Stem length and handling effects
I've usually ended up with 90mm stems on my bikes when fitted properly. However, I had one 29er HT that I liked best with 65mm stem, but the frame was too big for me so I sold it (bought it cheap off CL to try the 29er thing.) I test rode a 2008 Redline D660 the other day and really liked it! Not sure about the setup/fit though....the stock stem is 120mm and flatbar....but it was very comfy and handled great.
What is the pros and cons of this longer stem length on offroad handling?
Get off the couch and ride!
Ive always preferred a shorter stem for quicker steering, and handling, Although like my seat position for driving i like a cramped cockpit. Whilst im 5'11 i opt for a med frame also. So i guess it's down to your style, but for sure, a longer stem will give you a more relaxed steering response, which i dont like at all.
Short stem = quicker steering but can be twitchy, better for decending.
Long stem = slower steering but more stable, better for climbing.
Narrow Bars = quicker steering but more twitchy, easier climbing + less control on descents.
Wide bars = slower steering but more stable, harder cliimbing + more control on descents.
Long stem + Narrow bars..
Slower but stable steering is counteracted by the quicker steering of narrow bars.
Giving more economical climbing at the expense of less control descending.
Short Stem + Narrow Bars...
Long Stem Wide Bars...
Super slow steering.
For XC the longer stem/narrow bars is beneficial because it helps with climbing.
DH/FR/AM a shorter stem + wide bars offer downhill stability and better riding position.
If a longer stem is used as a compromise for an improper fit you can expect lots of endover's,chin busters and face plants.Why do i know this?
On a properly fit frame you can gain leverage for climbing,alleviate twitching steering and ride more stretched out if so desired.
I personally don't care for a cramped cockpit and have always chosen bikes with low BB's and longer stems.Both of my XC bikes have 110 mm stems as 120 seems a little old school and excessive for me.
I guess by todays standard 110 is long.
Is quick steering and twitchy better for climbing or descending? You seem to contradict yourself.
Originally Posted by Norcoshore1
short stem will be twitchy and better on descents. narrow bars are twitchier than wide bars but are better at climbing than a wide bar ie an xc bike has a narrow handle bar but its twitchy steering is counteracted by its long tem
They can also infulence grip at the front wheel and tracking while climbing. If the bike wants to flip over backwards when you climbing in the saddle and tends to push in faster corners a longer stem can help. I tend to like pretty short stems (generally no longer than 90mm) with wide bars, but I bias my setups towards descending.
For me, it comes down to how much weight do you want over the front wheel? I run 50mm stems for any bike that touches dirt. The descending, jumping, and technical riding traits are far superior with a short stem, and you get used to the climbing. With that being said I also fit my bikes for how they feel when riding aggressively, not for how they feel during seated pedalling over a long duration. When I get on a bike with a 120mm stem, I flail. I just can't ride the same on a setup like that anymore.
I'm not saying either is better for an individual, you have to see what fits your style. The stem makes a huge difference in feel, and you really need to experience it for yourself to understand.
I have a 130mm and it's not because the bike is too small. It's purposed for my swept back handlebars. I suppose, in the end, it 'nets' a shorter stem length when the 'grip' setback is accounted for.
My concern was strictly ergonomic to eliminate wrist pain with it. It's odd to be sure.