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Stem length and handling? And toe strike.

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Stem length and handling? And toe strike.

Old 05-08-09, 10:36 PM
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Ciufalon
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Stem length and handling? And toe strike.

Does stem length make for better or worse handling. I tend to have long legs and a short torso and so I often look for short reach stems 60mm - 70mm and sometimes even shorter. Does a longer stem make for better handling? I am also curious why so many touring specific bikes under about 57cm lack enough clearance to prevent toe strike? That is without fenders and I want to have fenders. I like older steel frame touring bikes and it seems many went from size 53cm or 54cm to 57cm. As I find 55cm or 56cm to be ideal, I always feel I am on a small bike and lack toe clearance even with size 8-8.5 shoes. I am beginning to think I should start looking for a 26" wheeled steel mountain bike I can convert to a tourer. Does that sound like my best alternative?
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Old 05-08-09, 11:15 PM
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I can't say anything about the toe strike or the sizing, but shorter stems do usually make the handling a little twitchier, and longer ones make it more stable. If you have the money, you might want to think about a custom frame.
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Old 05-09-09, 04:50 AM
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I'v had the same issues only a fiew sizes larger. I chose a LHT starting with the ft.center( ft axle to center of BB) I measured a known distance that would let my size 13's clear the ft. fender. to avoid toe strike. I have a 60 cm frame with 8 cm. stem, and got usto it. What ever "problems" the "short" stem may cause are non existant when I can make those slow 130 degree turns several times a day, to get on and off bike path.
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Old 05-09-09, 05:17 PM
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thanks for advice

Thanks for the replies. I am going to go with the same measurement method to find what suits me in finding a bike that allows for clearance of feet/fenders. I am glad to know stem length is not a big issue and I can forget about it.
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Old 05-11-09, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
Thanks for the replies. I am going to go with the same measurement method to find what suits me in finding a bike that allows for clearance of feet/fenders. I am glad to know stem length is not a big issue and I can forget about it.
Oh, uh... hold on a second or two. There are a couple separate issues here. Toe strike is mostly a frame design issue; a short wheel base will have a greater tendency toward toe strike, especially if the crank arms and the wheels are disproportionately large. If you assume wheels must be 700c, and crank arms must be 170 mm, then smaller frames are likely to have these problems. This is one of the many reasons why smaller people need bicycles with not just smaller frames (which are generally available) but also with smaller wheels and shorter crank arms (which are, sadly, less common and more expensive).

Regardless of the specifics of the frame you chose, you want to determine the ideal front-to-back distance between your handlebar and your seat, and get the handlebar to the right height relative to the seat; this will get your body comfortable. Aside from that, you want to get the ideal weight distribution between your front and rear wheels; this will optimize the bike's handling. If you have a short stem, and your seat all the way back, you may take too much load off the front wheel, which will adversely affect handling.
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Old 05-11-09, 08:57 AM
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Some riders do not find toe overlap to be a problem. I know it is a non issue for me to the extent that I can't even tell you which of my bikes have it. When I first ride a new bike I might notice it once or twice and then I just subconsciously seem to avoid it.
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Old 05-11-09, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Oh, uh... hold on a second or two. There are a couple separate issues here. Toe strike is mostly a frame design issue; a short wheel base will have a greater tendency toward toe strike, especially if the crank arms and the wheels are disproportionately large. If you assume wheels must be 700c, and crank arms must be 170 mm, then smaller frames are likely to have these problems. This is one of the many reasons why smaller people need bicycles with not just smaller frames (which are generally available) but also with smaller wheels and shorter crank arms (which are, sadly, less common and more expensive).

Regardless of the specifics of the frame you chose, you want to determine the ideal front-to-back distance between your handlebar and your seat, and get the handlebar to the right height relative to the seat; this will get your body comfortable. Aside from that, you want to get the ideal weight distribution between your front and rear wheels; this will optimize the bike's handling. If you have a short stem, and your seat all the way back, you may take too much load off the front wheel, which will adversely affect handling.


I think you're missing the point of his question.

He can:

a) run a larger frame, shorter stem and have no toe-overlap
b) run a smaller frame, longer stem and have toe-overlap

------------

I'm tall enough that I don't have toe overlap issues, but I'm pretty sure that it would bug me. Also, I have had no issues running either very short or very long stems on bikes. The change seems minimal - or I'm just not very observant.

My vote would be for either the larger frame, or to stick to 26" tires.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
I think you're missing the point of his question.

...
Very possibly. But the first question was:

Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
Does stem length make for better or worse handling. ...
and after some discussion OP concluded that

Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
... stem length is not a big issue and I can forget about it.
This seems to me to simplify the matter into error. Ideal stem length contributes to ideal fit, which is required if you want ideal handling.

If any of my bikes have potential toe strike, I have not noticed it; so for me it's not an issue either. Nonetheless, I believe it does exist somewhere.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:17 AM
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By better or worse handling I assume you mean quicker versus slower, or twitchy versus steady.

Simply as a matter of calculating leverage moments, a shorter stem (especially with narrower bars) will produce a larger amount of rotation of the wheel for, say, a one inch movement by your arms at the outside edge of the bars than would the same amount of movement on a longer stem and wider bars.

Think of it like an "L" rotated to the right. The little end is the stem and the big end is one side of the bars. The bigger the "L", the farther away your control point (edge of bars) is from the pivot, and the less rotation for an given amount of movement.

That said, your dimensions sound about like mine. Same shoe size, 5'9", and a 31-32 inch inseam. My main ride is a 21" Trek 520 with a 50mm Nitto Technomic stem and 42cm Nitto Randonneur handlebars. I could probably use a 70 mm but it's okay as is. I have some toe overlap.

I suppose it is somewhat "twitchy". But with a set of loaded front panniers it rides like its on rails.

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Old 05-11-09, 09:31 AM
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Another way to decrease the toe overlap while keeping the steering stable would be to still use a smaller frame but get a really slack headtube angle to increase that wheelbase. You'll want to get a fork with less rake than standard to keep a good amount of trail. If you go this route you could still run a longer stem and have very stable handling with no toe-overlap.

In regards to fenders, I've had to raise the bottom edge of my front fenders on a few of my bikes because I kept pushing the fender into the wheel with my foot on turns. Your feet will be a bit wetter in the rain but your body'll stay dry and you won't have to fear for your fenders.
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Old 05-11-09, 10:36 AM
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OP,
You really don't give enough data for a good answer. However, the Surly LHT makes a transition from 26" wheels to 700c going from the 54 cm to the 56 cm. The 54 cm LHT tends to measure "big" so if you think something in the 55-56cm range generally fits you then a 54 cm LHT might work for you. Certainly, the wheel clearances on the 54cm (the largest LHT with 26" wheels) are excellent...Lots of toe clearance and clearance behind the seat post (to put a air pump) even with fenders.

For reference, I am 5'10" with long legs. I was on the boundary between a 54cm and 56cm LHT. After precise fitting at my LBS we went with the 54cm (because of my relatively short torso) and adjusted the reach via stem length and angle. This has resulted in a very, very comfortable touring bike.

Again, note that the way Surly measures, a 54 cm LHT might actually be more like a 55+ cm relative to your experience. It will probably be hard to find both a 54 and 56 on which to do demo rides so I would recommend going to an LBS who can do the proper fitting and then order and fit the bike. This is what I did and it resulted in the most comfortable bike I have ever had.
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Old 05-11-09, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Some riders do not find toe overlap to be a problem. I know it is a non issue for me to the extent that I can't even tell you which of my bikes have it. When I first ride a new bike I might notice it once or twice and then I just subconsciously seem to avoid it.
I have quite a bit of toe overlap on my bike, and, yeah, it is not a problem.

You only notice it going less than 5mph.
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Old 05-11-09, 07:02 PM
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i designed a touring bike largely for pulling an extrawheel trailer, that I wanted to be sporty when not being used for touring. I ended up with toe overlap, and its not a problem except when climbing at very low speeds. I just finished a tour of China, and i did a LOT of climbing, and noticed a strike once in a while. I am still glad I designed this bike with the angles and wheelbase it has.

ALL my bikes have some toe strike.
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