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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Sep 2009

    Question on stem height

    Hey guys I run a 160 fork with a 50mm stem. I have about an inch of spacers underneath my stem.

    Was curious as to what would happen if I reduce the spacers under the stem? In terms of climbing, descending and steering? I know I can test it myself but just curious as to everyone else's opinion.

    And when you say zero stack height is that what is meant when there are no spacers under the stem?

    What setup does everyone run?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Calhoun's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Zero stack is usually a reference to the headset type.
    Park Tool Co. » ParkTool Blog » Headset Standards
    "Mi amor Nuevo Miércoles!"

    -cabra cadabra

  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    Apr 2013
    Hey there , I've had my Chilcotin for ten months now and had the same dilemma as to what height space stack under the stem I should set, started off with the full one inch and struggled to begin with on the steep short tech climbs, moved it down three spacers and it transformed the whole forward position when needed to tackle such occasions. I've since compromised and now ride full time with the two spacers and it works just great for me , hope you find that sweet spot.

  4. #4
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    Reputation: GTscoob's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    In terms of climbing - you'll lower your center of gravity and push it farther forward - better to keep weight on the front wheel and keep the front end planted on climbs

    Descending - you'll have more weight over the front end - might be a little harder to get over the back end since your effective reach has increased but the increase is less than the overall drop in height so it's almost negligible.

    Cornering - you'll have more weight over the front end - front tire will bite harder, might be a little easier to roost the back tire since you'll have less weight on it. Get ready for some rad in-control drifts.

    In general you want your bars as low as comfortable. Too low and your hands might go numb, lower back might get sore. Descending can also get sketchy on too low of a bar setup. Too low of bars can make manualling/lofting the front end more difficult and can make climbing steep sh*t too easy.

    Zerostack is normally just a type of headset where the upper headset cup and bearing are recessed in the frame. This allows the bars/stem to get lower to compensate for more suspension travel. External headsets can add 10-15mm of stack height before you even get to the spacers underneath your stem.

    Here are some guys that take low handlebars to a new low - gotta admit there is something hot to a stem being slammed on the headset even if you have to use riser bars to get your hands where they need to be. SLAM THAT STEM

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Dude!'s Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Back in the day, the handlebar height was relatively to your saddle. This taken from road bikes and when we rode hardtails with emphasis on climbing (1-2inch drop).

    Now days with full suspension, different bottom bracket heights, etc, they are using the reach (vertical distance between bottom bracket height to top of headset) and stack (horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to headtube) in geometry. To help you dial your bike in without guessing. For example, if one bike has a stack of 23 inches and another has 23.5, the handlebar height will be lower on the second bike. I find the reach is a good number to get a better ideal on frame size as different companies have different interpretation of medium.

    As GTscoob mentioned, it depends on how you are using the bike. In general, start with the handlebars even or above you saddle and then tinker.

    The other thing that affects this, stem length and bar width. Where is your Center of Gravity on your bike?

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Keep lowering 5mm at a time until it feels right. I've taken off about 15mm since going from 160 to 180 forks. Also depends on rise, sweep and width of bars plus body type. Definately worth playing with because it changes the handling significantly.

  7. #7
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    Reputation: mayha's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    I agree with a lot of what GTscoob was saying. Keeping the bars low is going to help in so many ways and improve your riding. Better cornering, climbing, and even descending. A low stem is not going to be an issue for going over the bars like years ago. Geometry is slacker (especially the Chilly), suspension has advanced significantly, and using 50mm stems with wide bars vs the narrow bars/long stems from the past. The only real negative is the strain on the back, but a strong back will offset that!

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    As Dude! says, where is 'your Center of Gravity' on 'your bike'?

    For example, im happy with my set-up in all respects outlined above, and my bike is setup as follows:

    740mm bars, 1/2 inch rise, 8° rearward, 4° upward
    60mm stem
    25mm (1inch) spacers below the stem
    zero stack upper headset cup
    external lower headset cup (as i have tapered forks)
    160 fox 36 forks

    I ride a medium Chili, I am 5ft 10, which is key to my set-up, as your cockpit is a very personal thing, and depends on your body size aswell as the bikes frame size. unless you are the same size as me, then sitting on my bike with my setup will put your centre of gravity in a different place from where mine is, thus making handling different for each of us.

    Then theres also the case where some people deviate from all of whats mentioned in the above posts as they like the feeling of sitting 'in the bike' rather than 'over it'

  9. #9
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    Reputation: Herzalot's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Keep in mind when coming off of other bikes that Knolly headtubes are much shorter, especially in large and extra large. The result is lower hands. It felt weird to me at first, but I am running about 4" of drop from saddle to hands on my XL Endorphin. I have about an inch of spacers under the bar and 70mm 6* rise

  10. #10
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    Sep 2009
    Thanks for that guys. Very helpful and much appreciated.

    I think I might lower it a bit then. I've done all sorts of things in the past and it takes awhile to know what i've actually done because you try to persevere with it and change technique to compensate.

    Currently I do think I need more weight on the front through the single track. Also to assist with climbs as well. Hope it doesn't affect the downhill too much.

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