Flipped my stem, now riding in the drops is great
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  1. #1
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    Flipped my stem, now riding in the drops is great

    I replaced my stem recently, and while installing the new one, decided to flip it to a positive rise angle instead of negative. Wasn't sure if I would like it at first, after taking the bike on a couple rides, I love the new position. The bars sit almost an inch higher, and now I can ride in the drops a lot more comfortably, even for hours at a time. The bike feels faster and more responsive, and I don't even really want to use the brake hoods anymore. I'm sure this doesn't mean much to experienced riders who already have their fit dialed in, but it's exciting to have such a simple change pay off so well, and a little ironic that making the bike more relaxed allowed my to use a more aggressive riding position.appvalley tutuapp tweakbox



    Last edited by ElliottAugust; 04-24-2020 at 01:13 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElliottAugust View Post
    [FONT="]I replaced my stem recently, and while installing the new one, decided to flip it to a positive rise angle instead of negative. Wasn't sure if I would like it at first, after taking the bike on a couple rides, I love the new position. The bars sit almost an inch higher, and now I can ride in the drops a lot more comfortably, even for hours at a time. The bike feels faster and more responsive, and I don't even really want to use the brake hoods anymore. I'm sure this doesn't mean much to experienced riders who already have their fit dialed in, but it's exciting to have such a simple change pay off so well, and a little ironic that making the bike more relaxed allowed my to use a more aggressive riding position.

    [/FONT]


    It may not mean much to experienced riders but it should to many.

    So many weekend warriors haven't touched the drops in years because they because they bought a frame designed for pro racers and set it up according aesthetics.

    I had about the same experience as you when I got a custom frame and the frame builder was a lot smarter than I thought I was with regard to bike set up.
    It is ironic that a more relaxed set up results in riding more aggressively more often just like you say. While at the same time you can be more relaxed when that's what you want.

  3. #3
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    Having two children in the past four years has moved me beyond my roadie phase. I still ride daily, but the time for 4 hour road rides just isn't there anymore. Hence, my road bikes are collecting dust. Never thought I'd say it, but my riser bar commuter now looks nicer to me than my skinny tire drop bar road bikes.

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    Welcome to old age!

    The current trend with "endurance bikes" (like my Domanes) is to have a taller head-tube which allows the rider to sit in a more up-right position which is more comfortable on the lower back. Because us old fogies don't stretch our muscles and have tight hamstrings and back muscles, our backs get tight and sore so we buy bikes that make-up for that.

    By flipping your stem, you certainly will feel more comfortable on the drops because the drops aren't so droppy any more The disadvantage will be that you've just increased your frontal surface area, making you less aero... so expect your normal bike rides to take twice as long now due to your non-aero position (J/K! Kind of...)


  5. #5
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    You're subverting rule #45:

    "A maximum stack height of 2cm is allowed below the stem and a single 5mm spacer must always – always – be stacked above. A “slammed down” stack height is preferable; meaning that the stem is positioned directly on the top race of the headset."

    Flipped stems look hideous. The reason it's more responsive is because you've effectively shortened your stem. The better solution is to buy a frame with a taller head tube or use some spacers (or move spacers down that you've wisely left on top of the stem when you cut the fork). That being said it's your bike and as long as you feel comfortable ride it that way. I have 2cm of spacers on a couple of my more aggressive geometry bikes, you just can't add much more than that before compromising fork strength.
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    The purpose of riding the drops is COMFORT! Happy to hear you're gettin down with it...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudge66 View Post
    The purpose of riding the drops is COMFORT!
    The purpose (goal) of riding the drops is aerodynamics.
    The objective to achieve that goal is comfort.

    If it were merely about comfort, we'd just ride hybrids.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post

    If it were merely about comfort, we'd just ride hybrids.
    Ever try riding a hybrid 100 miles? It's pretty much a myth that sitting with all your weight on you butt, fighting more wind and having only one hand position available is comfortable. But very few people ride them far enough to figure out they are not comfortable.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Ever try riding a hybrid 100 miles? It's pretty much a myth that sitting with all your weight on you butt,
    Not all hybrids have all your weight on your butt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Not all hybrids have all your weight on your butt.

    True. So why ride more aggressive with 1 fixed hand position when you could have a bunch of options? The point is that hybrids are not comfortable for very long rides compared to a road bike in my experience.
    They might be for riding around the block being totally upright, but that gets old on the butt on long rides.

  11. #11
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    True. So why ride more aggressive with 1 fixed hand position when you could have a bunch of options?
    I really don't know what you're arguing. The goal of riding more aggressive is to be more aero. Which was my point.


    The point is that hybrids are not comfortable for very long rides compared to a road bike in my experience.
    They might be for riding around the block being totally upright, but that gets old on the butt on long rides.
    And as I just pointed out, not all hybrids are totally upright. Which you said "True" And now again you're arguing about being totally upright.

    So as we've both agree, not all hybrids are uncomfortable. I have a buddy who's done gravel centuries on one. You've never heard of 24 hour mountain bike races? Those guys ride 24hrs on flat bars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    I really don't know what you're arguing.
    I thought quoting it would have made that obvious but I'll try again.

    "If it were merely about comfort, we'd just ride hybrids"

    That's what I was arguing and am done arguing now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    It may not mean much to experienced riders but it should to many.

    So many weekend warriors haven't touched the drops in years because they because they bought a frame designed for pro racers and set it up according aesthetics.

    I had about the same experience as you when I got a custom frame and the frame builder was a lot smarter than I thought I was with regard to bike set up.
    It is ironic that a more relaxed set up results in riding more aggressively more often just like you say. While at the same time you can be more relaxed when that's what you want.
    I didn't get a custom frame, but about 10 years went from a very nice early, but pretty aggressive 2000's Cannondale CAAD frame to a Felt Z. I had the Cannondale stem up as high as I could without going to a steep rise stem. I think the handle bar was about 2" below the saddle. The Felt can get the handlebar about even with the saddle. That and the carbonfiber frame makes the bike much more comfortable and I definitely ride stronger because of that.

    I watch the pro racers and am amazed how low their hoods position is, let alone in the drops. Obviously it works for them and getting low is something they not only can do, but need to do at the speeds they ride. But for me, more relaxed not only feels better, it is better. I ride longer, get stronger and faster. And if I want to get as low as my old body will go, I get into the drops with bent elbows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    You're subverting rule #45:

    "A maximum stack height of 2cm is allowed below the stem and a single 5mm spacer must always – always – be stacked above. A “slammed down” stack height is preferable; meaning that the stem is positioned directly on the top race of the headset."

    Flipped stems look hideous. The reason it's more responsive is because you've effectively shortened your stem. The better solution is to buy a frame with a taller head tube or use some spacers (or move spacers down that you've wisely left on top of the stem when you cut the fork). That being said it's your bike and as long as you feel comfortable ride it that way. I have 2cm of spacers on a couple of my more aggressive geometry bikes, you just can't add much more than that before compromising fork strength.
    I haven't seen 20mm stated as a safe maximum, but I've only dealt with 3 or 4 new aftermarket full carbon forks. Every carbon steer tube fork I've used specifies a maximum of 40mm above the top bearing (this includes the cone shaped spacer of course), some say a total of 80 including the stem. I've heard 30mm batted about, but never actually seen it in a fork specification. I'm wondering which ones can only handle 20?

    From a weight weenies perspective, a flipped stem with a smaller number of spacers under it is lighter than an unflipped one with more spacers. Either way you have the weight of the stem. Unflipped, you need more spacers to get the same height. A meaningful difference? Of course not, but if you think of optimizing the weight and fit of the bike, that's the way to go.

    I'm speaking as someone who has, in the past, looked at grams of weight savings (bar tape, cables, rim tape, you name it... it was fun!), but never went that far because I have not only a tall head tube bike (Felt Z), but also have a flipped up stem with the spec'd maximum of 40mm of spacers under it. So adding spacers only to be able to get the pro look of a flipped down stem is not only dumb, but not possible.

    I'm glad one man's "hideous" is my "looks like a smart rider who has a well-fitted bike".
    Last edited by Camilo; 04-21-2020 at 01:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    I didn't get a custom frame, but about 10 years went from a very nice early, but pretty aggressive 2000's Cannondale CAAD frame to a Felt Z. I had the Cannondale stem up as high as I could without going to a steep rise stem. I think the handle bar was about 2" below the saddle. The Felt can get the handlebar about even with the saddle. That and the carbonfiber frame makes the bike much more comfortable and I definitely ride stronger because of that.

    I watch the pro racers and am amazed how low their hoods position is, let alone in the drops. Obviously it works for them and getting low is something they not only can do, but need to do at the speeds they ride. But for me, more relaxed not only feels better, it is better. I ride longer, get stronger and faster. And if I want to get as low as my old body will go, I get into the drops with bent elbows.
    yeah that's the big thing that makes it a win win. You have that much more relaxed position when you want it and lose nothing on the aggressive side. Assuming you have elbows that bent which judging by what I see on the road I'm not sure everyone does.

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    I'm old enough to know that my optimal riding position from early riding season is different than that of peak (mid) season.
    Not only do I change my stem/handlebar position during the riding season, I also change my crankarm length.
    With this old body of mine, I know my flexibility is different between early season and mid season.
    Knowing what equipment to use according to your flexibility & physical ability on your bike can save you lots of pain & discomfort while riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    I really don't know what you're arguing. The goal of riding more aggressive is to be more aero. Which was my point.


    And as I just pointed out, not all hybrids are totally upright. Which you said "True" And now again you're arguing about being totally upright.

    So as we've both agree, not all hybrids are uncomfortable. I have a buddy who's done gravel centuries on one. You've never heard of 24 hour mountain bike races? Those guys ride 24hrs on flat bars.
    For me, it's not only the butt, but being able to move my hands around to 3 or 4 different positions really makes the ride more comfortable. Also, having my arms/wrists at that flat bar position, perpendicular to the bike, hurts in sustained riding. When I mountain bike, there's enough turning and moving up and down to mitigate that for the most part. But a long road ride? I used my mtb as a commuter for a season and it wasn't comfortable on my hands and wrists.

    On the other hand, I have a couple of friends who ride for fun and fitness (like me) and they love their flat bar hybrid/road bikes. I would call them road bikes because, to me, a hybrid has 32mm+ tires, have V brakes and have lower gearing than what's commonly found on road bikes (fwiw, the gearing thing is much less a distinguisher nowadays). These bikes might fit 32s at the very most and have pretty typical road bike gearing and road bike rim brakes. Pretty much just like a road bike except the bars and brake/shifters. Anyway, they ride a lot and are very happy with the performance and comfort. But I do know for a fact that neither of them have tried to get comfortable on a bike with drop bars and assume they can't be comfortable.
    Last edited by Camilo; 04-21-2020 at 04:01 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    ....

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    Can it be said better?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    I haven't seen 20mm stated as a safe maximum, but I've only dealt with 3 or 4 new aftermarket full carbon forks. Every carbon steer tube fork I've used specifies a maximum of 40mm above the top bearing (this includes the cone shaped spacer of course), some say a total of 80 including the stem. I've heard 30mm batted about, but never actually seen it in a fork specification. I'm wondering which ones can only handle 20?

    From a weight weenies perspective, a flipped stem with a smaller number of spacers under it is lighter than an unflipped one with more spacers. Either way you have the weight of the stem. Unflipped, you need more spacers to get the same height. A meaningful difference? Of course not, but if you think of optimizing the weight and fit of the bike, that's the way to go.

    I'm speaking as someone who has, in the past, looked at grams of weight savings (bar tape, cables, rim tape, you name it... it was fun!), but never went that far because I have not only a tall head tube bike (Felt Z), but also have a flipped up stem with the spec'd maximum of 40mm of spacers under it. So adding spacers only to be able to get the pro look of a flipped down stem is not only dumb, but not possible.

    I'm glad one man's "hideous" is my "looks like a smart rider who has a well-fitted bike".
    Yeah, I think adding a bunch of spacers and running a longer steer tube in order to achieve a height that you could have gotten just by flipping the stem is a little silly.

    Also, contrary to what was claimed earlier, there is no difference in the effective length of the stem (bars to steer tube or bars to saddle) between flipping up the stem vs raising the bars to the same height using spacers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Also, contrary to what was claimed earlier, there is no difference in the effective length of the stem (bars to steer tube or bars to saddle) between flipping up the stem vs raising the bars to the same height using spacers.
    Depends on the degrees of the stem. 7deg you are very close, 35deg it does change a little.
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    Depends on the degrees of the stem. 7deg you are very close, 35deg it does change a little.
    We may not be talking about the same thing, here.

    It is true that if all you flip a stem from down to up that the reach to the saddle is reduced. Further, as you correctly state, the 35 deg stem will do so more than the 7 deg stem.

    However, the point I was making (in response to DrSmile's post) is that raising the bars the same amount via spacers leaves the bar in an identical position, with identical fit and handling characteristics. In other words, using spacers to raise the bars also decreases horizontal reach to the saddle, just like flipping the stem.

    DrSmile was suggesting (if I am reading his post correctly) that it is better to use spacers rather than flipping the stem, because flipping the stem effectively shortens it. While it is true that flipping the stem shortens it (sort of, depends how you are measuring it, and for what purpose) using spacers does the exact same thing.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElliottAugust View Post
    I replaced my stem recently, and while installing the new one, decided to flip it to a positive rise angle instead of negative. Wasn't sure if I would like it at first, after taking the bike on a couple rides, I love the new position. The bars sit almost an inch higher, and now I can ride in the drops a lot more comfortably, even for hours at a time. The bike feels faster and more responsive, and I don't even really want to use the brake hoods anymore. I'm sure this doesn't mean much to experienced riders who already have their fit dialed in, but it's exciting to have such a simple change pay off so well, and a little ironic that making the bike more relaxed allowed my to use a more aggressive riding position.appvalley tutuapp tweakbox



    Congrats and learning for yourself what works. Same thing happened to me.

    Getting a proper fit about 10 years ago resulted in my bars being raised quite a bit. As a result I spend a lot more time in the drops, which are still significantly lower than my hoods were before the change. In other words, I became MORE aero by raising my bars. I ride with a number of people who almost never use their drops, except on some DH sections. So while there setups LOOK more aero, in reality they are not when you factor in the rider using them.

  23. #23
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    This very bike was ridden to win the 1994 Tour De France by a pro rider in his prime. Effectively had a 'flipped stem.' He even had the steerer tube cut long with extra spacers put in when NO ONE was doing that.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    We may not be talking about the same thing, here.

    It is true that if all you flip a stem from down to up that the reach to the saddle is reduced. Further, as you correctly state, the 35 deg stem will do so more than the 7 deg stem.

    However, the point I was making (in response to DrSmile's post) is that raising the bars the same amount via spacers leaves the bar in an identical position, with identical fit and handling characteristics. In other words, using spacers to raise the bars also decreases horizontal reach to the saddle, just like flipping the stem.

    DrSmile was suggesting (if I am reading his post correctly) that it is better to use spacers rather than flipping the stem, because flipping the stem effectively shortens it. While it is true that flipping the stem shortens it (sort of, depends how you are measuring it, and for what purpose) using spacers does the exact same thing.
    This scenario is really a figment of your imagination. A bike will have the fork cut already, as the OP. It is highly unlikely that there are enough spacers on top of the stem to match the flipped stem. In reality when you flip the stem the steerer length stays the same and you have in fact effectively shortened the stem length.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    This scenario is really a figment of your imagination. A bike will have the fork cut already, as the OP. It is highly unlikely that there are enough spacers on top of the stem to match the flipped stem. In reality when you flip the stem the steerer length stays the same and you have in fact effectively shortened the stem length.
    YOU are the one who suggested using spacers instead of flipping his stem.

    So it appears your imagination shares this figment.

    But again, the point is, flipping the stem or adding an equal number of spacers are the same thing. Only difference is aesthetics.

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