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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went to my LBS and was fitted for a 58cm Specialized Allez - I'm about 6-0 and 170 lbs. I think the frame is a good size and I'm happy with everything, sometimes I just feel like I'm reaching a little bit. I know my Specialized has a long top tube length in comparison with other manufactuers of the same size. I'm afraid that on the hoods I may be using my back muscles instead of my legs, which isn't good. Could be a flexibility problem?

Is there any rule of thumb in terms of proper stem length? I'm debating whether to swap out for a shorter stem, but overall it's a very subtle change. When I first picked up the bike they mentioned the stem might be a little long, but to ride and see how it feels. I guess it's just a matter of how agreesive you want to be in terms of posture(?)
 

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25yr Houston-Austin MS150
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You've heard the old guideline about choosing stem length so that the handlebars fall along the straight line between the front axle and your eyeballs, right? How does the Specialized compare in this area? It's hard to take this one seriously as a "rule," because it ignores any chance of an extremely long or short neck with respect to the rest of your body.
 

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Lizzie will ride free
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Stem length is really tough. Do a search on "stem length" for more input than you can stand. My opinion is that if it feels too long, it's too long. 1 cm changes in stem length can make a big difference. I'd go back to the shop and ask to try one smaller. Don't ride it too long if it's not right; no reason to.
 

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There is no "rule of thumb".....but the longer you ride, and the more your body gets used to cycling, the more you'll need a longer stem. What you need now, is determined by how flexible you are "at this moment."
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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Jack1576 said:
I went to my LBS and was fitted for a 58cm Specialized Allez - I'm about 6-0 and 170 lbs. I think the frame is a good size and I'm happy with everything, sometimes I just feel like I'm reaching a little bit. I know my Specialized has a long top tube length in comparison with other manufactuers of the same size. I'm afraid that on the hoods I may be using my back muscles instead of my legs, which isn't good. Could be a flexibility problem?

Is there any rule of thumb in terms of proper stem length? I'm debating whether to swap out for a shorter stem, but overall it's a very subtle change. When I first picked up the bike they mentioned the stem might be a little long, but to ride and see how it feels. I guess it's just a matter of how agreesive you want to be in terms of posture(?)

A shorter stem probably won't feel like a "subtle change." A 1 cm difference will probably help a lot. Also, what kind of saddle-to-bar drop do you have? If it is significant, you can shorten the reach just by getting the bars up (with a spacer, or flipping the stem, depending).
 

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As long as you're not at the extremes in length, it pretty much depends on your TT length, body proportions, flexibility and comfort factor. If you need an 80 or 140 and everything else is average, then you might be on the wrong size frame. Too long or too short of a stem starts having an effect on the bike's handling and shift the weight distrubution in relation to the front wheel.

brewster
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
jtolleson said:
A shorter stem probably won't feel like a "subtle change." A 1 cm difference will probably help a lot. Also, what kind of saddle-to-bar drop do you have? If it is significant, you can shorten the reach just by getting the bars up (with a spacer, or flipping the stem, depending).
Initially I did a search on "stem length" and read a lot of that stuff, but left confused more than anything else. The stem felt long at first, but as my flexibility improved the reach didn't bother me as much.

Saddle-to-bar drop is the height difference between the seat and the handlebars? In that case, I just upgraded to clipless pedals, and as a result I had to raise my seatpost a little to get a little more extension. Maybe raising the seat and the near pedals put me in a little different position. Admittedly, my flexibility could impove more.

So ideally, you should be able to have a little bend in your elbows right?
 

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Growing Older, Not Up
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I'm also roughly 6 foot (but 210 lbs) and ride a 58 Allez Elite. It came with a 120 cm stem and I felt too stretched out and was spending a lot of time back on the tops. My LBS swapped the stem to a 100cm as well as turned over a sleeve in what I think is the headset(sorry don't know all the proper names) to give me a more upright position.

The change definitely was not subtle. I was immediately more comfortable. Grumpy is right on because since I have flipped over that sleeve to lower the bars a bit and will be flipping the stem soon to lower them a bit more.

To me, and I'm still new, fit seems more like getting the equipment in the ballpark and letting your body adjust to it.
 

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I am also 6' and ride a 58cm bike. I found I was reaching too much for the handlebars. So I first tried moving the seat forward a little. You can try this first. But to be comfortable i felt the seat was too far forward on the rails in relation to the seat post. So I opted for a shorter stem and it works much better. I went from a 110mm stem to a 90mm. Although my line of sight with the handle bars and front hub according to the "standard" slightly too far forward I am comfortable. Fortunately stems are one of the cheaper items on a bike so even if the LBS won't swap one for free (which they should if you purchased the bike recently and they fitted you) you can pick up a new stem on ebay for $50. They can be installed in 5 minutes.
 

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here's a rule of thumb..

In general, it's good to avoid knee to arm contact while riding in the drops, with your fingers in reach of the brakes and the back as low as you would ride in an aerodynamic position. The higher the stem, the more bend needed in the elbow to get the upper back low and the greater the chance of knee to arn contact.

If you find that this stem length is too long to tolerate while riding on the brake hoods, then you probably need some abdominal and back strengthing and maybe some stretching to improve flexibility.
 

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www.flyte1.com

Jack1576 said:
I went to my LBS and was fitted for a 58cm Specialized Allez - I'm about 6-0 and 170 lbs. I think the frame is a good size and I'm happy with everything, sometimes I just feel like I'm reaching a little bit. I know my Specialized has a long top tube length in comparison with other manufactuers of the same size. I'm afraid that on the hoods I may be using my back muscles instead of my legs, which isn't good. Could be a flexibility problem?

Is there any rule of thumb in terms of proper stem length? I'm debating whether to swap out for a shorter stem, but overall it's a very subtle change. When I first picked up the bike they mentioned the stem might be a little long, but to ride and see how it feels. I guess it's just a matter of how agreesive you want to be in terms of posture(?)
FWIW, Flyte's website (www.flyte1.com) has an excellent fit guide and gives an equation for stem length based on your torso and arm length. The other number you need is the effective top tube length of your bike. I'll let you know as soon as my new Flyte arrives how well the fit worked (they claim 95% success).

I'm 6'2 and 193, and got a 60cm frame with a 100mm stem.

DrPete
 

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Stem length is one of those things that either feels right or it doesn't. It's also one of those things that can change if something changes on your bike.

When I first got my bike, I was running a 100mm stem and felt fine until I put some miles in, at which point I felt cramped and moved up to a 110mm stem. Three years later my 110mm stem feels too long and I'm looking to move back to a 100mm stem. During the intervening years I replaced my saddle, seatpost and pedals, each of which could have altered my reach a little bit. I'm a strong, flexible rider, but too long is too long.

Your fit can often be a work in progress, so you are best getting comfortable for now. If something changes, then make the change when needed.
 

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Listen to Mr Grumpy!

Your riding position is likely to change over time. You may be able to avoid buying a succession of stems by loosening the clamp on the stem you have and rotating the bars to bring the hoods up and closer to your body. They shouldn't have to move much to make a big difference. Depending one where the hoods are placed, you can also remove the handlebar tape, slide them up a little closer and retape the bars. I see lots of bikes in shop floors with brake hoods much lower than I like.
 

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buy a shorter stem and try. get a cheap one so if it doesn't work out you are not looking at a useless expensive piece of equip. a diff stem length will radically change the way you sit on the bike. you may even use 2 diff. lengths: one in the spring and the other at autumm, when you are on top of your form. yes, fit is a dynamic value: the more you ride, the more you'll elongate over the bike and vice versa.
 
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