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Thread: stem advice

  1. #1
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    stem advice

    (I'll post this up on some other forums too, but I thought here would be good as we're all riding similar bikes and I'd imagine that most posters here generally fall into the same xc/trail riding/light free riding catagory as myself.)

    I know shorter stems generally make bikes a bit nimbler and responsive for downhills, but will going from a 120mm stem to a 90-100mm have much impact on climbing and getting through technical sections? I guess it will lighten up my front end.

    I'm riding a medium Turner 5 Spot and I'm about 5'8" (no idea of arm length, but slightly more monkey-like than most). My stem is a Thomson 120mm with a 5 degree rise and about 20mm of spacers below.

    A shorter stem may help with descents and ease some wrist discomfort but I'm worried it will cause problems when climbing.

    Any advice or opinions would be great.

    Cheers, Duncan
    Last edited by Duncan; 04-30-2004 at 03:28 AM. Reason: extra technical details

  2. #2
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    FWIW: I've been messing with stems, bar settings, suspension settings, etc to try to relieve some hand/wrist discomfort. Specific to your question I found a better balanced ride for most conditions with the shorter stem (and less hand/wrist pain) and then just moving forward a little on the saddle for climbing. Before the shorter stem I didn't move forward for climbing but the rest of the ride was painful. I went from a 120 to a 110 and of course am curious about what a 100 would feel like.

  3. #3
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    I would experiment a bit. Even a 10mm difference in reach makes a big difference. Also, keep an eye on the rise, as it will affect the reach. A Thomson 110 5 degree rise has the same reach as a Thomson 120 15 degree rise. Also, slight differences in height and bar rotation can make a big difference.

  4. #4
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    To CDMC's point: lowering my seat by about a 1/4inch made a big difference.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennasdad
    To CDMC's point: lowering my seat by about a 1/4inch made a big difference.
    Did you notice much of a difference in getting good leg extension when you were climbing?
    [size=3]Make Everyday your Masterpiece - [/size][size=3][size=2][size=1]George Michael[/size] [/size][/size]

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan
    (I'll post this up on some other forums too, but I thought here would be good as we're all riding similar bikes and I'd imagine that most posters here generally fall into the same xc/trail riding/light free riding catagory as myself.)

    I know shorter stems generally make bikes a bit nimbler and responsive for downhills, but will going from a 120mm stem to a 90-100mm have much impact on climbing and getting through technical sections? I guess it will lighten up my front end.

    I'm riding a medium Turner 5 Spot and I'm about 5'8" (no idea of arm length, but slightly more monkey-like than most). My stem is a Thomson 120mm with a 5 degree rise and about 20mm of spacers below.

    A shorter stem may help with descents and ease some wrist discomfort but I'm worried it will cause problems when climbing.

    Any advice or opinions would be great.

    Cheers, Duncan

    LOL.... I have the same issue. I'm 5'8" as well and ride a medium 5er. I took off my Thomson 120x5 a couple of months ago and threw on a 110x5. Huge difference. I could get behind the seat easier and steering was much more stable.

    I just ordered a 90x5. Steep climbing will suffer a tad, but I'll adapt. Steep chutes & wheelie drops, is where the 90mm will shine.

    Click on my profile and take a look at my pic. I'm running the 110 there and had a tough time getting my weight back as you can see.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan
    (I'll post this up on some other forums too, but I thought here would be good as we're all riding similar bikes and I'd imagine that most posters here generally fall into the same xc/trail riding/light free riding catagory as myself.)

    I know shorter stems generally make bikes a bit nimbler and responsive for downhills, but will going from a 120mm stem to a 90-100mm have much impact on climbing and getting through technical sections? I guess it will lighten up my front end.

    I'm riding a medium Turner 5 Spot and I'm about 5'8" (no idea of arm length, but slightly more monkey-like than most). My stem is a Thomson 120mm with a 5 degree rise and about 20mm of spacers below.

    A shorter stem may help with descents and ease some wrist discomfort but I'm worried it will cause problems when climbing.

    Any advice or opinions would be great.

    Cheers, Duncan
    I'm a little short of 5'10" and ride a medium XCE with a 90 Thompson - works great - I did the Vision Quest with it (so it climbs pretty well and it drops even better...

  8. #8
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    Just did it and haven't done any big climbs, but I do know when my seat is too low I have trouble with my knees. I'm trying to resolve some pain in the shoulder from an old motorcycle injury and lowering the seat a touch did help that. We'll see what happens. Good point. Thanks

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennasdad
    Just did it and haven't done any big climbs, but I do know when my seat is too low I have trouble with my knees. I'm trying to resolve some pain in the shoulder from an old motorcycle injury and lowering the seat a touch did help that. We'll see what happens. Good point. Thanks
    Yeah, it seems to be a trade-off. I have long legs and raising the seat up high enough to get the best leg extension makes it harder to get the front end up and get behind the saddle and puts the saddle about 2" above the handlebar. Having the saddle about and 3/4" above the handlebar with 30mm spacers under the stem seems to be working now. I'm on a 15" XCE with a 50mmx10 stem . I'm most comfortable on a 60mmx6 stem but the one I have never stays tightened.

    Its always fun playing around with this stuff and tweaking it 'til its juuuuuusst right
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  10. #10
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    Cheers everyone. I was thinking that a shorter stem would be good for the technical steep descents but, as a few people have pointed out here and elsewhere, it may help with jumps and drops too, which I've really only been getting into recently. I tried out a friend's Cove G-Spot briefly today. His short stem made it so much easier to get the front end off the ground when doing (kind of) wheelies.

    Hope it helps on the twisty steep bits - my poor little Twinkletoes has taken a huge number of beatings and crashes recently. All fun though.

  11. #11
    bike moron
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    I've found a 90x0 works great for me. I'm 5'10" & ride a Med Stumpy, my 5-spot will be set up the same way. On technical climbs, you do have to be more aggressive wrt moving forward on the seat and also lowering your upper body to the bar - you want to feel you're actually overdoing the lean a little. Its a small adjustment to make, but handling is better in every other situation. Extra backsweep/upsweep on the bar helps as well, 1 inch rise & 5 deg x 9 deg works great with the 90mm stem. If you're into trail/tech riding I would definitely give it a shot, no other setup feels as good to me.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan
    (I'll post this up on some other forums too, but I thought here would be good as we're all riding similar bikes and I'd imagine that most posters here generally fall into the same xc/trail riding/light free riding catagory as myself.)

    I know shorter stems generally make bikes a bit nimbler and responsive for downhills, but will going from a 120mm stem to a 90-100mm have much impact on climbing and getting through technical sections? I guess it will lighten up my front end.

    I'm riding a medium Turner 5 Spot and I'm about 5'8" (no idea of arm length, but slightly more monkey-like than most). My stem is a Thomson 120mm with a 5 degree rise and about 20mm of spacers below.

    A shorter stem may help with descents and ease some wrist discomfort but I'm worried it will cause problems when climbing.

    Any advice or opinions would be great.

    Cheers, Duncan
    I'm 6ft and ride a large 5 Spot with a 90mm 5deg Thomson stem. Wouldn't go any longer than that. Spots need a nice light front end.

  13. #13
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    cheers guys

    The advice was good guys, thanks. I switched to a 90mm Thomson stem last week and and it actually seems to have improved both the downhills AND the uphills. It's much lighter when pulling my front end up and because my weight is back a bit more it's helping on the steep descents and keeping my back tire more firmly on the ground when climbing. Also the shorter stem seems to make me more balanced on the steep climbs. I guess the 120mm stem was just too short from the start.

    Cheers guys

  14. #14
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    For everybody who is not certain what type of stem to use or wants to switch lenght and rise depending on the type of ride i'd recomend a syntace vro-stem. (www.syntace.com)

    the system allows adjustment from 85-135 (i.e. the medium sized stem) just by opening 2 hex-screws.

    the whole system ist very stiff and much lighter than it looks like.

    ( i try to add a picture, i'll see whether it works)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
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    ... and if we just ... Woah baby...what a spectum

    Quote Originally Posted by NealM
    I'm 6ft and ride a large 5 Spot with a 90mm 5deg Thomson stem. Wouldn't go any longer than that. Spots need a nice light front end.
    I'm 6'2" and ride a large 5 Spot with a 120mm 15deg stem....Dude, I'd never fit in your shirts!
    Faster is better, even when it's not.

  16. #16
    Haz
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    New question here. Setback Seatpost w/Short Stem?

    Similar situation - am 6'0" tall and currently running, a 110mm-5' Thomson on a Large Spot and definately thinking a 90 would be better given the number of drops I seem to be facing up to these days. What are peoples thoughts on as you get to a shorter stem length, moving to a setback seatpost? What is the threshold of length to moving the whole cockpit back?

  17. #17
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    OK, Haz, here is what one old man found. I went from from a 120 to a 110 to a 100 over time. Just took my first ride with the 100 and here, for me, was a key difference and may be something to consider when dealing with all this stem length stuff. For the first time I felt more like a jokey then a rider (it felt like my old motorcylce riding days), kind of in the bike not on it. It was one of the best rides I've ever had. One key thing that changed was I realized my elbows were bent much more, my arms more relaxed and acting like shock absorbers rather then being stiff and transmitting everything into my hands and shoulders. I also felt like I was more seated in the saddle, obviously carrying more weight there. But the key was the relaxed upper body.

  18. #18
    Haz
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    New question here. Setback Seatpost?

    Quote Originally Posted by NealM
    I'm 6ft and ride a large 5 Spot with a 90mm 5deg Thomson stem. Wouldn't go any longer than that. Spots need a nice light front end.
    Neal, I'm on a 110mm 5 deg Thomson and am ordering a 90mm as you have. Did you go to a setback seatpost or think of doing so?

  19. #19
    Haz
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    New question here. Curious

    Quote Originally Posted by NealM
    I'm 6ft and ride a large 5 Spot with a 90mm 5deg Thomson stem. Wouldn't go any longer than that. Spots need a nice light front end.
    Curious if you thought about (or tried) a 15 degree rise and/or a setback seatpost...I'm 6ft. on a large Spot as well and am going to go with a shorter stem but have been thinking about going back AND up with the 15 degree. Thoughts or experiences?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haz
    Curious if you thought about (or tried) a 15 degree rise and/or a setback seatpost...I'm 6ft. on a large Spot as well and am going to go with a shorter stem but have been thinking about going back AND up with the 15 degree. Thoughts or experiences?
    Dealer I bought my spot from rides one himself and reckoned the best position for the saddle is one that puts your bum directly over the rear linkage of the rocker. That's where mine is and it seems to work for me so I'm going to leave it there for just now. Never thought about a 15 deg rise. Mine was set up from new using a 5 deg rise stem and spacers to put the bars about level with the saddle.

  21. #21
    Haz
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    New question here. Question for you...

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan
    Cheers everyone. I was thinking that a shorter stem would be good for the technical steep descents but, as a few people have pointed out here and elsewhere, it may help with jumps and drops too, which I've really only been getting into recently. I tried out a friend's Cove G-Spot briefly today. His short stem made it so much easier to get the front end off the ground when doing (kind of) wheelies.

    Hope it helps on the twisty steep bits - my poor little Twinkletoes has taken a huge number of beatings and crashes recently. All fun though.
    ------------------
    Curious if you thought about (or tried) a 15 degree rise and/or a setback seatpost...I'm 6ft. on a large Spot as well and am going to go with a shorter stem but have been thinking about going back AND up with the 15 degree. Thoughts or experiences?

  22. #22
    Haz
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    New question here. Stem Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by CDMC
    I would experiment a bit. Even a 10mm difference in reach makes a big difference. Also, keep an eye on the rise, as it will affect the reach. A Thomson 110 5 degree rise has the same reach as a Thomson 120 15 degree rise. Also, slight differences in height and bar rotation can make a big difference.
    Is there any difference in 'feel' between a 5 degree and 15 degree rise? I'm looking at going from a 110mm 5 degree to a 90mm and am not sure which way to go. If I use the chart that someone else posted a 90mm with 15 degree rise puts me back and up a tad (like 1or 2mm up) which is what I'm shooting for (trying to get back more for tech descents). If I go from the 110 to the 90 at 5 degree it drops the bars about 1/2 an inch or so. Any thoughts?

  23. #23
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    .....well, I am 6'1" & ride a large Spot. I have found that the 90mm/ 0[size=3] [/size][size=2]Thomson works very well for me. At first the 0" offset post felt very strange & in the way....but after a short acclimation period, I now feel that it is better all around. It can still make it difficult to get back at full extension so I tend to keep it about a 1/2 inch lower (most rides locally are very steep so I can get away with the post a tad lower).....however, when I am riding a longer (20-ish mile) epic I adjust the height accordingly...[/size]


  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haz
    Is there any difference in 'feel' between a 5 degree and 15 degree rise? I'm looking at going from a 110mm 5 degree to a 90mm and am not sure which way to go. If I use the chart that someone else posted a 90mm with 15 degree rise puts me back and up a tad (like 1or 2mm up) which is what I'm shooting for (trying to get back more for tech descents). If I go from the 110 to the 90 at 5 degree it drops the bars about 1/2 an inch or so. Any thoughts?
    Here are the rise and reach of several combos of stems:

    //////////////// Rise Reach
    110x5 46.5mm 99mm
    100x10 50mm 86.5mm
    100x15 57mm 82mm
    90x5 38mm 81.5mm
    90x15 51.5mm 73.5mm

    I think the 90x15 is to radical of a change in reach and would suggest you try the 100x15 with 10 of spacers moved from below to above the stem for starters.

  25. #25
    Haz
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    Quote Originally Posted by jncarpenter
    .....well, I am 6'1" & ride a large Spot. I have found that the 90mm/ 0[size=3] [/size][size=2]Thomson works very well for me. At first the 0" offset post felt very strange & in the way....but after a short acclimation period, I now feel that it is better all around. It can still make it difficult to get back at full extension so I tend to keep it about a 1/2 inch lower (most rides locally are very steep so I can get away with the post a tad lower).....however, when I am riding a longer (20-ish mile) epic I adjust the height accordingly...[/size]
    Thanks or the reply - just to clarify, are you riding an offset seatpost now? (Your post says 0" offset post??????)

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