Handle Bar Stems
Question from a new rider...
I have a 2012 Rockhopper and have been thinking of changing the handle bar stem to a shorter stem, what are your thoughts on shorter stems vs. longer stems?
An 80mm stem gives me more controllable steering. it helped take a little weight off the front wheel on downhills. I also changed to wider low riser bars so it helps with balance and reach.
So many variables
Tough to offer advice on stem length because of other variables, the two most notable being fit and ergonomic preferences. Top tube length and stem length need to be considered together, and then one's body configuration trumps anything anyone else might say. By ergonomic preferences I mean riding style plus good ol' personal choice. DHers & AMers prefer relatively short stems and high, wide bars compared to "norm" whereas XC racers tend the other way, preferring comparatively low, narrow bars and maybe even longer stems.
Originally Posted by djataxic
So it's hard to make suggestions but you asked for thoughts so I'll offer mine as they've recently changed.
A few months ago I bought a Kona Honzo which is somewhat of an AM-ish hardtail. It came with 30" wide bars and a very short (compared to what I was used to) stem. But the TT is long enough to leave the cockpit length in the ball park. Long story short I've become a convert; I love the ultra-wide bars and short stem on fast, epic descents. Of course the slack HA and long travel fork work well for this too, but the wider bar and shorter stem afford a lot of steering leverage and make the bike feel very controlable.
Others may not like it as much... which is fine... I'm just sayin'... YMMV.
Does your bike fit you now? If it does, switching to a shorter stem will mess that up. But if you're considering switching to a shorter stem because your current stem makes you feel too stretched out, then I'm betting you'll like the new handling characteristics once you get used to them.
P.S. Suggest you experiment with a cheap stem (like Dimension brand -- $30ish) before dropping serious coin on a fancy stem if you're not sure about fit & handling. Maybe ask your LBS for their input, too.
Most modern MTB geometry calls for a 50-90mm (90mm being only for the hugest dudes) stem depending on frame / rider size. For me, being a 5'10" dude on a 17-18" frame, My happy stem is a 70mm. 60mm was cool for a while but I found that climbing was much more efficient with a slightly longer cockpit and I didn't sacrifice much handling. However I am riding an older XC bike (Gary Fisher Generation 1 geometry) and the angles are considerably different than modern MTBs.
If I could have it my way, it would be a 50mm stem, wide freakin bars and a slack head tube.
I'm 5'7" and I'm running a 100mm stem w/ 27" wide bars. Great combo for me because I like the reach. Adds a lot of stability to my bike and just feels right. It kills uphill stuff but still great on decents. It really is a matter of the top tube length and personal preference. Some experimenting maybe needed to find what works for you.
I'm thinking about shreddin' it up right now!
Giant Glory DH (custom)
K2 Evo 4.0 FS XC (custom)
I'm 6'0 ( I think lol ) I ride a large frame with a 80mm stem. No issues
Originally Posted by dubthang
If the stem and bar combo you have now is comfortable, you might find that you have to go wider with the bars in order to shorten the stem. That's probably not true for everybody, but at 39, my window of comfort is small, especially past the 2 hour mark.