longer stem or move seat back?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    longer stem or move seat back?

    On my Soma I have a 60 mm stem. I didn't want to go this short when I was shopping but I decided to experiment. I like the way the bike handles but I find myself sitting further back on my seat than normal and when I scoot forward I feel too upright. My seat is in the middle position so I can scoot it further back but wouldn't a longer stem be the best cure? I am afraid if I scoot my seat back further it will hamper me going behind it for steep declines but wouldn't a longer stem hamper me going behind the seat on drops as well?

    I got a longer stem or 2 laying around and I plan on swapping them out for testing purposes in the next day or so. I just wanted some other feedback as well.

  2. #2
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    my understanding has always been that you should NOT fit your cockpit with your saddle. that's not to say you can't play with it a little but if you move too far either direction you run the risk of having knee problems. or even hip problems. though that usually develops over time.

    unless your unhappy with your position over the bottom bracket, don't move your saddle too far. try your other stems. that's the proper way to make adjustments.

    there is a bit of a compromise between stem length, bar width, and saddle position when it comes to comfortably getting behind the saddle. unless this is a race bike, find a happy medium.

    i find that for my fun, more technical rides, i don't mind a shorter cockpit for ease of getting behind the saddle. for my race setup i prefer to be more stretched out.
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  3. #3
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    BENKD is spot on. Do not just go moving your saddle all over to fix cockpit issues.

    You should go to your LBS and have them position your saddle correctly in relation to your bottom bracket. Then choose your stem from there.

  4. #4
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    I went out to the garage tonight and took the 90 millimeter stem off of my Jamis and put it on my Soma for a test. It was dark and I decided to go ride around the block and do some figure eights out in the street. I don't think that's enough of a test ride to decide on a stem length but I will say it felt so much better in the steering felt so much better to me and the cockpit felt a lot better. I think I need a longer stem possibly in the 90 to 100 millimeter length.

  5. #5
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    I have a cheap 100mm that I'm going to try on my Soma when I finish it. Although for me shorter may be better.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BENKD29 View Post
    my understanding has always been that you should NOT fit your cockpit with your saddle. that's not to say you can't play with it a little but if you move too far either direction you run the risk of having knee problems. or even hip problems. though that usually develops over time.

    unless your unhappy with your position over the bottom bracket, don't move your saddle too far. try your other stems. that's the proper way to make adjustments.
    That is well said. The position of your saddle is far more important than your stem length. It's where most experienced bike fitters start. If that is set up properly and comfortably for you, in a position that is unlikely to cause knee or hip pain...don't mess with it before your stem. If you're not sure, swing by your LBS or wherever local that has a good bike fitter.
    Just get out ride it & have fun!

  7. #7
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    Did you use the same bars? Bar width makes a difference on stem length .

  8. #8
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    Yeah I'd go wider bars before putting a longer stem on...


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  9. #9
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    I got my bars cut to the width that I like and that is 740 millimeters. before I cut them I was riding them at 780 and that wasn't making that much of a difference. when I had the 90 millimeter stem on last night with the same 740 millimeter bars I thought it had a pretty nice feel to it. the geometry on my soma is slacker then my jamis which I was warned would make the cockpit feel a little more crowded.

  10. #10
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    I "try" to keep my saddle position relative to the crank center the same on all my bikes, and use stem length and handlebar widths to help fit. I damaged a muscle in my right calf that wasn't healing, and after reading Steve Hogg blogs, I tried moving my cleats further back. This has helped me a lot with muscle balance in my legs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by iowamtb View Post
    ... I had the 90 millimeter stem on last night with the same 740 millimeter bars I thought it had a pretty nice feel to it....
    That is a good sign, although sometimes just doing something different can make you feel pretty nice.
    The front/rear position of the seat should be where you are well balanced in relation with the cranks and pedals - as others have said, perhaps in different words. For those inclined towards rules and measurements, KOPS often serves well, at least as a starting point for feel-based small adjustments.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  12. #12
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    I've found the section "The Fore-Aft Saddle Position" on the Peter White bike fitting site to be very helpful:

    How to Fit a Bicycle
    Last edited by JeffL; 03-17-2015 at 09:33 AM.
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  13. #13
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    What about the sweep on the wide bars? I just bumped up to a 100mm from a 90mm because my Turbine bars have more sweep than I'm used to. I love the wider bar, but don't need the sweep. Honestly, the sweep may not be much different than my Evolve XC bars but it sure felt like I was being pushed up more and back than I wanted or am used to. The hand position wasn't quite comfortable either. Seems better now that I have the slight longer stem and have turned the bars down a bit.
    Anyway, I would play with the stem and bars rather than moving the saddle around to accommodate for the fitment issue like others have said.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  14. #14
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    This is a new build so the bars I am using are the only ones I bought. The sweep is "similar" to the sweep on my other bikes. Anyways I know I may be contradicting myself (please forgive me ) but this is a single speed so is saddle fore and aft that critical like it would be on a road bike or comfort bike? I thought the bike handled pretty well but yesterday when I was putting around town with my wife I noticed this issue with it. I am not sure when I am out in the rough stuff how much it will affect me. I have only taken it off road once and it wasn't much of a ride cause the trails were un maintenanced and muddy as hell. I was skeptical going to a short stem when I built the bike but I have wanted to see what the short stem wide bars hype was for once in my life lol.

    I think I may throw my hussefelt stem back on and drop it down lower, change the angle of my bars with the sweep, and scoot my seat back a tad. I looked tonight and noticed my seat was actually sitting fore of halfway. I don't know why I had been thinking it was halfway. I can scoot it back an inch and still not be too far past halfway. My brain has been scattered lately sorry. Too much craziness.

  15. #15
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by iowamtb View Post
    I looked tonight and noticed my seat was actually sitting fore of halfway.
    The location of the seat is mainly relevant when you are seated...

    Where your seat is on the rail might not be an indication of anything. Like, on my 2 singlespeeds, I have the seat in the same place relative to cranks. On one bike, the seat is forward on a straight post, and on another it is back on a set back post. Seat tube angles are so different between the frames.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    The location of the seat is mainly relevant when you are seated...

    Where your seat is on the rail might not be an indication of anything. Like, on my 2 singlespeeds, I have the seat in the same place relative to cranks. On one bike, the seat is forward on a straight post, and on another it is back on a set back post. Seat tube angles are so different between the frames.

    I understand. When I noticed the constant scooting forward on the seat the other night I immediately thought must be this short stem. I assumed my seat was already in a certain position and I never bothered to look. Turns out the seat was further forward than I prefer normally. This seat I bought has longer rails than the seat on my other bike for quite a bit more adjustement. I moved it back a little and put my old stem back on and took her for a spin and it immediately felt so much better. I am going to ride this thing hard for a while like it is before I jump to any more conclusions. I have a tendancy to be impulsive..........just ask my wife LOL!!!!

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