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  1. #1
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    Lowering the Handlebars: Spacer above the stem on CAAD10?

    Since there are a lot of CAAD10 owners on this forum, I wanted to find out: how did you guys lower your handlebars? The CAAD10 manual says that it is not ok to place spacers above the stem, which means that if you want to lower the stem, you pretty much have to cut the steerer tube. Does anyone know why Cannondale recommends against placing spacers above the stem?

    A few questions:

    1. Is there much of a difference between lowering the stem vs getting a stem that has a steeper downwards angle (larger drop)? This could prevent cutting the steerer tube too much. The stock CAAD10 C3 stem barely has any angle and flipping it didn't lower the handlebars much.
    2. How did you decide on the right stem for you? Any stem recommendations for aggressive geometry at a reasonable price? Don't care much about the weight.
    3. Has anyone cut their own steerer tube?

    I am going to call a couple of shops tomorrow to find out about this, but it would help if I have some idea before talking to them. One of the threads I read mentioned that shops cut the tube for about $10. That seems sort of low, but at that price I wouldn't hesitate have them do it for me, if cutting is indeed the way to go.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member 99Klein's Avatar
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    Can't wait for this to start again
    When you argue with an idiot, from a bystanders point of view, it may be hard to discern which is the idiot. (dis·cern: Verb - Perceive or recognize)

  3. #3
    Senior Member BigJeff's Avatar
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    Cut it yourself with a hacksaw, what could possibly go wrong.


    How much drop from seat to bar top are you attempting to achieve, 15cm or 20 cm?

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    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Manual? Really?

    There's nothing wrong with temporarily placing spacers above your stem.
    Try the fit before you cut the tube ... because once you cut you can't go back.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SpeshulEd's Avatar
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    Put the spacers above the stem for a week, see how it goes, then htfu, cut the steerer (hacksaw, measure twice), and slam that stem...if your back hurts, you're not riding enough.

    You can buy steerer extenders for $15 when you get old.
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  6. #6
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    Hi,

    The stem can crush the carbon tube if spacers are used above the stem.
    The carbon tube is supported by the top cap arrangement and this must
    be directly above the stem, no spacers, so you must cut it to shorten.

    rgds, sreten.

  7. #7
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    The stem can crush the carbon tube if spacers are used above the stem.
    This is true but if you don't tighten your stem too much this shouldn't happen.
    A steerer tube should be able to withstand that, if you keep to the specified torque.
    Cutting is obviously the best long term decision, but as I said: you can't go back.

  8. #8
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    It depends upon where the expander plug sits in the steerer tube. If the expander plug sits with its top level with the top of the steerer, then you should not put spacers above the stem. The stem should clamp precisely where the plug sits. If the plug can be positioned down the steerer a little ways, then a spacer of that height can be used above the stem. Some forks like Easton's EC 90 XL require a spacer above the stem and actually provide one for that purpose. Others prohibit it. It all depends. I would follow manufacturer's directions.

    As far as cutting the steerer tube, you can easily do it yourself with a hacksaw or even better yet, a Dremel tool. If you are like me, you will not get the perfectly clean edge that using a prescribed cutting guide will give, but I can't figure out how that matters. As long as it is not too uneven and the top cap is a couple of millimeters above the top of the stem, the system will work fine.

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    Senior Member SpeshulEd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    It depends upon where the expander plug sits in the steerer tube. If the expander plug sits with its top level with the top of the steerer, then you should not put spacers above the stem. The stem should clamp precisely where the plug sits. If the plug can be positioned down the steerer a little ways, then a spacer of that height can be used above the stem. Some forks like Easton's EC 90 XL require a spacer above the stem and actually provide one for that purpose. Others prohibit it. It all depends. I would follow manufacturer's directions.

    As far as cutting the steerer tube, you can easily do it yourself with a hacksaw or even better yet, a Dremel tool. If you are like me, you will not get the perfectly clean edge that using a prescribed cutting guide will give, but I can't figure out how that matters. As long as it is not too uneven and the top cap is a couple of millimeters above the top of the stem, the system will work fine.
    This pretty much sums it all up.

    The expanders that come on the Cannondales, should expand at the bottom of the stem. With a stack of spacers above the stem, the expander can't reach the stem area and instead expands above the stem, stressing the steerer tube...in addition to the stem also squeezing the steerer tube below it, adding additional stress. The two should technically be working with/against each other. Still, if you're gentle, you should be able to ride with spacers above if you don't want to go all out.
    Hey guys, lets go play bikes!

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  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    As mentioned, the reasoning is about supporting the steerer tube. Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    Some expansion plug assemblies offer no support to the steerer tube,a nd you don't see steerer tubes using those plugs failing.

    Conversely, I can see that the glued in aluminum sleeve type could offer some support, and all else equal why not take advantage of it, if you can.

    Thus, I'd follow C'dales recoomendation, once I had things dialed in. But I wouldn't hesitate to put spacers above the stem, on a temporary basis, being careful not to overtorque the stem.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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  11. #11
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    I honestly hadn't heard of this being an issue. I now see that both Cannondale and Specialized recommend against spacers on top of the stem. Most of the guidance I've seen up to now is to run a spacer on top of the stem so that the stem clamp sits entierly on the steerer. I guess just do what the manufacturer says.

    If possible, leaving the steerer a bit long is a good idea because it also give you more flexibility in using stems with taller stack heights as well as making the bike more resaleable.

    In my experience, it's very hard to crack a steerer. I once tightened a stem down on a cut piece of steerer tube just to see how much it would take to crack the steerer. I ridiculously overtorqued it and wasn't able to get the steerer to crack. They are typically very strong, thick pieces.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJeff View Post
    Cut it yourself with a hacksaw, what could possibly go wrong.


    How much drop from seat to bar top are you attempting to achieve, 15cm or 20 cm?
    I am not sure about the exact drop, but I'm trying to achieve the smallest angle between the top tube and my torso. I'll see if I can approximate it tonight in cms. I've been having seatbone discomfort on long rides and realized that my position is too upright - basically 0 drop between saddle and handlebars on a stock CAAD10. There was a great thread with videos that helped me a lot: Riding Position Discovery

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    It depends upon where the expander plug sits in the steerer tube. If the expander plug sits with its top level with the top of the steerer, then you should not put spacers above the stem. The stem should clamp precisely where the plug sits. If the plug can be positioned down the steerer a little ways, then a spacer of that height can be used above the stem. Some forks like Easton's EC 90 XL require a spacer above the stem and actually provide one for that purpose. Others prohibit it. It all depends. I would follow manufacturer's directions.

    As far as cutting the steerer tube, you can easily do it yourself with a hacksaw or even better yet, a Dremel tool. If you are like me, you will not get the perfectly clean edge that using a prescribed cutting guide will give, but I can't figure out how that matters. As long as it is not too uneven and the top cap is a couple of millimeters above the top of the stem, the system will work fine.
    Thanks, this makes sense. After I removed all the spacers, the expander plug still sits very close to the stem, so I think I should be good for now. Not sure why Cannondale is making such a general statement. My problem now is that even with all the spacers removed, the bars aren't low enough. Will it be ok to remove that large metal piece underneath the spacers to bring the bars even lower? I feel like I will have to buy something else to substitute that piece if I do that. And if the bars are still not low enough, then I will need either a different stem or maybe even a different frame geometry to achieve lower stack. I'm 5.8 and my frame was fitted to me at 52cm at the LBS - don't think I can go smaller on the CAAD10.

    Can anyone explain if it matters whether I get a different stem with a steeper drop instead of lowering the bars on the steerer tube? Assuming the reach remains pretty much the same, replacing the stem with something steeper could save the steerer tube from cutting it too much.

    My LBS quoted $20 to cut the steerer tube. I might just ask them to do it when the time comes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Excelsius View Post
    Thanks, this makes sense. After I removed all the spacers, the expander plug still sits very close to the stem, so I think I should be good for now. Not sure why Cannondale is making such a general statement. My problem now is that even with all the spacers removed, the bars aren't low enough. Will it be ok to remove that large metal piece underneath the spacers to bring the bars even lower? I feel like I will have to buy something else to substitute that piece if I do that. And if the bars are still not low enough, then I will need either a different stem or maybe even a different frame geometry to achieve lower stack. I'm 5.8 and my frame was fitted to me at 52cm at the LBS - don't think I can go smaller on the CAAD10.

    Can anyone explain if it matters whether I get a different stem with a steeper drop instead of lowering the bars on the steerer tube? Assuming the reach remains pretty much the same, replacing the stem with something steeper could save the steerer tube from cutting it too much.

    My LBS quoted $20 to cut the steerer tube. I might just ask them to do it when the time comes.
    If you have a high dome for the top of the headset, that can be exchanged for a low profile top and you can save some height that way. If you already have a low profile top, you are sort of maxed out there. I wouldn't remove the top completely. Of course your stem must already be flipped down. You can get a +/- 10 degree or +/- 17 degree stem to lower the bars even further assuming what you have right now is 5, 6, or 7 degrees.

  15. #15
    Senior Member I <3 Robots's Avatar
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    They do it for liability and safety reasons. Imagine some hamfist somehow crushes the carbon steerer by cranking the stem way too tight. Thats the same reason why 3T forks comes with an insert that you're supposed to glue inside the steerer.
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