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  1. #1
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    Shorter Stem Trend - Reasoning behind it.

    I watched a Bike Mag Bible test video earlier today on a couple of the bikes, and one of the guys continually talks about the need for him to run a 50mm stem. I've heard this quite a bit as a trend.

    What is the reasoning / logic behind this? To get your hands (control) closer to the point-of-axis?

    Just curious. I was thinking about it the other day while riding my 95 with the OEM 90mm stem. I'm 5'9" riding a Large and I feel as though I'm almost too cramped (believe it or not) and too upright (and my stem is all the way down, but facing up 6 degrees). I can't imagine running a 50mm.

    That's what made me wonder what the point of the 50 is.

  2. #2
    Oni
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    I went from the stock 70 mm to a 50 mm and it changed my '66 into a scary assed DH machine. I think it changed my weight distribution to more rearward bias. Probably the best change I made.

    Maybe Gary Fisher was onto something with his Genesis Geo all those years ago (longer top tube, shorter stem).

    FYIY, I'm 5'11 on a medium 66.


    Oni

  3. #3
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    personal preference most likely. Using a shorter stem lets you ride a bike with a longer toptube, wider bars, and longer wheelbase.

    On my size large ASR5 I switched from 710mm wide bars with 90mm stem to 760mm wide bars with 60mm stem. It just feels better for my riding style, more stable.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oni View Post
    I went from the stock 70 mm to a 50 mm and it changed my '66 into a scary assed DH machine. I think it changed my weight distribution to more rearward bias. Probably the best change I made.

    Maybe Gary Fisher was onto something with his Genesis Geo all those years ago (longer top tube, shorter stem).

    FYIY, I'm 5'11 on a medium 66.


    Oni
    I always feel like I'm doing something totally wrong when i hear about people that are taller than me, on a smaller bike. 5'11" seems crazy tall on a medium, to me. I bought a Medium 66 a while back to resell, and it felt so small. All in perception I guess.

    Thanks for the input.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragbike View Post
    personal preference most likely. Using a shorter stem lets you ride a bike with a longer toptube, wider bars, and longer wheelbase.

    On my size large ASR5 I switched from 710mm wide bars with 90mm stem to 760mm wide bars with 60mm stem. It just feels better for my riding style, more stable.
    Yeah it is all wrapped up into personal preference, and I also forgot about how it is typically coupled with wider bars we well. Another good idea. I'm running Easton Haven carbon 710mm and really like the bend, but DO feel like I could go wider.

  6. #6
    two wheel whore
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    IMO, 710 is on the narrow end. Try running a wider bar, it'll spread you out a little so you won't feel as cramped.

    My comp build came with a 75mm x 6d and 710mm bar. Swapping out with a 50mm x 0d and 780mm bar. Most likely cut it down to 760mm.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmoo View Post
    IMO, 710 is on the narrow end. Try running a wider bar, it'll spread you out a little so you won't feel as cramped.

    My comp build came with a 75mm x 6d and 710mm bar. Swapping out with a 50mm x 0d and 780mm bar. Most likely cut it down to 760mm.
    Agreed. I just looked at the Easton carbon Havocs but they're still only 750mm. Not a huge difference. They have an 800 which I guess I could cut down. Definitely want to get a 0 degree stem, just not sure if I can go 50mm or not.

  8. #8
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    wider bars give you more leverage and stability and open up your chest for improved breathing.
    wider bars take less effort to make same turns with shorter bars.

    shorter stems with a longer bar help quicken the steering, because the wider bar slows it down....

    there is a good explanation on pinkbike

  9. #9
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    Guys, let's not forget that the 66 and 95 were designed for some pretty drastically different types of riding, and the geometry/kinematics/spec reflects that. The 66 was built primarily as a big mountain/enduro bike. Sure, it can double-duty as a trail bike due to it's light weight (especially the carbon) and great pedaling, but anyone who owns one will agree that it's most at home riding steep, rough lines.

    The 95 was built from scratch as a super fun/fast trail bike - we didn't just do some minor tweaks to the 66 and throw 29ers on there. Again, it can double-duty as an enduro bike, but it's more at home railing big sweepers and bombing up and down rolling hills in the woods or out in the desert.

    Just check out the product videos for each if you need a better demonstration of it:
    SB66 - Yeti Cycles / Home
    SB95 - Yeti Cycles / Home

    With all that in mind, it might make more sense why the 66 feels better with a super short stem, and the 95 can feel a little out of sorts with one.

    JP
    Yeti Cycles// Ride Driven

    Please Email rather than PM: johnp AT yeticycles DOT com

  10. #10
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    I switched from the stock 680 bars with 90 stem on my SB95 to a 740 bar with 55 stem and it still feels very comfortable (not cramped). The handling, especially in descents, is so much better. I just needed to get used to riding the twisty, New England singletrack without banging my hands on the trees. It was an awesome upgrade for very little $.
    That creep can roll, man.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeti575inCA View Post
    wider bars give you more leverage and stability and open up your chest for improved breathing.
    wider bars take less effort to make same turns with shorter bars.

    shorter stems with a longer bar help quicken the steering, because the wider bar slows it down....

    there is a good explanation on pinkbike
    Yes, this. Also consider that, as you increase the length of your bars, it is usually more comfortable to decrease the length of your stem (meaning, the angle of your body when seated will stay the same). Assumes you already have dialed-in the proper riding position on your old combo.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John P. View Post
    Guys, let's not forget that the 66 and 95 were designed for some pretty drastically different types of riding, and the geometry/kinematics/spec reflects that. The 66 was built primarily as a big mountain/enduro bike. Sure, it can double-duty as a trail bike due to it's light weight (especially the carbon) and great pedaling, but anyone who owns one will agree that it's most at home riding steep, rough lines.

    The 95 was built from scratch as a super fun/fast trail bike - we didn't just do some minor tweaks to the 66 and throw 29ers on there. Again, it can double-duty as an enduro bike, but it's more at home railing big sweepers and bombing up and down rolling hills in the woods or out in the desert.

    Just check out the product videos for each if you need a better demonstration of it:
    SB66 - Yeti Cycles / Home
    SB95 - Yeti Cycles / Home

    With all that in mind, it might make more sense why the 66 feels better with a super short stem, and the 95 can feel a little out of sorts with one.

    JP
    Awesome, thanks for the insight. I'm new to the 95 and every time I've gone out, I'm adjusting *something* (seat height, camber, stem height, bar rotation, etc). I'm always thinking about what I can do to make sure it's setup right, or better; hence the question above. It took me a bit to realize that this is a much-more upright-positioned bike than what I was used to (26" AM machine in the same category as the 66).

    I'm not sold on the 50mm stem concept, but I do plan to bump up the width of my bars a step to the Havoc 750mm and go from there.

    Thanks again - it's really nice getting some internal insight in here.

  13. #13
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    I have tried to go shorter several times on my bikes and it just messes with my style too much. Always feels like I am going to launch over the front of the bike. I am going to give it a shot on my latest bike again though. 65 instead of 50.

  14. #14
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    Short and wide is good, but sometimes you can go too short and ruin the ride. I used to run a 40mm stem and the front washed out often. Switching to a 60mm stem fixed this, as there is now more weight on the front wheel, which equals traction.

    I can't imagine going back to anything longer than 70mm though.

  15. #15
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    'Ride again today and since I'm new to the bike, I'm always thinking about how things are feeling in terms of adjustments and things that I could maybe change to make things better (or worse).

    The trails were finally kinda dry in spots and I was able to crank it up through some sections, and quickly noticed that when I am about half-way through a corner, I'm standing up and putting myself over the bars quite a bit to get traction and get that big 2-9 to turn and accelerate out.

    I'm trying to think of how a shorter stem would help or hinder that style, but I think the only way would be to try. But, I think the reach-while-normal-riding or climbing, would be way too close for me. I guess I have long arms.

    Definitely getting wider bars first, then go from there.

  16. #16
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    I can't ride being over the front axle. Even on road bikes. Weight distribution gets weird, the bike feels unbalanced. Climbing might be easier that way, but it's not for me.

  17. #17
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    Speaking of stems: Another question from a different angle - today I dropped my stem downward (6 degrees) and put a 5mm spacer under it. This is *almost* the same as if I had a 0 degree stem (lower by about 2mm from my rough measurements on my desk).

    Tons, tons better.

    Is there any reason that I should get a 0 degree rise stem anyway? Meaning, with running the stem down, are there any leverage issues or hinderances associated with stem up or stem down? I'm running it through my head and can't see how there would be any differences with steering & leverage, body position, etc. between running a 0 degree or the 6 degree facing down with a 5mm spacer (other than the minute 2mm difference).

    Bottom line: I like the positioning of the 6 degree stem, facing down with a 5mm spacer - but is there some kind of advantage of going with a 0 degree anyway to achieve nearly the same thing?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGAmoto View Post
    Speaking of stems: Another question from a different angle - today I dropped my stem downward (6 degrees) and put a 5mm spacer under it. This is *almost* the same as if I had a 0 degree stem (lower by about 2mm from my rough measurements on my desk).

    Tons, tons better.

    Is there any reason that I should get a 0 degree rise stem anyway? Meaning, with running the stem down, are there any leverage issues or hinderances associated with stem up or stem down? I'm running it through my head and can't see how there would be any differences with steering & leverage, body position, etc. between running a 0 degree or the 6 degree facing down with a 5mm spacer (other than the minute 2mm difference).

    Bottom line: I like the positioning of the 6 degree stem, facing down with a 5mm spacer - but is there some kind of advantage of going with a 0 degree anyway to achieve nearly the same thing?
    When you lower your stem ( even alittle bit ) it will pull your weight forward and lower than it was ( it does not take much ) and it will make one hell of a difference on the balance of the bike and front wheel traction , which sounds like you needed .

    It does not matter what kind of stem and or spacers it took to get you there , ....but just that you got there , ......so a shorter stem than you now have may not work for you .

    I have my set up alot like yours , I like my weight over the front axle and as low as I can get it with out leaning over like a XC racer , I will also slide my seat way forward also , this will work well for seating and blasting along ..........but when I am really getting with it I will drop the saddle stand crouching and weight the outside pedal and put my knee on the frame to turn . ( my 80mm stem will weight the front wheel correctly , any shorter and it becomes harder to weight the ft wheel )

    Kind of an old technique to check stem length ,........ride along sitting on your saddle raised up in power position and pedal normal and look down at your front axle.......you should not be able to see your Front axle , it should be covered up by the center of your bar .............if you see your axle in front of your handlebar you need a longer stem and if you see your axle behind your bar you need a shorter stem , this is a good guideline on stem length .

    On the XL chassis I run modded haven bars that are 770 mm with grips , and I use an 80 mm stem

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelstr View Post
    When you lower your stem ( even alittle bit ) it will pull your weight forward and lower than it was ( it does not take much ) and it will make one hell of a difference on the balance of the bike and front wheel traction , which sounds like you needed .

    It does not matter what kind of stem and or spacers it took to get you there , ....but just that you got there , ......so a shorter stem than you now have may not work for you .

    I have my set up alot like yours , I like my weight over the front axle and as low as I can get it with out leaning over like a XC racer , I will also slide my seat way forward also , this will work well for seating and blasting along ..........but when I am really getting with it I will drop the saddle stand crouching and weight the outside pedal and put my knee on the frame to turn . ( my 80mm stem will weight the front wheel correctly , any shorter and it becomes harder to weight the ft wheel )

    Kind of an old technique to check stem length ,........ride along sitting on your saddle raised up in power position and pedal normal and look down at your front axle.......you should not be able to see your Front axle , it should be covered up by the center of your bar .............if you see your axle in front of your handlebar you need a longer stem and if you see your axle behind your bar you need a shorter stem , this is a good guideline on stem length .

    On the XL chassis I run modded haven bars that are 770 mm with grips , and I use an 80 mm stem
    Yep, I want my weight all over the front end. I found myself leaning WAY forward to get my front end to stick today, then way forward again as I was standing-up-and-pedaling out of the soft corners. Maybe it's the moto background; dunno.

    Not quite sure if my question came across though -

    1) in one hand you have a 90mm 0 degree stem

    2) in the other hand you have a - 6 degree stem with a 7mm spacer to put under it.

    Both of these options give you the exact same bar height. Does the leverage of the -6 degree stem and the odd downward angle, give you any unusual leverage or a different feel when turning and general riding?

    I'm thinking not, but it just hit me when I was thinking the other day about getting a 0 degree stem (it hit me that I could just flip my 6 degree and use spacers to probably achieve the same as the 0 degree).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTT77 View Post
    Yes, this. Also consider that, as you increase the length of your bars, it is usually more comfortable to decrease the length of your stem (meaning, the angle of your body when seated will stay the same). Assumes you already have dialed-in the proper riding position on your old combo.
    I heard it explained in what I thought were pretty simple terms that made sense: instead of reaching forward with a longer stem/narrow bar combo the shorter stem/wider bar combo has you reach outward thus creating more leverage. I'm running a 50mm stem & 740mm bars on my XL SB95, love it and can't imagine it getting any more comfortable.
    Calvin

  21. #21
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    I don't believe it was mentioned yet, but another important factor is bar height. When moving to short stem & wide bar combo, it may become necessary to raise bar height either via high-rise bar or adding spacers under the stem. When I originally made the move from 75mm stem & 720mm bar to 50mm stem & 750mm bar, I did like it in many ways, but something just felt off and didn't feel right. Did a little more homework and decided to swap my half inch riser bar to 2 inch rise bar (both at 750 length) and that was the ticket. Made a huge difference and now my cockpit feels perfectly dialed. Going to a shorter stem essentially lowers the bar height if not compensated for via additional spacer or bar with more rise. leelikesbikes.com has quite some good info about this (and riding in general).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelstr View Post
    Kind of an old technique to check stem length ,........ride along sitting on your saddle raised up in power position and pedal normal and look down at your front axle.......you should not be able to see your Front axle , it should be covered up by the center of your bar .............if you see your axle in front of your handlebar you need a longer stem and if you see your axle behind your bar you need a shorter stem , this is a good guideline on stem length.
    Somewhat applicable to road bike fit, but really not to modern mountain bike fit due to many factors.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGAmoto View Post
    Yep, I want my weight all over the front end. I found myself leaning WAY forward to get my front end to stick today, then way forward again as I was standing-up-and-pedaling out of the soft corners. Maybe it's the moto background; dunno.

    Not quite sure if my question came across though -

    1) in one hand you have a 90mm 0 degree stem

    2) in the other hand you have a - 6 degree stem with a 7mm spacer to put under it.

    Both of these options give you the exact same bar height. Does the leverage of the -6 degree stem and the odd downward angle, give you any unusual leverage or a different feel when turning and general riding?

    I'm thinking not, but it just hit me when I was thinking the other day about getting a 0 degree stem (it hit me that I could just flip my 6 degree and use spacers to probably achieve the same as the 0 degree).
    It does not matter if you turned your 6 degree stem upsidedown or not , you are not getting any different leverage , it just matters that you found out what direction you needed to go.

    Since you measured the height and know where you need to be you can now fit a flat stem with no spacers and see if it is right at that height .............you will save weight if you can do without the spacers .

    And check to see if the center of your bar is over the center of your axle while you are sitting and riding , this can be helpful in determining chassis fit as well as stem length .

  24. #24
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    At the end of the day, the fit of the bike depends on your individual factors. I think the best thing to do is experiment.

    I originally had ordered a medium SB-95 and right before I went to take delivery of it, I test rode it around the parking lot and knew that it felt small, cramped. That was with the stock 90mm stem. Thankfully the shop had a large on the floor and I was able to take delivery of that instead.

    After riding it for about a year and hearing about shorter stem and wider bars I decided to try it out. I instantly fell in love, but I think it had more to do with me sizing up on the frame, then anything else (5'11', 32 inseam). The other important thing about the wider bars and shorter stem was it encouraged me to keep my elbows bent! This did more for confidence in decending then rearward bias, IMO.

    EDIT: running 50mm stem, 750mm bars

  25. #25
    Oni
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    ehh....if it feels good...that's the important thing. I find the top-tube really long. :-)

    Oni

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