Again: Should I change my stem and bar?

Here’s a convoluted question from our friend Mario in Northern Italy. Shorter stems can be good, but rarely with lower bars.

Hi, i’m a trail rider from italy, i’ve read with great interest your articles about stems and bars. At the moment i’m riding my palomino with a 9 cm, 10° stem and a 1,75″ riser bar (25,4 mm diameter). The bike came with 100 mm 8° stem and 1″ riser bar.

Now I want change the old stuff with a 1,5″ carbon riser bar and 8 cm, 12° stem (31,8 mm diameter). Do you think that this will improve descending abilities, or is it a too small change to notice some modification in riding?

My friends say that the shorter stem will affect climbing a lot, and that is better not to change the stem length. I send you 2 photos of my bike, with the fork (revelation) set to minimum travel (100 mm) for climbing. The stem is under the level of the saddle and the bar is + or – at the level of the saddle. With this setting i can climb very well. What I can do? Is it better not to change the stem? Can you tell me your opinion?

Thanks a lot

Hey Mario,

Approximate. This ignores bar sweep.

Downhill: If your current setup is working well for you, the new setup won’t be an improvement. Your bars will be closer and lower. That is not a good combination. Typically, if you want to improve handling, you bring your bars closer AND higher. Think of a moto or a downhill bike.

Uphill: The shortness won’t ruin your climbing, but the lowness might make you feel more cramped. The length of your stem isn’t all that important for climbing. While long stems make climbing easier, you can learn to climb very well with a short stem — as long as your bars are high enough.

Read these articles:

Stems and bars: Long and low or short and high

Stem length/rise for a trail bike

Ah, Northern Italy … near Cuneo, Piemonte region, south-western Alps.

Guidi la vostra bici. Abbia divertimento!

— Lee

PS: Before you ask any question, please search the archives.

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