. I want to try a shorter/higher rise stem, presuming that is what might help address the issue (knowing the side-effects of steeting feel, etc). I have already shifted my saddle forward. I mostly ride trails and XC stuff, nothing major up/down.
    If your frame size really is correct, your horizontal reach from saddle-bars should be pretty close to correct already and you should be able to address this by getting your grips higher, either with a higher-angle stem or with riser bars.

    How did you size your frame?

    In answer to your other questions...

    1) depends
    2) weight on the hands, and over reaching
    3) Yes, but they're not very useful

    Flippancy aside, this is a very subjective adjustment you're asking about, and I think it really has to be done by feel. That being said, most people find that having the grips and saddle roughly level is usually good. So if your grips are a lot lower, I'd start there. Flip your stem, put it on top of the spacer stack, buy a higher-angle stem, buy riser bars, etc. Do it in whatever order is easiest and cheapest. Your LBS is likely to have a bin full of cheap stems. If you don't want to spend a lot of extra money on this project, you need to get over avoiding your LBS - this is one of the areas that they're really best at. I guess you could also buy several stems online and return the ones you don't like.

    If your grips and saddle are already level, start with shorter stems.

    If you bought the bike based on comparing your inseam size to a chart, it's probably wrong. If you bought it based on your height and a chart, it's a little bit less likely to be wrong, but still likely wrong. If you rode a bunch of bikes and bought the one that felt the best, you can probably get it to work.

    Pics of the bike and you on the bike are also helpful. Trying to size someone on the internet based on even a very specific verbal description of the problem is a lot like trying to guess a length measurement of something described as being purple.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Thank you AndrwSwitch. I do understand that this matter contains much subjectivity.

    The stem is currently flipped on the "up" slope and on top of all the spacers. I sized the frame based on Giant's sizing guide for the specific bike. With my height, it is well within the recommended range. Still, I know there is much variation to this.

    I may buy a few stems to try and sell the one's I don't keep.

    Doesn't your statement: "If your grips and saddle are already level, start with shorter stems." result in a lower handle bar position, presuming it is the same rise? I am thinking that I will need to compensate the shorter stem with a steeper angel?

    I attached two pictures. The saddle is currently about 1/2" lower than I normally ride. Looking at the bike from the side, the handle bar seems about 1" lower than the saddle. The stem is 100mm with a 6-degree rise. I'm thinking about going with a 80mm with a 17 or 20 degree rise.

    I'd apprecaite any additional input.

    Cheers.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Stem Rise-2010-06-13-14.20.35a.jpg  

    Stem Rise-2010-06-13-14.20.59.jpg  


  17. #17
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    Find a shop that has an adjustable stem , then play around with it until you find the length and rise that works well for you .

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by snovvman
    The stem is currently flipped on the "up" slope and on top of all the spacers. I sized the frame based on Giant's sizing guide for the specific bike. With my height, it is well within the recommended range. Still, I know there is much variation to this.

    I may buy a few stems to try and sell the one's I don't keep.

    Doesn't your statement: "If your grips and saddle are already level, start with shorter stems." result in a lower handle bar position, presuming it is the same rise? I am thinking that I will need to compensate the shorter stem with a steeper angel?

    I attached two pictures. The saddle is currently about 1/2" lower than I normally ride. Looking at the bike from the side, the handle bar seems about 1" lower than the saddle. The stem is 100mm with a 6-degree rise. I'm thinking about going with a 80mm with a 17 or 20 degree rise.
    The sizing guides companies publish are based on an average set of proportions for a person of a given height. If you're an outlier - like long legs and a short torso - the guide is much less likely to yield a useful result. At worst, a person could end up with a bike with too long a top tube, which it sounds like you have, and too short a head tube, which it looks like you have too. If your inseam was 1.5" longer than average, for example, your torso would be 1.5" shorter and chances are you'd have shorter arms too. So the top tube length of the bike recommended based on height would be wrong.

    Getting a shorter stem will increase the saddle-bars drop. It's not by much, though. If your bike has a 70 degree head angle and the stem is +6 degrees, that makes the stem rise at an angle of 14 degrees above the horizontal. Going 10mm shorter will reduce the reach by 10*cos(14) and the height by 10*sin(14). So in reality, the reach becomes 9.7mm shorter and the drop becomes 2.4mm greater - within the range of variation between different brands of stem. Of course, ideally, you'd have an uncut steer tube, but c'est la vie...

    Anyway, buy a bunch of stems and experiment, or go with AZ.MTNS' suggestion.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS
    Find a shop that has an adjustable stem , then play around with it until you find the length and rise that works well for you .
    These are awesome.

    Just don't adjust the saddle to help you feel comfortable in the cockpit. Too many people make this mistake. Saddle position is set for pedaling efficiency unless you're the .1% that race DH. If a stem can't make you comfortable on the bike, you have the wrong bike. That's why it is so important to test ride bike before you buy them.
    Quote Originally Posted by rkj__
    "It's amazing how people can make bicycle riding seem so complicated on the internet."

  20. #20
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    Thank you for your suggestions. Between your help and these sites:

    http://www.habcycles.com/fitting.html

    http://alex.phred.org/stemchart/Default.aspx

    I am able to visualize my current stem position, reach, and rise. I am also able to project the geometry of a shorter and/or higher rise stem. With a selection of riser stem lengths and angles of 30 or 35 degrees, I am looking for some general guidance.

    Realizing that the best response is "it depends", I am simply looking for some generatlizations that may help me to start somewhere. I'm hoping the pictures above will allow you to better judge what might work for me.

    With the plan to locate the handle bar closer and higher to me to in order reduce the "heavy" and "reach" feeling in my arms/hands, should I prioritize on the x or y axis? That is, should I get a stem that gives more rise than closeness, or more closing distance rather than rise?

    Thanks again.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    if your grips are a lot lower, I'd start there.


    EDIT: I guess in the picture, your grips don't look that much lower. But you said you took it with the saddle dropped some, and that the saddle-bar drop was usually 1 1/2", which would be a lot on one of my bikes.

    Getting a +30 or +35degree stem will be a huge change. In your shoes, I think I'd try a +17 first, unless I also had a flat bar kicking around that I could use to un-raise my grips if the +35 stem overdid it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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