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  1. #1
    Victim of Circumstance mightypudge's Avatar
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    Question about "custom" stems

    Just yesterday I stumbled upon a fantastic LBS where I plan to take all of my business. They have a friendly, knowledgeable staff and a great selection of bikes, parts, and clothes. I got to ogle some beauties: Cannondale, Bianchi, Serotta, Kestrel, OMG!!

    Because I was never given a proper fitting for either of my bikes, I asked if they could do a fitting for me. He said they charge $65 for a 90-minute fitting session. They have a special fitting bike and the take measurements not only of my body parts, but they also measure limb flexibility, weight, etc.

    Then he mentioned that usually it is necessary to replace the stock stem with a custom-sized aluminum stem. When I asked why, he said because usually after a good fitting it is necessary to really tweak the stem angle and extension, and stock stems often don't fit the bill. He said the stems usually cost about $50 and it is added to the cost of the fitting.

    So here is my question. Does this jive? I mean, I've been reading up on fittings and I've never heard of needing a custom stem.
    Andrew

    "The Scalpel climbs like a monkey on crack." - BAC5.2

    '03 Cannondale Scalpel 800
    '05 Giant Cypress SX

  2. #2
    Senior Member doonster's Avatar
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    Seems a bit weird to me. "Custom" might just mean getting something different to what is supplied on the bike but if they're talking about a one-off manufacture that sounds wrong.

    "Stock" stems come in anything from 0 - 40deg rise and lengths from 60 - 140mm, depending on manufacturer. You should be able to get a reasonable priced stem anywhere in that range.

    I'd suggest if you're measurements lead to something outside that range then you're bike is the wrong size. Extreme stem sizes will affect the handling of your bike quite a bit.

  3. #3
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    There are a couple of good road shops around here. Bikes ByKyle and Bean's, both up the Main Line, are two of them.

    I'm sure he's not saying "custom-made," but simply that a stem will be ordered that exactly matches what the Fit Kit calculates. There are very few possible combinations of extension and rise that somebody doesn't already make.

    Personally, I think you're being somewhat... precipitate. Again. You've got total lifetime road miles of what, 200?

    Wait. Read more articles on bike fit and do some minor tweaking on your own, and learn empirically what effects those changes have. Analyze your fit issues over a period of time so that you really understand what you're trying to fix before you try to fix it.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  4. #4
    Spawn of Satan
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    If you bought the bike w/o knowing the exact parts your need then the bike shop will suggest parts that are optimal for you.

    The stem usually gets changed because eveyrones reach is different. You can also change the crank arm length, handebar width, seat position, seat type, bb axle width and probably a few I am forgetting.

    You do not have to change these but you may be more comfortable with them. The thing is there are several ways to fit a person, so the actual fit is subjective. Overall I think everyone should get a fit done at least once.

  5. #5
    Victim of Circumstance mightypudge's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rich Clark
    Personally, I think you're being somewhat... precipitate. Again. You've got total lifetime road miles of what, 200?
    Thanks for the advice, Rich. Although I'm not sure why only having 200 road miles means I shouldn't have a bike that fits me. If all those miles were done with me in pain, wouldn't a fitting be a good idea?

    Originally posted by Rich Clark
    Wait. Read more articles on bike fit and do some minor tweaking on your own, and learn empirically what effects those changes have. Analyze your fit issues over a period of time so that you really understand what you're trying to fix before you try to fix it.
    I have been reading, constantly. I've also done some minor tweaks. So far nothing I seem to be doing is helping. Again, if I ride in pain I am not going to be able to put enough miles on my bike to ever get a good idea about what I'm trying to fix. Starting with a well set up bike seems like a good start. Where is my logic failing me?
    Andrew

    "The Scalpel climbs like a monkey on crack." - BAC5.2

    '03 Cannondale Scalpel 800
    '05 Giant Cypress SX

  6. #6
    Senior Member shaharidan's Avatar
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    ive heard similar things before, i think bike bikyle specifically mentions that they will probably recommend a handlebar or stem, hmm lemme see if i can find it.
    here it is:
    http://www.bikyle.com/retrofit.htm
    its towards the bottom of the page. the site says he charges $150.00 for a retrofit ( it is the main line ). so im guessing you didnt go to his shop.
    maybe ask what stems usually cost, and if you're comforatable with the price go for it.
    or try to make some adjustments to the bike yourself first and see if it helps any. you may end up giving $65. to someone who doesnt do any better than you could yourself.
    what shop is it out of curiosity?
    No matter how fast I'm going, I'm in no hurry.
    there are no bicycles in the valley, the only bicycle you find in the valley is the bicycle you ride down there.
    Ride in the front, this space is available to anyone that wishes to take it-jjmolyet

  7. #7
    Victim of Circumstance mightypudge's Avatar
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    Cycles ByKyle won't do a fitting on a bike recently purchased at another shop. That is his policy.

    The shop I'm referring to is Keswick Cycle Co. I agree; spending $65 on something I could do myself would be wasteful. The guy was very knowledgable and even showed me the process, which went far beyond my abilities to do it myself.
    Andrew

    "The Scalpel climbs like a monkey on crack." - BAC5.2

    '03 Cannondale Scalpel 800
    '05 Giant Cypress SX

  8. #8
    Senior Member shaharidan's Avatar
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    well its not a ton of money so like i said maybe find out what they would charge for a new stem and go for it if its not too bad. i think even just a lil added comfort over time is easily worth $65. plus maybe the priocess would be helpful in learning how to do it yourself next time.
    No matter how fast I'm going, I'm in no hurry.
    there are no bicycles in the valley, the only bicycle you find in the valley is the bicycle you ride down there.
    Ride in the front, this space is available to anyone that wishes to take it-jjmolyet

  9. #9
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mightypudge
    I have been reading, constantly. I've also done some minor tweaks. So far nothing I seem to be doing is helping. Again, if I ride in pain I am not going to be able to put enough miles on my bike to ever get a good idea about what I'm trying to fix. Starting with a well set up bike seems like a good start. Where is my logic failing me?
    What kind of pain are you talking about, and what makes you think changing the stem will fix it?

    And if changing the stem will help, why aren't you going back to the shop that sold you the bike and demanding the service they should have given you to begin with?

    I'm certain that Specialized would not be happy to hear about one of their dealers not doing a proper fit for a customer buying one of their bikes, and stem swaps are the most common fitting tweak. Specialized supplies a variety of stems in various extensions and reaches for that very purpose.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  10. #10
    don d.
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    What fit system are they using? I'm a big believer in getting fit correctly to your bicycle, but nowadays fitting has become a way to gouge the customer. IMHO, you can buy a book, SERIOUS CYCLING, by Ed Burke, and read about several of the most commonly accepted fitting systems that are used to get riders comfortable and efficient on the bike.

    Ed discusses Greg Lemond's fitting system, John Howard's fitting system, and the USOC fitting system. After you read this you and your buddies can "set yourselves up" (the book gives very complete, detailed step by step instructions)and be within a gnat's hair of as good as it gets. And you'll have a book that discusses about 50 more different things about cycling so you can get on this forum and sound like an expert when someone asks a question. IMHO, forcing you to pay for a stem that you don't even know you'll need is, well, OK, I'll be nice and just call it silly.

  11. #11
    The Cycling Photographer SipperPhoto's Avatar
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    my guess is that a "custom" stem is probably one that is the proper length and rise for your body on the bike... it is just a plain ordinary stem, that is better than the one you have on there, at least for fit... I just took my 100mm Cinelli 80 degree stem off my bike, since it was a shade too long and straight (not much rise) and fitted it with a "custom" stem from my LBS that is about the same length, but has much more rise in it, therefore shortening my reach...

    that is my guess anyways

    Jeff
    Jeff

    Check out TorelliFan.com! Submit your bike, tell us about an epic ride, or just come to check out the eye candy!

  12. #12
    Victim of Circumstance mightypudge's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rich Clark
    What kind of pain are you talking about, and what makes you think changing the stem will fix it?
    I'm experiencing several pains. Most notably back pain and hand discomfort/numbness. I never actually said that I thought changing the stem would fix the problem. I'm aware that it could be anything from saddle height/angle, stem angle. bar position, etc. The bike shop suggested that, if after the fitting the stock stem was not correct, they would have to swap the stem. Perhaps not with a "custom" stem, but with something they'd have to order from Specialized, Easton, or another company.

    Originally posted by Rich Clark
    And if changing the stem will help, why aren't you going back to the shop that sold you the bike and demanding the service they should have given you to begin with?
    This is probably the best bet. Although I wonder how helpful they'll be if they didn't suggest a proper fitting the first time around.


    Once again Rich, thanks for the advice.
    Andrew

    "The Scalpel climbs like a monkey on crack." - BAC5.2

    '03 Cannondale Scalpel 800
    '05 Giant Cypress SX

  13. #13
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mightypudge
    This is probably the best bet. Although I wonder how helpful they'll be if they didn't suggest a proper fitting the first time around.
    It sounds like you don't plan a long-term relationship with this shop anyway, but you did pay for ongoing support and service. Be sure to talk to the owner/manager, not a summer-hire saleskid, and try to go in on a weekday when they're less busy.

    If they resist, letting them know you plan to complain directly to Specialized may shake them loose. Whatever your problems with the shop, when you chose a Specialized you chose a company with an excellent reputation for customer service, one that keeps a very tight rein on their dealers.

    However, I predict that if you go in (or call ahead) and talk to the manager and say that you're having discomfort that may be due to fit problems, you'll get the service you require.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

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