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5-6 cm stem (2") - can it be a problem?

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5-6 cm stem (2") - can it be a problem?

Old 06-01-12, 01:21 AM
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5-6 cm stem (2") - can it be a problem?

Bit of a long post, sorry. I'm new to roadbikes:

I've bought my first ever road bike this autumn. Bought just the frame, from a coworker. It is very nice, rides nice. Spent the rest of the winter gathering 2nd hand parts. Now the bike is complete. I'm 178 cm tall, frame's top tube is 58 cm, while the seat tube is 56 cm. Stem is some 9 cm long. I have a problem that bars feel just too far away - i have to counsciously stretch out when trying to keep my hans on the hoods.

A cycling coach has watched me ride for some 200 kilometres over last weekend and has politely asked me to sit on my bike leaning against some landpost. Helped me fit (moved seat a bit forward, tilt nose a bit more up to make it flat). Also, he said the frame is too long for me, too big. He suggested that I get a 6 cm stem instead of the current 9 cm.

Went to several bike shops, only one could order a 5-6 cm long stem, but said bike could handle poorly and be perhaps even dangerous to ride.

Can a 5 cm stem be a problem? Or a 6 cm one? Is it too short for a roadbike?
I would like to keep my current frame if it can be fitted for me this way (guess shorter stem will do), but if it can't, if it's risky, I'd sell it 2nd hand and get a smaller one.
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Old 06-01-12, 04:31 AM
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I have a 60 cm top tube, 6 cm stem beater bike back at my parents' that I ride occasionally when I visit. I can't say I've ever had any problems with the steering, and this is coming from a 55 cm top tube, 12 cm stem bike that I typically ride.

In my experience, it's only when you start approaching zero offset from the steerer tube (say, with an old style swept-back handlebar) that the steering starts to feel seriously twitchy.

All that said, a properly fitting frame is always a better choice, and if you decide to sell, I might be interested What exactly is the frame you have?
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Old 06-01-12, 04:54 AM
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Ebay. Be sure to know your clamp size both for the steerer and the handlebar if you buy. You will get a lot of comments about a short stem making the bike a bit twitchy. This is largely baloney. The goeometry of the bike including your weight distribution on it affects this more than stem length.
That said, the bike maybe a size too big. Moving the saddle forward to shorten reach unfortunately doesn't serve the second master of fit...which is relation to the pedal centerline. The pedals are a stabilizing force to your body center of gravity. Too far forward and you will feel like you are falling into the handlebars. You may try an experiment. Push the saddle back a bit. I know this will increase your reach but it will move your body weight rearward. This will reduce pressure on the hands. Adjusting to a roadbike fit takes time and is a bit more stretched than comfortable for many starting out. If you could build that bike, you can build another. What happens is your fit will become refined as you learn about it and you will try different frames to dial it in. Honestly fit is huge to being comfortable on a road bike. 5mm makes a pretty big difference.
Have fun.
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Old 06-01-12, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiery
I have a 60 cm top tube, 6 cm stem beater bike back at my parents' that I ride occasionally when I visit. I can't say I've ever had any problems with the steering, and this is coming from a 55 cm top tube, 12 cm stem bike that I typically ride.

In my experience, it's only when you start approaching zero offset from the steerer tube (say, with an old style swept-back handlebar) that the steering starts to feel seriously twitchy.

All that said, a properly fitting frame is always a better choice, and if you decide to sell, I might be interested What exactly is the frame you have?

Some racing frame. Local bikeshop guy and the coleague who sold it to me both say it's top class (alu): It cost me 250 euros.



Looks lovely. I'd love to keep it if the shorter stem would help.
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Old 06-01-12, 05:59 AM
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You may be able to buy bars with a shorter reach. I think Salsa sells a couple of short reach models.
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Old 06-01-12, 06:06 AM
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Rotating the bars down to where they should be (ends of drops parallel to ground) and bringing the shifters back toward the tops might shorten the reach a bit.
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Old 06-01-12, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar
Bit of a long post, sorry. I'm new to roadbikes:

I've bought my first ever road bike this autumn. Bought just the frame, from a coworker. It is very nice, rides nice. Spent the rest of the winter gathering 2nd hand parts. Now the bike is complete. I'm 178 cm tall, frame's top tube is 58 cm, while the seat tube is 56 cm. Stem is some 9 cm long. I have a problem that bars feel just too far away - i have to counsciously stretch out when trying to keep my hans on the hoods.

A cycling coach has watched me ride for some 200 kilometres over last weekend and has politely asked me to sit on my bike leaning against some landpost. Helped me fit (moved seat a bit forward, tilt nose a bit more up to make it flat). Also, he said the frame is too long for me, too big. He suggested that I get a 6 cm stem instead of the current 9 cm.

Went to several bike shops, only one could order a 5-6 cm long stem, but said bike could handle poorly and be perhaps even dangerous to ride.

Can a 5 cm stem be a problem? Or a 6 cm one? Is it too short for a roadbike?
I would like to keep my current frame if it can be fitted for me this way (guess shorter stem will do), but if it can't, if it's risky, I'd sell it 2nd hand and get a smaller one.
No issue, twitchier steering, but your mind/body will adjust within the first few miles of riding and you'll be fine thereafter. And really, going back and forth between it and my newer bike with a 100mm stem, the difference in steering sensitivity is not that big.

I had to specifically order a 60mm stem, and short reach compact bars from Ritchey, you can do this from their website yourself, for my first bike that was fitted too large. Rode it this way for 3 years and something like 12-13kmiles, and still ride it on occasion.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-L...5199E6669B.JPG

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Old 06-01-12, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Menel
No issue, twitchier steering, but your mind/body will adjust within the first few miles of riding and you'll be fine thereafter.

I had to specifically order a 60mm stem, and short reach compact bars from Ritchey, you can do this from their website yourself, for my first bike that was fitted too large. Rode it this way for 3 years and something like 12-13kmiles, and still ride it on occasion.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-L...5199E6669B.JPG
That's a nice bike!

And it's good to hear 6 cm isn't going to be a big problem. Are there any other (dis)advantages of having a one size larger frame?
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Old 06-01-12, 09:13 AM
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I notice a bit of a difference with really short stems. It's not much.

I'm riding a bike one size too big for me right now. I find it harder to sprint...just seems to be too much bike swinging back and forth. It handles slightly oddly. It's not a big deal, it bugs me mostly because I have another bike that fits perfectly and going back and forth exaggerates the differences.

If it's your only bike, I suspect you'll get used to it and be perfectly happy. Of course if you do end up buying a bike that does fit, you'll maybe kick yourself for not having done it sooner.
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Old 06-04-12, 02:00 AM
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Tried shorter stem. 6.5 cm. No more lower back pain, but still to big. What I've learned in the meantime is that my frame is a "compact" one, which makes my 56.5 cm seat and 58.5 cm top tube effectively a 60 cm bike frame. Coworker who is an experienced roadie sold it to me, said it should fit my 178 cm height. What I know now is that this frame is for 184 to 192 cm tall people.

Definitely looking to swap frames, or get a good 2nd hand one that FITS. How much should I expect to pay for a 54 cm aluminium road frame, with carbon forks?
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Old 06-04-12, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar
Tried shorter stem. 6.5 cm. No more lower back pain, but still to big. What I've learned in the meantime is that my frame is a "compact" one, which makes my 56.5 cm seat and 58.5 cm top tube effectively a 60 cm bike frame. Coworker who is an experienced roadie sold it to me, said it should fit my 178 cm height. What I know now is that this frame is for 184 to 192 cm tall people.

Definitely looking to swap frames, or get a good 2nd hand one that FITS. How much should I expect to pay for a 54 cm aluminium road frame, with carbon forks?
You're in Serbia? Few here are going to be able to comment on your bike market and prices.

The Al/Carbon Fuji I linked above was $630 USD special ordered new with warranty from local shop but has had numerous upgrades over it's miles. I wouldnt pay more than a fraction of that for a used one...
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