Should I alter my stem length?

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Paul, Aug 14, 2003.

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  1. Paul

    Paul Guest

    I've only been cycling for a year but have already done 3500miles and really been bitten by the bug,
    I'm now saving up and oggling new bikes.

    The bike I have is a cheap 'comfort' mountain bike, basically a 26" wheeled hybrid. I'm 6' tall and
    have a 34" inseam and when I was sized for the bike it was felt by the LBS that a 22" frame would
    be correct.

    Recently, whilst posting in a newsgroup and asking about the odd bit of hand ache, it was suggested
    that my ride position might be too stretched and perhaps the bike a bit too big. I know that the
    bike is 'too big' in mountain bike terms but as an mostly on road bike it seems ok, I have about 3"
    standover clearance and the .68xinseam guide would suggest a 23" frame and I was sized by the LBS. I
    may have taken too much notice of this but I am considering changing the stem (130mm) for a slightly
    shorter 105mm one.

    My ride position seems ok according to any info. I can find on the web. My upper body is angled
    forward when I ride but not greatly and my arms to the bars pretty much mirror my upper body angle.
    The is a slight bend at the elbows and my weight is distributed over the saddle and bars. At the top
    of the pedal stroke my knees are in line with my elbows which again seems about right.

    The only other 'rule of thumb' I've come across is that in the correct riding position the front hub
    is hidden by the bars. The point is that my upper body angle can vary as I ride. When in my 'normal'
    ride position the front hub is covered by the bars but sometimes, when I just poottle along I lock
    out my elbows for a more upright ride and the hub can appear behind the bars, when I'm riding hard I
    lean more forward the hub can appear in front of the bars; in this position it feels that if the
    stem was much shorter it would throw my balance out.

    After 40-50 mile rides I occassionally have a slight ache here and perhaps the odd tingle in the
    fingers but generally no real problems.

    Does my ride position sound in need of a shorter stem or am I, as a relatively new and inexperienced
    cyclist, taking too much notice of other people's comments?

    Sorry for all the waffle but I thought I'd ask before making changes that I suppose could
    potentially make things worse rather than better.

    Thanks for any thoughts, With Kind Regards, Paul
     
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  2. Paul tried to scribble ...

    > I've only been cycling for a year but have already done 3500miles and really been bitten by the
    > bug, I'm now saving up and oggling new bikes.

    > After 40-50 mile rides I occassionally have a slight ache here and perhaps the odd tingle in the
    > fingers but generally no real problems.

    I'd say that riding this distance and only feeling an 'odd tingle', after riding for only a year,
    sounds like there''s actually very little wrong with your present riding position.

    It's often worth trying different stem lengths or saddle heights or handlebar rises etc, but don't
    forget your basic original positions and settings as you may well prefer to return to them after a
    while .. ;)

    I often change riding position to suit what I'm doing. If a ride is technical I'll generally lower
    the saddle a smidgeon, if it's a forest track I'll generally raise it a tad, if it's a downhill,
    I'll lower the saddle and turn the bars to a more upright stance .. ;)

    --
    Digweed
     
  3. Graham

    Graham Guest

    "Paul" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > I've only been cycling for a year but have already done 3500miles and
    really
    > been bitten by the bug, I'm now saving up and oggling new bikes.
    >
    > The bike I have is a cheap 'comfort' mountain bike, basically a 26"
    wheeled
    > hybrid. I'm 6' tall and have a 34" inseam and when I was sized for the
    bike
    > it was felt by the LBS that a 22" frame would be correct.
    >
    > Recently, whilst posting in a newsgroup and asking about the odd bit of
    hand
    > ache, it was suggested that my ride position might be too stretched and perhaps the bike a bit too
    > big. I know that the bike is 'too big' in mountain bike terms but as an mostly on road bike it
    > seems ok, I have
    about
    > 3" standover clearance and the .68xinseam guide would suggest a 23" frame and I was sized by the
    > LBS. I may have taken too much notice of this but I am considering changing the stem (130mm) for a
    > slightly shorter 105mm one.
    >
    > My ride position seems ok according to any info. I can find on the web. My upper body is angled
    > forward when I ride but not greatly and my arms to
    the
    > bars pretty much mirror my upper body angle. The is a slight bend at the elbows and my weight is
    > distributed over the saddle and bars. At the top
    of
    > the pedal stroke my knees are in line with my elbows which again seems
    about
    > right.
    >
    > The only other 'rule of thumb' I've come across is that in the correct riding position the
    > front hub is hidden by the bars. The point is that my upper body angle can vary as I ride. When
    > in my 'normal' ride position the front hub is covered by the bars but sometimes, when I just
    > poottle along
    I
    > lock out my elbows for a more upright ride and the hub can appear behind
    the
    > bars, when I'm riding hard I lean more forward the hub can appear in
    front
    > of the bars; in this position it feels that if the stem was much shorter
    it
    > would throw my balance out.
    >
    > After 40-50 mile rides I occassionally have a slight ache here and perhaps the odd tingle in the
    > fingers but generally no real problems.
    >
    > Does my ride position sound in need of a shorter stem or am I, as a relatively new and
    > inexperienced cyclist, taking too much notice of other people's comments?
    >
    > Sorry for all the waffle but I thought I'd ask before making changes that
    I
    > suppose could potentially make things worse rather than better.
    >
    > Thanks for any thoughts, With Kind Regards, Paul
    >
    > I would say that 130mm to 105mm is too much of a change ! Try changing 5mm
    or even 10mm at a time.

    Graham
     
  4. den911

    den911 New Member

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  5. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Paul wrote: /snip
    > I have about 3" standover clearance and the .68xinseam guide would suggest a 23" frame and I was
    > sized by the LBS. I may have taken too much notice of this but I am considering changing the stem
    > (130mm) for a slightly shorter 105mm one.

    Inside leg and frame seat tube size are not connected with what stem you need. A different stem
    might help if you just would prefer a different position, or if your legs and back are in different
    proportion to the average bloke: ie. short back requires a shorter reach and vice versa.

    Assuming you're referring to the stem's horizontal extension, 105mm is more than "slightly" shorter.
    It's a major difference. If you do want to experiment, I suggest either trying something in-between
    first or being prepared to buy a third stem afterwards. 10mm difference can be worthwhile sometimes
    (or even 5mm to fine tune).

    > My ride position seems ok according to any info. I can find on the web. My upper body is angled
    > forward when I ride but not greatly and my arms to the bars pretty much mirror my upper body
    > angle. The is a slight bend at the elbows and my weight is distributed over the saddle and bars.
    > At the top of the pedal stroke my knees are in line with my elbows which again seems about right.
    >
    > The only other 'rule of thumb' I've come across is that in the correct riding position the front
    > hub is hidden by the bars. The point is that my upper body angle can vary as I ride. When in my
    > 'normal' ride position the front hub is covered by the bars but sometimes, when I just poottle
    > along I lock out my elbows for a more upright ride and the hub can appear behind the bars, when
    > I'm riding hard I lean more forward the hub can appear in front of the bars; in this position it
    > feels that if the stem was much shorter it would throw my balance out.

    I've never had any faith in the hub position rule. Seems stupid to me, too. Another dumb one is:
    handlebars should be at tips of fingers when arm is outstretched with elbow against nose of saddle.
    I mean, how the hell are you supposed to ride a bike like that?! :-D Or at least, what does the
    length of fingers and saddle have to do with the price of fish?

    > After 40-50 mile rides I occasionally have a slight ache here and perhaps the odd tingle in the
    > fingers but generally no real problems.

    Looks like a case of "if it ain't broke don't fix it". I suggest either persevering with what you
    have or trying a 115 or 120mm to see if that makes you more comfortable and relieves some of those
    aches. Also consider different bar height and tilt, and ensure saddle is positioned best for
    pedalling efficiency and backside/lower-back comfort rather than for reach to the bars.

    > Does my ride position sound in need of a shorter stem or am I, as a relatively new and
    > inexperienced cyclist, taking too much notice of other people's comments?

    The latter I would guess. I think it's much better to make adjustments and changes going by what you
    feel like rather than sticking to rules, formulae and advice.

    ~PB
     
  6. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Thanks for the thoughts, I think that perhaps I was overreacting. I'll see how things go as the
    are for now.

    Thanks again.

    With Kind Regards, Paul.
     
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