Shortening My Stem: Ramifications and Recommendations- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Shortening My Stem: Ramifications and Recommendations

    I'm running a 120mm Thompson at 25.4 degrees on an 18" Hammerhead 100x (essentially a Titus Racer X). I want to shorten my reach because I feel way to hunched down and stretched out on downhills. Unfortunately, ultimately I think the frame is a tad too big for me, but I've had it since 2003 b/c I got a great deal on it and am not in a position to replace it, so need to make what I have work.

    Can someone enlighten me as to what the ramifications of shortening the stem would be?

    How much shorter should I go? I'm thinking going to a 90mm, but would that make a noticeable difference?

    Any other considerations I should keep in mind?

    Many thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    120mm is considered long by today's standards. To keep steering from feeling too sluggish with modern wide bars and slack HT angles, stem lengths have shortened up. Buy a cheap 90mm stem and try it out. 30mm will make a big difference.

  3. #3
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    at 25.4 degrees
    Is that Celsius??? Go try a 100mm stem first. Your steering will quicken dramatically. Most LBS's have lots of old stems around, try and borrow one to use before you buy....

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  5. #5
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    Thanks all.

    So steering quickens. Does it become too twitchy? How noticeable would the quickness of steering be on the descent vs. climbing?

    Can you notice a big difference on sticking the front wheel on climbs?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsmarg
    Thanks all.

    So steering quickens. Does it become too twitchy? How noticeable would the quickness of steering be on the descent vs. climbing?

    Can you notice a big difference on sticking the front wheel on climbs?
    Hard to say without trying it out yourself. Overall, yes, steering will be quicker/twitchier for both climbing and descending, and you'll be getting a little less weight over the front tire (although a little body english takes care of this nicely). The extent that you'll notice all this (or care) will depend the rider. How wide are your bars? If a shorter stem is just right for fit, but makes steering too twitchy, going to wider bars will help slow things down. Wider bars also help a lot on rocky sections as they give you more torque to work with.

  7. #7
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    Should've posted a follow up earlier but thought I'd give it a while of riding to really get a good feel. I ended up dropping to a 90mm and have been very happy.

    Dave up at Redstone Cyclery in Lyons hooked me up with a near-mint 90mm 5 degree rise Race Face. At first I was very sensitive to the twitchiness y'all warned me about, but towards the end of my second ride with the new stem I had a good feel of where the balance point is.

    Overall this accomplished what I wanted: being able to lean farther back on descents, sit a bit more upright/less hunched on the climbs, without sacrificing too much steering.

    I definitely wouldn't go any shorter than 90mm on my rig, though I now realize how long the 120mm was.

    My only issue left now is swapping my 3"-drop Crank Bros. Joplin R with a 4" or even 5" drop seatpost.

    Thanks for everyone's input.

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    re: shortening my stem

    Go for it you will be happy.

    I have a Brodie 09 Dynamo which is more of a commuter bike but I wanted a closer reach so I changed the stock stem for a Truvativ Hussefelt Stem if you have a larger steer tube you may want to try the Holzefeller stem by Truvativ. I also just got and installed Truvativ Hussefelt DH bar with a larger rise and sweep than my stock bar. Both those parts give me a few extra inches less that I have to reach and a much more comfortable ride. I also have a Truvativ Stylo Race 0 offset seatpost already ordered. which will bring my seat a bit further forward. Can you tell I like Truvativ!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsmarg
    Should've posted a follow up earlier but thought I'd give it a while of riding to really get a good feel. I ended up dropping to a 90mm and have been very happy.

    Dave up at Redstone Cyclery in Lyons hooked me up with a near-mint 90mm 5 degree rise Race Face. At first I was very sensitive to the twitchiness y'all warned me about, but towards the end of my second ride with the new stem I had a good feel of where the balance point is.

    Overall this accomplished what I wanted: being able to lean farther back on descents, sit a bit more upright/less hunched on the climbs, without sacrificing too much steering.

    I definitely wouldn't go any shorter than 90mm on my rig, though I now realize how long the 120mm was.

    My only issue left now is swapping my 3"-drop Crank Bros. Joplin R with a 4" or even 5" drop seatpost.

    Thanks for everyone's input.
    First thing first, for $125 you can upgrade your old Joplin for a newer longer JP, and still gets to keep the same problems.

    I don't know if you've swap the stem yet, but shorter stem and wider bar tends to bring a more playful side out of your bike. I went from 130, to 100 to 70 and now 50mm.

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