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Thread: Reversing stem

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    Member hjbiker43's Avatar
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    Reversing stem

    As I get older (61), it seems my position on my road bike gets more and more uncomfortable. I've got my saddle height about right, so I think the problem may be that the handlebar is too low (about 2-3" lower than the saddle). Since the steerer tube has been cut, I can't raise the stem. My only option, if i keep the same stem (3TTT Forgie), is to flip it. This would bring the handlebar up to about even with the top of the saddle. My question is: how will this affect the handling of the bike? Will I have to change any other measurements like saddle height, fore and aft, reach etc.? My back and neck would like to know! BTW, the stem length is right (view of the front hub is obscured with my hands on the hoods) and I ride a Cannondale R2000 Caad 5.

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    I have flipped my stem before, actually going in the opposite direction from that which you want to go. Even though the handling didn't seem to be affected, I would imagine that it does have at least a small bearing. If you flip the stem it may require that the fore/aft position of the seat be changed also. You may also feel more comfortable with the seat nose down a slight amount more with the bars up. My Thomson post with a micro adjust worked great for this. You mention that the front hub is obscured with your hands on the hoods. This is a quick way to tell on most bikes if your stem length is correct, but there are other factors that need to be considered. For instance, on my touring bike, the front hub is obscured when I am on the hoods, but on my road bike I can see a portion of the hub from under the bars. I am more spread out and probably much more aero on the road bike, but I still have bend in my arms and never have back pain even on century rides.

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    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Raising the handlebars will have the effect of making them slightly closer to the seat. But the difference will be minimal, and it shouldn't affect handling. I say go ahead and try it. If you don't like it, you can always put it back, right?

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    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabike
    I have flipped my stem before, actually going in the opposite direction from that which you want to go.
    Same here. When I got my Litespeed the stem was flipped up. I didn't like the feel of riding "upright" so I flipped the stem so the handlebars were in a more comfortable (lower) position. That was in 2001 when I was just a kid of 56 years of age.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale SuperSix EVO carbon

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  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hjbiker43
    As I get older (61), it seems my position on my road bike gets more and more uncomfortable. I've got my saddle height about right, so I think the problem may be that the handlebar is too low (about 2-3" lower than the saddle). Since the steerer tube has been cut, I can't raise the stem. My only option, if i keep the same stem (3TTT Forgie), is to flip it. This would bring the handlebar up to about even with the top of the saddle. My question is: how will this affect the handling of the bike? Will I have to change any other measurements like saddle height, fore and aft, reach etc.? My back and neck would like to know! BTW, the stem length is right (view of the front hub is obscured with my hands on the hoods) and I ride a Cannondale R2000 Caad 5.
    I have astem that is reversible on my mountain bike. If I do a road ride the I reverse the stem to give me a low bar style. Seems to make me inclined to work harder, but my neck pays for it after about 50 miles.
    However, the last road ride I did was a spur of the moment decision and all I had time to change was the tyres. High stem, no neck ache, time to look around a bit, talk to people and the same average for the same 65 mile ride of last year with bike "Properly" set up for a road ride.

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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hjbiker43
    As I get older (61), it seems my position on my road bike gets more and more uncomfortable. I've got my saddle height about right, so I think the problem may be that the handlebar is too low (about 2-3" lower than the saddle). Since the steerer tube has been cut, I can't raise the stem. My only option, if i keep the same stem (3TTT Forgie), is to flip it. This would bring the handlebar up to about even with the top of the saddle. My question is: how will this affect the handling of the bike? Will I have to change any other measurements like saddle height, fore and aft, reach etc.? My back and neck would like to know! BTW, the stem length is right (view of the front hub is obscured with my hands on the hoods) and I ride a Cannondale R2000 Caad 5.
    WAIT A MINUTE, MATE. HOLD ON NOW!!!!!


    Look for and buy an "adjustable" stem rather than turn yours around. I've equipped all 3 of my bike
    with a "kalloy" brand adjustable stem and love'm. I can dial in the handlebar fit just right .

    Turning your stem around will make the bike steer screwy so take care here, mate.

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    Don't see any reason not to just flip that sucker over. I raised my bars three years ago (all my bikes have quill stems, so it was easy) and I'll never go back. It's SO much more comfortable, and hasn't cost me any speed. If anything, I'm in better shape, because I can stay on the bike longer.
    Grant Petersen at Rivendell (www.rivbike.com) is a big fan of keeping the bars at least level with the saddle. He claims drop bars were developed to be installed that way, to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops with a lower, aero position on the drops. Over the years people just kept lowering them until now the tops are almost where the drops used to be.

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tightwad
    WAIT A MINUTE, MATE. HOLD ON NOW!!!!!


    Look for and buy an "adjustable" stem rather than turn yours around. I've equipped all 3 of my bike
    with a "kalloy" brand adjustable stem and love'm. I can dial in the handlebar fit just right .

    Turning your stem around will make the bike steer screwy so take care here, mate.

    Please explain to me how adjusting the handlebar height by flipping the stem will cause the Bike to steer screwy, but adjusting the handlebar height by a "kalloy" brand adjustable stem won't.


    Neither one will cause any serious change in the steering, so go for the flip. If you find that too high for your liking, then spend the money for the adjustable stem.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tightwad
    WAIT A MINUTE, MATE. HOLD ON NOW!!!!!


    Look for and buy an "adjustable" stem rather than turn yours around. I've equipped all 3 of my bike
    with a "kalloy" brand adjustable stem and love'm. I can dial in the handlebar fit just right .

    Turning your stem around will make the bike steer screwy so take care here, mate.
    I think that hjbiker is contemplating flipping his stem over, not turning it backwards.
    Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people. --H. Richard Niebuhr

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    Flip it over and don't look back! 10 minutes and you're done. Mine was 3" lower than the seat and now it's almost leveled.
    When I get younger I plan to switch it over again and give it a try on racy mode
    Good Luck

  11. #11
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    I've used reversed stems, adjustable stems, and reversed-adjustable stems. I found no difference in steering. The only thing to watch for is to ensure that the bars won't bop the top tube. Unless the stem is angled (severely) downward, or you were using drop bars, I wouldn't expect that. The steering may feel funny if you're using an exceptionally long stem (140mm plus), but otherwise, go for the gusto! Having the bars a comfy distance from the seat is more important than worrying about how it looks.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    As I've gotten older I've found it necessary (on conventional bikes) to significantly raise my handlebar relative to my saddle. I'm picky about the horizontal distance from the seat to the handlebar too. I consider myself to be an experiment of one. I'll make a handlebar adjustment and, if I'm still not satisfied, I'll make a different one. The last piece of hardware I've bought for raising the handlebar on my beater bike was a "stem riser" which extends the fork steer tube about 3 inches. I don't like the way that it looks but I love how it makes my bike feel.

    I consider whatever parts I have to acquire to make these adjustments to be money well spent. If I can't feel comfortable while riding ride my bike for a couple of hours, what's the point? The ultimate comfort tweak is illustrated in my avatar.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Wow! This thread lay dormant for just shy of a decade before being resurrected.

    Sometimes, but not usually, flipping the stem up can require replacing the brake and/or shift cables and housing if they are too short to reach the new position.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    ...The last piece of hardware I've bought for raising the handlebar on my beater bike was a "stem riser" which extends the fork steer tube about 3 inches. I don't like the way that it looks but I love how it makes my bike feel..
    Yep - I've got one too.

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