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Thread: Shorter stem?

  1. #1
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    Shorter stem?

    Question for all the experienced riders out there.

    I have an XL sized Cannondale SL3, it is one size to big for me. With about 3 months decent experience I seem to have a problem getting my bike to turn sharply and notice this especially on high speed corners, I just can't get it to rotate the way I want it to. With that being said I went to another LBS which mentioned that my bike is to big for me said I would benefit from a shorter stem to make the bike more nimble. Is this true? I have already adjusted my technique by leaning the bike under me but I still believe I can attack corners faster before my front end washes out. But I'am having problems Achieving this with my current set-up.

    Please Advise, Thierry
    2011 Cannondale Trail SL3
    2012 Santa Cruz Tallboy DXC

  2. #2
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    Stem length is a very common adjustment for bike sizing. It will affect how leaned over you are on the bike and also will make the handling quicker if shorted.

  3. #3
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    A shorter stem can make a huge difference, you will be less stretched out and in a more relaxed position. The closer you are to your bar the more control you can have especially if the bike is too big for you. I say get a new stem, they are usually around 40 depending on what model and are well worth it.

  4. #4
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    Try a zero offset seatpost as well, assuming your bike came with the standard offset seatpost.

    Shortening stem length does speed up steering, but it also shifts your center of gravity backwards and can cause some issues with steeper climbs. Using a zero offset seatpost will bring your COG forward during climbs so that it's balanced again. Since the bike is a bit big for you, the combination will effectively shorten your top tube length a bit while steepening your seat angle.

    A zero offset seatpost will also help you on steep descents where you need to slide your butt off the back of your seat.. the further forward the seat, the more room you have to move behind it.
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    Cannondale C4, 1.5", 31.8, 7 degree this believe is my OEM Sized Stem can anybody recommend a size that I can go with next?
    2011 Cannondale Trail SL3
    2012 Santa Cruz Tallboy DXC

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThierryR. View Post
    Cannondale C4, 1.5", 31.8, 7 degree this believe is my OEM Sized Stem can anybody recommend a size that I can go with next?
    We need to know the stem length. Those numbers are the steerer tube size, handlebar clamp size, and rise. Just take a ruler out there and measure from the center of the steerer tube to the center of the handlebar. You can just eyeball it because 99% of the time stems will only be in 10mm increments.

    Keep in mind that Cannondale's 1.5" steerer tube is a bit of an odd size. It will limit your stem options somewhat. The more common steerer tube size for mountain bikes is 1.125". Its not a huge deal. Just keep it in mind so you don't assume a stem will fit. Basically assume it won't fit unless it explicitly says for a 1.5" steerer.

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    OK thanks, I dont have my bike on me now these specs were from the website. but I will get back to your guys.
    2011 Cannondale Trail SL3
    2012 Santa Cruz Tallboy DXC

  8. #8
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    The Sl3 looks like an XC bike from what I can tell with a stem probably 100-120 range. Going to a 50-80mm stem will have a big impact. I did the same thing where my frame was a little big and got a shorter stem and it works quite well.

  9. #9
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    Without knowing your current stem length it's hard to recommend you how short you can go. How tall are you? If anything I like the rise on your current stem. Shorter stem create more compact cockpit which allow you to move your body weight to the rear easier, making lofting front wheel moves like manual or wheelie easier to do.

    I went from 100mm stem to 50mm-70mm stem on my bikes and it added more "fun" to the bike personality not the usual business like XC feel.

  10. #10
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    A shorter stem seems to be the trick. Since the bike is a bit too big in the first place ... you're most likely stretched a bit more than you should be anyway. A shorter stem will make lofting your wheel much much easier, feel more responsive, and keep you a bit tighter in the cockpit. So a stem would help in a few ways.

    I've got a 80mm stem, and dig it ... lofting the front on a root filled climb is effortless.

    Unlike yourself; I'm a bit too big for my bike (ride a 17 instead of 18). Since I'm just a bit too upright, one of my options was to get a longer stem ... but I didn't want to be further over my front tire ... so instead I went with a Titec setback seatpost. So with that ... a zero seatpost is another option; but I don't think it would help more than a smaller stem.


    (but heck, I'm a noob ... what do I know )

  11. #11
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    I also have a 2012 Cannondale Trail SL 3 and thinking of replacing the stock stem, how can i check or know what stem size do I need (height wise), I mean how can i check the height of the stem I need so I dont need to add spacers.

  12. #12
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    My Epic is the correct size for me, I have a collection of stems, bars and seatposts that I interchange depending on the trail I am going on. I do a few XC races (old fart, enthusiastic amateur, mid life crisis category) for that I run it clipless, with a micro offset seat post, flat bar and a 100mm stem. If I am taking it on rooty single track which is a bit more AM than XC I put a 50mm stem riser bars and run it with a dropper post and platforms.
    OK with 100m F100 FITs feeling under the bike is always going to be an issue on the steeps, but it's a damn sight better than full on aggressive XC set up on the trail. I honestly think that it's worth noobs spending a few bucks to experiment with this sort of thing to feel the difference it makes, in my experience cockpit set up makes a huge difference to your performance and overall enjoyment and seems generally ignored

  13. #13
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    I agree with Simplejohn. The more tinkering/adjusting you do in the cockpit, the better off you will be. You will find that perfect (for you) setup of saddle height,tilt,set-back fore or aft, stem height, rise, length, and bar width. Its worth messing around with this stuff often to find that perfect fit for you.

  14. #14
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    See if your LBS has an adjustable stem you can use. That way you can adjust it while riding and get a great idea what you need. Once you get it dialed in, go back and buy the appropriate size.
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