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Please help me choose an aftermarket stem for my road bike.

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Please help me choose an aftermarket stem for my road bike.

Old 05-14-15, 08:26 AM
  #1  
Blythe Ryder
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Please help me choose an aftermarket stem for my road bike.

I got a used 2013 Trek 1.2 off Craigslist. This is my first decent road bike since my 1989 Specialized Sirrus I bought new in the store (it was a similar type of bike back then - sporty road bike).... Point being I'm a little lost with the design of the bike changing so much.

Here is the specs on the bike: 2013 1.2 H2 (Compact) - Bike Archive - Trek Bicycle

Here is the specs on the stem: Bontrager SSR 4-Bolt 31.8 - Stems - Components -Trek Store

I have a 1970's junker (Puch Pathfinder) that made me happy up until recently, and I put a lot of energy into getting the fit right on that bike. I put on contemporary seat, pedals, and adjustable stem and did a low-tech, old-school, step-by-step fit, then adjusted by feel from there.

Now I am trying to transfer that general layout to my new bike. I went out to the garage with pen, paper, and some measuring tools and figured out that my ideal stem has the following measurements:
33.9
87.9mm length
31.8mm Stem Clamp Diameter
??? 1 1/8" Steerer Tube Diameter??? I'm getting this from the Trek specs on the headset. It seems like I wouldn't see the actual tube until I take the stem off. I think I'm looking at a dust cap on top, the stem after that, and then some kind of inert spacers below that?

NOW FINALLY MY QUESTIONS: First, do I have all the info I need to select a stem?

How can I easily gauge what is appropriate to put on this bike? E.g. brands? I figure the stock one is aluminum so stick with aluminum - anything beyond that? Or what are undesirable traits to look out for? Basically I want to put on something similar to what Trek put on it - not too fancy, not too cheap.

Why am I not able to find any used on eBay? Seems like this must be one of the most commonly swapped components on a road bike (essential to fit)? All the ones pulled off factory bikes, where are they? In a junk bin at the LBS? I prefer to buy used when I can - many reasons.

In the end I'm sure I'll just go to LBS and buy whatever the mechanic recommends, but I like to go in with some homework done so I can get the most out of the face-to-face time with a pro.
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Old 05-14-15, 08:49 AM
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jimc101
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Originally Posted by Blythe Ryder View Post
Now I am trying to transfer that general layout to my new bike. I went out to the garage with pen, paper, and some measuring tools and figured out that my ideal stem has the following measurements:
33.9
87.9mm length
31.8mm Stem Clamp Diameter
??? 1 1/8" Steerer Tube Diameter??? I'm getting this from the Trek specs on the headset. It seems like I wouldn't see the actual tube until I take the stem off. I think I'm looking at a dust cap on top, the stem after that, and then some kind of inert spacers below that?

NOW FINALLY MY QUESTIONS: First, do I have all the info I need to select a stem?
Stems are easy to replace, and finding one on eBay should be very easy, you are looking at some numbers wrong,

Stems are sold in rounded numbers for length, you will want a 90mm stem, not 87.9

31.8mm it the current standard for clamp diameters.

1 1/8th" is the standard steerer tube diameter, even if the for is taprered, the tapering ends up at 1 1/8th" at the stem suspect; that all of this info is actually printed on the stem somewhere.

Your angle stem way off, thinking you have measured this on the bike. Would be aware that you are trying to match a bike design from the 1970's to a 2013 bike, the basic diamond is the same, but the angles in it will be very different, thinking your stem will end up being 0-10 not 33
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Old 05-14-15, 09:30 AM
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alcjphil
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Just how did you manage to measure a stem angle of 33.9 degrees? Stem angles are generally measured using a line at 90 degrees to the steer tube as the reference
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Old 05-14-15, 11:51 AM
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google "stem calculator" as that will help you sort it out... you can plug in the numbers.

I would recommend against a 40 degree stem. Anything above 25, in my opinion, will give you fidgety steering.
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Old 05-14-15, 12:52 PM
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Blythe Ryder
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I was trying to put the handlebars exactly where they are on my vintage bike, relative to the point on the top of the seat directly over the seat post. The top of the fork is a fixed point, so I triangulated from there, which gave me the odd angle. I figured that would give my the same fit to my new bike, but I'm sensing from the responses that this is NOT how things are done LOL

How about if I approach it this way instead. The stem I have is 10 and 110mm. All I know for sure fit wise right now is that my gut feeling is I want my hands to be further back than the drops are right now. If I put my hands where they feel right they are on the bars about 35mm back from where they should be on the drops. Would it be a good move to just look for a 75mm stem and see how that fits and go from there? That would definitely put me in a lower stance or whatever you call it - leaning over more horizontal - but maybe that is natural for this bike? The 2013 bike definitely feels sporty... On the old bike I coast a lot but on the new bike I seem to want to pedal full time without stopping.
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Old 05-14-15, 01:33 PM
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jimc101
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Originally Posted by Blythe Ryder View Post
on the new bike I seem to want to pedal full time without stopping.
Isn't that what you should be doing!
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Old 05-14-15, 02:17 PM
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alcjphil
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Originally Posted by Blythe Ryder View Post
I was trying to put the handlebars exactly where they are on my vintage bike, relative to the point on the top of the seat directly over the seat post. The top of the fork is a fixed point, so I triangulated from there, which gave me the odd angle. I figured that would give my the same fit to my new bike, but I'm sensing from the responses that this is NOT how things are done LOL

How about if I approach it this way instead. The stem I have is 10 and 110mm. All I know for sure fit wise right now is that my gut feeling is I want my hands to be further back than the drops are right now. If I put my hands where they feel right they are on the bars about 35mm back from where they should be on the drops. Would it be a good move to just look for a 75mm stem and see how that fits and go from there? That would definitely put me in a lower stance or whatever you call it - leaning over more horizontal - but maybe that is natural for this bike? The 2013 bike definitely feels sporty... On the old bike I coast a lot but on the new bike I seem to want to pedal full time without stopping.
Most riders today spend over 90% of their time riding on the hoods and various positions on the tops of the bars. Since you do your shifting using the brake levers rather than downtube shifters, worrying about the position of the drops becomes far less important since you will be spending very little time using them. Transferring bike fit from a very old bike to a new one is not the way to go
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Old 05-14-15, 03:08 PM
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Dammit I meant hoods but I wrote wrote drops. Yeah that's what I've gravitated to - on the hoods all the time unless my fingers fall asleep or there is a fierce headwind.

I ordered this stem in 17 80mm Amazon.com : Origin8 Pro Fit Alloy Ergo Stem : Sports & Outdoors

I'm hopeful that it will be a decent fit.

BTW do I use grip paste on this stem, and if so, on both sides or just around the handlebars?

Last edited by Blythe Ryder; 05-14-15 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 05-14-15, 10:03 PM
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No, just clamp it down. Be aware that pulling the stem requires you to adjust the headset as well. If you aren't comfortable with that tell your lbs and they can do it. I also would have gone to my lbs to take advantage of the stock of stems they likely have. I would have brought my old bike and explained you wanted to match the bar position from one to the other. Likely, they would help you select a stem that fits. If your online purchase doesn't work out still do this.
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Old 05-15-15, 06:43 AM
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adjusting a threadless headset and replacing the stem is easy. There are many youtube videos on it.
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Old 05-15-15, 07:18 AM
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Thanks for info. I found a YouTube video on adjusting the headset.

Yeah I went to LBS and it was unproductive. I had tried to do too much problem solving on my own without knowing what I was doing, and they couldn't understand what I was trying to tell them. They tried to help me and even called their bike fit specialist out from some back room to talk to me but I had already gotten myself too tangled up in misunderstandings. On the up side, they did convince me that a really steep stem was a bad idea and that prompted me to go home and read more until I grokked it.

Also the first thing they showed me was a Specialized stem with a shim in it. I understand now why he showed me that - because I was clearly lost and that would give me a better chance of finding a comfortable position (the shim gives it variable tilt). But in my great ignorance I thought I don't want a shim - I want something that fits LOL

Little by little I'll get it.

Thanks for all help
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Old 05-15-15, 11:48 AM
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I don't think what you are calling a "shim" is a shim.
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Old 05-15-15, 03:08 PM
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Those Specialized stems with the variable shims are actually pretty useful creatures, especially for someone in your shoes - who knows what he's looking for fit/feel wise, but is unsure what he needs to achieve it.

FWIW, that stem you bought is fine, but I'd recommend that you go on ebay and buy your stems at 1/2 that price until you find the one you need. Then sell the ones that you don't need and either keep the one that works, or buy a "better" one with the same dimensions (better meaning more expensive, lighter, nicer looking... take your pick).
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