Stem position and steering

Garry71 Posts: 96
edited March 2010 in Workshop
I know it's a strange question, so don't be too rough with me :shock:
What would happen if a stem were swung around 180 degrees so that it was pointing rearwards over the crossbar instead of forwards over the wheel?
Would it affect the steering at all because of moving the handle bars further back?
Thanks for humouring me.
Cycling is too nice to waste it on getting to work.


  • topdude
    topdude Posts: 1,557
    You are going to have to try it and tell us from your hospital bed how it went :?
    He is not the messiah, he is a very naughty boy !!
  • Well, from a basic mechanical standpoint, in a way it will shorten the length of your bike. As far as how it will effect steering, my guess is that it will take some getting used to. The only possibly hinderance I can imagine is if you were making sharper turns, steering with the handlebars as opposed to leaning into the turns, your drops might knock into the top tube.

    If you decide to try it, let us know how it works out!
    -The Cowboy

    "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." -John Wayne

    "Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of 3000 miles per gallon." ~Bill Strickland
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Post a pic the minute you regain consciousness. This I want to see!
  • +1 on the picture, I'll be curious to see what this looks like! (The bike, not any injuries)
    -The Cowboy

    "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." -John Wayne

    "Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of 3000 miles per gallon." ~Bill Strickland
  • Garry71
    Garry71 Posts: 96
    God, you're an 'orrible lot.
    Turns out it may not be so mad after all, I managed to dig this up:

    It's about halfway down the page, but I'll copy and paste the topic here if it's not breaking any rules.

    Reversed stem – 2004.03

    Chris, I wonder if you can help solve a query I have over a possible solution to my problem. Although normally proportioned for my 5 foot 6 inch height, I always feel too stretched out on normal road frames; which is why I have a Thorn Brevet with short top tube, and a custom made Longstaff tandem. I would like to buy a new frame to build up into a bit of a workhorse and general touring machine, and have come up with an idea that one local dealer says is feasible and another ridicules. Would it be possible to fit a short stubby type of stem, and reverse it so that the handlebars were actually behind the upright of the stem? I am concerned about the steering properties of this set up, as I don't know if it would affect trail, and might handle like the normal superstore trolley! I have not seen any other references to this arrangement, so look forward to your observations.
    Brian Horswill - Haverforwest

    Reversing the stem can be done. It looks horrible but it works. A colleague had to do that since a back injury made it too painful for her to adopt the customary aerodynamic crouch. She had to sit more upright and could not use dropped handlebars any other way. She could have used straight bars of course, but already had the drops and still wanted the choice of hand positions they give.
    The “normal” situation, with forward-swept dropped handlebars on an extension of 10cm or so, is actually the weird one, since it places the hands a considerable distance ahead of the steering axis. When a racing cyclist steers, his hands don’t simply reciprocate – like on a car steering wheel – but also swing from side to side. Triathlon handlebars involve an even stranger way of steering, with the hands so far in front it’s more like working a boat tiller – from outside the boat! It’s generally acknowledged that this reduces control, which is why it’s not allowed except in time trials – where riders are supposed to keep so far away from one another it doesn’t matter so much if one looses it!

    Turning the stem around to face backward subtracts the extension length from the forward sweep of the dropped handlebar, so your hands will end up more or less in line with the steering axis. They’ll be in about the same place as they would be with a traditional, back-swept roadster handlebar. The bike will feel different from how it did, more like a roadster than a sportster, but there's nothing wrong about that. If anything it is more normal. It doesn’t affect frame geometry or trail in any way at all.

    A more upright riding position puts a bit less weight on the front wheel of course, which always makes a bike feel more lively, but that is true regardless of how you achieve that position. Purists may chunter but don't let them bother you: a reversed stem will work fine.
    Chris Juden
    Cycling is too nice to waste it on getting to work.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    You'll probably not be able to get out the saddle because your knees will hit the bars.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Garry71
    Garry71 Posts: 96
    I gave it a try, and it was pretty much a waste of time really.
    On the hoods, steering felt about the same as normal, but tight turns meant I'd have to swing my knee out of the way of the bar.
    Holding the drops, it got really wobbly on the straight, also wobbly standing up to pedal on hoods and drops.
    It gave a nice upright riding position, which is what I was after, but that was the only good thing about it.
    I think it would work better with flat bars, but I wouldn't recommend it for road bike bars at all.

    Cycling is too nice to waste it on getting to work.