Road bike stem length

Hi folks, relatively newbie to cycling so looking for a little advice. I have a 17 year old Claud Butler with very little use as I’ve been a runner and only used bike for recover. Anyway on to the question, I’m getting a bit of a stiff neck but nothing to serious. While cycling yesterday with a mate he suggested I shortened the stem, my question is would this help and do all stems fit.
I’ve measured my current one and depending where you measure it from it’s around 120-140.
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Comments

  • PMark
    PMark Posts: 159
    When I started road cycling, it did take a few weeks for the muscles in my neck to strengthen enough, so it didn't ache after a ride. So maybe you just need to ride a bit more.

    Modern road bike stems are generally all interchangeable (although expensive Aero bikes can have custom integrated designs), but a bike from that long ago may have an older style quill stem. You also might need to raise the stem. So you might be better going to a bike shop who will be able to better recommend what you need.
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    that sounds long tbh

    three things to check re changing stems:

    1. quill or ahead. Quill is the old, old stuff. ahead is modern. do a quick google for piccies

    2. handlebar width. this will affect what size stem 'bar clamp. generally skinny (26.6 or similar give or take .2) or oversize (31.8 or similar give or take .2) do a quick google for piccies.

    3. all modern stuff is 1 1/8" sterrer tbh.

    That sounds loooong. job on a 100 or 110mm and that generally is the norm

    Measure length from centre of bolt than holds it to the bike to centre of h'bar clamp. or it'll be written somewhere on it.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • Thanks for the answers so far, just worked out how to put photos on so this might help.




  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    130mm so try going 110

    if you can't borrow one just get cheapest thing you can - probably off the Bay - and try.

    if all works oyt buy a nice one and give that to someone who needs one.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • seanoconn
    seanoconn Posts: 11,492

    Thanks for the answers so far, just worked out how to put photos on so this might help.




    Measure from middle of steerer tube to middle of handlebars if MF’s version is too easy.
    Pinno, מלך אידיוט וחרא מכונאי
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,651
    Difficult to see from those pics, but I would say it is either a 120 or 110.

    This is a random mountain bike stem image guide I found - and this one is 70mm.


    I have a collection of stems, as they can be had dirt cheap, and as already mentioned, ebay might do you, or sometimes the likes of CRC can have them for £7 or so.
    If it's a reasonable amount long, buy cheap, and I'd be inclined to drop by 20mm.
    Have you also checked your saddle postion on the rails - as in it's not slammed all the way back?
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,169
    You can get different stem angles so the length could be correct while too shallow/steep.
    The old rule of thumb used to be when in your normal riding position the handlebars should hide the front axle. Bars in front of axle = too long. Bars behind axle = too short.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Thanks for all the replies, I’ve now measured as suggested and it looks like it’s 110mm.
  • oxoman said:

    Cant tell from the picture but if the stem is pointed downwards you could always try turning it upwards. Works for some people to have the stem a bit higher.

    How do you adjust the angle as I thought it was set.
  • seanoconn
    seanoconn Posts: 11,492
    If the stem has an angle and and is currently angled slightly down (hard to tell from your pics) you can flip the stem so the angle is up making the bars slightly higher. Or replace with a shorter/angled stem if you want less reach/more height.

    You can also as Oxo said, loosen the stem bolts that hold the bars and rotate them up slightly reducing the reach. But not to such an extent that your wrists are at an awkward angle while on the hoods. Cost free adjustment.
    Pinno, מלך אידיוט וחרא מכונאי
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    It was also something random like if it fitted perfectly in your hand
    seanoconn said:

    If the stem has an angle and and is currently angled slightly down (hard to tell from your pics) you can flip the stem so the angle is up making the bars slightly higher. Or replace with a shorter/angled stem if you want less reach/more height.

    You can also as Oxo said, loosen the stem bolts that hold the bars and rotate them up slightly reducing the reach. But not to such an extent that your wrists are at an awkward angle while on the hoods. Cost free adjustment.

    problem with this is if you go too far you end up looking like a kid in the 70s on a Chopper.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • Ordered an 80mm off eBay so will give that a go and let you know how I get on.
  • crescent
    crescent Posts: 1,201
    Something else to bear in mind, when you shorten the stem you can make the steering a bit twitchy. The shorter stem means any steering adjustments at the handlebars will be accentuated at the other end of the stem where it is clamped to the steerer tube. Not necessarily a problem but just something to be aware of.
    Bianchi ImpulsoBMC Teammachine SLR02 01Trek Domane AL3“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. “ ~H.G. Wells Edit - "Unless it's a BMX"
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    crescent said:

    Something else to bear in mind, when you shorten the stem you can make the steering a bit twitchy. The shorter stem means any steering adjustments at the handlebars will be accentuated at the other end of the stem where it is clamped to the steerer tube. Not necessarily a problem but just something to be aware of.

    OP: it'll be fine. Too many variables to mention.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,563
    Another approach is maybe not to fix the bike but to fix the rider? It seems he might be lacking flexibility and the muscles supporting the head need strengthening? Remember your head weighs around 5kgs and to hold it in the position you are in on a road bike takes a lot of strength. I had serous neck issues last year and it caused a great deal of pain. These are the exercises that really helped me to ride again, pain free.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWg92hFOEDk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_8VuKxiCRs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpUIDH-atys

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkpvTRa2OO0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWH22O-t5eE

    There are plenty more you can do and find on that channel. Doing these and the shorter stem will undoubtedly help.


    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.

  • Munsford0
    Munsford0 Posts: 630
    I remember having a go on a colleague's bike without clocking that it had a very long stem. Felt like I was steering a narrowboat
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,169
    How many cyclists steer by turning the handlebars?
    Genuinely curious.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,150
    It is more that you are steadying the steering.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,169

    It is more that you are steadying the steering.

    Agreed but I was referring to the narrowboat post.
    People regularly ride and steer no handed. Hands are just used for a lack of confidence and being ready to brake or steer in an emergency event.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,150
    pblakeney said:

    It is more that you are steadying the steering.

    Agreed but I was referring to the narrowboat post.
    People regularly ride and steer no handed. Hands are just used for a lack of confidence and being ready to brake or steer in an emergency event.
    That's an exaggeration.

    But I've had all stem lengths from 80-120 mm and the adjustment in steering input required is barely noticeable. No more so than moving from the tops to the hoods.

    Perhaps if I had one of those 0 cm mtb stems it might be different...
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,651

    pblakeney said:

    It is more that you are steadying the steering.

    Agreed but I was referring to the narrowboat post.
    People regularly ride and steer no handed. Hands are just used for a lack of confidence and being ready to brake or steer in an emergency event.
    That's an exaggeration.

    But I've had all stem lengths from 80-120 mm and the adjustment in steering input required is barely noticeable. No more so than moving from the tops to the hoods.

    Perhaps if I had one of those 0 cm mtb stems it might be different...
    Agreed, I've ridden stems between 60mm & 120mm (Not on the same bike!) and differences were minimal, and nothing dangerous that I experienced with the 60.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,150
    daniel_b said:

    pblakeney said:

    It is more that you are steadying the steering.

    Agreed but I was referring to the narrowboat post.
    People regularly ride and steer no handed. Hands are just used for a lack of confidence and being ready to brake or steer in an emergency event.
    That's an exaggeration.

    But I've had all stem lengths from 80-120 mm and the adjustment in steering input required is barely noticeable. No more so than moving from the tops to the hoods.

    Perhaps if I had one of those 0 cm mtb stems it might be different...
    Agreed, I've ridden stems between 60mm & 120mm (Not on the same bike!) and differences were minimal, and nothing dangerous that I experienced with the 60.
    Riding with 36 cm bars, on the other hand....
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,651


    Riding with 36 cm bars, on the other hand....

    40cm C2C is the narrowest i have gone, if you check the Francis Cade videos, one of the Ribble riders 'The Redster' is riding 33cm C2C bars!


    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,783

    daniel_b said:

    pblakeney said:

    It is more that you are steadying the steering.

    Agreed but I was referring to the narrowboat post.
    People regularly ride and steer no handed. Hands are just used for a lack of confidence and being ready to brake or steer in an emergency event.
    That's an exaggeration.

    But I've had all stem lengths from 80-120 mm and the adjustment in steering input required is barely noticeable. No more so than moving from the tops to the hoods.

    Perhaps if I had one of those 0 cm mtb stems it might be different...
    Agreed, I've ridden stems between 60mm & 120mm (Not on the same bike!) and differences were minimal, and nothing dangerous that I experienced with the 60.
    Riding with 36 cm bars, on the other hand....
    Very true - narrower bars makes a noticeable difference.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rwoofer
    rwoofer Posts: 222
    At 6'6" I have one bike fitted with 38cm bars as an experiment and now barely notice anything different. I used to be good on 44cm and gradually moved downwards. 40cm c2c seems to be my preferred width now.
  • Mad_Malx
    Mad_Malx Posts: 5,038
    One other thought - if you are using a helmet with a peak, take it off. Fine for MTB or hybrid, but it makes you crane neck backwards to see on drop bars.
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    rwoofer said:

    At 6'6" I have one bike fitted with 38cm bars as an experiment and now barely notice anything different. I used to be good on 44cm and gradually moved downwards. 40cm c2c seems to be my preferred width now.

    your height generally doesn't make a difference to 'bar width: its all based on shoulder width.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    A common problem if it feels there is too much weight on the hands, or the body position is too far forward, is to make sure the saddle fore-aft position is correct. I had this problem for years until I pushed the saddle *back*. When coasting and you life your rear off the saddle, body held up by your feet and legs so its balanced, bottom should then be floating above the saddle.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
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  • rwoofer
    rwoofer Posts: 222
    MattFalle said:

    rwoofer said:

    At 6'6" I have one bike fitted with 38cm bars as an experiment and now barely notice anything different. I used to be good on 44cm and gradually moved downwards. 40cm c2c seems to be my preferred width now.

    your height generally doesn't make a difference to 'bar width: its all based on shoulder width.
    OK, 92kg size XL in clothing then :)

    Actually height does make a difference, but not like shoulder width and personal preference. With long arms there is generally less sensitivity to bar width, cause the angles don't change as much. On my MTB I ride 800mm bars which many shorter people would find just too wide.
  • brunojohn7102QikkwggD
    edited March 2022
    I have a 54cm road bike and want to reduce the reach (probably legs longer than most of my height and therefore a shorter body). I went from 100mm to 80mm bodywork - this https://biketoworkday.us/best-road-bike-stems/ is sourced from Origin8, it helps distribute weight evenly and makes riding more comfortable. Installing this bike stem wasn’t an issue, either, with its two-piece faceplate design. I can’t even imagine a newbie biker having trouble with it.