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adjustable vs. fixed stem

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

adjustable vs. fixed stem

Old 12-31-12, 05:18 PM
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fujinewest
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adjustable vs. fixed stem

I know most cyclist use a fixed stem but is there any disadvantage to having an adjustable stem besides the added weight? FYI, my adjustable stem length is 120 mm and bike size is a 54-large. It seems like a good option for a beginning road cyclist trying to find a comfortable riding position.
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Old 12-31-12, 05:37 PM
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The only advantage is it lets you find a variety of positions to know what angle fixed stem to buy. But the fixing bolt can come loose and/or break, rendering your stem useless. They're also not as stiff as a regular stem.
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Old 12-31-12, 05:40 PM
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^this. On steep climbs you can apply a lot of force on the bars and stem, you really want that junction to be rock solid
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Old 12-31-12, 06:31 PM
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For me, I think the advantage of having an adjustable outweighs the benefits of fixed. The adjustable seems strong enough to hold solidly but I suppose only time will tell. Obviously safety is the most important thing but comfort comes 2nd for me..

Last edited by fujinewest; 12-31-12 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 12-31-12, 06:32 PM
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I have this adjustable stem on two of my bikes. As far as angle, it isn't infinitely adjustable. It locks into position so it seems as solid as a fixed stem. In both cases, I've set the angle when installing the stem and then haven't thought about them again.
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Old 01-02-13, 01:53 AM
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Fixed stems look cleaner. When you adjust an adjustable stem, you also change reach as seen in this forum I started.
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Old 01-02-13, 01:59 AM
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If you're going to use an adjustable stem, be sure to leave enough brake and derailleur housing to keep them loose in all positions.
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Old 01-02-13, 02:54 AM
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Originally Posted by fujinewest View Post
It seems like a good option for a beginning road cyclist trying to find a comfortable riding position.
Provided the stem isn't junk it is.

If you want to switch to a normal stem tools like this will come in handy. I use the "compare" feature of this all the time.

http://www.brightspoke.com/t/bike-stem-calculator.html
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Old 01-02-13, 08:44 AM
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We've got an adjustable stem for our tandem. I needed more than -17 degrees to get the time trial position set up, and it works for that. Neither stiffness, nor loosening of the bolt is a problem.

But it is ugly, and a boat anchor. Personally, I'd go with a fixed stem once you have your position dialed in.
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Old 01-08-13, 09:52 PM
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I had a 06 Fuji Newest with a adjustable stem. The stem became worn and was replaced. My new stem is stiffer and it feels better when I am grinding it out on hills.
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Old 01-10-13, 01:25 AM
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The adjustable stem on my daughter's Giant creaks quite a bit.
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Old 01-11-13, 11:54 AM
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Except for the color (white) I'm ok with my adjustable stem on my Felt F75. It's the kind of stem that has a plastic sleeve inside of the stem that, after removing the stem from the steerer, can be rotated to either 14 or 10 degree angle. After buying the bike last July (after 13 yrs off of the road bike) 14 degrees felt great. I've found no problems riding with this type of adjustable stem. Just last week I adjusted it to 10 degrees, after allowing my back, neck, shoulders 6 months to get used to the road position. 10 degrees now feel great. Some day, I'll probably change it out for a fixed 10 degree stem in black or silver.
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Old 01-11-13, 11:59 AM
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You can easily buy and sell stems on Ebay - usually cheap and with no risk (they don't wear out). Figure out exactly what you need and buy one. If you buy the wrong size, sell it with minimal if any loss. There is no need for an adjustable stem.
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Old 01-11-13, 03:17 PM
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There's a kid around these parts who's been on the USA Cycling development squad, raced in Belgium etc. I think he's unattached now but still races at the Pro/Cat 1 level all the time. He uses an adjustable to get the bars lower; his saddle to bar drop is ridonkulous. But, the savings he gets from reduced aerodynamic drag far, far outweigh the additional grams of an adjustable stem. If adjustables are solid enough for riders like that then you should be fine with one while you figure out the ideal angle.
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Old 01-11-13, 03:50 PM
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Once you find the right position for you, you should consider replacing it with a fixed stem that holds the bars where you need them.

Adjustable stems are heavy, and when you stand up to climb, you put a lot of your weight on the handlebars. The adjustable stem shouldn't snap on you, but it's disconcerting to feel it creak a little bit. Don't try to tighten it down too much; that won't help, and you can break the bolt if you try hard enough. (Ask me how I know...)
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