Stem lenghth how big influence on steering?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
el condor
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by el condor

I need a longer stem. Is it correct that a longer stem makes steering less twitchy/nervous?
After what lenghth is a stem considered too short or too long in combination with a frame's geometry to alter the steering in a negative way?

by Weenie


ritcheykestrel
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by ritcheykestrel

A stem that is longer will make handling less twitchy.

BUT...if it is too long, it will make it handle like a semi truck, slow and dead feeling.

I have found over 20 years, the ideal range is between 100mm and 120mm depending on the frame and rider size.
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Gregorio
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by Gregorio

I recently went from a 120mm -6 deg stem to a 130 -17 deg on a size 54 frame. I really think it feels much more stable on decents.
My advice would be buy a cheap stem first to try it out.

el condor
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by el condor

Thanks for the answers so far. i've googled and got all sorts of answers-bit confusing.
I want to change from 110 to 120, so no big deal but still sort of long.
I find it difficult to find a cheap-used one since it's 11/4" OS.

Gregorio
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by Gregorio

Buy from a LBS and hopefully they would let you try it prior to buying.

Geoff
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by Geoff

Absolutely! One of the spin-offs from the move to monocoque carbon frames, thereby fixed-dimension headtube lengths (versus custom frames), is that there is no choice but to go with longer stems to keep the bar height reasonable. I have personally found that the slower steering of 130-140mm stems makes the bike much nicer for road riding (versus crits).

el condor
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by el condor

Geoff wrote:Absolutely! One of the spin-offs from the move to monocoque carbon frames, thereby fixed-dimension headtube lengths (versus custom frames), is that there is no choice but to go with longer stems to keep the bar height reasonable. I have personally found that the slower steering of 130-140mm stems makes the bike much nicer for road riding (versus crits).


Exactly what I experienced. I talked to a guy at Canyon about stem length and he said I have a rather small frame if I did need a 110 to 120 stem (they recommend 90mm's)-and it would have a influence on riding. I have applied the exact same sitting position from my old frame to the Canyon (considering seat tube angle etc.) and with a 110 stem it's 1:1 but I FEEL like I want a longer stem especially because the Canyon is rather an aggressive reactive bike and with a longer stem it would smooth it a bit. I used to race successful with 130 stems and it just felt so good and predictable.
Well, I will try it.

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kgt
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by kgt

Generally speaking 100-130mm is an optimal length.
Shorter would feel too twitchy longer to slow.

Geoff
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by Geoff

The other thing that really helps is the availability of seatposts and saddle rails that allow you to replicate your position on a bike with a shorter toptube. As long as you can get your bottom bracket in the same spot, the rest of the dimensions can be achieved with bars, stems, posts and saddles(ceteris parabis).

HeluvaSkier
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by HeluvaSkier

el condor wrote:I find it difficult to find a cheap-used one since it's 11/4" OS.


Just out of curiosity, what frame set are you putting it on that uses 1 1/4?

CarlTroy
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:59 pm

by CarlTroy

HeluvaSkier wrote:
el condor wrote:I find it difficult to find a cheap-used one since it's 11/4" OS.


Just out of curiosity, what frame set are you putting it on that uses 1 1/4?


Canyon

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Rick
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by Rick

My experience has been the opposite. I have tried 90mm to 125mm on the same bike a couple times. With all else held "equal" a simple change in stem length made very little difference to the handling. Yes, it made a little difference, but just a barely noticeable change that I got used to very quickly. It didn't really change the handling character of the bikes at all.
I would go for positional comfort, and not worry about "handling".
Admittedly, though, the 100-120mm seems "standard" and if you have to go outside that range, you may either have an odd torso or a mis-sized frame.
One of my bikes has a 90 and one a 110mm right now.
Bike position has gone through evolutionary periods (fads ?) like everything else. Look at the position of some TdF rider of the 1980's: Very low and very stretched. My old bike had a 56TT and a 125 Stem. Sounds brutal, but I got quite used to it.
Now i ride a 54 TT with a 110 stem.

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synchronicity
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by synchronicity

Personally I like shorter stems 'cause I have a short torso & prefer the handling.
I've hopped on bikes with everything from 50mm (not a proper test, apart from my MTBs) to 140mm.
I could just not get used to the feeling of the 140mm.
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eigner
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by eigner

+1 on above. I do prefer a longer TT with a short stem.
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by Weenie


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ergott
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by ergott

I don't see how you could experiment with stem lengths and its effect on steering. If you do this with multiple bikes then you have too many other factors. If on the same bike, you can't have a variety of stem lengths that fit well enough.

A bike that doesn't fit is a far bigger issue than stem length. Get yourself fit on a bike that fits you and the effect of stem length on steering is nothing to worry about.

-Eric

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