Tinea Pedis wrote:
Talking in absolutes, especially in cycling, is a pretty big call to make.
You are absolutely right there, I shouldn't have stated an absolute.
Tinea Pedis wrote:
My knowledge comes from people who design and build bikes for a living.
Ditto, actually. Maybe not on the scale of Baum, but they're frame makers and designers as well. One of them works for Specialized... okay, so he's on the scale larger than Baum, the other two are local builders. The verdict, by all accounts, is that stem length might make someone think one build is sluggish vs. another, but it really becomes a moot factor that the body adjusts to. The body & brain won't be able to adjust what determine's the frames properties though: wheel base. If the bike is longer, particularly if the fork has a lot of offset, it will tend to feel "sluggish" compared to one with a smaller wheel base or shorter rake, which will veer towards being called "twitchy". Change stem lengths and there might be a temporary change in feedback from the rider until a few miles in when they figure out how to steer with the new position of their hands relative to the steering tube, but that still does not affect the bike's wheel base itself. Smaller bikes: better handling (see also "nimble around corners"). Longer bikes: more stability (see also "sluggish around corners")
A good metaphor would be this:
F1 Driver. Same engine, Same driver, Same level of aero, same width of car, Same steering interface. Yeah?
-Shorter wheelbase, driver will say "very nimble, twitchy response"
-lengthen that sucker out to a limo and the driver will say "sluggish in turning"
If you keep the wheelbase the same and just adjust the radius of the steering wheel (same affect as length of stem: more/less distance/effort needed to rotate), the driver may say something at first but will adjust to what they have there and, in the end, the comments on the vehicle will be as they were before the change (for the most part).
It's the wheelbase that is a larger factor.
Back to the bicycle world:
Take a touring frame vs. a race frame down the same descent. It really doesn't matter what length of stem you are riding on either one: the touring bike will have a longer wheelbase and be, by comparison, sluggish, and the race bike will be, by comparison, nimble/twitchy. Switch riders, the bike will handle the same. Sure one rider might be stretched out on a stem too long for them, but the handling of the bike will be the same regardless of the rider.
That's what my contacts say. I'm honestly interested in what Baum has to say about wheelbase being a factor compared to length of stem.
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