Is my stem too long???

homers_double
homers_double Posts: 8,019
edited March 2014 in Road beginners
I'm not new to cycling having ridden MTB's for the last 20 odd years and last year bought a Spesh Allez off a nice chap somewhere on this forum.

I haven't ridden it much because of a house project which took over all my spare time but am starting to get back out on it to get some sort of resemblance of fitness back, probably ridden it 20 times in 12 months.

Anyway the whole set up seems fairly fine except I'm wondering if the stem is too long, the back of my kneck seems hunched into my shoulders and I'm always longing to be an inch further back to straighten up. I don't know if this is from riding a mountain bike for years or if I just need to swap it out for a shorter one.

It'll be original spec so from a random website:- STEM Alloy, CP bolt,12-degree, 31.8mm and I'm guessing around 90-100mm as I'm at work and the bike isn't.

I know this is a bit vauge but has anyone any thoughts?
Advocate of disc brakes.

Comments

  • fishyweb
    fishyweb Posts: 173
    A widely used rule of thumb is that, when you're riding on the hoods and looking down, the bar tops should obscure the front hub. I doubt that this works well for everyone though and, if you're uncomfortable, you're uncomfortable.

    One other possibility (if the stem is currently "pointing down"), is to try flipping it over so that the bars are a little higher.
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  • homers_double
    homers_double Posts: 8,019
    Thank you, firstly the stem is going up. Secondly, I've heard that rule before and I think the hub is visible, ie behind the top of the bars so that would in theory put the bars too far forwards.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • jasondxb
    jasondxb Posts: 59
    I've only had my bike a couple of weeks, so Im no expert
    I had a bike fit at the weekend, similar problem to yours. They changed a couple of things from how I had been riding:
    Seat went back 2cms to bring my knee in line with the pedal, and reduced the stem from 100m to 90m
    Its now a lot more comftable and the pain has gone, probably the best 50 quid Im going to spend
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    If you read round the web there are bike setup guides to give you an idea. I came from mountain biking and compared to more aggressive road positions have a fairly upright position on my road bike with only an inch of drop from saddle to handle bars. You can buy adjustable stems to let you experiment and once you have it right measure up and buy the right fixed stem. Compared to mountain bikes road bikes have to be set up a lot more accurately but you will soon get there.
  • Sprool
    Sprool Posts: 1,022
    90-100 stem is not long for a road bike, what's the frame size?
    Maybe start by flipping the stem or check seat position as posted above. If you are out of practice or new to road bikes then the more riding will improve flexibility and your neck pain may ease as you relax more. If you feel it's just wrong then you can get a cheap 80mm stem on ebay to try out, but I'd go for the former actions first to see how you get on. Too short a stem can unbalance the front end and make the steering and stability 'twitchy'.
  • jasondxb
    jasondxb Posts: 59
    I did nt have the option to flip the stem, tried it and the front brake cable was nt long enough, it was pulling
    Disconnected it in the shop to try but found the smaller stem suited me better
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I find the rule of thumb mentioned by fishyweb - looking down, bar tops obscuring front axle - works for me.

    Another rough and ready check is to put elbow against nose of saddle with forearm stretched forward towards stem. There should be a small gap between your outstretched fingers and the back of the bars - about an inch or the width of two fingers. For me that gives a nicely balanced position.
  • Southgate
    Southgate Posts: 246
    Thank you, firstly the stem is going up.

    I asked Mrs Southgate about this. She said that my stem was long enough and she's glad it still goes up from time to time.
    Superstition begins with pinning race number 13 upside down and it ends with the brutal slaughter of Mamils at the cake stop.
  • vertigo16
    vertigo16 Posts: 91
    jasondxb wrote:
    I've only had my bike a couple of weeks, so Im no expert
    I had a bike fit at the weekend, similar problem to yours. They changed a couple of things from how I had been riding:
    Seat went back 2cms to bring my knee in line with the pedal, and reduced the stem from 100m to 90m
    Its now a lot more comftable and the pain has gone, probably the best 50 quid Im going to spend

    Where did you get a bike fit for £50!!??
  • jasondxb
    jasondxb Posts: 59
    Dubai
  • dai_t75
    dai_t75 Posts: 189
    If it is already flipped why not take a punt on cheap shorter one?

    My Triban came with 110 or 120mm stem and I was too stretched out. I think I have quite 'irregular' proportions in that I have quite long legs and short body. Based on height and inside leg think I got the right frame size of 57... so ended up shortening the stem. Tried 90, 80 and now settled on 70! Think they all cost less than £20.

    People will probably say it is too short and I might look odd when riding, I don't know. What I do know is that I am very comfortable on the bike and managed LEJOG last year with no aches or pains. I have not noticed any twitchiness in the steering. My point being the normal stem lengths may be suitable for the majority of the people, but not everyone so don't be afraid to experiment until you are comfortable when stems are cheap to buy and you can sell them on easily if they are not right for you.
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    dai_t75 wrote:
    If it is already flipped why not take a punt on cheap shorter one?

    My Triban came with 110 or 120mm stem and I was too stretched out. I think I have quite 'irregular' proportions in that I have quite long legs and short body. Based on height and inside leg think I got the right frame size of 57... so ended up shortening the stem. Tried 90, 80 and now settled on 70! Think they all cost less than £20.

    People will probably say it is too short and I might look odd when riding, I don't know. What I do know is that I am very comfortable on the bike and managed LEJOG last year with no aches or pains. I have not noticed any twitchiness in the steering. My point being the normal stem lengths may be suitable for the majority of the people, but not everyone so don't be afraid to experiment until you are comfortable when stems are cheap to buy and you can sell them on easily if they are not right for you.

    Very good points about getting the bike setup for yourself rather than rigidly following setup guides. If you get no aches or pains over long distances you are off to a very good start.
  • DKay
    DKay Posts: 1,652
    I'm also a man with a woman-like torso/leg ratio. i.e. short torso, but long legs. I've recently swapped from a 90mm stem to a 70mm one and like the change. I no longer feel too stretched out and I'm no longer spending too much time on the front of the saddle, so I can recruit my glutes more. The only issue now, is that my knees sometimes make contact with the bars when I'm out of the saddle and the bike looks a little weird. Having odd proportions poses certain issues.
  • cyberknight
    cyberknight Posts: 1,238
    Before changing your stem is the rest of your fit ok?
    I know that KOPS is a bit of a myth but its a place to start for saddle set back
    kops21.png?w=150&h=121
    I like jimlangley
    http://www.jimlangley.net/crank/bikefit.html
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