This is an example of how to do it right: I bought a frame with the proper length top tube that I knew also had a tall enough headtube as to not need a spacer stack. I have a single very small spacer under the stem, mostly just to help it mate better with the headset. I am pretty sure I won't need any more drop, if I do I can always change the length and angle of the stem.
Around here, the norm among recreational riders seems to be tall head tubes (a la Roubaix), upturned stems, even taller shim stacks made possible by longer steerers from the manuacturers, and stems that tend to be too short. My hunch is that these are compensations for frame design fads that started around 1980. First, the seat tubes got steep, which pitched riders' centers of gravity too far onto the hands. Then top tubes got longer, probably in emulation of Greg LeMond, who advocated "long and low." They forgot he also advocated slack seat tube angles. To compensate, many riders started riding smaller frames, which made getting a decent bar height even more difficult. To compensate, the "endurance geometry" was born, which raised the hands but left the seat tube angles. Riders could get the weight off their hands but only by sitting upright, as if they were driving a city bus.
If I were designing bikes I'd start with an early 70s bike with a slack seat tube, and modernize it with a semi-sloping top tube and shorter chain stays. The sit-up-and-beg folks would get a version with a slightly extended head tube, something like a Trek H2, but certainly nothing in Roubaix or Cervelo S5 territory. Nobody would need that because they wouldn't doing push-ups to keep their chins off the handlebar.
Last edited by oldbobcat; 01-03-12 at 12:12 AM.
Modern geometries for equivalent sizes of those bikes have larger head tubes. Combine that with a threadless system and a modern bike that puts the bars in those exact same positions would have a slammed stem, or maybe with one spacer underneath.
Besides, nobody rides with their elbows bent at a 90 degree angle for hours on end. I think the point is that if you can comfortably handle the bars as low as they can go without negatively affecting performance, there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't put them there - especially if you are racing.
If you are comfortable with your arms close to straight with the stem slammed on the tops you will save energy in a cruising position (long road race). When the pace starts kicking up or if you're in front you bend your elbows more and/or get in the drops.
I thought you weren't supposed to slam the stem??? Isn't it recommended to leave at least one spacer under the stem for safety reasons? If this is not true, then I will definetly be slamming mine.
It pays to look at the pictures once in a while in-between posting them, "".
The bars should be set at the lowest (drops) comfortable position for the rider.
Cervelo S2 | Zipp | SRAM | Rotor
Don't believe everything you think.
If you don't have a spacer on top it's easy to bottom out the top cap on the steerer tube and not be able to preload the bearings enough. On cane creek integrated headsets the spacers have an inner circular protrusion (they also 'click' together when you use them in a stack) that fits into the top part of the headset, it increases the contact area considerably compared to just slamming the stem onto the top of the headset.
i had that happen on one of my bikes simply because i switched to a stem that had a shorter stack height - so with the same number of spacers, the top cap wasn't going down far enough to preload the headset.
i just loosened the expander a bit, set it down another 10mm, re-tightened it.
I have long legs, and relatively normal torso, so I need a large frame - and still have the saddle pretty high (80cm). That means unless I have a bunch of spacers under the stem, I'm looking at a huge saddle to bar drop. With 2.5cm of spacers now, I have a 9cm saddle to bar drop.
In other words, it depends on the frame geometry, AND rider specs.
'02 De Rosa Planet
'77 Cinelli SC
'79 Paris Sport (Dave Moulton) under construction
'10 Diamondback Sorrento
slammed, and it fits perfectly- 58cm frame 120mm stem, 6'2" rider