How to Calculate Bicycle Stem Length

Written by matthew ferguson
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How to Calculate Bicycle Stem Length
Knowing stem length helps ensure a comfortable fit. (journey image by Vaida from

Although basic in design, the humble bicycle stem serves a crucial role. At the very least, the stem functions as a bridge between the handlebar and steering column, allowing the two to work in unison. More personally, a stem helps a cyclist dial in a proper fit. Stems come in multiple lengths, helping each rider achieve a comfortable reach to the handlebar. Once a comfortable stem is found, calculating its length is helpful whenever replacing the stem or purchasing a new bicycle.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Straddle the bicycle just behind the handlebars. Place a foot on either side of the front wheel, and centre the wheel.

  2. 2

    Note the bolt atop the steering column. The bolt secures a top cap that in turn helps keep the steering column end of the stem in place. Place the tip of a measuring tape in the very centre of the bolt.

  3. 3

    Stretch the measuring tape in the direction of the handlebar. At this end, a clamp plate joins the handlebar to the stem. Measure to where the clamp plate meets the stem, at the centre of the top of the handlebar.

  4. 4

    Convert the measurement to metric if using a standard measuring tape. Multiply the length in inches by 2.54 to convert to centimetres. Like many bicycle parts, stem length is typically listed in either centimetres or millimetres.

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