Forum home Mountain biking forum MTB beginners

Shorter stem: rabbit in the headlights effect

ubiquitousukubiquitousuk Posts: 12
edited June 2016 in MTB beginners
I have switched the stock 80mm stem that came on my bike for a shorter 60mm alternative. My objective in doing this was to shorten the reach of the bike and give me a more comfortable riding position; it this respect the change was a success. However, I am having difficulties adapting to controlling the bike with the new stem.

Part of this is general unsteadiness that I guess comes from having a shorter, more 'twitchy' stem on the bike. But I also seem to be suffering from what I would call a 'rabbit in the headlights effect': in narrow places, or places where I have to ride close to a wall/fence, I can see that the tip of my handlebar is on a collision course with an obstacle and am thinking that I need to turn away from that obstacle to avoid a collision. But my arms are just locking tense and refusing to make the small adjustment necessary. I have now crashed twice because of this, which never happened with the longer stem.

Did anyone else experience anything like this? Should I expect to get used to the new stem? I am debating whether to put the old one back on or not.

Posts

  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,643
    I have ridden between 110 and 50's, and never had any handling issues at low or high speeds, but I have heard people report a more twitchy front end, but on my bikes with shorter stems, either O have just been lucky, or the geometry nullifies it.

    I'm now happily settled on my best bikes with a 90mm stem for each.

    If you are crashing though, that's painful, and maybe expensive.
    Try swapping it back and see how it goes.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • JGTRJGTR Posts: 1,404
    I have read that you should change to a wider bar when reducing stem length which should help reduce the twitchy feel - try borrowing a bar or buy a new one, they can be bought for under £20. I went from 90 to 60mm stem and 720 to 750 bars which works well for me to make my 29er feel a bit more nimble.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,904
    The bars are the same length?

    If so why do the feel like they'll hit things?
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • mattyfezmattyfez Posts: 638
    I'd guess he feels like he has to pick a straight line and stick to it , due to the twitchier steering..and so tenses up, which is probably the worst thing to do.

    You can clip your bar ends on obstacles and recover if you are more relaxed..if you're stiff as a board and have a death grip on the bars, much more chance of going flying.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Try looking further down the trail, don't let your eyes get drawn in to looking at things too close.
    By looking further ahead you'll be riding loads smoother and will have loads of time to react. You won't even notice a lot of what you're panicking about because it's not a problem.
  • mattyfez wrote:
    I'd guess he feels like he has to pick a straight line and stick to it , due to the twitchier steering..and so tenses up, which is probably the worst thing to do.

    You can clip your bar ends on obstacles and recover if you are more relaxed..if you're stiff as a board and have a death grip on the bars, much more chance of going flying.

    Thanks for the replies. Yes, this pretty much describes it.

    I will stick with it a while and make a conscious effort to stay more relaxed and not look at the bars so much.
  • core00core00 Posts: 169
    I'm still using 760mm bar and 60mm stem on my 29er but now I use my body more to steer, went in red route today managed to get through tight gaps. I will still going to cut my bar to a little shorter and planning to get shorter stem too mainly because I feel like steering is a little sluggish.

    But yeah definitely look ahead than looking at your bar, try to move your body when steering through tight gaps too.

    I'm still practising to relax my whole upper body when descending mostly, I'm more relax now than my first ride what I do now is re-do the descent route until my body loosen up hehe.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Looking at your bars while riding will virtually guarantee a crash.
Sign In or Register to comment.