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  1. #1
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    Is there a "normal" stem length?

    I have no agenda here, just curious as to whether there is a normal length or what cyclists might consider the average or middle starting point for most road bikes.

  2. #2
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    If you have a properly sized frame I'd say 100, maybe 110.

  3. #3
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    It depends on the size of the bike

    A 90mm stem on a 50cm bike is fine but there might be fit issues with a 90mm stem on a 60cm bike.
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

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  4. #4
    duh...
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    90-130mm
    .


    Quote Originally Posted by mikagsd
    Fat tire Fred....you are the bike god of the universe and unless someone agrees with your reasoning they are just plain stupid

  5. #5
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    120, because its not 110 or 110. Beyond that it is rather extreme

  6. #6
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    To clarify, I am asking based on the assumption that I have a properly sized bike.

    It looks at though 100mm, plus or minus 10mm seems average,

    Thanks much.

  7. #7
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    Kinda no. Everyone has different "stack" and "reach" geometry values that they fit best. Maybe a T-Rex of a guy would want a taller steerer tuber of a say, 61cm bike, paired with 90mm. An ape-like figure may want a shorter steerer but more reach to go with it.

    We're all either T-Rex's or apes.

  8. #8
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    Most of your common size (54,56,58) frames will come with either a 100mm or 110mm stem. So those would be the most common lengths. 120mm is usually the largest you'll see on a stock bike, and almost always on 60cm+ bikes

  9. #9
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    Proper bike fit is just that: PROPER.
    There is no standard. It's what fits your body and riding style. There's no standard for stack height either, before you ask.
    I ride a 52 cm frame with a 537mm top tube, and a 120mm, -6 degree stem. No spacers. It looks long and low, and fits me just fine.

  10. #10
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    Thanks again guys. I know what fits me and I was just interested in finding out if my range of stem lengths was within the "norm". I kind of figured I was OK, just wanted some confirmation.

    And there is no way I would ask what a normal stack height is , I know my stack is quiet different from what most others use. From my perspective, stack height is something one can prefer whereas some things like like pedal setback and a few other measurements need to be a little more within a range based on anatomy.
    Last edited by chas0039; 05-14-2011 at 07:00 PM.

  11. #11
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    Well the OP asked what is normal. I would think that "normal" is defined as what the majority use. It actually has nothing to do with what's "proper", which is your argument.
    Bike companies are definitely going to outfit bikes when they leave the factory with the components that fit the majority of people. You are able to change those components after or during the purchase of course.
    Quote Originally Posted by turbogrover
    Proper bike fit is just that: PROPER.
    There is no standard. It's what fits your body and riding style. There's no standard for stack height either, before you ask.
    I ride a 52 cm frame with a 537mm top tube, and a 120mm, -6 degree stem. No spacers. It looks long and low, and fits me just fine.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinrjensen
    Well the OP asked what is normal. I would think that "normal" is defined as what the majority use. It actually has nothing to do with what's "proper", which is your argument.
    Bike companies are definitely going to outfit bikes when they leave the factory with the components that fit the majority of people. You are able to change those components after or during the purchase of course.
    There is no "normal". There's only proper.

  13. #13
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    Oh great, now I have to go hunt up a dictionary....
    Quote Originally Posted by turbogrover
    There is no "normal". There's only proper.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hickey
    It depends on the size of the bike

    A 90mm stem on a 50cm bike is fine but there might be fit issues with a 90mm stem on a 60cm bike.
    I don't think follows at all. Stem size is not at all proportional - it is not a dynamic component who's length matches or represents a certain body part, like crank arms do.

    Short stems are extemely common on larger bikes because tall people are frequently short waisted, while short people are frequently the opposite.


    Chas, if you are between 90-130, you are probably on a decent sized bike. However, long stems probably indicate long upper body, and short indicate long legs. So if you have an idea what sort of proportions you have, this will give you an idea of whether your frame and stem match them - if we are talking about a one of the more average frame sizes since the extremes get pretty weird because of funny seat tube angles. For example, if you know you're legs are not real long, a 90mm stem would indicate you are on a big frame. Should you be on a big frame? Read on:

    With modern sloped top tubes and fairly tall head tubes, head tube length and preferred handlebar drop often take precedence over even top tube length. So those looking to sit more upright may choose to use a 10 or 15mm shorter stem to go up a bike size to the one with a taller head tube, since head tube lengths now change more dramatically between sizes than TT length.
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  15. #15
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    I know this kind of over simplifies the science of bike fitting but after 30+ years of riding I still feel that for the majority of cyclists (height between 5-8 and 6-1) the stem is the correct length when your hands are on the top of the bars the front hub is behind the handlebars,when your hands are on the brake hoods the front hub is obscured by the handlebars and when your hands are on the drops the hub is slightly in front of the handlebars. This is a very rough guideline but works for me on all my road bikes.
    Humbug!!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by spastook
    I know this kind of over simplifies the science of bike fitting but after 30+ years of riding I still feel that for the majority of cyclists (height between 5-8 and 6-1) the stem is the correct length when your hands are on the top of the bars the front hub is behind the handlebars,when your hands are on the brake hoods the front hub is obscured by the handlebars and when your hands are on the drops the hub is slightly in front of the handlebars. This is a very rough guideline but works for me on all my road bikes.
    This may work for a lot of people on a lot of normal road race bikes.

    But as soon as atypical body dimensions (short arms, long neck) or a long front center come into play, like on a touring bike, all that goes out the window.

    A better rule of thumb for reach is trying to create 1-2 horizontal inches between knees and elbows in a low drop position. Again, just a rule of thumb, but one unaffected by the bicycle's geometry or body dimensions unrelated to fit.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact
    I don't think follows at all. Stem size is not at all proportional - it is not a dynamic component who's length matches or represents a certain body part, like crank arms do.

    Short stems are extemely common on larger bikes because tall people are frequently short waisted, while short people are frequently the opposite.

    Chas, if you are between 90-130, you are probably on a decent sized bike. However, long stems probably indicate long upper body, and short indicate long legs. So if you have an idea what sort of proportions you have, this will give you an idea of whether your frame and stem match them - if we are talking about a one of the more average frame sizes since the extremes get pretty weird because of funny seat tube angles. For example, if you know you're legs are not real long, a 90mm stem would indicate you are on a big frame. Should you be on a big frame? Read on:

    With modern sloped top tubes and fairly tall head tubes, head tube length and preferred handlebar drop often take precedence over even top tube length. So those looking to sit more upright may choose to use a 10 or 15mm shorter stem to go up a bike size to the one with a taller head tube, since head tube lengths now change more dramatically between sizes than TT length.

    Since you ask, I am looking for some affirmation that the rage of frame sizes (54cm-59cm) I ride hasn't caused me to go too far out of the norm to get the correct fit. My range of TT lengths is closer and I find that the seat and fork angles move things even closer. My stems run from 90-110mm so it looks like I am not pushing anything too much. I am 6'2" with average legs and a tall torso and I always ride on the hoods or above. None of my bikes have any sloped top tubes; I just can't tolerate how they look.

    Thanks again everyone. I got a lot of good info.
    Last edited by chas0039; 05-16-2011 at 08:22 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas0039
    Since you ask, I am looking for some affirmation that the rage of frame sizes (54cm-59cm) I ride hasn't caused me to go too far out of the norm to get the correct fit. My range of TT lengths is closer and I find that the seat and fork angles move things even closer. My stems run from 90-110mm so it looks like I am not pushing anything too much. I am 6'2" with average legs and a tall torso and I always ride on the hoods or above. None of my bikes have any slope; I just can't tolerate how they look.

    Thanks again everyone. I got a lot of good info.
    You're 6'2" and ride an true 54? Wow.
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  19. #19
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    normal

    Quote Originally Posted by chas0039
    I have no agenda here, just curious as to whether there is a normal length or what cyclists might consider the average or middle starting point for most road bikes.
    Normal is a 55 cm frame with 73 degree STA and a 120 mm stem.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas0039
    Since you ask, I am looking for some affirmation that the rage of frame sizes (54cm-59cm) I ride hasn't caused me to go too far out of the norm to get the correct fit. My range of TT lengths is closer and I find that the seat and fork angles move things even closer. My stems run from 90-110mm so it looks like I am not pushing anything too much. I am 6'2" with average legs and a tall torso and I always ride on the hoods or above. None of my bikes have any slope; I just can't tolerate how they look.

    Thanks again everyone. I got a lot of good info.
    I would normally guess that a 6-2 rider with average proportions would fit frames in the 58-61cm range but there are always exeptions. I usually find 56cm to be spot on for me( 5-10 with a 32" inseam.) But I also have a Merlin Extralight 53 cm C-C that fits me very nicely but I run a 130mm stem.
    Humbug!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact
    You're 6'2" and ride an true 54? Wow.
    It is a Ridley and they have very "interesting" ideas about measurements, the same as my Pinarellos. The Ridley actually has a 58cm seat tube center to top ( they use center to center to get the 54) which is a lot more than others I have seen and has a 56cm TT. My other bikes range from 56-58mm TT.

    The interesting part is the angle of the seat and fork. One would think that when my Waterford has a 58cm TT with a 100mm stem is perfect, then the Ridley would call for a 120mm stem with a 56cm TT, but no, it fits best with a 110mm stem. Then there is my Moto Ti which also has a 58cm TT and that one is perfect with a 90mm stem. I almost have to get a range of stems to find out what actually works for a new frame as I long ago found that the geometry and measurements and math would just not work, especially when the head tube height was added in.

    The Ridley was a funny buy, It turns out to be one of the quickest bikes I ride and I almost passed on it as I was looking for a 58-59cm frame and it was early on before I was aware of the impact that all the different measurements could have. It also was the bike that introduced me to Campy and changed the way I ride. I am glad I took a second look. One of the best reasons ever to have a good bike shop nearby.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact
    You're 6'2" and ride an true 54? Wow.
    +1... I'm only an inch taller and I would struggle terribly to be fitted to even a 56cm frame. If you can do a 54cm at 6'2", I applaud you.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas0039
    It is a Ridley and they have very "interesting" ideas about measurements, the same as my Pinarellos. The Ridley actually has a 58cm seat tube center to top ( they use center to center to get the 54) which is a lot more than others I have seen and has a 56cm TT. My other bikes range from 56-58mm TT.

    The interesting part is the angle of the seat and fork. One would think that when my Waterford has a 58cm TT with a 100mm stem is perfect, then the Ridley would call for a 120mm stem with a 56cm TT, but no, it fits best with a 110mm stem. Then there is my Moto Ti which also has a 58cm TT and that one is perfect with a 90mm stem. I almost have to get a range of stems to find out what actually works for a new frame as I long ago found that the geometry and measurements and math would just not work, especially when the head tube height was added in.

    The Ridley was a funny buy, It turns out to be one of the quickest bikes I ride and I almost passed on it as I was looking for a 58-59cm frame and it was early on before I was aware of the impact that all the different measurements could have. It also was the bike that introduced me to Campy and changed the way I ride. I am glad I took a second look. One of the best reasons ever to have a good bike shop nearby.
    Okay, so it really isn't a 54 by any normal standard. Ridley has got to be the last company on earth using center to center measurements on compact frames.
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  24. #24
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    It's somewhat bike handling and somewhat personal preference.

    In my experience, given the choice, a somewhat longer stem gives me comparitivly better handling than a shorter stem.

    To my eye, a longer stem is more pleasing than a shorter stem. 110 would be the minimum to me, 120 is better.

    YMMV

    Len



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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact
    Okay, so it really isn't a 54 by any normal standard. Ridley has got to be the last company on earth using center to center measurements on compact frames.
    Just for clarification, it is not a compact frame. I only ride classic frames with level top tubes. Still, 4cm more above the c-c measurement has to be some sort of record.

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