Cornering with a short stem

Our man Van feels sketchy with a 50mm stem. Let us help the fellow lest he revert to 90mm madness.

Hello Lee. I’d like to thank you for a really great book. I think it is the most well written and comprehensive mountain bike book out there.

I took your suggestion in the book about getting an All-mountain bike and using a longer stem and light tires for XC use. I just purchased a shorter 50mm stem for a more aggressive position. However, it now seems like the bike is twitchier and less stable. I washed out several times on some mellow turns and it seems like the front wheel is more un-weighted. Do I just need to modify my handling technique? Or should I go back to the original 90mm stem?

I must say this is great form. Note the tension in my right leg and the relaxation of my hands and arms. All my weight is driving into the center of the bike. 50mm stem on a 2007 Enduro SL.

Hey Van.

I’m going to assume two things:

1. You were leaning too far forward onto the long stem.

2. You are leaning too far backward away from the short stem.

This advice applies for all stem lengths:

When you corner, get off the saddle and find your center: all your weight in your feet, with weightless hands. Your weight will be distributed about 45/55 front/rear, which is pretty much perfect on most bikes and turns.

Aggressive all-mountain, freeride and downhill bikes have even more rearward weight bias. If your front end pushes in the centered position, try weighting your bars just a bit.

Just a bit!!!

Let there be braaap,

— Lee

BTW: On a moto, it’s all about getting your weight forward. That’s why the seat goes to the gas cap.

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