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Going with a longer stem after swapping to flared gravel bars?

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Going with a longer stem after swapping to flared gravel bars?

Old 06-30-21, 01:27 PM
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jonathanf2
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Going with a longer stem after swapping to flared gravel bars?

Originally I had non-flared drop bars on my gravel bike, but ever since switching to Pro Discover 44cm flared gravel bars I was feeling a bit cramped. I originally had a 90mm stem (which felt fine on regular drop bars) and then I swapped to 110mm with the flared bars, but now I'm testing the waters at 130mm. I feel like my back has gained better riding mobility in the past few months allowing me to really stretch out. Even on rough uphills the 110mm stem felt fine allowing adequate control of the drop bars and I use my bike regularly for both trail and road use. I was thinking of going 120mm at first, but I figure the difference wouldn't be that noticeable versus 130mm. I like dropping low to the bars when trying to reduce wind resistance or when lowering my center of gravity on the descents. I feel like I have a pretty strong core as well, since I regularly do back exercises and other core workouts.

On regular drop bars where my shoulders are more parallel, I don't feel the need to have a longer stem. I'm just wondering if others have done the same or if this might be a body proportion and mobility scenario unique to me when riding with flared bars?
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Old 06-30-21, 07:55 PM
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A 10 MM increase is significant so I would go just 10 MM longer at first. A good shop will let you try the 120 and if you need longer exchange it for a 130. I more often see wider flared bars paired with a shorter stem, not a longer one; are the flared bars more narrow than the originals? Gravel riders generally do not ride as low and stretched out as road riders, but there are no hard rules here. Was your stem too short even with the original bars?
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Old 06-30-21, 08:49 PM
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Maybe the reach of your new bars is shorter than the reach of your old bars?
40mm is a lot to add. My flared bars aren't much different from all my road bars. The stem length of my gravel bike is 90mm because the frame reach plus bar and levers put the hoods in the same position as my road bikes. That's what is most important for me.
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Old 06-30-21, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Maybe the reach of your new bars is shorter than the reach of your old bars?
40mm is a lot to add. My flared bars aren't much different from all my road bars. The stem length of my gravel bike is 90mm because the frame reach plus bar and levers put the hoods in the same position as my road bikes. That's what is most important for me.
The reach is definitely shorter on the new bars, but I'm surprised why I'm able to go longer. I've had no issues for trail climbing at 110mm, so I'm planning to see how 130mm fares for hills and descents. I don't necessarily have odd proportions, but I'm beginning to think I have long'ish arms for my build.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:53 AM
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I wouldn't do anything until I knew the exact numbers of what was on the bike before and what's on there now. A thread asking "How do my shoes fit" is basically worthless, even in a forum full of shoe salesmen.
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Old 07-01-21, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Originally I had non-flared drop bars on my gravel bike, but ever since switching to Pro Discover 44cm flared gravel bars I was feeling a bit cramped. I originally had a 90mm stem (which felt fine on regular drop bars) and then I swapped to 110mm with the flared bars, but now I'm testing the waters at 130mm. I feel like my back has gained better riding mobility in the past few months allowing me to really stretch out. Even on rough uphills the 110mm stem felt fine allowing adequate control of the drop bars and I use my bike regularly for both trail and road use. I was thinking of going 120mm at first, but I figure the difference wouldn't be that noticeable versus 130mm. I like dropping low to the bars when trying to reduce wind resistance or when lowering my center of gravity on the descents. I feel like I have a pretty strong core as well, since I regularly do back exercises and other core workouts.

On regular drop bars where my shoulders are more parallel, I don't feel the need to have a longer stem. I'm just wondering if others have done the same or if this might be a body proportion and mobility scenario unique to me when riding with flared bars?
I have the same bars on my gravel bike, and I have something going on with that bike re: fit issue and sore neck/shoulders, but Iím not sure itís as you describe (for me).

Same saddles on both bikes and the gravel bike is 10mm shorter reach to the part of the hood where it starts to rise (horn?). In one way I feel cramped, but when I wrap my hand around the brifter I feel as if Iím reaching too far. These bars are also 1-1.5 cm wider than my road bars. Iím feeling like I want the same bar as on my road bike, on the gravel bike. However, the GRX brifter is quite different than the Ultegra...so Iíll never match the fits perfectly

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Old 07-01-21, 10:10 AM
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Unless you're strapped for cash...

Getting the right bars and stem on a gravel bike make all the difference in the world. My gravel bike had 44mm bars and an 80mm stem, and I couldn't get comfortable. For $40 bucks or less I put on 42mm bars and a 130mm stem and am happy ever since. Point being, if you've got the bars you like, try both 120 and 130 until you're happy. It's well worth it in the long run, and the extra stem may come in handy in the future for you or someone else.
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Old 07-01-21, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
I have the same bars on my gravel bike, and I have something going on with that bike re: fit issue and sore neck/shoulders, but I’m not sure it’s as you describe (for me).

Same saddles on both bikes and the gravel bike is 10mm shorter reach to the part of the hood where it starts to rise (horn?). In one way I feel cramped, but when I wrap my hand around the brifter I feel as if I’m reaching too far. These bars are also 1-1.5 cm wider than my road bars. I’m feeling like I want the same bar as on my road bike, on the gravel bike. However, the GRX brifter is quite different than the Ultegra...so I’ll never match the fits perfectly
I also have GRX brifters and I have them as far top as possible without losing one finger braking when in the drops. I'm usually riding the drops if I'm riding for distance, digging in during an uphill or going downhill on fast trails. At first I was adjusting to the wider shoulder grip of gravel bars, but my body has gotten used to the position.

Originally Posted by Chuckles1 View Post
Getting the right bars and stem on a gravel bike make all the difference in the world. My gravel bike had 44mm bars and an 80mm stem, and I couldn't get comfortable. For $40 bucks or less I put on 42mm bars and a 130mm stem and am happy ever since. Point being, if you've got the bars you like, try both 120 and 130 until you're happy. It's well worth it in the long run, and the extra stem may come in handy in the future for you or someone else.
Wow, going from 80mm to 130mm is an even bigger jump from 110mm. I'd be curious to see how slightly less/more wider gravel bars would handle? I opted for 44cm bars since I thought it was a good middle ground to try out.

Last edited by jonathanf2; 07-01-21 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 07-02-21, 05:22 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Originally I had non-flared drop bars on my gravel bike, but ever since switching to Pro Discover 44cm flared gravel bars I was feeling a bit cramped. I originally had a 90mm stem (which felt fine on regular drop bars) and then I swapped to 110mm with the flared bars, but now I'm testing the waters at 130mm. I feel like my back has gained better riding mobility in the past few months allowing me to really stretch out. Even on rough uphills the 110mm stem felt fine allowing adequate control of the drop bars and I use my bike regularly for both trail and road use. I was thinking of going 120mm at first, but I figure the difference wouldn't be that noticeable versus 130mm. I like dropping low to the bars when trying to reduce wind resistance or when lowering my center of gravity on the descents. I feel like I have a pretty strong core as well, since I regularly do back exercises and other core workouts.

On regular drop bars where my shoulders are more parallel, I don't feel the need to have a longer stem. I'm just wondering if others have done the same or if this might be a body proportion and mobility scenario unique to me when riding with flared bars?
I swapped out a mildly flared, but 15mm rise on the tops for the same bar, in carbon with a 20į flare. I sort of detailed it here. The bars have a 5į sweep back on the tops, so it reasons that a longer stem is necessary, I went from an 80mm to a 90mm. I don't find that flared drops make me more (or less) cramped in the cockpit, and I spend a lot of time in the drops. But, if they make you feel that way, it never hurts to swap the stem.
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Old 07-02-21, 09:14 AM
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One thing I didn't mention above with my experience, is that switching between bikes makes it (for me) more challenging. However, when I ride my gravel bike 2, 3, 4 or more rides in a row I get more accustomed to its fit and pretty much any issues I had when switching, go away. Like earlier in the week I had done two road bike rides, then two gravel bike rides. Both those gravel bike rides left me uncomfortable. But the third ride, 80k with 2000ft climbing and I was feeling great.
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Old 07-06-21, 12:51 PM
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I switched to a flared bar earlier this year (Enve G) and didn't change my stem length, and see no reason why I would. The reach in the drops on my flared bars is subtly shorter than the straight bars, but I doubt it's more than a few MM difference.

I swapped my bar as part of an overall bike fitting, so if the stem length needed to change as part of that, they would've done that as well.
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Old 07-06-21, 03:25 PM
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I may be an outlier since I use 38cm nonflared bars on the road, but have to run a 20mm shorter stem with my 42cm cowchippers. With the hoods angled in they are about right in terms of width, but in the drops they are 48cm+wide so the effective reach is much greater. I think about it like a triangle.
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Old 07-08-21, 12:23 PM
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Different bars have different reach. And some differ from each other by a lot. If the new ones are shorter, then it makes perfect sense that you might want a longer stem.

Of maybe your flexibility and/or habits have changed.

I would not overthink this. If you want to try something longer, then just do it.
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Old 07-08-21, 03:15 PM
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Just to follow up, I rode my bike with the 130mm stem and I love it! I have a seat post with a set back, and I was able to really tune in my cockpit fit. I can get ultra low in the drops with the flared bars when riding slicks on the flats and I have decent upright positioning when riding on the top/hoods. I'm able to do fast sprints with my back near horizontal to the ground and dig in when riding uphill trails. I'm about 5'7, but I really like riding low to cut as much air resistance as possible.
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Old 07-08-21, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Just to follow up, I rode my bike with the 130mm stem and I love it! I have a seat post with a set back, and I was able to really tune in my cockpit fit. I can get ultra low in the drops with the flared bars when riding slicks on the flats and I have decent upright positioning when riding on the top/hoods. I'm able to do fast sprints with my back near horizontal to the ground and dig in when riding uphill trails. I'm about 5'7, but I really like riding low to cut as much air resistance as possible.
Can you do this after hours of riding gravel though? Generally a more upright position will be more comfortable on the rough stuff and long and low works well on the road but makes tricky descents more difficult and you won't be able to get your weight behind the saddle as well.
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Old 07-08-21, 09:17 PM
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My bike feels too short. After some measurements, itís definitely a bit shorter than my dialed in road bike.

I swapped to a 110mm from 90mm. A couple immediate improvements happened.

- My seat got much more comfortable.

- My triceps arenít taking a beating like they had been, this means comfort for longer rides.

- My drop bars, shallow and flared actually fit now. Iím still getting used to them from road bars but with the shorter stem, the drops werenít usable.

- I got several PRís on known descents today, and I didnít feel like I was really pushing it that hard. Makes me think Iím just overall more stable. (I ride with a gps watch only, so I never know my speed until long after the decent).

I bought several $5 stems from the bin at the coop for this. Now that I found the cockpit I like, Iíll be dumping them back in the bin and getting a nice one.
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Old 07-09-21, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Can you do this after hours of riding gravel though? Generally a more upright position will be more comfortable on the rough stuff and long and low works well on the road but makes tricky descents more difficult and you won't be able to get your weight behind the saddle as well.
I don't do any rides that exceed more than 4 hours and most my off-road riding is uphill single track and fire roads at slower climbing paces. On my trail descents, they're quick and bumpy and I usually get off the saddle and stand on the pedals while in the drops. I've also adjust my hoods to flare outward slightly (while my drops are positioned near horizontal) which angles my shoulders/grip to be more neutral when upright. So far no issues when riding and my shoulders feel fine.
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