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Is this stem ruined?

Old 11-29-23, 08:40 AM
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Is this stem ruined?

I just picked up a 1983 Specialized Expedition yesterday. The previous owner decided to switch out the drop bars for north road style handlebars. It would appear that the diameter of the bars didn’t match what was appropriate for the original Specialized stem, looks like Nitto quality to me. The north road bars appear to measure 25.4mm near the stem mounting area. It doesn’t look too good to me, looks like someone forced that stem clamping area closed to hold these handlebars. Is the stem ruined? ☹️

Last edited by boneshaker78; 11-29-23 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 11-29-23, 08:52 AM
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Is anything cracked? broken? Planning on different bars? Using these bars then shim them
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Old 11-29-23, 08:55 AM
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It’s a stem….. kinda mission critical !

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Old 11-29-23, 08:57 AM
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Probably ok, check for cracking. Are you putting new bars on? If you are uncomfortable with it swap it out, better to feel safe.
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Old 11-29-23, 09:00 AM
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It's not the worst thing in the world. But it really isn't great. Fortunately a proper shim or a bar of the proper diameter is an easy remedy.

You may need to remove the bolt and insert a flat blade screwdriver and pry it open a bit to assist installing a new bar or shim.

Whatever you do, don't try to pry it back to original dimensions (whatever that was.) You'll just end up eating into a whatever structural integrity remained. It's never a good thing to permanently reform aluminum. If you are lucky, and the other owner didn't over torque anything, no permanent damage occured in the first place.

I'm leaning towards: "It'll be fine."
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Old 11-29-23, 09:00 AM
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Looks like a stem with a 26mm bar clamp ID and a 25.4mm bar OD. If you must use this stem and bar combo I strongly suggest shimming the clamp/bar to better and SAFELY fit. Andy
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Old 11-29-23, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
Is anything cracked? broken? Planning on different bars? Using these bars then shim them
No cracking to be found. What was the original intended diameter of this stem? I’m not sure what bars I’ll end up using. I was just happy to find this bike for $160… it’s a future project that I’m going to assemble slowly and carefully. Can the stem be spread back to the original clamping diameter using two screw drivers wedged together when fitting a different handlebar?
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Old 11-29-23, 09:07 AM
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I have that stem from an Allez of the same era and it is meant for a 26.0 handlebar. I would probably try using it as long as you were not going to try and set a downhill speed record.

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Old 11-29-23, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart
Looks like a stem with a 26mm bar clamp ID and a 25.4mm bar OD. If you must use this stem and bar combo I strongly suggest shimming the clamp/bar to better and SAFELY fit. Andy
Thank you. 26mm is quite a bit different than 25.4. I’ll have to think this over, but I’m leaning towards better safe than sorry and finding a replacement…. bummer
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Old 11-29-23, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jadmt
I have that stem from an Allez of the same era and it is meant for a 26.0 handlebar. I would probably try using it as long as you were not going to try and set a downhill speed record.

The intention is more of a retired touring bike turned grocery getter. The original owner toured all over the east coast… thousands of miles, at least 50 touring patches from between 1983-85.
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Old 11-29-23, 09:22 AM
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Do you have to have the period correct look of that stem on your bike? If you decide you are going the replace the stem with something else and also get other handlebars then you might want to consider one of the threadless adapters that fits in the steerer tube and getting a pista type stem that will let you change bars and/or stem lengths more easily.
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Old 11-29-23, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by boneshaker78
The intention is more of a retired touring bike turned grocery getter. The original owner toured all over the east coast… thousands of miles, at least 50 touring patches from between 1983-85.
they are quality stems and not sure but probably made by Nitto. you might find if you loosen the bolt it might mostly spring back to 26.0. If you are set on replacing it I might know a guy lol...altho my stem looks quite a bit shorter.
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Old 11-29-23, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Do you have to have the period correct look of that stem on your bike? If you decide you are going the replace the stem with something else and also get other handlebars then you might want to consider one of the threadless adapters that fits in the steerer tube and getting a pista type stem that will let you change bars and/or stem lengths more easily.
Thanks for the suggestion. I really am not sure what I’ll do with this bike, just happy to find the frame at a very reasonable price.
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Old 11-29-23, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by boneshaker78
Thank you. 26mm is quite a bit different than 25.4. I’ll have to think this over, but I’m leaning towards better safe than sorry and finding a replacement…. bummer
0.6mm is 1/32 or 1/64 per side
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Old 11-29-23, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
0.6mm is 1/32 or 1/64 per side
Ok. Are you implying that you feel like that difference isn’t that extreme?
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Old 11-29-23, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by boneshaker78
Ok. Are you implying that you feel like that difference isn’t that extreme?
It's not. But I'm sure if you don't want to use it, you'll find a willing buyer.
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Old 11-29-23, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart
Looks like a stem with a 26mm bar clamp ID and a 25.4mm bar OD. If you must use this stem and bar combo I strongly suggest shimming the clamp/bar to better and SAFELY fit. Andy
Yes, it looks like a Specialized-branded Nitto "Dynamic" stem. That's a high quality stem; ID should be 26.0mm
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Old 11-29-23, 03:12 PM
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The aluminum used in stems is relatively ductile, and i wouldn't be concerned about the stem.

The real question depends on your intentions. If going back to 26.0 bars, you MAY (that's maybe, though not necessarily) need to flex the stem back open slightly. Or, at least, slide a wedge into the gap to hold the stem open while you fit the bars.

OTOH- if staying with 25.4 bars, you'll want to file a bit from the slot, so the two sides don't tough when clamped.

Either is fine, you just need to decide.
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Old 11-29-23, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
0.6mm is 1/32 or 1/64 per side
.6mm= 0.0236"
1/32= 0.031"
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Old 11-29-23, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
.6mm= 0.0236"
1/32= 0.031"
Yeah, I know, even smaller than a 32nd, but it was the closest fraction someone might read on their ruler to put it in perspective.
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Old 11-29-23, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by boneshaker78
Thank you. 26mm is quite a bit different than 25.4. I’ll have to think this over, but I’m leaning towards better safe than sorry and finding a replacement…. bummer
The difference doesn't matter that much. The question is whether a piece aluminum alloy can flex that far without damage.

The answer is yes - it can. You would be foolish to not use the stem.
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Old 11-30-23, 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
Yeah, I know, even smaller than a 32nd, but it was the closest fraction someone might read on their ruler to put it in perspective.
Imma go with 2.3%
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Old 11-30-23, 10:09 AM
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From a liability standpoint, if the stem is deformed ("plastic deformation") then I wouldn't recommend it.

But if I could get a shim in there so that the clamp did not completly close, I'd probably ride it if I saw no cracks.
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Old 11-30-23, 11:27 AM
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So how many miles or hours did the original owner ride like this without issue? Days? Years?
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Old 11-30-23, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
So how many miles or hours did the original owner ride like this without issue? Days? Years?
Good question.

He claims that the LBS swapped the bars and set it up with the thumb shifters and all, but judging from the stem situation I would say that is questionable at best. The cables do look very fresh, so it had to be done fairly recently. He was moving to Italy and decided it wasn’t worth bringing bikes with him, can’t blame him. He was likely in his 70’s, according to him he hadn’t ridden the bike much since they swapped everything over.

He claimed thousands of miles logged on it in his younger days and the bike had the drops on for most of its life.
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