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New frame need advice on steerer length

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New frame need advice on steerer length

Old 12-03-16, 08:20 PM
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New frame need advice on steerer length

I just bought a soma Wolverine with matching fork. I am going to this from a vassago fisticuff. I got 3 stems to try on this. A 90 mm ritchey with 30 degree rise (80 reach), a 60 mm with +-6/7 degree rise, and a 90 mm with +- 6 degree rise. Can someone tell me when I cut my steerer to length, shold I make it so that my stem is at seat level at maximum height and go from there? And what stem should I user as a baseline for this cut? I just need a guideline as I don't know yet what reach I will prefer. This bike will be a gravel grinder but may see bikepacking use and some road use as well.
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Old 12-03-16, 08:39 PM
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We have no idea what bar height you will want/need. Don't cut it until you figure out where you want to position your stem. Use as many spacers as you need above and/or below the stem while you decide. Measure twice, cut once. You can always make the steerer shorter, but once you cut it, you are committed.
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Old 12-03-16, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg
We have no idea what bar height you will want/need. Don't cut it until you figure out where you want to position your stem. Use as many spacers as you need above and/or below the stem while you decide. Measure twice, cut once. You can always make the steerer shorter, but once you cut it, you are committed.
I am reusing all my parts from my vassago. That includes my salsa Cowbell 2 drops. This isn't my first rodeo with a bike build. This is number 3. My vassago was number 2. But I felt like I cut my steerer 10-20 mm too short on the vassago. Thats why I bought the Ritchey stem. Is there a safe length for a standard steel fork (1 1/8 steerer)? I mean they say too many spacers could be dangerous and I can see how it could be.

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Old 12-03-16, 09:05 PM
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I had about 40mm cut off my steerer. Coulda easily kept it and run with spacers above the stem if i had wanted.

If you have no starting point, why not set the star nut up without cutting the steerer, place the stem where you think you might want it, and back fill the space above the stem with spacers? You will then be able to mix and match stem height with stem angle and length using the 3 different stems until you get what you like.
Once you have what you like, cut the steerer tube.

Spacers are cheap from chainreaction and ebay...like 50mm for a few bucks. Probably many other places too...

If the steerer tube cant be used safely at thenstock height, it wouldnt be that long. Just sayin.
Riding it with a lot of spacers above and/or below the stem for a few miles at a time to test what you like will not make the fork fail.


This may not be your first rodeo, but i have found each bike ive built has resulted in a different setup due to my component choices. Flared bars vs deep drops vs shallow drops for example. The style of handlebar could affect this build and make the steerer height different from previous builds.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I had about 40mm cut off my steerer. Coulda easily kept it and run with spacers above the stem if i had wanted.

If you have no starting point, why not set the star nut up without cutting the steerer, place the stem where you think you might want it, and back fill the space above the stem with spacers? You will then be able to mix and match stem height with stem angle and length using the 3 different stems until you get what you like.
Once you have what you like, cut the steerer tube.

Spacers are cheap from chainreaction and ebay...like 50mm for a few bucks. Probably many other places too...

If the steerer tube cant be used safely at thenstock height, it wouldnt be that long. Just sayin.
Riding it with a lot of spacers above and/or below the stem for a few miles at a time to test what you like will not make the fork fail.


This may not be your first rodeo, but i have found each bike ive built has resulted in a different setup due to my component choices. Flared bars vs deep drops vs shallow drops for example. The style of handlebar could affect this build and make the steerer height different from previous builds.
I gotcha. I think what I got for existing spacers could easily get my bars high enough. First thing I got to do tomorrow is get my BB and cranks in, then wheels without the extras, and put bike on floor and get my seat height where I need it for starters. Then I can look and see how many spacers I need to get various stems at the height I want to start at. I know from experience that my bars do not need to be higher than the seat. But I don't like a racers position either. I just wanted opinions on a starting point.

Basically (I may get flamed for saying this) I would love it if I could nail it with existing stems. But I know from experience that may not be possible
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Old 12-03-16, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I had about 40mm cut off my steerer. Coulda easily kept it and run with spacers above the stem if i had wanted.

If you have no starting point, why not set the star nut up without cutting the steerer, place the stem where you think you might want it, and back fill the space above the stem with spacers? You will then be able to mix and match stem height with stem angle and length using the 3 different stems until you get what you like.
Once you have what you like, cut the steerer tube.

Spacers are cheap from chainreaction and ebay...like 50mm for a few bucks. Probably many other places too...

If the steerer tube cant be used safely at thenstock height, it wouldnt be that long. Just sayin.
Riding it with a lot of spacers above and/or below the stem for a few miles at a time to test what you like will not make the fork fail.


This may not be your first rodeo, but i have found each bike ive built has resulted in a different setup due to my component choices. Flared bars vs deep drops vs shallow drops for example. The style of handlebar could affect this build and make the steerer height different from previous builds.
This, except go buy the spacers from your local bike shop. And buy a few other things while you are there. And ask them some questions about setting up your bike.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
I gotcha. I think what I got for existing spacers could easily get my bars high enough. First thing I got to do tomorrow is get my BB and cranks in, then wheels without the extras, and put bike on floor and get my seat height where I need it for starters. Then I can look and see how many spacers I need to get various stems at the height I want to start at. I know from experience that my bars do not need to be higher than the seat. But I don't like a racers position either. I just wanted opinions on a starting point.

Basically (I may get flamed for saying this) I would love it if I could nail it with existing stems. But I know from experience that may not be possible
Not sure why you would get flamed for saying you hope to get it right with one of then3 stems you have. Thats pretty reasonable. You have different angles and lengths...who would fault you for hoping to get it fit with what you have on hand?

My latest build was my current gravel bike with flared bars. I got the saddle and wheels on, added the brakes to the bar, tossed the stem on with some spacers underneath, and coasted around the road to feer if the bar height was obviously too high or too low. That wont mess up the headset or anything. Just clamp the stem down and thatll hold everything for a really short slow gentle coast.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:43 PM
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So far, none of my frames have been new, and I usually set the bars about as low as the frame/stem will allow.

In that case, I've left about 1/2" of steertube extending above the stem, with the stem turned downward, and no spacers below the stem.

If you're sure of what you'll always want, and aren't worried about resale, then cut the steertube short (maybe just below the stem top of the stem).

If not... I'd probably choose a stem with an angle about the same as the head tube angle (or 90-(HT Angle)). Turn the stem down (parallel to the ground). Adjust the stem like you want it. Give yourself, maybe 4 to 8mm above the stem and whack it off. That will give you a little flexibility in the future (turn stem up, and an extra 10mm or so spacer).
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Old 12-03-16, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Not sure why you would get flamed for saying you hope to get it right with one of then3 stems you have. Thats pretty reasonable. You have different angles and lengths...who would fault you for hoping to get it fit with what you have on hand?

My latest build was my current gravel bike with flared bars. I got the saddle and wheels on, added the brakes to the bar, tossed the stem on with some spacers underneath, and coasted around the road to feer if the bar height was obviously too high or too low. That wont mess up the headset or anything. Just clamp the stem down and thatll hold everything for a really short slow gentle coast.

I said that cause to truly fit a bike sometimes you just have to be willing to buy that different stem or another part. I am striving to fit this new frame with existing parts but I was waiting for someone to read this and tell me that I may have to spend some money (and I truly may have to). This new frame has a 58 seat tube vs a 60 on the Vassago. But it has a longer TT so the ETT is longer than the Vassago. But since the HT angle is slacker plus the seat tube is steeper then the reach should be the same or less than my Vassago because of those 2 factors.

Now that I think of it.......not sure why I said that part about getting flamed.......Could be that 5th stout talking lol!!!

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Old 12-04-16, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg
This, except go buy the spacers from your local bike shop. And buy a few other things while you are there. And ask them some questions about setting up your bike.
Hey for your information I bought this frame and fork from my local bike shop. I have a very good relationship with them and he helped me pick out the size that I would need. I'm stopping by there tomorrow to buy a longer rear shifter cable and a couple of headset spacers for this same bike.
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Old 12-04-16, 10:55 AM
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Now when I have looked online at Soma Wolverine builds, a fair number of the pictures seem to show a pretty tall stack of headset spacers. I don't know if that's something common with the way this Frame geometry is for a lot of riders or not. So I'm going to include a picture of how I have it set up right now and it feels pretty good. Is this much steerer above the headset going to be dangerous on a steel Fork? If I put the Richie 30-degree rice stem on, that has the same reach as the Salsa 80 millimeter stem that's on there in the picture, I can move the stem halfway down from where it is now and knock the spacer stack in half, and have the same bar height, and put the spacers on top of the stem to test it. I'm just not sure what benefit or lack of benefit I would have one way or the other?
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Old 12-05-16, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Now when I have looked online at Soma Wolverine builds, a fair number of the pictures seem to show a pretty tall stack of headset spacers. I don't know if that's something common with the way this Frame geometry is for a lot of riders or not. So I'm going to include a picture of how I have it set up right now and it feels pretty good. Is this much steerer above the headset going to be dangerous on a steel Fork? If I put the Richie 30-degree rice stem on, that has the same reach as the Salsa 80 millimeter stem that's on there in the picture, I can move the stem halfway down from where it is now and knock the spacer stack in half, and have the same bar height, and put the spacers on top of the stem to test it. I'm just not sure what benefit or lack of benefit I would have one way or the other?
That amount of rise looks perfectly safe. Its hardly excessive.
As for the stem issue...if you put the 30deg stem on there and drop id down a couple spacers to thensame bar height you currently have, the bars will be closer to your body.
An 80mm long 30deg rise stem is effectively shorter than an 80mm 7deg rise stem. There are websites that show what the correct length for the 30deg stem is so it places the bars where they currently are.
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Old 12-05-16, 01:06 PM
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Isn't the general rule of thumb something like 30mm of spacers max underneath with a 5mm spacer always on top? None of the bicycles I've bought or had assembled at the LBS have ever came with more than 30mm of spacers. I usually set my bikes up with 20mm below and 5mm on top and I make sure to purchase a frame with the right stack height to get the bars where I need them with that amount of spacer.
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Old 12-05-16, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
That amount of rise looks perfectly safe. Its hardly excessive.
As for the stem issue...if you put the 30deg stem on there and drop id down a couple spacers to thensame bar height you currently have, the bars will be closer to your body.
An 80mm long 30deg rise stem is effectively shorter than an 80mm 7deg rise stem. There are websites that show what the correct length for the 30deg stem is so it places the bars where they currently are.
It's a 90 mm stem with 30 degree rise so effectively the reach is the same
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Old 12-05-16, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by thisisbenji
Isn't the general rule of thumb something like 30mm of spacers max underneath with a 5mm spacer always on top? None of the bicycles I've bought or had assembled at the LBS have ever came with more than 30mm of spacers. I usually set my bikes up with 20mm below and 5mm on top and I make sure to purchase a frame with the right stack height to get the bars where I need them with that amount of spacer.
And I suppose that depends on the steerer material. I talk to my lbs today where I bought the frame and showed him the picture and he said it would be fine since it was a steel steerer. Carbon and aluminum definitely not.
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Old 12-05-16, 03:34 PM
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Not sure. I built a gravel bike up and it has 45mm of spacers under the stem. The one thing i had the shop do was cut the steerer. They cut it, set the star nut, and the sttering has been something i havent thought about even once since. A few months of gravel, road, and smooth singletrack riding hasnt caused it to fail...yet!
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Old 12-05-16, 03:44 PM
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60mm below, 20mm on top...

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Old 12-05-16, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Now when I have looked online at Soma Wolverine builds, a fair number of the pictures seem to show a pretty tall stack of headset spacers. I don't know if that's something common with the way this Frame geometry is for a lot of riders or not. So I'm going to include a picture of how I have it set up right now and it feels pretty good. Is this much steerer above the headset going to be dangerous on a steel Fork? If I put the Richie 30-degree rice stem on, that has the same reach as the Salsa 80 millimeter stem that's on there in the picture, I can move the stem halfway down from where it is now and knock the spacer stack in half, and have the same bar height, and put the spacers on top of the stem to test it. I'm just not sure what benefit or lack of benefit I would have one way or the other?
I was considering a Wolverine a while back and it did seem to me that the head tubes were a little short for a gravel bike (relative to a given top tube length), so I'm not surprised you see a lot of them with a tall stack of spacers. The same thing happens with Surly LHTs and Cross Checks.

I had a Cross Check on which I cut the steerer short and used a rising stem, and I had an LHT on which I left the steerer uncut. Having done both, I think leaving the steerer uncut (or at least as long as you might use it) is the way to go. With a steel fork there is no problem leaving the steerer long like that, and leaving it long keeps your options open, which is good for you and if you ever decide to sell it is good for the next owner.

BTW, just as an anecdote, with my LHT I originally planned to keep the steerer uncut and use spacers above where I wanted the stem. I set the bike up where I thought I'd want it, with about 40mm of spacers above the stem, and test rode it. Then I raised the stem and rode it some more. Every time I moved it up, it felt better. I ended up with the stem at the top of the steerer and a ridiculous stack of spacers below. It was very comfortable, so I didn't care how it looked.

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Old 12-05-16, 04:33 PM
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I had to add some height..



so dont cut it down pre-maturely , I bought this with a short steerer.. used..
I had to Get one of these : BBB BHP 21
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Old 12-06-16, 10:51 PM
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The Wolverine is a tough bike to fit right, because it has a really low head tube and a long top tube. I'm still tinkering with mine trying to find that spot... and admittedly, I cut mine about 10mm shorter than I should have. Hey, whadda ya know, I have that same 30d Ritchey stem! Haha, seriously though, this bike has a super short headtube, and that is definitely a dimension I am going to pay more attention to with the next frame I buy.
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Old 12-06-16, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedyStein
The Wolverine is a tough bike to fit right, because it has a really low head tube and a long top tube. I'm still tinkering with mine trying to find that spot... and admittedly, I cut mine about 10mm shorter than I should have. Hey, whadda ya know, I have that same 30d Ritchey stem! Haha, seriously though, this bike has a super short headtube, and that is definitely a dimension I am going to pay more attention to with the next frame I buy.
I took this thing on a short 10 mile gravel ride today with a couple sections of pavement. Felt so good I am afraid to change a thing. It's the first ride I have been on in some time where my right hand didn't fall asleep. Don't know if it was coincidence or not but it was nice to feel like a kid again.
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Old 12-06-16, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
I took this thing on a short 10 mile gravel ride today with a couple sections of pavement. Felt so good I am afraid to change a thing. It's the first ride I have been on in some time where my right hand didn't fall asleep. Don't know if it was coincidence or not but it was nice to feel like a kid again.
Nice! Sounds like you got the fit dialed. How was the ride? I love how the Wolvie feels like an orange cloud...
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Old 12-07-16, 12:08 AM
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Now that you've dialed in the fit, it comes down to how to best achieve it. Leaving it as you have it is a fine option. If it was me and if I already had the 90mm 30 degree stem, I'd probably set it up as you describe and see which looked best to me. Assuming the fit actually worked out to be the same, it would just be a matter of aesthetics.
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Old 12-07-16, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedyStein
Nice! Sounds like you got the fit dialed. How was the ride? I love how the Wolvie feels like an orange cloud...
I love it. Such a smooth ride.
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Old 12-07-16, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg
Now that you've dialed in the fit, it comes down to how to best achieve it. Leaving it as you have it is a fine option. If it was me and if I already had the 90mm 30 degree stem, I'd probably set it up as you describe and see which looked best to me. Assuming the fit actually worked out to be the same, it would just be a matter of aesthetics.
You know I thought about that. Just haven't done anything yet. I got to thinking although I don't want to jump to conclusions too fast, yesterday's ride was the first ride in a long time that I didn't experience my right hand falling asleep from Road vibration. I've had a lot of problems with my right hand and never my left. It's possible that it's just a fluke and the next time I write I'll be back to the same old issues but maybe this Frame is soaking up Road vibrations better than my other bike and it's just easier for me? With that in mind if that is what's going on I wonder if the longer spacer stack is also assisting in this? Or maybe it's the blade front forks compared to the rigid cyclocross Fork that was on my vassago and the rigid Fork that's on my mountain bike. I will have to throw that Richie stem on sometime and do a nice gravel ride to see if I still have the same Comfort level.

Last edited by trail_monkey; 12-07-16 at 09:10 AM.
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