Buying a Bike Stem
Bicycle Stems - Advice, Help & Buy Guide
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Stems - Information & Advice
A bicycle stem is the part of your bike that joins the handle bars and forks together and like everything else in the bike industry they come in many colours and sizes and are designed for different riding styles and also sizes of rider! This means they have different stem rises, diameters for the bars to go through, clamp sizes and lengths (or reach). On buying a bike stem you need to find out what style and size of stem matches your riding needs and ur body length.
Different Types of Bike Stem - measuring & fittings
A New type of Stem - Ahead stems
In the old days - stems would go into the stem tube on the frame and a verticle bolt would tighten the stem to the the frameset. These days the most common stems are now 'Aheadset' stems. This is a newer invention where the stem has two horizontal bolts that clamp around the fork stearer as it comes up through the head tube on the frame. This kind of stem is easier to adjust and offers better performance than the old type that you'll find on almost any bike over 10 years old.
Bike Stem Sizes & Standards
Stems sizes are most commonly one inch or one and one-eigth of an inch with one or two exceptions. Though one and one-eigth of an inch is now standard across the industry except cannondales who now use one and a half inch size - another new bicycle stem standard. It is the handlebar clamp sizing with the stem size that is more difficult to get right as this varies more.
Quill Bicycle Stems
Theses are the old traditional style of stems described above. Now pretty much obselete. However they are measured similarly at one inch or one and one-eigth of an inch sizes.
Fitting an Ahead Stem on an old threaded Fork and frame.
This can be done easily with a quill adaptor.
What is Stem Rise?
As an example - a 0 degree stem rise is when the protruding part of the stem that clamps to the bars is exactly at right angles to the verticle shaft of the stem.
What is Stem Stack Height?
This is the height of the verticle shaft of the stem and needs to be looked at when buying a new bicycle stem. Headset spacers can be used to accomodate shorter stack height stems but check with your bike shops or bicycle store if you are unsure.
What are Direct Mount Bike Stems?
These stems are fork specific and can only be fitted to a fork designed for that particular stem. An example of a direct mount stem can be found by Chromag and North Shore Billet.
How to Measure your Bicycle Stem Length
Stem length is measured from the centre of the headset to the centre of the bars and this can obviously vary from stem to stem. You might want to ask your bike shop or cycle store or call us if you need help and advice on what stem length to buy.
Handlebar Brace Sizes (mm)
The area where the handlebars are held to the stem can be different more often than the stem size itself so it's important to get this right. Some stems come with shims so that a handle bar size can be slightly different to stem size. The most common mountain bike clamp size is 25.4. Other sizes include 22.2 for BMX and dirt jumpers and 28.6mm and 31.8 for some down hill bars for extra strength.
What's the best length for a Cycle Stem?
Look at your current stem size, stack and length. Then consider your ride preferences: longer stems are best for hill climbing but you won't have as good control. Short stems offer a better ride in general but the trade off is hill climbing - you'll need to get out of the saddle! Also remember that a longer reach stem will mean you are stretched out over long periods and may cause back ache so all these things need to be taken into account when buying a stem.
Can't find the help you need buying or maintaining a bike stem?... call us!
If you find this is not the cheapest and best place to buy bicycle stems or want to purchase any type of cycle stem and are unsure what components fit what on our cycling website - Contact Bonthrone.
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