Uncomfortable on your bike? The culprit could be your stem, the part that connects the handlebars to the frame.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Bike Shorts
- Bike Helmets
- Bike Shoes
- Bike Stems
Know that there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding stem length. Whatever is comfortable for you is right.
Use your current stem as a point of reference. Is it too high or too low? Do you feel scrunched up when you ride? Too stretched out? Hunched over?
Try raising or lowering your stem. As you lower the stem, the bars will get farther away from you. Raising the stem causes the bars to come closer. With a threadless stem, you'll have to add or remove spacers.
Realize that even 1cm can make a dramatic difference. If you change stems, avoid buying one that's more than 1.5cm longer or shorter than your old one.
Know that a longer stem will tend to soften the bike's handling, and that a shorter stem will make the steering quicker.
Realize that if you have to buy a really long or really short stem, your frame probably doesn't fit you well.
Tips and warnings
- When you buy a new bike, most bike shops will allow you to exchange your stem at no charge, after a few weeks, if you aren't comfortable with it.
- Consider riser bars for a mountain bike. These will bring the bars up higher and closer without having to change your stem.
- If your back or neck hurts while riding, your stem may be too low.