Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Stem Length

Old 02-21-18, 01:43 PM
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ryhon
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Stem Length

Hi,

First post on the forum!

I have a Cannondale Supersix Evo. I am just over 6 feet tall and have a size 58 frame. I have my seat slid forward and have put extra spacers under my bars, but I still feel like I am reaching for the hoods.

I am thinking of swapping out the stock 110mm stem for a 90mm to bring the bars a little closer. Do you think that this would help, without making the steering too twitchy?
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Old 02-21-18, 02:40 PM
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Seat position and reach are not related. Get you saddle position set FIRST, then adjust reach. Stem and bars will both effect reach.

BTW what size frame are you on? Cannondale seems to run large.
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Old 02-21-18, 03:27 PM
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The stack and reach are only 6mm different between the 56 and 58 cm frames. At your height 58 would be the correct size so it should be fine unless you have unusual leg/torso proportions. What's your inseam?

99Klein is correct that you should first get your saddle position so that your legs are in the correct position in relation to the pedals. Then evaluate reach.

You can swap the stem first. The bars that come stock on the bike have a 76mm reach and 126mm drop which is already a compact bar. After swapping the stem, if you want further less reach look at Zipp, whose compact/ergo bars have 70mm reach.
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Old 02-22-18, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
The stack and reach are only 6mm different between the 56 and 58 cm frames. At your height 58 would be the correct size so it should be fine unless you have unusual leg/torso proportions. What's your inseam?
You can't compare the Reach on two frames with different Stacks directly. The real difference in reach between them is 17mm at the same stem height.



Rhyon, you need a shorter stem. A shorter stem will affect handling much less than having your saddle too far forward or reaching for bars that are too far. You can use a shorter stem or a shorter reach bar - both accomplish the same thing.
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Old 02-22-18, 02:24 AM
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Sounds like you need a sportive frame and setup until you become more comfortable with being more extended and lower. You can try using a stem with more upward angle degree positioning and see how that feels. Try an inexpensive one first. If it works for you, then you could replace with a nicer one, or simply leave it alone.
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Old 02-22-18, 07:12 AM
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Thank you everyone, this is very helpful. What length stem would you recommend downsizing to - 90mm? 80mm?

Last edited by ryhon; 02-22-18 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 02-22-18, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
The stack and reach are only 6mm different between the 56 and 58 cm frames. At your height 58 would be the correct size so it should be fine unless you have unusual leg/torso proportions. What's your inseam?

99Klein is correct that you should first get your saddle position so that your legs are in the correct position in relation to the pedals. Then evaluate reach.

You can swap the stem first. The bars that come stock on the bike have a 76mm reach and 126mm drop which is already a compact bar. After swapping the stem, if you want further less reach look at Zipp, whose compact/ergo bars have 70mm reach.
I'm 6'3" and go between a 56-58 after starting on a 60 cause it was "right for my height".


My current bike is a 57.5 and the top tube is a touch longer than I'd prefer.


People have different geometries just like bikes do which is why so many end up on the wrong size bikes when told things like a 58 is good for 6' tall.
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Old 02-22-18, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
You can't compare the Reach on two frames with different Stacks directly. The real difference in reach between them is 17mm at the same stem height.



Rhyon, you need a shorter stem. A shorter stem will affect handling much less than having your saddle too far forward or reaching for bars that are too far. You can use a shorter stem or a shorter reach bar - both accomplish the same thing.
Thanks, makes sense.

Originally Posted by ryhon View Post
Thank you everyone, this is very helpful. What length stem would you recommend downsizing to - 90mm? 80mm?
No one can answer that question without seeing you and knowing your measurements on the bike. Get a bike fitting done.
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Old 02-22-18, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ryhon View Post
Thank you everyone, this is very helpful. What length stem would you recommend downsizing to - 90mm? 80mm?
I have no idea which length is better for you but what I can say is that 20mm difference in reach makes a noticable difference.

Whether it will be enough is another matter.

The way I estimate how much shorter a stem should be is how far behind the hoods do I need to plant my hands to feel comfortable for long stretches of riding.

You can also experiment with rotating the bars upwards a little. It kind of messes with the ergonomics of the hoods/levers, but it gives you an idea of what the hand position feels like.
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Old 02-22-18, 08:46 AM
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Last year I had your exact concerns. I swapped my 110mm stem for a 90mm stem. It made a big difference for me and accomplished exactly what I wanted it to. I cannot detect any difference in the bike being more twitchy.
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Old 02-22-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by gt3racerich View Post
Last year I had your exact concerns. I swapped my 110mm stem for a 90mm stem. It made a big difference for me and accomplished exactly what I wanted it to. I cannot detect any difference in the bike being more twitchy.
+1

Changing the stem length will make a slight difference in steering feel, but it's only noticeable when you first make that change. The shorter lever requires less hand movement to rotate the steerer tube, but once above walking speed this difference is barely noticeable.
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Old 02-22-18, 12:30 PM
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Fit advice on the internet without measurements or pictures is usually more worthless than good. Seek out a good fitter in the area or even experienced riders. Just from looking they can usually tell you if you're way off or if it's close.
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Old 02-22-18, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Fit advice on the internet without measurements or pictures is usually more worthless than good. Seek out a good fitter in the area or even experienced riders. Just from looking they can usually tell you if you're way off or if it's close.
+1.

Would you agree, or disagree with my comment about how stem length affects the way the bike steers?
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Old 02-22-18, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
+1.

Would you agree, or disagree with my comment about how stem length affects the way the bike steers?
Absolutely.
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Old 02-22-18, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Fit advice on the internet without measurements or pictures is usually more worthless than good. Seek out a good fitter in the area or even experienced riders. Just from looking they can usually tell you if you're way off or if it's close.
This ^^^
My sense is the position of the rider is more wrong than his bike dimensions with current stem.
Many a 6' rider on a 58 with 120mm stem including me. Lance at 5'10" rode a 58 with 130mm stem. His posture was correct on the bike. A road bike can, but generally shouldn't be ridden as a beach cruiser.


OP, go to a professional fitter and have him place you on your bike with your pelvis/hips in the correct rotated forward position with good back posture which starts with correct hip position...not like sitting at your kitchen table but rather with your bum sticking out with saddle in the middle of the seat clamp.
You will have a lot more reach...maybe even desire a longer stem.

Last edited by Campag4life; 02-22-18 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 02-22-18, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Fit advice on the internet without measurements or pictures is usually more worthless than good. Seek out a good fitter in the area or even experienced riders. Just from looking they can usually tell you if you're way off or if it's close.
Yup very much this. IMO even with pics or video it would be hard to give credible advice on your fit. That said, stems are relatively easy to swap. Worth a try.
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Old 02-22-18, 03:50 PM
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The only real "fit advice" offered in this thread is "a shorter stem isn't a bad thing - give it a try".

Does anyone actually believe that is bad advice?

Last edited by Kontact; 02-22-18 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 02-22-18, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
The only real "fit advice" offered in this thread is "a shorter stem isn't a bad thing - give it a try".

Does anyone actually believe that is bad advice?
To 70mm no, much less than that and there might be reason to look elsewhere. Road bikes should not have 50mm stems with out another good reason.
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Old 02-22-18, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
To 70mm no, much less than that and there might be reason to look elsewhere. Road bikes should not have 50mm stems with out another good reason.
Sure, but the OP wasn’t asking about making a jump like that.
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Old 02-22-18, 05:53 PM
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My advice would be is “try before buying”.

Even bad bike shops have a pile of various length stems that you can borrow for a few rides.
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Old 02-22-18, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
Sure, but the OP wasn’t asking about making a jump like that.
That is why I said "no" it is not a problem to the scope of what we were talking about, and qualified it because I didn't see a number on the post I quoted.
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Old 02-22-18, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
That is why I said "no" it is not a problem to the scope of what we were talking about, and qualified it because I didn't see a number on the post I quoted.
Sorry Bro, I didn't mean to jump on you like that.

These things happen when I have a few post-ride IPAs.
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Old 02-22-18, 06:53 PM
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Personally, I wouldn’t go shorter than 80-90mm on a road stem. I noticed a big difference in twitchiness going to a 10mm shorter reach bar with a 100mm stem. Mind you, I ride an already very nimble bike (Allez Sprint), but my feeling is, if you get down to an 80mm stem, you probably need to look at going down a size on the frame.

I’m 5’9.5” on a 56 with 100mm stem, at 6’, I’d be surprised if you had reach issues on a 58 with a 90 or 100.
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Old 02-22-18, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
Sorry Bro, I didn't mean to jump on you like that.

These things happen when I have a few post-ride IPAs.
I'm going to go get me some.
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Old 02-22-18, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pesty View Post
my feeling is, if you get down to an 80mm stem, you probably need to look at going down a size on the frame.
True, but some people don't "fit" stock frames. Sometimes people have flexibility issues, some have unusual dimensions.

Without seeing the rider on the bike(, and measuring the rider's flexibility, none of our opinions matter.
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