I use my cross bike (Kona 2004 Jake the Snake) for commuting mostly. I don't plan to race it other than Cat 4 races for fun. However the handlebars are well below the seat making for a less the ideal comfort level. My question is if I switch out the stem to raise my handle bars a few inches will this make the steering significantly different? I'm dreaming of what I believe would be the perfect bike. All the ruggedness of a cross bike with cross tires and all the comfort of comfort/commuter bike. Something along the lines of the Rivendell Philosophy applied to a cross bike. The Country Cross Bicycle.
I love riding, but know little of the mechanics/geometry side of things. Would this idea work or really screw up my ride?
It's not really a matter of changing the handling characteristics as of the logistics of getting the bars up. If your frame is so small that you've got tons of seattube showing, it'll be kind of kludgey getting the bars up high enough.
I plan to do similar with my just ordered Surly XC. I could have gotten the larger frame but then hopefully made the right decision to get the frame to the smaller size (of my range) and then raise the stem or replace it with a longer/taller stem.
I don't like the bars even with the saddle, I want them about four inches below or thereabouts. I think the Surly LHT has a higher head tube than the XC.
2013 Kona Jake, 2008 Kona Major Jake, 2013 Kona Jake the Snake, 1999 Kona Muni Mula, 2012 Ridley Excalibur, 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker
Here's a pic of the stem on my Jake:
This puts the bars about even with my seat. I didn't notice a change in the handling when this happened, although at first I felt like I was reaching up to get to the bars. Honestly, I think this is even pretty good for CX racing (though I'm in the sub-recreational class myself). There are a lot of times in a cross race when you just don't want too much weight forward. I managed to flip myself over the bars once even with it like shown above.