I Be Needing a New Stem!

Slack Posts: 326
edited May 2011 in Road buying advice
It's taken me a year to realise that I need a shorter stem length :oops:

Just for some background: I'm 5'8" and have a 54cm Cannondale frame. I appreciate there are many variables in respect of body dimensions etc. I'm hoping a shorter stem will keep me in my optimum pedalling position without having to constantly keep sliding myself back on the saddle.

Currently I have a 120mm long stem, and think I need to change to a 90mm. The main question is, does 30mm seem like a drastic reduction in length?
Plymouthsteve for councillor!!


  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    It is quite a big difference. My advice would be to ask around to see who has got a spare stem and try a few different ones, as well adjusting the position on the stack or even flipping.

    I bought some cheap ones off ebay until I got the length right and then spent a bit more when I was certain, safe in the knowledge that I got it right. I relisted on ebay and got back roughly what I spent so found it a good way to experiment (it took a while to get used to a new length and work out whether it was better/worse or just different, btw).

    I went down 10mm in the end, but over the last year have also readjusted a few other aspects so you may find you want to tweak as your body changes, anyway.

    Edit: Might be worth considering a bikefit as most will have different stems so you will come out of it with your whole setup done.
  • cossington
    cossington Posts: 36
    Hi Slack,

    I'm sure some more knowledgeable guys will be along here shortly.
    To answer your question - yes, 30mm is a big change.
    Have you ever had a fitting?
    How did you arrive at your current set-up (straight from the shop/ second hand purchase)?
    Do you have a previous bike which was set up more comfortable for you? If so, do you have any measurements from that, to work from? Are you sure the slipping forwards on your saddle is due to reach issues - it could be sloping saddle or saddle set further back behind the bottom bracket than suits you.
    If you have no other guidance to go on, I suggest you use one of the on-line fit programmes (eg competitive cyclist) - costs nowt and will get you in the right ball park. They can't replace a proper, knowledgeable fitting but will get you in the right vicinity.

    Good luck,

  • Slack
    Slack Posts: 326
    Thank you for your reply gentlemen.

    I agree a proper bike fit woudl be ideal, but I'm temporarily financially embarrassed at present. It is at the top of the list however when the situation is resolved :oops:

    The bike was purchased with some naivity over the internet from Evans a few years ago before I really got into road cycling.

    I'm confident that the saddle is level, and is just about in the right spot fore/aft. However, when I'm on the drops and hoods giving it some, to keep tucked, I seem to end up moving forward on the saddle a wee bit, and then the saddle feels too low; and then subsequenty, feel I'm not getting the full power out of my legs, so I end up over spinning to keep the speed up!

    If I keep firmly planted on the saddle where I feel most power is being delivered efficiently, my elbows only have a slight bend, thus I feel stretched out. I would like to drop my shoulders to relax the upper body, which for means having more a bend at the elbows.

    Hope that makes sense! This is why I'm thinking in terms of shorter stem.

    Good idead about borrowing a stem or two - I'll start asking around. I take note that 30mm could be too much!

    Thanks again.
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Maybe you'd be better with a slightly shorter stem and more compact handlebars.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • fuzzbear
    fuzzbear Posts: 112

    Could it be the whole bike is a little too big for you? A 30mm shorter stem is a big difference & might effect the bikes handling.

    Just as a reference - I'm 5' 10" & ride a 54 Cannondale with a 110mm stem. Cannondales do seem to come up quite big for their given size.

    Btw have you tried an inline seatpost?
  • forward_loop
    forward_loop Posts: 314
    I'm 5'8 and ride a planet x small (effective TT about 53.5cm) with a 90cm 6degree stem and compact bars. Dont find it a problem.

    you will find that traditional or many ergo bars will ad maybe a cm onto reach over the compacts aswell. Also bear in mind that you can move the hoods up and down for personal preference.

    if you're "on the rivet" -as the saying suggests you will find yourself coming forward on the saddle a bit.

    give a shorter stem a go - I like the shimano Pro series - cheap/light and do the job at about £20.

    if the saddle is in the right place you dont really want to move "that end"
  • cyberknight
    cyberknight Posts: 1,238
    I am 5 foot 7 " and ride a 54 cm with a 100 mm stem.

    I ride using a french fit with a 2 " drop from saddlle to bars , and a 3.5 cm saddle setback.

    Try this site for fitting ....

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CC ... ATOR_INTRO
    FCN 3/5/9
  • dru
    dru Posts: 1,341
    @ Slack,

    Are you long of leg, or long of body - or about 50/50?

    People will say their height and setup etc and this means nothing without knowing YOUR dimensions (if anything to help out)