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stem length. what's too long?

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stem length. what's too long?

Old 06-10-14, 08:22 AM
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It's the minimum angle between the thigh and torso as dependent on flexibility that determines saddle position. If you're going to be very low on the bars, you need to move the saddle forward (and up a bit) so that your thigh doesn't hit or get inefficiently close to your torso. KOPs is OK as starting point for the average drop bar road bike riding position, but too far back for a low torso position.
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Old 06-12-14, 03:55 AM
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Thanks Looigi, that makes a lot of sense. I am famously inflexible, having to take stretching classes to avoid back pain. So it stands to reason that I need to get up high and forward.

But what I am wondering about is pedalling efficiency. I was told something like "since the 90 forward point is where one can apply most force to the pedal, your knee should be above the pedal at that point." At the time it seemed reasonable but now I am thinking that while yes, the most force can probably be applied at the 90 degree forward point, it may be a good idea to have ones thighs or even hips above that point. People on shopper bikes pedalling with their backs verticle appear to have KOPS and it looks tremendously inefficient. When I really want to apply power, I get out of my saddle and put my body over my pedals.

Anyway, I can report that there is no problem at all with a 150mm -30 stem. There is no steering problem at all and I am enjoying the ride position. I tend to spend most of my time on my hoods, like everyone else, and it feels fine. I am not sure I am quite horizontal even on drops which feel fine too. I do need my billiards goofy specks though.

There is an added bonus that with the longer stem, and my weight applied further from the forks, the carbon forks flex more over road bumps and provide more suspension. And all for only 50USD. Buy yourself a mega stem if only for race days.
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Old 06-12-14, 04:25 AM
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i imagine that stem length has very little impact on turning in normal riding. turning by turning the handlebars is only done when going really slowly at walking speed when coming to a stop.
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Old 06-13-14, 01:29 AM
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Good point coasting!

I thought that Mountain bikers do make fast large movements of the handlebars especially on downhills but even extreme city downhill racers turn the handlebars only a little bit <10?
Road bikers a bit less. I tried it out today steering is something that one does balance and sort of leaning on the bars.In this video the cyclists only turns the bars more than a few degrees when on the pavement.

So why were many people were hypothesising a direct impact on steering in the thread above, qith quite a few, on these forums at least, thinking that long stems were a bad idea.

I am enjoying my 150mm stem so much that I think I am going to get another one for my other bike. Due to the improvement in suspension (the invert L twangs vertically but not so as to affect acceleration much) and the high height of headsets, getting a bike that is too small, and then getting a really long downwards stem afterwards may actually be a good idea, though I confess I did not purchase a frame too small on purpose.
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Old 06-13-14, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by samsation7
You should aim for your stem to be between 90-120mm. 120mm+ means that the frame is too small. This is assumming that you have moved the saddle way back already.
You adjust the saddle position to establish the relationship between you and the pedals. Then you leave it alone regardless of reach issues.

Reach is adjusted by stem, bars, and levers.
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Old 06-13-14, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Good point coasting!

I thought that Mountain bikers do make fast large movements of the handlebars especially on downhills but even extreme city downhill racers turn the handlebars only a little bit <10?
Road bikers a bit less. I tried it out today steering is something that one does balance and sort of leaning on the bars.In this video the cyclists only turns the bars more than a few degrees when on the pavement.

So why were many people were hypothesising a direct impact on steering in the thread above, qith quite a few, on these forums at least, thinking that long stems were a bad idea.

I am enjoying my 150mm stem so much that I think I am going to get another one for my other bike. Due to the improvement in suspension (the invert L twangs vertically but not so as to affect acceleration much) and the high height of headsets, getting a bike that is too small, and then getting a really long downwards stem afterwards may actually be a good idea, though I confess I did not purchase a frame too small on purpose.
On a MTB the wide bars give you stability when you're going fast over chunk. When you turn...you're leaning the bike not literally turning the bars. You be surprised how well a freeride bike (Kona Operator) with a 64 degree HTA can handle at speed on rocks and roots. They run wide bars with real short stems. The wider the bar...usually shorter the stem. MTB's also have a longer wheelbase. On a road bike...you're just riding pavement. There isn't too much technical handling involved...unless you are descending a mountain pass at 50+ mph...even in that situation there is no need for that type of leverage.

On my 29er hardtail, I use a 66mm stem with a a 710mm bar. 26er AM bike, 35mm stem with a 740mm bar. Road bike, 380mm bar with a 110mm stem.

I alternate between my road bike and MTB's...I find it amusing how twitchy my road bike is when I first get on it after a day on the MTB.

Here is a video of Aaron Gwin. It really shows how fast these guys go on dirt. Wide bars and short stem. Imagine a long stem and narrow bars...no way.

https://youtu.be/d7fNWw2fBQ0

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Old 06-13-14, 04:01 PM
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I am not sure, above all, of the appropriate relationship between me and my pedals.

It looks better now that it has a 30 degree spacer, and it is almost slammed.



Note that the nose of the saddle is directly above the cranks. This is 5cm too far
forward according to UCI rules. If I were to obey UCI rules I could have 5cm shorter
stem -- a 100mm stem, which are quite common. In other words the bike frame is
not (as the manufactures guidlines point out) all that small for me.

But I find that I prefer to be above the cranks, and the stem really long because
this is a time trial bike crossed with a road bike. It has the forward position of the
time trial bike (achieved with a trial bike stem and a forward offset seat post)
coupled with the handlebars of a road bike because time trial bike handlebars are
really inappropriate for navigating traffic.

Last edited by timtak; 07-01-14 at 05:32 AM. Reason: more thoughts
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Old 10-25-14, 12:20 AM
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I did the 150mm -30 trial bike riser stem flipped and now slammed (7.5mm headset cap) to another bike and I am loving it.



'Bikes not made for A type backs' John Cobb 
https://youtu.be/cz-VlJjqQhY?t=4m20s

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Old 10-25-14, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Good point coasting!

I thought that Mountain bikers do make fast large movements of the handlebars especially on downhills but even extreme city downhill racers turn the handlebars only a little bit <10?
Road bikers a bit less. I tried it out today steering is something that one does balance and sort of leaning on the bars.In this video the cyclists only turns the bars more than a few degrees when on the pavement.

So why were many people were hypothesising a direct impact on steering in the thread above, qith quite a few, on these forums at least, thinking that long stems were a bad idea.

I am enjoying my 150mm stem so much that I think I am going to get another one for my other bike. Due to the improvement in suspension (the invert L twangs vertically but not so as to affect acceleration much) and the high height of headsets, getting a bike that is too small, and then getting a really long downwards stem afterwards may actually be a good idea, though I confess I did not purchase a frame too small on purpose.
you are so right. But you should have gone 3 frame sizes too small and had a 200mm stem custom made. That is the way to go and reduces weight. Plus you can get the whole bike in the front seat of your compact car. 15" of drop and riding on the hoods is just a great set up and even better front fork vibration damping. Also running your saddle nose down like that is great in rain storms. Rain runs right off the seat and washes the bike! Win/win.
The only thing I believe better would be to remove the saddle all together. Don't just leave the post unless you need an incentive to not sit down. This turns the bike into a stair master which is more weight bearing and will help with bone porosity as you age. Plus you don't have to clip in unless taking it off road.

Last edited by Campag4life; 10-25-14 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 10-25-14, 06:24 AM
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I cycle because I enjoy it and also in large part to keep my formerly large (78kg) weight under control. I am so thin now that I worry that I have cancer (and I may have cancer, us hypocondriacs are right once) but I know that my bike fit is good not only because I am now almost at my 18 year old weight, at the ripe old age of 49, but also because I am KOM on several strava segments including a popular hill climb and came 8th in a *downhill* strava segment this afternoon against mega thin Japanese Stravaistas, of all ages, even thought I hate downhill and my stem is not down-hill friendly.

There are good reasons why Cavendish and other pros use tiny frames with long stems. I think that the biggest reason is that like me, many customers want to loose weight, have a big belly and can not get down low so bikes are made with long head tubes and a "relaxed" (fat persons') geometry. But as you lose your belly, increasing that drop, and slamming that stem, is an incentive to go yet faster, and enjoy the rewards of the transformation that you have achieved. I am enjoying it. I had a gut and could not get down long and low. John Cobb politically calls this having a "B type back" but what he really means is having a B-type Belly.

Slam that stem when you can. Get a small frame and a long stem, and Strava your heart out.

Your saddle idea is good though. I may make it more horizontal.

Last edited by timtak; 10-25-14 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 10-25-14, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
I cycle because I enjoy it and also in large part to keep my formerly large (78kg) weight under control. I am so thin now that I worry that I have cancer (and I may have cancer, us hypocondriacs are right once) but I know that my bike fit is good not only because I am now almost at my 18 year old weight, at the ripe old age of 49, but also because I am KOM on several strava segments including a popular hill climb and came 8th in a *downhill* strava segment this afternoon against mega thin Japanese Stravaistas, of all ages, even thought I hate downhill and my stem is not down-hill friendly.

There are good reasons why Cavendish and other pros use tiny frames with long stems. I think that the biggest reason is that like me, many customers want to loose weight, have a big belly and can not get down low so bikes are made with long head tubes and a "relaxed" (fat persons') geometry. But as you loose your belly, increasing that drop, and slamming that stem, is an incentive to go yet faster, and enjoy the rewards of the transformation that you have achieved. I am enjoying it. I had a gut and could not get down long and low. John Cobb politically calls this having a "B type back" but what he really means is having a B-type Belly.

Slam that stem when you can. Get a small frame and a long stem, and Strava your heart out.

Your saddle idea is good though. I may make it more horizontal.
You are only scratching the surface however with a 150mm stem with big negative rise. Go 200-250mm length with a 45 deg neg rise and now you are getting in the ballpark of the best fit. You may have to in fact get a frame without a head tube. 20 inches of drop is even better...especially if you are old and inflexible as you say. If you build such a bike, be sure to post it. You may even revolutionize the industry with your forward thinking.
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Old 10-25-14, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Alasdair
While we are speaking of stems... what is measured on the stem to come up with length? Is it the total length (including front "bracket" that holds bars and back behind headset) or some piece of that?
Generally center of head tube to center of bar measured along center of stem.
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Old 10-25-14, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
I am not sure, above all, of the appropriate relationship between me and my pedals.
Evidently.

It looks better now that it has a 30 degree spacer...

No, it really doesn't.




... the bike frame is
not (as the manufactures guidlines point out) all that small for me.
Yes, it most certainly is.
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Old 10-25-14, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Slam that stem when you can. Get a small frame and a long stem, and Strava your heart out.
I love these guys who discover bicycles late in life and devise truly out-at-the-limit of the bell curve "Fitting Theories" based on a sample size of 1.

As Sponge Bob Square Pants once said:

"Well, good luck with that!"

-Bandera
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Old 10-25-14, 11:50 AM
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low?..

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Old 10-25-14, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by nobrainer440
+1. It takes a bigger motion to turn the wheel with a longer stem, since the bar moves side to side more, but really the wheel hardly turns anyway except at very low speeds. Thus I'm inclined to think it doesn't much matter, except that super low speed turns would become quite awkward with a really long stem.
+2. Stubby stems can also result in less weight on the front wheel which is another way to make the steering "quicker".
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Old 10-25-14, 02:46 PM
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Oh geeeze. Zombie Apocalypse.
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Old 10-25-14, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 531Aussie
low?..

Not low enough.

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Old 10-25-14, 02:57 PM
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You want really low, 20" wheels are nice.

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Old 10-25-14, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
I love these guys who discover bicycles late in life and devise truly out-at-the-limit of the bell curve "Fitting Theories" based on a sample size of 1.
Baaaaaa

But, though I would like to, I can't claim to be Mr. unique. I guess you did not see John Cobb's video. Rough transcript follows.

"A style back road position"
A style back road position - YouTube

This looks pretty agressive but Robby rides this way all the time. He does pretty well.

If you are A style (thin) rider then this won't be a problem. [If you have a B style back (belly?) then see my other video.]

What causes this, to have to use a stem like this is because most of the companies nowdays have a really long head tube, trying to get your more comfortable.

But what we find is for agressive ride, and it doesn't have to be just racing, if you are out riding a little harder, as you go down further, it keeps taking weight off the seat and off your hands.

Robby can go down further, but this would be a pretty normal all day long position(!!). You can see he has still got good clearance here (between his knees and belly) he's not hitting my hand at all.

His butt cheeks have come up so he doesn't have any pressure on his sit bones because they are off the seat. And now he's riding on the ??? horns, on the abductor (thigh) muscles and they don't care.

...This should be a good long distance position (!!).

And it is!

And over at weight weenies folks realise the need for long stems
150mm road stem - Weight Weenies
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Old 10-25-14, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
as you go down further, it keeps taking weight off the seat and off your hands.
So where does the weight go?
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Old 10-25-14, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Baaaaaa I guess you did not see John Cobb's video.
Nice sheep imitation!

Actually I did see the video, the position demonstrated isn't remotely like the one I see in your pics.
Let me help w/ that:

1) Your saddle nose is pointed down at your front hub not the 4-5 Degrees Upward Tilt Cobb recommends.
You are set-up exactly opposite of what your fit-guru recommends.

b) Note the Drop in the example, and it's recommendation. Cobb is talking about taking an Endurance/Gran Fondo design and kludging a drop stem to get back into a standard competition headtube range. The correct solution: Buy a competition fit frameset if that is required, they are easily available in any size.
The example in your pic has a drop/reach/seat height to frame size not remotely like the fit-demo in Cobb's vid, or is any element of your position.

ii) Since " I am not sure, above all, of the appropriate relationship between me and my pedals." Go back to the many primary sources on cycling fit for the last century or so to review the issue. I recommend the Guimard/LeMond system, any will clarify (or not) this central issue that must be addressed before all else in pedaling a bicycle efficiently. It's Square One, start there and start over.

In the meantime pics of proper efficient positions of the past:



-Bandera
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Old 10-25-14, 07:38 PM
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Also, @timtak...on that Azzu, how long is your seatpost, and how much is inserted? Minimum insertion exists for a reason.
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Old 10-25-14, 08:23 PM
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> So where does the weight go?
Onto your abductor muscles in your thighs. It is really good.

I take your point about the saddle. It is comfortable, but I may try the slight backward tilt that Cobb recommends. I put more weight on my hands than his super fit rider. I prefer Wiggo, time trial type seat height to the Lemond formula.

Returning to the stem.

With bikes being made for "B type backs" there are, apparently, three things one can do

1) Use a massive negative angle on the stem as Cobb is doing. I guess that stem is bout 10cm and he has it about -60 degrees.

2) Use small frame and long negative or horizontal stem (Cavendish uses a mini 49cm frame with a long horizontal stem).

3) "The correct solution: Buy a competition fit frameset" I have not seen a carbon (my prefered material) one of these on offer within my budget. I wonder why Cobb and some pros are taking routes 1 and 2 above if such frames were commonly available. I wonder if Cobb, advisor to TDF winner, is right when he says "most of the companies nowdays have a really long head tube, trying to get your more comfortable." It seems likely to me that there are somewhere these "competition frames" but I bet they are not cheap. If anyone could share a link to one at less than 500 (the price of the most expensive velobuild road frames) I would be very interested.

While I admit that my set up is different from that of Cobb, it shares some commonality with respect to the handlebar position. Looking at the photos that you kindly posted, the major difference seems to me to be the extent to which those super world beating pro riders bend their elbows. I do bend mine but not quite so much or so often. I put some weight on my bars. I bet that Lemond and (my favourite) Anquetil could ride without any weight at all on their handlebars. I still have 16% fat in my body.

Alas the Azzurri bit the dust, due to a fight with a car park roof (several years ago, not long after I bought it, but it started creaking again recently). The "USE Sumo" seatpost was properly inserted below the minimum insertion. It is a 40cm post. The standard seatpost on my Felt (flipped forward for a more TT position) however is about 5mm above its minimum, but I figure that it could cope with heavier riders, so I have at least 5mm leway.

I will be replacing the Azzurri frame with a R022 from Velobuild in the same size since I loved riding my Azzurri, and Velobuild do not appear to offer "competition" carbon road bike frames and I do not want to use a variable stem set to -60. I hear the variable stems may creak. The R022 is the same sort of "grand fondo" geometry as most frames these days, due to the market.

I plan to use the same flipped trial bike 150mm 30 degree stem or perhaps this 35 degree stem.
Amazon.co.jp | ???? ********************?? ????/35°/150mm | ????&********** ??
which is even cheaper than the trial bike stem that I am happily using from China
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Trial...316271029.html

Here is a B type back. My "back" was like that when I started road bike cycling 5 or 6 years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd7q-um6nHw

Flipped trial bike stems for the win!

Last edited by timtak; 10-26-14 at 04:54 AM. Reason: Add aliexpress link
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Old 10-26-14, 07:22 AM
  #100  
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Originally Posted by timtak
If anyone could share a link to one at less than 500 (the price of the most expensive velobuild road frames) I would be very interested.
$500 is not a sufficient budget for a current model new CF racing frameset, that's reality.



I'm not your personal shopper, the bey is a good resource in this regard.
Search for your proper frame size used built by any of the mfgs who make competition framesets.
Lots out there from BMC, Bianchi, Orbea, Specialized, Trek, Cannondale,.......

While I admit that my set up is different from that of Cobb, it shares some commonality with respect to the handlebar position
I don't see it and having reviewed Cobb's video you don't seem to have followed any of his fitting recommendations.

Looking at the photos that you kindly posted, the major difference seems to me to be the extent to which those super world beating pro riders bend their elbows. I do bend mine but not quite so much or so often. I put some weight on my bars
The reason those pros are comfortably & powerfully in control is that are Properly Fitted and adapted. From the Merckx era through Contador's good fit and lots of seatime are essential to top performance. The same applies to serious club cyclists. Note: None looks even remotely like the position you posted, for good reason.

If you don't want an Endurance/Gran Fondo design don't buy one, at least level your saddle and keep those rooftop fights to a minimum.

-Bandera
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Last edited by Bandera; 10-26-14 at 03:11 PM.
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