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I started cycling this spring. I was used to riding touring bikes and was used to the 'upright' position. So when I went shopping for a road bike, I found the stem up position to be most comfortable. This week ( it's been just over 2 months since I bought the bike ), I started feeling 'crimped' sometimes. I remember the bike shop guy saying I might want to 'replace the stem with a longer one or try flipping the stem to 'down position' later on' as he watched me test ride the bike in the parking lot. I didn't understand why he kept saying that. So my back is curved a lot more than the TdF guys on TV I noticed. I can't move the seat backward because my leg fitting is proper. I have no pains in hands, arms, or lower back. And my questions are....

1. If I flip the stem to lower position, will my arms and lower back experience more stress?

2. Is feeling crimped hurting my performance?

3. What do I have to watch out for when tightening the long screw that holds that bearing in the stem (if you know what I am talking about)?

My bike is stock Specialized Allez Elite.

Thanks.
 

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Hey, messing with the stem is so easy, you should just do it.

The long screw you're talking about is the thing that adjusts the headset bearings. You are right to ask about it because it does need to be set right - this is called "preloading" the bearings because it puts load on them before you actually weight the bike. It needs to be done right, but is dead easy.

There is a guide to this on the Parktools website. If you read that and don't understand it, post again and I (and many others ) could "talk" you through it, but that probably won't be necessary. Look for "threadless headset" service, but skip to the part where they talk about adjusting it.

So, what you can do very easily is flip the stem from the up angle to the horizontal or down angle. That will give you an idea. Also, I'd bet that the bike shop you bought the bike from will work with you on this and do the flipping for you, show you how to do it, maybe even loan you a longer stem to try with the understanding that if you decide on a longer stem, you'll buy it from them. That's what my local shop does - they have a bunch of "take off" stems from bikes people buy and they let customers try them, and then buy the one they like.

Good luck, have fun.
 
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