Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

What's the shortest stem you've used with drop bars?

Notices
Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

What's the shortest stem you've used with drop bars?

Old 07-25-21, 06:17 PM
  #1  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
What's the shortest stem you've used with drop bars?

Hi! What's the shortest stem you've used with drop bars and how was it? Are super short stems really super twitchy, unstable, or unsafe?

I'm young but I don't like riding bikes with high saddle drops. So, I've bought the largest bike that I could stand over which is the largest road bike from Trek with a 62cm seat tube and 59.5cm top tube. But because I'm only 5'11", while I no longer need to hunch down, I am quite stretched out forwards.

I'm currently using a 80mm stem with my 380mm drop bars and I still get upper back pain after around a constant hour on the saddle. I plan on getting a 60mm stem. Anyone here use a 60mm stem with narrow drop bars?
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 06:30 PM
  #2  
yarbrough462 
Pizzaiolo Americano
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Hopefully riding my bike...
Posts: 539

Bikes: 2021 Trek Domane, Bianchi Intenso, Trek Top Fuel 9.9, Specialized Epic Evo, Salsa Beargrease

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 285 Post(s)
Liked 133 Times in 66 Posts
At your height, that bike is never going to fit you properly but, it won't explode with a 60mm stem either. Can't hurt to try it...I am mainly a mountain biker but still ride the road some. You get used to a properly sized road bike after putting some miles on them. If it were me and the 60mm stem doesn't get you to a comfortable position, I'd sell it and get another. Just make sure you have a line on a new one before you get rid of this one. Selling bikes is easy right now. Buying, not so much...
yarbrough462 is offline  
Likes For yarbrough462:
Old 07-25-21, 06:36 PM
  #3  
Atlas Shrugged
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 594
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 354 Post(s)
Liked 367 Times in 201 Posts
No problem enjoy the bike. The trend is toward shorter stems for endurance riders due to the increased comfort.
Atlas Shrugged is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 06:42 PM
  #4  
PeteHski
Senior Member
 
PeteHski's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 1,546
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 739 Post(s)
Liked 720 Times in 477 Posts
Originally Posted by yarbrough462 View Post
At your height, that bike is never going to fit you properly but, it won't explode with a 60mm stem either. Can't hurt to try it...I am mainly a mountain biker but still ride the road some. You get used to a properly sized road bike after putting some miles on them. If it were me and the 60mm stem doesn't get you to a comfortable position, I'd sell it and get another. Just make sure you have a line on a new one before you get rid of this one. Selling bikes is easy right now. Buying, not so much...
Yep, just have to try it and see how it feels. I can't help thinking you've made a big mistake on the frame size though. Which Trek model is this? As some models have a higher stack than others for the same frame size.
PeteHski is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 06:53 PM
  #5  
datlas 
Beyond Bogus
 
datlas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Malvern, PA (20 miles West of Philly)
Posts: 35,723

Bikes: 1986 Alpine (steel road bike), 2009 Ti Habenero, 2013 Specialized Roubaix

Mentioned: 502 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15502 Post(s)
Liked 3,475 Times in 1,733 Posts
This bike is too large for you.

A short stem is going to help, but it’s still not a good solution.

If you have comfort issues better to find a good fitter. I am concerned the bike will not handle as well as a properly sized/fit bike.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28 View Post
Addiction is all about class.
datlas is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:07 PM
  #6  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Yep, just have to try it and see how it feels. I can't help thinking you've made a big mistake on the frame size though. Which Trek model is this? As some models have a higher stack than others for the same frame size.
Yeah, I may have made a mistake. I bought the frame used from some guy. Not sure what model it is but it's from the early 2000s and has a horizontal top tube.

Here in the Philippines, where the average male height is like 5'5", frames built for my height are extremely rare. So, when I saw this bike for sale on FB Marketplace, I bought it without thinking twice. The seller actually said that the frame had a 57cm top tube but, turns out, he measured it wrong. It was too late when I found out so I just kept the bike.
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:16 PM
  #7  
PeteHski
Senior Member
 
PeteHski's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 1,546
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 739 Post(s)
Liked 720 Times in 477 Posts
Originally Posted by Jeco View Post
Yeah, I may have made a mistake. I bought the frame used from some guy. Not sure what model it is but it's from the early 2000s and has a horizontal top tube.

Here in the Philippines, where the average male height is like 5'5", frames built for my height are extremely rare. So, when I saw this bike for sale on FB Marketplace, I bought it without thinking twice. The seller actually said that the frame had a 57cm top tube but, turns out, he measured it wrong. It was too late when I found out so I just kept the bike.
Ah okay fair enough. You may as well try the shorter stem anyway. It's not going to be ideal, but probably an improvement. Have you pushed the saddle forward on the rails too? Again not an ideal solution, but will help to shorten your reach a little. Might also be able to tweak the bar angle and hood positions in your favour.
PeteHski is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:17 PM
  #8  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by datlas View Post
This bike is too large for you.

A short stem is going to help, but itís still not a good solution.

If you have comfort issues better to find a good fitter. I am concerned the bike will not handle as well as a properly sized/fit bike.
I'm kind of in an unlucky situation. Because of my weird body proportions (really long legs, short torso), I believe that the only bike that would actually fit me properly would be a custom built bike, which is beyond my budget.

I have to make a compromise. If I get a say, 58cm bike, which according to charts, would be perfect for my height, there would be a considerable saddle drop, which I'm trying to avoid. It also doesn't help that I'm not able to buy a 58cm bike anyway because of their rarity where I'm from.

Edit: Yeah, I'm also worried about the handling.


​​​​​
​​​​​

Last edited by Jeco; 07-25-21 at 07:25 PM.
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:24 PM
  #9  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Ah okay fair enough. You may as well try the shorter stem anyway. It's not going to be ideal, but probably an improvement. Have you pushed the saddle forward on the rails too? Again not an ideal solution, but will help to shorten your reach a little. Might also be able to tweak the bar angle and hood positions in your favour.
Thanks for the idea on the bar angle and hood positions! I'll try that.
​​​
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:30 PM
  #10  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 26,044
Mentioned: 209 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14395 Post(s)
Liked 2,402 Times in 1,790 Posts
Does this bike use a threadless fork (1 1/8" or 1")? Or is it a threaded fork (with quill stem)?

You can find even shorter stems. 40mm. They should even pop up on Alibaba or Aliexpress.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:51 PM
  #11  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Does this bike use a threadless fork (1 1/8" or 1")? Or is it a threaded fork (with quill stem)?

You can find even shorter stems. 40mm. They should even pop up on Alibaba or Aliexpress.
It takes a quill stem. I can use a quill stem adapter though.

I think I'll try a 60mm stem first, 40mm seems way too short.
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:51 PM
  #12  
datlas 
Beyond Bogus
 
datlas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Malvern, PA (20 miles West of Philly)
Posts: 35,723

Bikes: 1986 Alpine (steel road bike), 2009 Ti Habenero, 2013 Specialized Roubaix

Mentioned: 502 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15502 Post(s)
Liked 3,475 Times in 1,733 Posts
Originally Posted by Jeco View Post
I'm kind of in an unlucky situation. Because of my weird body proportions (really long legs, short torso), I believe that the only bike that would actually fit me properly would be a custom built bike, which is beyond my budget.

I have to make a compromise. If I get a say, 58cm bike, which according to charts, would be perfect for my height, there would be a considerable saddle drop, which I'm trying to avoid. It also doesn't help that I'm not able to buy a 58cm bike anyway because of their rarity where I'm from.

Edit: Yeah, I'm also worried about the handling.


​​​​​
​​​​​
I have similar proportions. Play the hand you have, itís not ideal but life is full of compromises. Use a 50 or 60mm stem.

But honestly I suspect you would do better with a 58cm frame and maybe a flipped up 100mm stem. Thatís what I use.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28 View Post
Addiction is all about class.
datlas is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 07:55 PM
  #13  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 26,044
Mentioned: 209 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14395 Post(s)
Liked 2,402 Times in 1,790 Posts
There are also variable angle quills. So, you could set it to short and tall.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 08:23 PM
  #14  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
ofajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 949
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 271 Post(s)
Liked 395 Times in 263 Posts
Sounds like you need the tall frame to work with your leg length and a tall stem to get your bars about level with the saddle.

You could get a long quill stem adapter or a tall quill stem, like a dirt drop stem. Nitto has great versions of both.

With the right height for the bars, you may even find that a stem of 60-80 mm is ok.

Otto
ofajen is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 09:14 PM
  #15  
Caliper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 984

Bikes: Many

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 378 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 38 Posts
I've used a 30mm stem on a drop bar fatbike setup I ran for a while. It worked with no issues, but that's not exactly the fastest handling frame out there to begin with.

May I ask what is your leg length? I'm 6'0" with a 36" leg length and own bikes with very similar geometry to the frame you've got so might be able to relate a bit.
Caliper is offline  
Old 07-25-21, 09:16 PM
  #16  
Moisture
Drip, Drip.
 
Moisture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 749 Post(s)
Liked 125 Times in 105 Posts
I've used a 40mm stem with a 580mm top tube before. Drop bars will have different reach lengths. 380mm width bars sound to be too narrow for you. Maybe something like 420 will feel better.

Maybe go for 40-50mm, since sticking with your current bike sounds to be the most feasible option given the situation with bikes where you live.

I am 6ft3, longer legs in proportion to torso. Very long arms. I wouldn't want to go longer than 50mm with a 590mm top tube.
Moisture is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 02:57 AM
  #17  
Kimmo 
bike whisperer
 
Kimmo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Melbourne, Oz
Posts: 9,386

Bikes: https://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=152015&p=1404231

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1361 Post(s)
Liked 592 Times in 417 Posts
Get a proper fit done, or at least measure yourself and do some research about the different fit systems to come up with your ideal geometry, then you can work from there towards it. Short reach bars are also a thing, but not sure how much choice you have to fit an old school stem.
Kimmo is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 03:05 AM
  #18  
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minas Ithil
Posts: 9,027
Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2307 Post(s)
Liked 425 Times in 268 Posts
I like long stems because it puts me more forward over the front tire when I'm out of the saddle climbing and sprinting. But like the OP I do like a shallow 2in saddle/bar drop without a whole mess of stem spacers. If I had a custom frame build it would have a 56ST and 53 or 54TT.
Lazyass is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 05:26 AM
  #19  
Jeco
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
There are also variable angle quills. So, you could set it to short and tall.
I've heard that those things flex too much much though.

Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
Sounds like you need the tall frame to work with your leg length and a tall stem to get your bars about level with the saddle.
Pretty much. I'll try to find a tall stem. Thanks for the advice!

​​
Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
May I ask what is your leg length? I'm 6'0" with a 36" leg length and own bikes with very similar geometry to the frame you've got so might be able to relate a bit.
I'm 5'11" and have a ~35" inseam. What stem length do you use for those frames?

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Maybe go for 40-50mm, since sticking with your current bike sounds to be the most feasible option given the situation with bikes where you live.
Yeah. That's true. I also don't want to sell the bike.
Jeco is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 06:44 AM
  #20  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 13,124

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 104 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6064 Post(s)
Liked 3,224 Times in 1,863 Posts
- dont adjust the saddle position in an effort to shorten reach. that isnt how fit works. saddle position is for where your body is in relation to the bottom bracket. stem length and angle is for where your body is in terms of reach.
- i put a 60mm stem on one of my kid's road bikes when she first transitioned to it since it was big for her at the time. Its perfectly fine to do that on a typical geometry road bike.
- as mentioned many times already, that bike sounds way too big for you. but hopefully you can make it work.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 07-26-21, 09:12 AM
  #21  
Chandne
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Denver area (Ken Caryl Valley)
Posts: 1,451

Bikes: 2014 BMC SLR01 DA Mech, 2020 Santa Cruz Stigmata, Yeti SB4.5, Pivot Shuttle

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 326 Post(s)
Liked 49 Times in 34 Posts
As short as 70mm and 80mm, but I use 60-70 on mountain bikes (which is long in that discipline) and gravel bikes and am very used to that. I prefer short stems in general though on road bikes with 73 degree head angles, I prefer 100...at least initially till I get used to it.
Chandne is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 09:21 AM
  #22  
Iride01
Hits [ENTER] b4 thinking
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 8,217

Bikes: '20 Tarmac Disc Comp '91, '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3236 Post(s)
Liked 1,830 Times in 1,299 Posts
I'm 5' 11". I've been there and done that. Even the 25" (64 cm) bike I rode for 35 plus years was comfortable for the riding I was doing with it. Eventually I started sizing down to 59 cm and 60 cm frames that were also comfortable. But as I rode longer, further and faster I found out what being more aero with my position did for me by allowing me to have more energy left near the end of the ride. So now I ride a 56 cm frame with a lower stack than all my previous bikes and I'm in a much more aero position. Wondering if a 54 cm frame might have been better for me.

But right now, the 56 cm bike is the most fun bike I've ever ridden and I can stay on it forever. I'm also getting a shorter stem, should be here today. Going from 100mm to 70mm. I don't expect the differences in handling to be anything more than something I'll get use to after a hand full of rides.
Iride01 is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 09:23 AM
  #23  
Moisture
Drip, Drip.
 
Moisture's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 749 Post(s)
Liked 125 Times in 105 Posts
Originally Posted by Chandne View Post
As short as 70mm and 80mm, but I use 60-70 on mountain bikes (which is long in that discipline) and gravel bikes and am very used to that. I prefer short stems in general though on road bikes with 73 degree head angles, I prefer 100...at least initially till I get used to it.
The ideal stem length is determined based on a combination of factors, primarily top tube length and reach. What you prefer or think works best for you will vary from bike to bike.
Moisture is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 09:41 AM
  #24  
Chandne
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Denver area (Ken Caryl Valley)
Posts: 1,451

Bikes: 2014 BMC SLR01 DA Mech, 2020 Santa Cruz Stigmata, Yeti SB4.5, Pivot Shuttle

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 326 Post(s)
Liked 49 Times in 34 Posts
Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
The ideal stem length is determined based on a combination of factors, primarily top tube length and reach. What you prefer or think works best for you will vary from bike to bike.
I experiment with several lengths and rises ( I have around 15 stems hanging around) and eventually settle on the one that fits well and lets the bike handle well based on my riding style. The shorter lengths I listed are the ones that work best for me. I am sort of between sizes so I usually go for the bigger size and use shorter stems. If I ever went for the smaller size, I suspect I'd go up 10-20 mm. When I did a couple of bike fits, I was running a 120. They moved one bike to 100 and the other to 90. That is when I started to realize that I should also try diff lengths and rises and do some big climbs and descents to see how the bike handled and how comfortable I was.
Chandne is offline  
Old 07-26-21, 11:21 AM
  #25  
Caliper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 984

Bikes: Many

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 378 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 38 Posts
Originally Posted by Jeco View Post
I'm 5'11" and have a ~35" inseam. What stem length do you use for those frames?

My road bikes are all 80-100mm stems, but I tend toward a narrower compact drop bar that lessens the reach as well. I also have my saddles further forward than some, about 7cm or so behind the BB. Many larger frames will have a somewhat relaxed seat tube angle that puts me too far behind the BB so a straight (not offset) seatpost may be in order.


I would recommend heading over to the Competitive Cyclist fit calculator. Bike Fit Calculator | Find Your Bike Size | Competitive Cyclist It takes into account all of your body proportions and comes up with some helpful numbers. The actual frame numbers you get for ST and TT will probably be only available in a custom frame (for me, one of the fit recommendations is a 60cm ST with a 56cm TT) However, numbers like the saddle setback and saddle-handlebar numbers are useful for gauging where your fit is. I've also had success taking the sum of the top tube + stem and matching that total to my actual bike (ie: 56cm TT + 120mm stem becomes a 60cm TT + 80mm stem) I know some will cringe at this, but when you are outside the norm some adjustments are made to fit an off the shelf bike. I've found the recommendations from this calculator to be good, but I also do tend to faster riding. If your bike has to be more of a do-all fit, then I'd shorten up the reach a bit.


Other things to look for are touring frames, endurance geometry frames and gravel bike frames if you can. All of these will tend to having a bit more stack height for their reach.
Caliper is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.