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drill a hole in the stem?

Old 09-05-09, 08:06 PM
  #1  
kudude
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drill a hole in the stem?

I just added brakes on top of my bars. My bike's a little long for me (I have long legs and a short torso so it's always a compromise), and this will let me mount/dismount from the tops with a little more confidence. The problem is, I'm having a hard time routing the cables in a way that doesn't seem to pinch them. They have a "less than smooth" feeling when pulling. Ideally I would run the cable from the left brake straight up and though the stem.

If I drilled a small hole all the way through -- how much structural integrity would I lose. I feel like it is worth it, but am not quite ready to sacrifice a stem yet
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Old 09-05-09, 09:17 PM
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can you install a fork mounted hanger instead?
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Old 09-05-09, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jonestr View Post
can you install a fork mounted hanger instead?
hmm. where would I get one? Is there any reason I couldn't?
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Old 09-05-09, 11:02 PM
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Ask your LBS or look online. It is a somewhat common thing for bikes.
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Old 09-05-09, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
hmm. where would I get one? Is there any reason I couldn't?
your bike shop should be able to source them

I think Tektro makes one

some forks, like an Easton ECX90, are not drilled to accept them
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Old 09-06-09, 12:29 AM
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Sounds like a bad idea to drill a stem. Get a hanger.
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Old 09-06-09, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by hocker View Post
Sounds like a bad idea to drill a stem. Get a hanger.
It terrifies me. A small hole can totally alter a component's behaviour under stress - they can act as a "seed" for stress fractures. And stems are both one the most likely and catastrophic (in both senses of the word) components to fail.
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Old 09-06-09, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
I just added brakes on top of my bars. My bike's a little long for me (I have long legs and a short torso so it's always a compromise),
Shouldn't you a get a shorter stem? Maybe with a bit more rise?
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Old 09-06-09, 07:45 AM
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I run my brake cable looped over the stem. Luckily my stem is not slammed down and I have room for the hanger to run center. I have had bikes where I could not run it center so it was slightly offset.
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Old 09-06-09, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Shouldn't you a get a shorter stem? Maybe with a bit more rise?
i'm at 90mm already

Originally Posted by nitropowered View Post
I run my brake cable looped over the stem. Luckily my stem is not slammed down and I have room for the hanger to run center. I have had bikes where I could not run it center so it was slightly offset.
wow. didn't think about rotating the hanger a bit. given the length from the hanger to the brake, it might work pretty well. thanks
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Old 09-06-09, 02:56 PM
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I've seen it done before, drilling a hole. but I wouldn't do it.
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Old 09-06-09, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by hocker View Post
Sounds like a bad idea to drill a stem. Get a hanger.
Actually, it is done all the time by OEM bike builders like Trek.
I have old Trek 830 and the stem is drilled for the optimum brake cable geometry.
You can also safely drill the stem and then chamfer the hole on both sides to prevent stress issues.


Last edited by FlatSix911; 09-06-09 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 09-06-09, 09:01 PM
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Honestly, regardless of what you do you are always going to have crap feeling brakes running those bar tops. They add cable drag no matter what you do.
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Old 09-06-09, 09:09 PM
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yeah but the cross levers are worth it IMO.
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Old 09-07-09, 02:55 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by OnTheRivet View Post
Honestly, regardless of what you do you are always going to have crap feeling brakes running those bar tops. They add cable drag no matter what you do.
yeah

Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
yeah but the cross levers are worth it IMO.
...and yeah
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Old 09-07-09, 03:15 AM
  #16  
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I love threads like these. A bunch of people pile in to try to talk some sense and provide alternative solutions.
Then this guy shows up.
Originally Posted by FlatSix911 View Post
I have old Trek 830 and the stem is drilled for the optimum brake cable geometry.
You can also safely drill the stem and then chamfer the hole on both sides to prevent stress issues.

[IMGPicture of 20 year old mountainbike with steel stemIMG]
It's hard to tell what the is for.
Is it "I was in a joking mood when I posted this. "?
Or, "Chamfer! That's the key! Don't forget the chamfer! "?
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Old 09-07-09, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by FlatSix911 View Post
Actually, it is done all the time by OEM bike builders like Trek.
This doesn't mean that you can necessarily drill a hole at any position on any stem safely. Just that those stems can be drilled at the points chosen. The component manufacturers or Trek (probably both) will have stress tested the drilled stems and chosen new stems where a drilled model failed testing.

You can also safely drill the stem and then chamfer the hole on both sides to prevent stress issues.
Not that I've ever heard or read. And I can't find anything on the Internet to say this is true.

Stress and fatigue are very strange things and hard to predict. I know of a case - I think it was discussed in Gordon's "Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down" (recommended) - where the leg of an oil rig failed because several minute holes had been drilled for mounting a CCTV camera! Drilling a hole will [i]usually[/] be safe, but unless you run a test you can never be sure.

Holes are "stress concentrators" -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatigue_(material)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_concentration

- and when aluminum steering components fail they can do so catastrophically - i.e. instead of failing gradually they break suddenly and totally at a moment of strain.
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Old 09-07-09, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by FlatSix911 View Post
Actually, it is done all the time by OEM bike builders like Trek.
I have old Trek 830 and the stem is drilled for the optimum brake cable geometry.
You can also safely drill the stem and then chamfer the hole on both sides to prevent stress issues.
Not really a problem on a steel stem like you have pictured.
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Old 09-07-09, 11:57 AM
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A lot of custom framebuilders will make stems with thru-cable routing. They are made of steel.
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Old 09-07-09, 12:35 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by crbrown View Post
A lot of custom framebuilders will make stems with thru-cable routing. They are made of steel.
I'm putting it together. My stem is not steel and I WON'T be drilling it. I'll post a pic when I'm done
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Old 09-07-09, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
i'm at 90mm already
If 90mm is still too long a reach, shouldn't you be going shorter? Sorry, this just seems like common sense to me.
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Old 09-07-09, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by darksiderising View Post
If 90mm is still too long a reach, shouldn't you be going shorter? Sorry, this just seems like common sense to me.
have you ridden a road/cx bike with a 60mm stem?
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Old 09-07-09, 11:29 PM
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Another thing I see every once-in-a-while are home-made cable hangers attached to the front of the stem's faceplate. This is something I have considered doing myself as spacer-hangers can create tight cable angles when running low stack heights. I look forward to seeing what you end up doing.
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Old 09-07-09, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by crbrown View Post
Another thing I see every once-in-a-while are home-made cable hangers attached to the front of the stem's faceplate. This is something I have considered doing myself as spacer-hangers can create tight cable angles when running low stack heights. I look forward to seeing what you end up doing.
that is a good call. I think you just get a seat post hanger and put that in there

I think Todd Wells may have run one for a while
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