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  1. #1
    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    Who Uses Adjustable Stems?

    I am considering using an adjustable stem (vertical adjustment only, not length) for a dedicated touring bike I am building. I am interested in feedback from people who have used them now or in the past. Do you find value in the flexibility afforded by the stem? Do you find yourself adjusting the stem with any regularity? If so, why?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    If you are an experienced rider with a well established riding posture, then I don't see much value in them. Then again if you want a different posture for commuting or whatever than you want on tour maybe it makes sense. Personally I never change my stem and my road and touring bike are set up the same.

    My companions on the TA were newish cyclists and an adjustable stem was great for them. They started with it high and gradually lowered more and more it as they got acclimated to riding. By the middle of the country I think they were pretty set in what they needed and left it alone from then on.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    If you are an experienced rider with a well established riding posture, then I don't see much value in them. Then again if you want a different posture for commuting or whatever than you want on tour maybe it makes sense. Personally I never change my stem and my road and touring bike are set up the same.
    Agree. In addition, I've owned stems like the one the OP linked to and found them to be somewhat prone to failure. Which is to say: I've owned two and they've both failed after a relatively small number of adjustments. One refused to lock in place, the other became permanently wedged.

    That said, I now use Specialized's Comp-Set shim-adjustable stems on the majority of my bikes. The Specialized model doesn't allow infinite adjustment, but it's light, reliable, and reasonably priced. It's a great stem in it's own right and the adjustability certainly doesn't hurt. If you're going adjustable, it's the only way to go in my book.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My Koga Trekking bike came with an adjustable ITM CNC stem, 3 bolt faceplate..
    the clamp mech locks it solidly, and so after cranking it up to full height,
    I leave it be.

    Could buy a fixed angle stem to do that position, but why bother..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-03-11 at 03:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    My bike has an adjustable stem. I played with it a bit at first, but now the only time I mess with it is when it seems to be loosening up, and my handlebars get a little wobbly. It doesn't happen often, but even so, it shouldn't happen at all. The adjustable stem was nice for dialing in a position, but my plan is to replace it with something comparable that doesn't adjust. My thinking is that at this point, I'm not changing the angle at all, so I might as well get something that's not going to loosen up on me. At the same time, I figure if I get something with a small enough angle, I can still retain a little adjust-ability just by flipping it over and/or moving it up or down the steerer tube.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tansy's Avatar
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    I have a Kalloy adjustable stem on my Novara Safari. It's only been on the bike for a few months and >200mi, but I've had no troubles with it so far and it's made the bike a great deal more comfortable.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I use them off and on, usually on a newer bike to get a dialed in fit, then typically replace them with a fixed stem. On one bike it saved my butt...I had a crash and was unable to bend over far enough to reach the bars in the lowered position, raised the stem and brought the bars closer and higher and I could still ride shorter distances.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    I've had an adjustable stem for about 3 years and had no problems with it. It came in very handy when I switched bar type, and since as I fine tuned the new bar height/reach. I also like that I can change height/reach at will, depending on circumstances and mood.
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  9. #9
    Back in the Saddle
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    I have an Eleven81 brand on my Trek commuter. It started life as a hybrid and I have used multiple positions on the stem. I think I'm in my "final" position now, but just as soon as I move away from the adjustable I'm sure I wish I had it on there again.
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  10. #10
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    I have an adjustable stem on my foldup bike. I put a quick release lever on it, which I am sure that the attorneys for the stem manufacturer never anticipated. But it is quite useful for folding the bike smaller.

    I have loaned an adjustable to several friends so that they could experiment with handlebar positions and eventually figure out what they want to get for a non-adjustable stem.

    If you have enough steerer tube for two stems, you could use an adjustable to figure out exactly what stem length and angle you want for a permanent stem and then use the adjustable as a second stem to hold the handlebar bag.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    I mounted one when I went to trekking bars on a threaded fork. I found one comfortable position after several tries and have not moved it since. Its lik etrying to ask what saddle should I get. What works for you is best

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    I have/have used two different adjustable stems - both quill stems. The difference between the two stems was was both reach and length - yep, enough of a difference to "require" switching to the second adjustable stem after two months of riding/adjustments. Once I found the "correct" position using drop bars, I just kept it installed - until I decided to mount some clip-on aerobars. Then I switched back to the first adjustable stem because it worked better in terms of getting the elbow pads AND the hands-on-the-horizontal-part-of-the-drop-bars position comfortable.

    While I have made note of/determined what the corect dimensions for a non-adjustable quill stem for me should be, the additional weight of the adjustable stem is negligible AND I haven't had any "loosened bolt" problems thus far. I'll probably keep it as is for the foreseeable future.
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  13. #13
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I had an adjustable stem on the bike I used on our Alaska-Argentina trip. It worked fine, but creaked the whole way - creak, creak, creak, creak, creak, creak..

    Really, the idea of an adjustable stem seems crazy to me - you get it in position and that's it. Once you know what position you want, you could use a fixed stem. Wish I had swapped it out so I didn't have to listen to the creaking for 17,000 miles.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post
    I had an adjustable stem on the bike I used on our Alaska-Argentina trip. It worked fine, but creaked the whole way - creak, creak, creak, creak, creak, creak..

    Really, the idea of an adjustable stem seems crazy to me - you get it in position and that's it. Once you know what position you want, you could use a fixed stem. Wish I had swapped it out so I didn't have to listen to the creaking for 17,000 miles.

    Ayeah... my adjustable stem creaks too. When I decide I know what position I like, I think I may retire it and use a fixed stem. I believe I'll hang onto the adjustable for contingencies. But, I must say it sure has be handy for determining the best setting so far.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Adjustable stems are often found on new bikes to make them adjustable for a wide variety of new riders without having to buy new parts. Once dialed in most folks do not readjust. I put an inexpensive Dimension stem on a new bike I built recently and used it for the first few rides to figure out what permanent position that I wanted. Once I had it figured out I could not wait to replace it with a fixed stem. The adjustable creaked a lot, was heavier than a fixed stem and surprisingly seemed to have a lot of flex in it compared to a fixed stem, all bad things.

  16. #16
    Mostly Harmless yoder's Avatar
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    I've found that they have a tendency to creak eventually, no matter how tight the bolts.

  17. #17
    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    Decided not to go with an adjustable stem. The creaking was a big turn off.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBMaven View Post
    Decided not to go with an adjustable stem. The creaking was a big turn off.
    FWIW, the Specialized adjustable stems don't creak...

  19. #19
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    I took my adjustable stem off the touring bike and replaced it with a solid 6 degree stem. My reason for this was, I found the adjustable to eventually work loose or squeak on long tours especially rainy ones. I just lost my trust in it and found that that solid stem worked more than fine as I had no need to adjust it once I found my position, plus one less part to oil and dry off in the rain helps a lot on the long and rainy ones.
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