Choosing a stem and handlebar combo...?-
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  1. #1
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    May 2010

    Choosing a stem and handlebar combo...?

    Currently riding a Redline Monocog 29'er Mountain bike... I generally ride easy to medium single tracks and the occasional paved roadways for short trips to the market.

    Are there any advantages or disadvantages of choosing a shorter stem? My current stock stem feels a little long and I "feel" like it would be more comfortable with the bars a little closer.


    Are there any advantages and disadvantages of chooing a flat bar versus a low/mid rise bar? Is this solely based on a preferred riding stance or are there actual benefits to the varius rises?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Apr 2010
    I am saying this as my opinion here so don't take it as scientific doctrine.

    A shorter stem will in esscense allow you to sit a little more up right thus taking a little bit of the load off your shoulders and back in general. Baiscally, help to alleviate that stretched out feeling in your upper body. Same goes for a riser bar vs a flat one.

    Now, I can say that by going to a shorter stem you also move your body weight further to the rear of the bike which should provide a little more leverage for lifting the front end up. Frame design and shorter chainstays also help with this as well.

    For me, it has always been about comfort if you will. I mean, I was always used to being fairly stretched out from being a roadie. It naturally crossed over into my mtb. As mtb continued to grow, people started running shorter, taller stems and wider/taller bars. Alot of these guys were the new generation of MTB riders out there and of course many were converts that just started trying new things. Since I was not into riding for a few years on my mtb, it simply sat and when I got back into it I just stuck with what I was used to which is a 110mm stem with a flat bar.

    Once again, that is just my opinion. I am no bike fitter by any means.

  3. #3
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    Reputation: boomn's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by byoo79
    My current stock stem feels a little long and I "feel" like it would be more comfortable with the bars a little closer.
    I can't think of a better reason than what you just mentioned: getting a proper bike fit. There certainly are differences in feel and handling, but they aren't as important as fit and they are more noticeable with large changes in stem length and not just smaller tweaks

    Quote Originally Posted by byoo79
    Are there any advantages and disadvantages of chooing a flat bar versus a low/mid rise bar? Is this solely based on a preferred riding stance or are there actual benefits to the varius rises?!
    Nothing inherently special about riser bars. You can create the same affect in height changes as a riser bar using a taller stem or moving a spacer below the stem. However, risers have traditionally been easier to find in the wide widths that many people prefer while flat bars were still associated with narrow widths. Wide flat bars are becoming more common now and eliminating that difference.

  4. #4
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    Reputation: kristian's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    A shorter stem will decrease the leverage you have on the bars (since it's a shorter "lever" if you will). This will effect the ride in four ways:
    1. You will be putting less leverage over your front tire, so you are more likely to wheelie on steep climbs--this can be MOSTLY offset by changes in body position on climbs, but you will always feel the front lightness to some degree.
    2. The opposite of this is true too--less leverage over the front wheel means you are less likely to go OTB on a steep downhill. Your front hub is your pivot point here, so if your center of gravity is further back and you are exerting less leverge over your front hub, it's a good thing.
    3. Your steering will feel quicker. Think of what a lever does when you think about this. If you have a long lever, you are excerting a small amount of force and a large amount motion to move an object. With a shorter lever moving the same load, your force is increased but the motion is decreased. I don't notice any difference in turning "force" with a short stem, but I do notice that bike feels like it turns more quickly with less input. This might feel a little "twitchy" at first, but you'll get used to it.
    4. When aggressivly carving turns, your center of gravity is further back with a short stem so you will need to weight the front of your bike more to keep your front tire from plowing. Like #1, this just takes a little getting used to at first and you won't notice it much after that.
    My Unit came with a 105mm stem and I hated it. I switched to a 60mm and it's made a huge difference. You might check with your local bike shop and see if they have any take off stems you can borrow to see how a shorter stem feels. Try something really short at first to see if you notice what I describe above, and then see how a medium length (say 90mm) feels. Get whatever stem size feels best overall, or stay with what you have now if that feels best after trying a few others.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2017
    I'm a bit new to MTB. Just got a Talon 3 recently and while I enjoy riding, I feel that my palms get numb after a few minutes of riding. I'm 1.67m and riding a Small frame. The Giant site says that the frame should be correct for my height.

    I feel that I'm too leaned forward when riding which is causing the numb palm and tired arms from long rides. Should I change the stem or handlebar? I can't get any details on the length of the stock stem and rise of the giant handlebar.


    Damn, I didn't notice this was a thread is almost 7 years old! Well at least I used the search function

  6. #6
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    Reputation: sfgiantsfan's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    It has some good advice, shorter stem and/or riser bars should help the numbness. I went through the same thing recently, I had to do both.
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

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